Mentoring trainee psychologists: learning from lived experience

Hannah Prytherch (Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University, Tunbridge Wells, UK)
Laura Lea (Department of Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University, Tunbridge Wells, UK)
Matthew Richardson (Department of Clinical Psychology, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Publication date: 9 July 2018



The purpose of this paper is to examine service-users’ experiences of mentoring trainee clinical psychologists as part of an involvement initiative on a doctoral training course.


Seven service-users were paired with trainee clinical psychologists. Pairs met for one hour monthly over six months. Meetings were unstructured, lacked a formal agenda and were not evaluated academically. All seven mentors were interviewed. They were asked about positive and negative experiences, as well as about the support provided. Transcripts were subject to thematic analysis and themes were reviewed by mentors in a follow-up meeting.


Overall, the results demonstrate that service-users can be involved in training in a way that they find meaningful and contribute to their recovery. Seven themes were identified: giving hope and optimism; making a difference; personal and professional development; the process; practicalities/logistics; support (positives); and support (areas for improvement).

Practical implications

The importance of designing involvement initiatives in a way which implicitly supports service-user values was highlighted. Recommendations for designing effective support structures are given. The authors were also involved in the scheme which could have introduced bias.


The research exploring service-users’ experiences of involvement in training health professionals is limited. This was the first study to explore in depth service-users’ perspectives of involvement in a scheme such as the mentoring scheme. If initiatives are to seriously embrace the values of the service-user movement then seeking service-users’ perspectives is vital.



Prytherch, H., Lea, L. and Richardson, M. (2018), "Mentoring trainee psychologists: learning from lived experience", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 197-208.

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