Senior Psychologist Angela Hain completed her Doctor of Psychology (Clinical) at ACU’s Melbourne Campus. She shares her study and current experiences in the field.
"Entry into the postgraduate professional psychology program was a challenging process. In addition to meeting strict academic entry criteria, it involved lengthy interviews with selection committees.
"I was lucky to be offered places at a number of universities and I remembered my interview at ACU the most fondly. Staff were engaging, relaxed and gave the impression that the doctorate would be undertaken in a supportive learning environment. I left the interview feeling that ACU was the place I wanted to be and I was pleased these expectations were met once I enrolled in the course. The staff were well experienced in a range of clinical orientations (i.e. CBT, psychodynamic, humanistic) and this brought a depth of knowledge to the clinical content that was provided. It was well beyond what could be obtained in clinical or research textbooks.
"I found the coursework balanced the theoretical underpinnings, ethical and practical components of clinical psychology well. Our stream undertook the first year of the course with the postgraduate educational and developmental students, prior to specialising in adult intervention in second year. During this time, we focused on child, family and adolescent psychology and this sparked a personal interest in working with young people. I was able to purse this interest in my clinical placements, then later in my professional employment dealing with child and youth mental health services (community and inpatient).
"Of most value was the opportunity for clinical supervision and the quality of the supervision that was provided. I attended weekly case conference meetings and also had a number of individual academic supervisors who added to the support of the external supervisors on my placements.
"Our Placement Officer put in a lot of effort to secure placements that not only met our course requirements but also our individual career aspirations. I undertook my first placement at a private clinical and forensic psychology firm (Caraniche). I also worked in a clinical and health psychology outpatient department at a public hospital (Austin Health) and undertook an observational placement in a mobile crisis assessment team (Frankston CAT). These placements enhanced my assessment, treatment planning and delivery skills.
"As my experience grew, I completed cognitive and academic assessments at the Royal Children’s Hospital and had my final placement in an adolescent inpatient and day program at the Albert Road Clinic, a private psychiatric hospital in inner Melbourne. I acquired more specialist skills in group therapy and in DBT during this time.
"Having completed placements in a range of settings, I learnt about systems of mental health and how these impact on treatment planning and the delivery of the services to mental health clients across the developmental spectrum at differing points of recovery. The placements also provided me with the skills required to secure a position in a private psychiatric hospital in London where I was employed on a working holiday immediately after completing my degree.
"Currently, I am employed as a Senior Psychologist at the Mood Academic Clinical Unit, The Princess Alexandra Hospital Mental Health Service in Brisbane. I work with a multidisciplinary team of professionals including psychiatrists, social workers, nurses, occupational therapists, administrative and other medical staff who specialise in the treatment of mood, personality, anxiety and eating disorders of a moderate to severity. My role involves undertaking clinical assessments, case formulation, treatment planning and report writing. I deliver psychoeducation and evidence based therapy including CBT, Behaviour Activation Therapy and DBT to clients and their families. I also provide regular supervision to students on placement and continue my interests in clinical research, currently focusing on therapeutic groups."