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Applications for clinical psychology training far outstrip places and relevant work experience is key. Paid opportunities are limited and therefore many choose…
Applications for clinical psychology training far outstrip places and relevant work experience is key. Paid opportunities are limited and therefore many choose volunteering, with well-connected graduates faring best. To promote equal opportunities a coordinated psychology graduate voluntary internship programme was established in a National Health Service Trust in the South of England. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate intern and supervisor outcomes, equality of access and adherence to governance standards.
Three cohorts of interns, unappointed applicants and supervisors were surveyed. Between 2013 and 2016, 270 psychology graduates applied, 119 were recruited and 151 either refused a place or were unsuccessful. In total, 91 supervisors provided service-level feedback.
Interns and applicants were predominantly young, able-bodied white British heterosexual females. Demographic profiles were similar and broadly representative of psychology graduates nationally. While fewer were from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds, proportions were greater than the local population. Participants were more socioeconomically privileged than undergraduates nationally. The scheme was popular and well governed according to interns and supervisors. Post-internship employment prospects were improved, with most interns gaining paid mental health roles like assistant psychologist. Most supervisors commented on the positive contribution made by interns to service outcomes.
This study makes a significant contribution to the literature on voluntary psychology graduate posts, an area under-researched until now. Our results suggest that a coordinated, transparent approach can benefit both interns and services by minimising exploitation and maximising developmental opportunities for the new graduate. The programme makes an important contribution to addressing inequalities experienced by psychology graduates attempting to enter mental health careers.