There are four main factors that underpin the quality of the psychotherapy I provide. They are my training, clinical supervision, continuing professional development and regulation of the practice of psychology.
- My training – Psychology is the scientific study of thoughts, feelings and behaviour. My undergraduate degree at University of Oxford provided me with a solid scientific foundation. At the time when I started my clinical training in 1985, training in the UK for clinical psychologists was not at the doctoral level (see Carstairs, K. (1989). Becoming a Clinical Psychologist in the United Kingdom. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 20, 44-47). I decided to train in the USA because I wanted to obtain a doctorate and I graduated in 1991 with distinction.
My clinical training was carried out over six years as a full time student. It was (and still is) a training that was approved by the American Psychological Association. After the first three years, the students selected a “track” that they specialised in. I chose to focus on psychoanalytic psychotherapy and my dissertation was a comparison of two psychoanalytic theories of infant development which then formed the basis for a published article (see Carstairs, K. (1992). Paranoid-schizoid or symbiotic? International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 73, 71-85).
All of my clinical supervisors in the last three years of the training took a psychoanalytic approach to treatment. This means that I am somewhat unusual in relation to my British trained colleagues as most psychologists in this country will not have this in-depth knowledge of psychoanalytic work, unless they have obtained an additional psychotherapy qualification.
In addition, I completed a psychoanalytic training with The Site for Contemporary Psychoanalysis to deepen my understanding and improve my clinical technique.
- Clinical supervision – Through-out one’s career, psychologists are required to obtain clinical supervision. This is essential because it provides a separate space for us to reflect on our work, benefit from the experience of a senior colleague and get feedback on any blind spots. I have a firm commitment to the value of supervision and I believe that it enhances the quality of the therapy service I provide. In my discussions with my supervisor, your identity is not revealed but if you have any concerns about this, please let me know.
- On-going professional development – In addition to clinical supervision, psychologists keep up to date informally by reading professional books and articles, and formally, by attending workshops and conferences. I have attended several such events in the past two years – see my CV.
- Regulation – The practice of psychology is regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). I am a registered clinical psychologist with the HCPC which means that my practice must meet certain minimum standards. To see what those standards are, click here. In addition, the British Psychological Society (of which I am an associate fellow and member of the division of clinical psychology) provides guidelines and ethical standards for psychologists to follow in their practice. I am also registered with the UKCP as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. To see what this means for my practise, click here psychotherapy