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Workload is a great teacher.

Name: Rachel Wilkinson

Age: 37

Job title: Primary Care Mental Health Worker

Where do you work?

I work for Gateshead Primary Care Trust and I'm based in four different GP surgeries.

What does your job involve?

Offering therapy to adults with common mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, OCD, agoraphobia or work and relationship stress. I also give psycho-education advice and sort out how to manage problems such as anxiety and depression.

What are the most important qualities you need for this type of work?

Caring, understanding, patient and be non-judgemental. You need a broad range of psychological therapeutic skills and experience. Need to try to tailor-make each care plan to suit individual patient. No two cases of anxiety or depression are the same and my response as therapist is to try to make the treatment as individual as possible.

How long have you been in the profession?

Altogether I've been in people-orientated work for 14 years and in this job for two-and-a-half years.

Where did you train and what did the training involve?

A BSC in psychology at the University of East London from 1989 until 1992. I returned home to the North East where I spent four years working in social services before undertaking social work training at Northumbria University from 1996 until 1998.

Then I gained experience working in the court system with young offenders, writing assessments for the courts.

I spent a further year in mental health secondary care working with people who have severe and enduring problems.

From September 2002 until 2004 I trained as a counsellor at Teesside University while working full time as a drug and alcohol social worker. At the end of the training I gained a post graduate diploma in counselling psychology.

I started my current job in March 2004.

Why did you decide to do this job?

I get an ongoing education in life and how to survive it from patients. After some of the jobs I've done as a social worker I find this the most rewarding as I can relate to the patients as an equal and can usually understand their problems even if I haven't had the same experiences. I also wanted to keep on developing as a therapist. I have supervision with a clinical psychologist once every three weeks and this helps me to apply psychological theories to the problems patients present.

What do you like best about the job?

Developing my clinical judgement to a very high standard. This is due to seeing so many patients ( we see six patients a day and do four counselling days in any one working week. So inevitably your clinical skills become very fine tuned and that makes you an exceptionally good therapist.

What do you like least about it?

Sometimes you have to negotiate the things you need with practice managers and GPs, such as needing a decent room. GP surgeries are now stretched to the limit for space. We are considered a priority for room space but it can still be a bit tricky.

What's your favourite film and book?

Film: The Wizard of Oz.

Book: There are too many to mention.

What's your favourite food?

Anything vegetarian.

How would you spend pounds 1m?

I would develop my own counselling organisation where my friends and I would provide a state of the art service. We would use hypnotherapy, relaxation, life coaching and other alternative approaches to healthcare.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 8, 2007
Words:570
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