Rejected due to my childhood trauma

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Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by LolaSun » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:10 pm

Dear colleagues, I have recently interviewed at a rather big doctorate training centre and was told that, despite having proven excellent: research and stats, academic, experience and clinical skills...

I was NOT offered a place because 'the commission felt that the childhood trauma (abuse) undergone , by the way over 20 years ago, would not make me a suitable psychologist.

This because they don't think I would be able to manage the emotional intensity that the course involves.

They even patronised me saying perhaps I should consider another career.

1) Last year I got high in the reserve list and this was not raised as being an issue.
2) I have had therapy when teen (nose in my 30s) and being very well since.
3) I have worked in MH for over 12 years even in intensely emotionally challenging environments, and always managed fine.
4) At the interview, I was calm, reflective and serene. I also calmly and professionally explained how recovering from this has helped me developing resilience, empathy and true commitment to wanting to help clients to improve their life.
5) I am currently a therapist!

What would you do about this appalling situation/feedback if you were in my shoes? What are your thoughts in merit?

Many thanks in advance.


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Re: Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by JB99 » Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:33 pm

Sorry, I'm not sure that I would be best to advise, but I thought I'd just reply to say how awful that is, I'm so sorry. I heard that some course centres featured in-depth personal interviews, and I was not entirely sure what to think about them.

I don't know the full story and I wasn't there at the interview, but taking what you've said at face value, I think it's really unfair and offensive to imply that a career is written off on the basis of past personal experiences.It actually implies that therapy cannot make someone better or psychologically resiliant, which is a very odd set of beliefs for a set of clinical psychologists. In my opinion, their comments undermine the entire profession. It also completely lacks compassion for how difficult it must have been to disclose that information (which, in itself, takes emotional strength).

I'm wondering, did you mention your many years of therapy and personal development in interview? Even if you did not, it sounds like they should have been more constructive about it. If they had concerns about you psychological resilience and had assumed that you had not undergone personal therapy (they should have asked this rather than assume), perhaps they should have suggested it, rather than abandoning the career?

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Re: Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by LolaSun » Wed Apr 17, 2019 8:21 pm

Dear JB99,

Thank you so much for having put time and effort in replying to me! I really appreciate it.

In answer to your question:

The reason why I mentioned this is because they asked 'what my childhood was like and what life events motivated me to wanting to become a CP'. So I could lie and make up a nice story..or be true to myself and tell the real story. However, I was really balanced and considerate in answering their question (no crying, no agitation, perhaps a little emotion but really minimal). I did indeed explain that this (which happened 30-25 years ago) was thoroughly elaborated and resolved in therapy over 20 years ago. And I have been a very well functioning and happy individual since!

I was very self-reflective and share the insight that such therapeutic process has allowed me to gain and how this has strengthened me and built my ability to care for myself and others, to empathise and manage difficulties in life.
They were nodding throughout while I was eloquently explaining this!

As for my extensive experience in MH, they could see that from my CV, surely.

I really have no idea what evidence they have to substantiate their claims. In fact, over the phone, when they communicated such feedback to me I remembered holding my nerve and asking what was the objective basis (data, knowledge of me or/and of my performance) that led them to reach such conclusion. The answer of this person was: "I really have to go to a meeting now, so I am afraid there is no time to go into detail but I wish you all the very best'. She then hung up.

Pretty impressive.

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Re: Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by hawke » Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:25 pm

I'm really sorry to hear you've been through this. I also feel disappointed in the profession if this is really a true reflection of their views. I talked about personal and lived experiences with physical and mental health and life in my own interview, and felt it was valued, as it has been in many prior jobs. Although there are certainly many workplaces where I do feel it is seen as a weakness. I would recommend having a look at for some support and discussions around the topic.

If I was you, I would take some time to process the emotional reaction. Being turned down at interview is hard for everyone, and even more so when such a personal reason is given. Talk about it in supervision, as I would guess this will hang over you in your current role as well. (It certainly would for me.)

I feel you are certainly owed a more thorough explanation than this - specifically what evidence they have to back up this claim. Perhaps then you could approach the course in writing to request further feedback? And if none is forthcoming, be prepared to raise it to the course leader or to a complaint if needed. I doubt you will be able to get the decision over-turned, but more in-depth feedback or detail on their processes might be available. Ideally something in writing. I have no idea what your legal rights are, but this site has a discussion about your rights with GDPR: ... iew/59213/ I'd hope you would get somewhere with the university itself, but I'm sure it could be escalated higher (BPS? University department?) if needed.

Once you have some more detailed feedback, there may well be points you can work on for future interviews. It sounds like you disagree with the feedback given already, but sometimes our self-perception can be off, so worth checking in with what your existing colleagues say. There might be a disconnect between how you felt you came across and how they perceived you. While you don't have total control over their perception, there might be some concrete feedback to work with.

And if you decide not to do anything about it, that's fine too. This is your experience to respond to in the way that will be best for you.

Ultimately if you disagree with the feedback, don't let it put you off trying again. Maybe it was just bad luck with your particular interviewers.
Other universities may value lived experience much more in their personal suitability. Resilience is certainly part of the training, and what better way to prove your resilience by getting back on the horse next year, and using this as another chance for personal growth. Good luck!

