Dr Jasmine Childs-Freredo is a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Roehampton. She was recently featured in this month’s edition of the The Psychologist and we caught up with her to find out what life is like training to become a counselling psychologist.
Why did you choose to become a Counselling Psychologist?
Growing up, I was always interested in the questions ‘who am I’ and ‘why do people do what they do?’ I used to think in depth about why I had certain reactions to things, be that a mental process or a more emotional one. My father once told me that he couldnt believe that around the age of 5, I was telling him about why people in the family were acting in the way they were! The field of counselling psychology is the place I found in my professional life, for my humanistic and philosophical intrigue into the human psyche.
Counselling psychology is a very special and unique field – it trains people to be clinicians helping others with their mental health, but also builds in the reflexive, and has a humanistic underpinning as opposed to working with the pathology of mental health.
For me, counselling psychology sees and treats people as unique and interesting individuals, and seeks to help them through alleviating distress.
Why did you choose Roehampton?
I chose to work at Roehampton for its relational ethos. This isn’t just about the courses and programmes that are run here, it’s also about a culture and team dynamic. The culture at Roehampton is more of a relational ‘team’ ethos, which I think you can feel as soon as you step into the building!
What types of work placements did you go on?
During my training, I worked at The Priory Hospital, delivering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which was a good experience for working in the private mental healthcare system. I also had placements later on in the NHS, working in primary and secondary care. The secondary care placement was very in-depth work with clients suffering with complex trauma, and included home visits. I think that is where I learnt the most, as I was challenged with complex cases. The work compounded me to look at my own robustness as a clinician, and spurred me to work hard on my own unconscious material in personal therapy. I am a believer that the more work you do on yourself, the more you are able to hold the difficult material of clients, and feed back to them in a therapeutic way.
Could you tell us about your research and what your interests are?
I undertook a postdoc in child and adolescent mental health at UoC, which looked at mental health screening in primary schools. I interviewed parents and teachers in 4 schools, and recently published a paper of the findings. I also was interested in the delivery of mindfulness into schools.
I am a trained yoga teacher, and very much believe in the applicability of yoga for mental health issues. I have just been awarded a small grant to look at developing yoga-integrated psychotherapy for emotion dysregulation (YiP). I am really excited about this study – it comes at a time when the All Party Parliamentary Group for Yoga have been invited to the House of Commons to share their findings on the impact of yoga on the brain, so it is very timely!
What advice would you give to students who would like to train on the Counselling Psychology course?
Be prepared! Being prepared for an interview is key. Coming to the interview with good clinical skills, and evidence of an interest in research and knowing some literature pertaining to a topic. Also, being prepared before the course starts is essential. Having an idea of what research they would like to take up, being aware of the methodologies in counselling psychology and perhaps having a placement set up or an idea of where they would like to set up a placement. Having a personal therapist is also a good preparation.
Have you been involved with any of the projects at the CREST Clinic?
I have just set up my yoga-integrated psychotherapy for emotion dysregulation (YiP) to run in the CREST clinic with the support of Professor Mick Cooper.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your profession?
I would encourage all individuals thinking about a training in mental health to consider counselling psychology. It really offers a huge amount and I think it can get ‘lost’ in the face of other trainings such as psychiatry and clinical psychology. If you are interested in a humanistic approach to mental health, have an interest in self-development and also research, then it could be the course for you.
I think counselling psychologists are generally quite interesting people! What I mean by that is, they are a varied group of characters who have managed to look at themselves as much as they looked to help others. Most of the time in our society we are given messages to conform or be ‘normal’. Counselling psychologists tend to be able to have really open and frank chats, and try to be themselves, as opposed to being railroaded into ‘discussions’ bound by social ideations and constructs.