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Promoting Excellence In Psychological Health & Wellbeing

Developing leadership in the psychological professions - an introduction to Jackie Allt

23 Jul 19

Dr. Jackie Allt describes her work so far on our leadership project

It is a privilege to be invited to scope a document on the development of leadership and management for the psychological professions.

My interest in organisational dynamics has been longstanding, having undertaken the Tavistock course in ‘advanced process consultancy’ after qualifying as a clinical psychologist back in 1999 (University of Surrey). This helped shape my early experiences working in secondary care, and as a clinical health psychologist, working across systems.  My time working as a clinical/academic tutor in a university setting (Salomon’s Centre for Applied Psychology), broadened my thinking and skill set in the training environment across professional groups.

By the time I took on a clinical lead post in a newly commissioned IAPT service (Time to Talk) around ten years ago, I was just as interested in the process of how we set up healthy cultures, and empower people at every level, as I was in the specifics of IAPT delivery. I am proud to say this has paid off; we have established a highly performing IAPT service.  During my time as a clinical lead we launched a number of innovations, including digital, self-referral and integrated physical/mental health pathways (award winning service ‘Time to Talk Health’) which allowed ‘new leaders’ to thrive on change in the context of effective and heart-warming outcomes for patients.

My interest in teams, organisations, and leadership still sustains my interest and energy in my current role as Chief Psychologist at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT), with the privilege of representing the rapidly expanding number of SCFT psychological therapists; including those in innovative psychology roles in integrated teams with both adults and children. This role demands me to think about how we bring psychological professions together, to have a shared voice in the organisation and across the STP, whilst respecting specialist skill sets. It has also presented me with the opportunity to be a senior ally to groups who we know experience discrimination, such as the LGBT+ population, and to share with others the powerful experience of doing so; crucially reflecting on the processes which can lead us all to avoid taking action. I was proud to be jointly nominated as a finalist for the Sussex Community Trust Inclusive Leader award. In addition, I have gained from my own experience of being supported by the Health and Care Women Leaders Network.

I am excited to say that the PPN offers a real opportunity for a joint voice for the psychological professions working in NHS funded care, with a real opportunity to promote what we do in the context of evolving care models which demand strong clinical leadership across systems. The psychological professions have a key skill set to promote compassionate leadership which is fundamentally ‘relationship focused’; with a bias towards our shared professional skill set. But we also have a ‘unique selling point’. We are trained to work with processes ‘under the surface’; and to work with these processes constructively with individuals and across systems.  We can afford to be confident as we raise the visibility of our leadership and management capabilities as a rapidly expanding group of psychological professionals in the NHS.

Dr Jackie Allt

Chief Psychologist