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Re: Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by LolaSun » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:04 pm

Amazing. Thank you Hawke!

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Re: Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by Edgemo » Thu Apr 18, 2019 4:31 pm

This sucks as it sounds like you were SO close to being offered a place. If this was me I would try again next year and not apply to this particular institution. It seems their values do not reflect yours and in the long run, even if they had offered you a place, to me this suggests that you would not have been happy there. In other words, you have dodged the metaphorical bullet. I disagree that your experiences have, in some way, made you unable to cope with being a psychologist. If you think you can do it, that's all that counts. Don't give up and keep trying!!

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Re: Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by LolaSun » Thu Apr 18, 2019 7:10 pm

Thank you Edgemo!

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Re: Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by workingmama » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:00 am

I'm sorry that you've been left feeling this way. It sounds as if the course didn't give you clear enough feedback with specific examples to help you to access or understand their rationale. On the whole, courses have a lot of experience of people with MH difficulties or challenging/traumatic histories who apply to the DClinPsy. There are many of us in the profession who worked our way here either because we ourselves had good services and want to pay it on, or who had a bad experience and who choose to work here to try to improve things for others. Others manage ongoing MH challenges and find ways to work effectively and professionally as a CP. My own experience is not that courses discriminate on the basis of past history, but on their sense of what that history has meant for you in the context of your application and how you appear able to manage (or otherwise) with the rigours of training and the professional demands ahead.
Based on not knowing what your interview was like or what the exact feedback (or rationale for this) was, it's always hard to make an informed comment. On what I have read I wonder if you 'came across' as you feel you did, or whether the interviewing team felt that you seemed to have (understandably) some longer-term work to do on processing some of your experiences. I'm not disputing that you already work in MH services, but there is a difference between working (in my own experience) as a project worker or AP than holding your own caseload of often more complex and challenging cases.
I'm sorry if my reply feels in any way unhelpful or adds to the distress that you must be feeling right now. I don't get the sense that you have been 'rejected', so much as the team felt this was not the right step for you, although I can completely understand that this is how that feels at the moment. It is incredibly unfair that the life experiences you have been subjected to are stopping you from living the life you wanted for yourself.
I hoped that my feedback might offer a different perspective, and that this might be of some use to you in making sense of this experience.
Sending love and compassion, WM XXXXXXX
Fail, fail again, fail better.

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Re: Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by mungle » Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:32 am

HI Lola,

I'm sorry you've had such a difficult experience with the course interview and with the feedback. As a therapist you have probably already recognised the understandable and normal reactions this might evoke and I hope you are able to pull on resources in your life to help right now. Course rejections are hard enough.

The feedback, as you state it, goes against what many of us in this profession would consider ok. Having suffered does not automatically make one unsuitable for the profession and, following processing, reflection, self-awareness etc, may actually make one better at the role. If this is that particular course's views then I can only suggest applying elsewhere next year and qualify despite them. There are many of us out there who are practicing and have lived experience.

Another possibility is that the communication of the feedback has gone awry in which case seeking more information might be helpful. The interviewers, for whatever reason, may have concluded that further reflection and processing was needed in order to be able to fully meet clients' need. Training is intense and a very good breeding ground for activating attachments traumas, negative beliefs, difficult relationship patterns etc. and it's possible the interviewees may have interpreted a serene exterior in a different way. It's common for people to discover that despite feeling fine prior to training, training unleashes much more. Personally, I couldn't have made it through without therapy.
Only you and those close to can probably be clued into whether this is a factor or not....if, after time, you feel it might be then you could consider some therapy. Some people find a few sessions of CAT formulation can help or there are many other therapy approaches.

Whatever you decide, just know that there are many of us out there (qualified and otherwise) who value lived experience within our profession.

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Re: Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by Alex » Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:43 pm

This is very bizarre - childhood trauma in itself shouldn't exclude someone from training. It is shame they did not gave you the detailed feedback you needed which could you help in the future. I wonder what it was in the interview that signalled that they did not think training was for you. I suppose it is difficult to know what to make of this experience apart from being an unpleasant one now. There are often many different panels in clinical interviews and wondered whether you had a very punitive unenlightened one. You're safer not applying for this particular course again but I suspect it was more of a panel decision.

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Re: Rejected due to my childhood trauma

Post by Spatch » Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:31 am

I reckon if we excluded people with childhood trauma or adverse childhood experiences we wouldn't have anyone in this profession. Here are some recent high profile psychologists that discuss their experiences ... eud-centre ... e-obituary ... ked-beans/

@Lola, if that is the message you were left with by the course that is horrible in itself. However, personally I would want to clarify that with them to make sure that is the exact message they are intending to give to you, ideally in writing. In fact, you have the perfect pretext to do so -The panel member's admission about not having time to go into detail about this. The first port of call would be the admissions tutor, and if you aren't able to get a clear answer from them to then contact the course director. It is important to be non-defensive and curious/confused about this, that you are gathering formative information rather than challenging their final decision, and that the feedback was cut short because of a meeting the panel member had to attend.

If that really is the message they wanted to leave you with, then you've dodged a bullet. It may not feel like that right now, but trust me.
Shameless plug alert:

Irrelevant Experience: The Secret Diary of an Assistant Psychologist is available at Amazon ... 00EQFE5JW/

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