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  1. Alumni profiles:
  2. Areej
  3. Elena
  4. Kirstin & Tom
  5. Mattia
  6. Mauricio
  7. Mikoto
  8. Rosa
  9. Selina
  10. Eva
  11. Kimberley
  12. Rita

Alumni profiles:

Alumni from our courses go on to a range of careers and further training, spanning a wide variety of interests and pathways. Meet some of our alumni, former UCL students who studied at the Centre, and read about their inspiring journeys in the stories below.

Areej

MSc Development Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP)

Areej Jaffrani graduated from the MSc Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP) in 2017, and is now a Play and Sandplay Therapist-in-Training in Karachi, Pakistan. 

What began as mere curiosity in the form of Psychology electives at McGill University quickly became a passion, and Areej changed her major to pursue the subject formally at undergraduate level, ultimately graduating with a BA in Economics and Psychology. Areej was struck by the misinformation and lack of resources on the topic of mental health and at the minimal access to mental health care for children and adolescents in her home country.

In an effort to contribute to the mental health field in Pakistan and bring about meaningful change to reduce stigma and increase access, Areej decided to pursue the DPCP program for its unique combined focus on research and clinical training. She felt that studying at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families not only gave her the opportunity to train under the best minds in the field, but also to study where the practice of child psychotherapy was pioneered.  

During her two years on the course, Areej came to learn the importance of kindness, empathy, self-awareness, and self-belief, which were reinforced and lived by lecturers, supervisors, administration, and course mates alike - several of whom she has fostered lifelong personal and professional relationships with. She believes these lessons have played an invaluable part in her journey to becoming an effective child therapist.

Areej's research on “Mentalization-Based Therapy and Epistemic Trust”, under the supervision of Dr. Nick Midgley, was one of the aspects of the program she found most enjoyable, and she went on to receive BACP’s New Researcher Award in 2019. An accompanying research paper has now also been published in the Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy. 

Gaining hands-on experience through practical classroom lectures for clinical skills, the second-year clinical placement, and Clinical Work Discussion Groups under Dr. Peter Fuggle, led Areej to pursue a career as a child and adolescent therapist. Since graduation, she has received intensive training in Play Therapy and Jungian Sandplay Therapy and is now working towards completing her clinical hours for certification in both.

Over the last year, Areej has also played a vital role in co-founding The Mental Health & Well-Being Department in a private school in Karachi and has helped develop and implement a holistic school-wide mental health program. This represents one of the first of its kind in Pakistan. Her work at the school includes developing prevention and intervention programs for children from early childhood to adolescence, conducting awareness sessions and trainings for teachers, parents, and students, establishing mental health and safeguarding policies, and developing protocols for support for students with social, emotional, and learning difficulties.

Areej believes the knowledge and experiences she gained during her time at the Anna Freud Centre, and the opportunity to share ideas with like-minded individuals, played a fundamental role in furthering her professional career and supported her in starting conversations about child and adolescent mental health – an oft-ignored topic in her country.

Elena

MSc Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology (PDP)

Elena Panagiotopoulou completed the MSc degree in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology (PDP) in 2012.

The course offered Elena the opportunity to study child development through various psychoanalytic perspectives, and to gain real-world experience through observations. Moreover, Elena developed strong research skills during her time on the course and conducted research (as part of a longitudinal study) on the impact of multiple changes in caregiving and maltreatment experiences prior to adoption on children’s attachment representations. Exposure to a psychoanalytical way of thinking made her realise that while psychoanalysis may be irreducible to science, there is no reason why they cannot complement and inform each other.

 

After completing a second masters in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, funded by the ESRC and the NPSA, Elena completed a PhD, under the supervision of Prof. Katerina Fotopoulou and Prof. Alessandra Lemma. Her project looked at how our perception of the body from inside (i.e. interoception), as well as from outside (i.e. physical appearance) influence different aspects of our psychological self. Her two masters degrees equipped her with knowledge both about the subjective, first-person perspective of the mind, and the more objective, biological study of the brain, and her PhD allowed her to combine these two perspectives, learning how to initiate an interdisciplinary dialogue. Under the guidance of Katerina, she conducted experimental research combining models and methods from neuroscience with psychoanalytic concepts and ideas.

In an interesting twist, just before finishing her PhD, Elena returned to the MSc PDP; this time not as a student, but as a Research Tutor and, later on, as the Deputy Programme Director. Working closely with Dr Alejandra Perez, Programme Director (and also PDP alumnus!), they are preserving the unique components of the course, while looking to bring in contemporary clinical applications and research, helping students to apply these skills and knowledge to a range of potential career destinations, keeping the programme at the forefront of exciting developments in the field of child mental health and parenting.

Kirstin & Tom

Masters in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology (DNP)

Meet Kirstin Purves and Tom McGregor, both graduates of the Masters in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology (DNP) at University College London, in collaboration with the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and the Yale Child Study Center.

Kirstin and Tom’s experiences have led them to work closely together on research projects at King’s College London. Kirstin was part of the course cohort a year ahead of Tom, but they briefly crossed paths over the summer as part of the year spent during the course at Yale Child Study Center. At the end of that summer Kirstin began a PhD at the Social Genetic Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London, studying the genetics of anxiety. Meanwhile, Tom stayed on to complete his MSc thesis, replicating a fear conditioning experiment. He later went on to work at a tech start-up creating apps for researchers. Coincidentally, part of Kirstin’s PhD project involved developing and validating a smartphone app to deliver a fear conditioning task remotely to thousands of individuals. 

