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Guest Blog Post: Trainee Psychological Well-being Practitioner Interview Tips

Hi there! I’m Jess! My experience varies a lot from psychology graduate to trainee psychological well-being practitioner, assistant psychologist and trainee counsellor. I also created and run a website called Psych Library where I share blogs posts and resources.. My ultimate passion and interest lies with trauma work and I hope to in future work with victims of trauma on a full time basis, as a counselling psychologist.

In March 2021, I secured a job as a trainee psychological well-being practitioner (TPWP) after one interview. I was amazed, as I had expected to that I may have had to complete a number of interviews before securing a role. I feel like my interview preparation and personality, definitely set me up for the interview and allowed me to display the best version of myself as a candidate. Therefore, I wanted to share some valuable tips which helped me secure a trainee psychological well-being practitioner (TPWP) role.

What is a TPWP?

Firstly what is a TPWP? A TPWP is a band 4 training role which after 12 months training qualifies you as a band 5 psychological well-being practitioner (PWP). Over these 12 months along side working in a service, you will complete university assignments and lectures to qualify with a post graduate certificate (PGCert). TPWPs/PWPs work within IAPT (improving access to psychological therapies) services, delivering low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy (LI-CBT) interventions for clients with mild to moderate anxiety and/or low mood symptoms. The presence and severity of symptoms is assessed using outcome measures/ assessment tools such as the GAD-7 (for anxiety) & PHQ-9 (for low mood).

Let's Get To The Interview Tips

Firstly congratulations on your interview offer or good luck with your application if you are planning to apply for upcoming roles. When applying keep an eye on when your local services advertise as there are usually 2 intakes a year. For the service I was offered a position in/ worked for, intake was every March and October.

Do your research!

The interviewer will most likely ask you what you know about IAPT or the service so be prepared. Who created IAPT and why? What clients do IAPT support?... You may find the below links helpful:

Know the stepped care model!

You may get asked directly about this or may find it useful what describing your experience to give examples of where your experience sits in this model. I for example before my TPWP role, I had worked in a GP surgery (step one), on inpatient mental health wards (step five) and done placement in community teams (step four).

(Stepped care diagram)

If we think specifically about IAPT services and making a clinical decision about a client with anxiety or depression, step by one would be primary care/GP, step two would be PWPs, step three would be high intensity CBT therapists (HITs) and step four would be senior CBT therapists, psychologists and EMDR therapists.

(Stepped care diagram)

Role plays at interview!

I was fortunate that I didn't get a role play as part of my interview but I know this can be common. Remember the interviewer doesn't expect it to be perfect or for you to know everything. It's a training role and you haven't started yet, don't be harsh on yourself.

The key things to remember is explaining confidentiality (you can see my resource on this), being professional, keeping to time if there is a time limit and bringing your personality, we want clients to engage with sessions. You may get a scenario involving risk so it can be good to practice how you would manage risk in a calm and effective way. Again you are still learning so you won't be expected to jump into a full risk assessment but it can help to think about the following questions:

  • What are the thoughts? (Is the client wanting to end their life or is it a feeling that they want things to stop?)

  • How often do they have the thoughts?

  • Have they made any plans to act on them?

  • Have they made any presentations? (e.g., stock piling medication, buying rope)

  • What's their intent of acting on the thoughts out of 10?

  • Is there any past risk?

  • Do they feel able to keep themselves safe?

  • How can we manage the current risk level

(Can someone manage their medication? Can we give them crisis numbers? Do they have any distractions which help reduce the thoughts? Do they have protective factors?...)

Don't down play your experience!

If we haven't had the chance to work in roles such as an assistant psychologist, we can feel unworthy of a TPWP role or interview and feel we don't have the experience. That's simply not true! Every role you have or qualification you get is amazing experience. It can be useful to ask the following questions of yourself.

  • Have I had client facing experience?

  • Have you worked anywhere in the stepped care model?

  • Have you worked with anxiety and depression?

  • Have you used clinical systems?

  • Have you worked as part of a multi disciplinary team (MDT)?

  • Have you done any charity work?

Good Luck!

I want to personally wish you all the best with your interviews and applications.


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