Health psychology is a rapidly growing discipline with increasing opportunities and career pathways. However, for trainees and prospective students it can sometimes be difficult to envisage what a future career in health psychology might look like. It’s not always easy to find examples of health psychologists working in areas outside of your respective work environment, or to fully understand the variety of contexts in which health psychology could be applied. Similarly, for organisations interested in commissioning health psychology expertise, it can also be challenging to find examples of the different settings in which we work, or to understand what we might bring to the table.
To address this, the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Division of Health Psychology (DHP) recently embarked upon a project to produce an online resource showcasing career case studies from both trainees and qualified health psychologists. The aim of the project was twofold; to inspire and guide those in the early stages of their health psychology careers, and for potential employers, to showcase the range of settings in which health psychology can be applied and the added value it can bring.
The idea for this project was based on a similar document produced by DHP-Scotland back in 2016, which can be viewed here. We relied mainly on social media and word-of-mouth to rally interest in the project and received an amazing response, totalling 64 case studies (22 trainees and 42 qualified psychologists). Within these, we asked our members to provide details of their training, their current role, past experience, and future ambitions. Additionally, we requested details of career challenges, advice for future trainees, and what had inspired our members to pursue a career in health psychology. To try to encourage cross- ‘generation’ collaboration among the health psychology community, we also asked trainees who had contributed a case study to contact and invite a more experienced health psychologist to take part in the project.
After collating the individual case studies and getting the all-important BPS stamp of approval, we launched the resource online at the end of April 2021. It is now available to view or download here. So far, the response within the health psychology community has been overwhelmingly positive, with the document being shared widely on social media.
We are delighted to have been able to create this resource, and to use it as an opportunity to celebrate the diversity and impact of work being undertaken by our members. There is such a wealth of experience and expertise within the health psychology community, and such variety within the discipline in terms of routes to qualification, and the settings in which people choose to train or work. We are hopeful that going forward this document can be used in a variety of contexts to promote health psychology, develop training pathways, facilitate career opportunities, and to provide inspiration and guidance for the next generation of health psychologists.
We would like to thank all of our members who kindly took the time to contribute a case study to the project.
Written by Lauren Rockliffe on behalf of Prof Angel Chater, Dr Eleanor Bull, Dr Kristina Newman and the DHP committee.