Sophie Lee is a Trainee Clinical Psychologist at Plymouth University. Sophie shares her experience with getting on the doctorate and how she overcame obstacles along the way!
What drew you to a career in clinical psychology?
I am first generation born Chinese, and I noticed in my first year of Psychology that I was the only Chinese person in my cohort. I always felt I could give a different perspective to some experiences my lecturers were describing: Anglo-Chinese perspectives. My experience in trying to understand mental health and emotional wellbeing was almost hindered by my Chinese culture/mental health stigma, and its with curiosity that I was drawn into clinical psychology.
What was your experience of studying psychology at undergraduate level?
It was hard. My grandfather came to the UK in the '50s and all his children became takeaway workers. I was the first in my family to go to university and I had no expectations of what that may be like.
There was just myself and one other Chinese person in a cohort of 80, and it was hard for my friends to understand that despite being at university, there was an expectation for me to return home (100 miles away) each weekend to help in the takeaway. so studying took up most of my other free time.
What was your favourite prequalification role and why?
A residential care worker for one year (non-NHS). I had been an Assitant Psychologist before for children in care and then became a carer for the same children when the role was made redundant, and it was so helpful to get a realistic understanding of working hands-on for long periods of time with young people. I learnt so much.
How many times did you apply to the doctorate before you gained a place?
9 years and 9 applications.
What has been your experience of clinical psychology doctorate interviews?
I have had four altogether. One interview was awful where the panel member said "Oh you just don't understand Wales at all" during the interview. Plymouth was great and I had a Black woman on the panel and I felt really listened to and heard when I spoke proudly of my heritage and Anglo-Chinese upbringing. It was the first time I have felt comfortable talking about my heritage as a strength rather than as a limitation/barrier. It was the only interview where I felt safe to talk openly about my heritage and who I am because of it. Possibly due to there being another woman of colour being on the panel.
Why do you think it's important to have a diverse ethnic representation in clinical psychology?
Because there is a disparity of power, a lack of BAME understanding, and a massive mental health stigma that needs to be addressed.
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