Disclosing lived experience in application

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Disclosing lived experience in application

Post by CAW1234 » Wed May 29, 2019 10:39 pm

I’d really appreciate it if anyone has any advice on this.I’m really wanting to apply to do clinical, it’s been my dream for a long time. I haven’t had the easiest of rides with my mental health and education, i managed to complete school and A levels ok however i spent my teens and early 20’s pretty unwell with OCD and was in and out of hospital as result. I received a lot of treatment from clinical psychologists which r sparked my interest in psychology and gave me the drive to recover.
I managed to get a lot better and graduated with a 1st from a relatively ok university, however this took me 4 years instead of 3 as i had to take time out due to illness. Would this effect my application?
i am much better now and have worked as a mental health support worker for several years.
i am very unsure about how much of my lived experience i should disclose? i’ve heard certain universities can be a bit funny about it?
Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Disclosing lived experience in application

Post by workingmama » Sat Jun 01, 2019 4:11 pm


On my own application I wrote that there were 'personal and family difficulties at the time of my degree that affected my ability to perform at my best. I would be willing to discuss these at interview if required'. Wasn't asked about it (ever). In the interview at my university there was a person who used MH services on the panel, and their question was how would I help people who used our services feel at ease (or something similar). I responded that I had used services in the past and I felt that shaped my ability to understand how using our services can feel to some people (and then went on to answer the actual question). I didn't share what my use of services related to, wasn't asked, and didn't feel under any obligation to do so at interview.

It's entirely up to you how much you share of your own experience (personally I dislike the word 'disclose' when talking about difficult experiences or similar. It's using a different 'other' lexicon to refer to experiences which are common and -I am growing to think- perpetuates the idea that there are 'client' experiences, and the ones that everyone else has). If you would feel uncomfortable NOT including something, feel free, but be prepared to be asked (otherwise you'll worry about it) and be ready to answer if you've taken anything from that experience that is of use to you, and be ready to show your awareness of any vulnerabilities it's left you with. I also don't subscribe to the idea that everyone has to be a 'survivor' (I'm feeling quite cross today about a related subject, so don't worry if this sounds too pointed or vehement! :wink: ), so it's not necessary to always have to say that it was difficult, but how great it is that it was so growthful and wow, how you've learned useful stuff (gosh I AM cross today :lol: ). Sometimes things just suck, and that's all there is to say about it. If you can show that you've worked through as much as you need to, and that you can offer stability and resilience to work in this profession, I strongly feel that's enough.

Hope this helps x
Fail, fail again, fail better.

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Re: Disclosing lived experience in application

Post by Prosopon » Tue Jun 04, 2019 5:11 pm

Hi, if I ever apply to do clinical psychology training then I'm pretty sure I'd talk about my lived experience of mental health problems in my application, and in any interviews if I got shortlisted. This is because it is a huge part of my journey and leaving it out wouldn't feel right. I also think my personal experience will make me a better practitioner, especially as working with some psychologists has made me realise exactly what kind of psychologist I don't want to be! Any universities that would be funny about something like that are not the kind of universities that I would want anything to do with, personally. I suppose I would consider it a lucky escape if they rejected me on the grounds of my experience of mental health issues. I think it is a tough decision though and when I have talked about it before, in applications and interviews, I have felt quite vulnerable. In the past I have wondered if I would have been offered a job had I not been open about my anxiety, but I don't really know. I'd prefer to be open and honest about it.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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