Meet our ASPIRE group

Collage featuring four of our aspiring clinical psychologists.

We recognise that there are many psychology graduates seeking work experience as assistant psychologists as part of the process of preparing to apply for clinical psychology training. The ASPIRE Programme provides opportunities for aspiring clinical psychologists who experience barriers to entering paid work as an assistant psychologist.

Meet some of our aspiring clinical psychologists below.

Rebecca Shoesmith

Rebecca Shoesmith

Leaving university, I wasn’t financially able to join the gruelling competition of applying for AP roles 24/7. Instead, I navigated 12-hour shifts while applying sleep deprived and exhausted. With never ending rejections and little feedback, I didn’t understand where I was going wrong but felt that I faced clear barriers.

“When I discovered the ASPIRE scheme, I knew I couldn’t miss out on an opportunity of a lifetime. As an ASPIRE AP, I was given the chance to learn from psychologists and the time to reflect on my aspirations in clinical psychology. Importantly, the value of my experience as a person of colour has been put on the forefront throughout.”

Rebecca’s highlights:

  • A highlight has been the scheme connecting likeminded people who often feel alone in their experience, creating an uplifting and empowering network.
  • The scheme gave me the opportunity to develop my breadth and depth of psychology, by shadowing psychological and psychotherapy services across the Trust.

Sheeza Farooq

Sheeza Farooq

“Joining ASPIRE has been vital in my personal growth and self-exploration, particularly as it offers opportunities for marginalised communities in the clinical psychology field. ASPIRE's strong emphasis on diversity and individuality has enriched my experiences, despite challenges and uncertainties in supervision.

“The unwavering support from Dr Yvette Arthur and my supportive ward team sustained my learning. This journey led me to secure a new role within another mental health team, expanding my horizons.”

Sheeza’s highlights:

  • Mentor sessions that provide the guidance and constant support throughout the journey
  • Various Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities on formulations, which allowed me to learn different approaches and reflect on my own identity.

Imaan Hussain

Imaan Hussain

“Before obtaining the ASPIRE AP role, I had applied to countless others. Unfortunately, most were looking for experienced APs and I felt stuck in a cycle of how do I gain experience if no one’s providing it. I then came across the ASPIRE programme which felt like an answer to my prayers due to the fact it recognised we may not have prior experience and aimed to provide it.

“The programme being targeted at ethnic minorities was highly motivating too as not only was there a chance to be involved in diversifying the workforce, it allowed for a space to connect with other APs with a similar interest in creating diversity. I loved the fact that my experience was tailored to my needs in terms of what skills I felt needed to be developed, which supervision was really helpful for. This was not limited to my service as I was able to arrange shadowing opportunities in different services that aligned with my interests.”

Imaan’s highlights:

  • The CPD sessions were really informative and enjoyable as it was also a chance to catch up with the other APs and learn from each other about different services. 
  • Supervision was an amazing chance to really reflect and develop yourself as well as using it as a space for your own mental health.  

Eileen Akibola

Eileen Akibola

"As a black woman working in mental health, I have often found myself in the minority. I believe that it is important that clients are able to access a service that also reflects their own identities. Therefore, I saw the ASPIRE programme as a great stepping stone to start to achieve this.

“During my first week as an ASPIRE AP, I was thrilled to join a culturally diverse MDT. I learnt a lot about other people’s cultures which I believe has helped prepare me to work with a diverse client group. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the ASPIRE programme and believe it has increased my confidence and helped me develop clinical, research and leadership skills.”

Eileen’s highlights:

  • ASPIRE AP reflective practice – I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with other APs on the programme and learning about their experiences. It was also a safe and containing space facilitated by Dr Yvette Arthur who allowed us to bring any concerns, dilemmas or worries that we had.
  • The Tree of Life formulation CPD session – I really enjoyed hearing about other people’s stories and reflections on their social identities. It was also interesting to hear how it led them to pursuing a career in clinical psychology. 

Nirasha Galhenege

Nirasha Galhenege

"Being a part of the ASPIRE programme has allowed me to explore my identity as a person of colour and recognise the strengths and unique perspectives this brings to my clinical practice. The programme has allowed me to put my foot in the door of clinical psychology, providing access and opportunities that I would not usually have been given.

"The CPD sessions were so valuable in supporting our learning and exploring ideas relating to reflection, supervision, identity and more. I am truly grateful for my place on this programme, and I feel more motivated than ever to continue pursuing my career in clinical psychology."

Nirasha’s highlights:

  • Meeting the other ASPIRE APs, feeling part of a community with individuals who have faced similar barriers/challenges.
  • Reflective practice sessions.

Leanne Makarem

"The ASPIRE AP scheme was especially useful in enhancing my reflective skills as an aspiring clinical psychologist. The scheme encouraged me to reflect on my unique lived experiences, my identity as an Arab woman, the aspects of my identity (visible or invisible) I choose to bring to work, and the influence that may have on my work and the clients I interact with. 

"My wonderful team at Wandsworth CAMHS Tier 3 Service, especially my clinical supervisor, maintained a supportive and psychologically safe work environment for me to feel confident enough in my skills and abilities, to trust in my intuition and clinical judgement, and to bring my authentic self to work."

 Leanne’s highlights:

  • Support from the ASPIRE scheme lead and my ASPIRE AP Peers. The ASPIRE scheme lead, Dr Yvette Arthur, helped build up our confidence as aspiring clinicians, encouraged us to embrace our identities as individuals from minority ethnic or low income backgrounds, and served as an advocate for us both in the Trust and within our individual work placements. Additionally, having peers that I identified and related with and hearing their unique stories and reflections from their work was an incredibly insightful learning experience.
  • Various CPD sessions i.e. tree of life, supervision, reflective practices, which helped build my understanding of my story and identity and how that fits within the NHS system and how I choose to bring my identity into my work.