Hannah Ball

Clinical Psychologist in the NHS in Manchester

Class of 2008

A-levels: Psychology

University: Psychology Degree at the University of Birmingham

After Fir Vale, I went to college to study A-Levels. I chose to study at college because I knew that I wanted to go to university. During college, I found my Psychology A-Level really interesting so I decided to apply to study Psychology at university. Although I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as career, I thought that studying Psychology would provide me with knowledge and skills (such as critical evaluation, insight into how people behave in groups, statistical analysis etc.) that could be useful for a number of different career fields.

I obtained a place on a degree course at the University of Birmingham. Moving away gave me experience of meeting new people from all over the UK (and further afield), living independently and getting to know a new city. Whilst I was at college and university I also worked part-time at Tesco: this gave me invaluable experience of ‘the world of work’ whilst also helping to support me financially.

As part of my university degree, I did a placement year which involved working with young people experiencing mental health difficulties. I really enjoyed my placement, and, after my degree, I stayed in Birmingham and worked as a Research Assistant in mental health research for a couple of years. I then decided that I wanted to train as a Clinical Psychologist so that I could help people who are struggling, supporting them with making changes to relieve some of their distress. I knew there were very limited places on Clinical Psychology training courses, so I made sure I had a ‘back up plan’ if it didn’t work out.

Fortunately, I obtained a place on the Clinical Psychology Doctorate at the University of Manchester. This involved three years of working as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist and included; attending lectures/study, receiving training in a number of different therapeutic approaches, completing a piece of clinical research, and work on five clinical placements across different NHS services.

I now work as a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS in Manchester. My work typically involves conducting assessments, providing therapy to service users and their families, delivering training and supervising other members of the team. I love the varied nature of my role and like that I am still learning new things every day.

Message to students:

Strive for balance - if you have worked really hard, reward yourself! If you have had a bit too much of a break, get some work done (you will probably feel better once you do). Don’t worry if you don’t have a clear idea about what you want to do in the future, everyone is on their own path so try not to compare yourself to others. Even if you are not sure what you want to do, focusing on your education now will help to keep your options open for the future. Studying, gaining knowledge, and having different work experiences is important as it can help you to gain transferable skills that will be of use in any career. We all have strengths and things we find difficult, so invest time in the things that utilise and build on your strengths, and don’t be afraid to ask for help for the things you find more difficult.