A year or so later, Kirstin and Tom caught up at a course alumni dinner. With Kirstin about to commence an ambitious phase of data collection, and Tom considering his next career steps, the timing was particularly serendipitous! Kirstin and her team were really in need of a research assistant who could hit the ground running and get involved with the project. Tom applied, got the job and a few months later signed on for a PhD. He is now in the process of expanding and using the app to collect large-scale data to unpick why some people go on to develop anxiety and mechanisms that drive these differences.

Kirstin and Tom reflect on their journeys to date, and the personal and professional impact of the Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology course:

Our current work draws on multiple perspectives and methods to try and answer our research questions. The MRes Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology at the Anna Freud Centre was a strong foundation in this way of thinking and approaching science. Before the course, one of us had been working in mental health rehabilitation and recovery and the other had been an assistant psychologist. We were both contemplating a future in clinical psychology but were interested in understanding the big-picture questions about what causes mental illness. The Anna Freud Centre was a great place to explore and learn about all of these topics in a setting that was both clinical and academic, with the added bonus of a full year of research training giving real practical insight into what it is to ‘do research’ and ‘be a scientist’.

It’s been really interesting to reflect on the differences between who we were and what we wanted to do before and after the course. The course taught us more than just practical rote knowledge (although that was valuable) – it taught us to engage in thinking about things in many different ways, to learn about and draw from different fields, and focus on the best way to answer the question at hand, rather than the only way we know how. It’s all of these ‘invisible’ skills that have really helped develop our careers as scientists.

The less invisible benefit to the course was social. You are a part of a small group with diverse but overlapping interests, moving between continents and experiencing a unique learning process together. It is hard not to form long-lasting friendships. While debating, arguing or sharing differing ideas (and even on the rare occasion agreeing completely) you really develop the idea that science is not a lonely endeavour. It is best carried out collaboratively by a group of people with complementary skills and ideas. We have been pretty lucky to achieve both collaboration and friendship.

Mattia

Masters in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology (DNP)

Meet Mattia Indi Gerin, one of our brilliant alumni, who graduated from the MRes in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology (DNP) in 2015. He tells us about his journey to date.

My academic journey began by studying a double major in Economics and Philosophy. Despite still holding both disciplines in high esteem, I soon realised that my curiosity for understanding the human mind and social interactions was not going to be satisfied by the course curriculum for these subjects. Thus, after much ponderation, I decided to switch gears and begin my study of Psychology. After some initial resistance to what seemed (and still does on some occasions) an excessively positivist approach to knowledge, I quickly became enchanted by the wealth of new understanding yielded by the scientific method. During my undergraduate degree, my interest in human behaviour and neuroscience were sparked by many inspiring researchers. In particular, working closely with Professor Andy Ellis and Professor Andy Young had a profound impact on my young brain!

Having experienced first-hand during his postgraduate study what it was like to work in laboratories at the forefront of innovation in psychology, neuroscience and research, Mattia became passionate about and determined to pursue a career in research: ‘I was lucky to be the beneficiary of a PhD UCL Impact Scholarship, which allowed me to work under the supervision of Prof. Eamon McCrory and Prof. Essi Viding in the Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit at UCL. I used neuroimaging techniques and behavioural experimental paradigms to investigate the impact that childhood abuse and neglect can have on neurobiological, affective, social and cognitive development. In hindsight, the skills and knowledge gained during the MRes programme enabled me to enjoy my PhD and to confidently face the challenges of research at a doctoral level.

I came to understand that following exposure to childhood maltreatment, many alterations in psychological and brain development are likely the result of adaptations and recalibrations to adverse early environments. Despite short-term advantages, these changes can come at a long-term cost. When they are no longer adaptive, as I have shown in some of my research, they may increase the risk of developing future mental health problems. I realised the importance of developing more preventative approaches to interventions and the great contribution that research – especially neuroscience and experimental psychology – can have on clinical practice and healthcare policy. This has recently motivated me to add another layer to my understanding: in 2018 I began a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at UCL, in close collaboration with the NHS. This journey has just started, and it is to early yet to summarise the (very positive) experience so far. What I can say, however, is that the early and solid foundations in mental health and neurocognitive development laid down during my MSc course are still reverberating today in my clinical practice and applied research.

Mauricio

Masters in Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology (DNP)

Meet Mauricio Alvarez-Monjarás, one of our brilliant alumni, who graduated from the Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology (DNP) course in 2016.

With the goal of completing clinical psychology training, Mauricio followed his BSc study at Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City with the Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology programme at the Anna Freud Centre. While Mauricio felt that he already had quite a strong clinical grounding, he wanted to enhance his skills and experience in research. The interesting structure of the course appealed: the fact that the programme had a substantial neuroscience element, and the way in which the two years comprised study in both the UK (at UCL and the Anna Freud Centre) and the US (at the Child Study Centre, Yale School of Medicine). The historical background of the Anna Freud Centre and the opportunity to study psychodynamic theory in such a setting was also particularly intriguing.

Reflecting on his experience of the course, Mauricio notes the value of studying with a diverse cohort. Although relatively small, the group encompassed a real mix of people, both culturally and in terms of the variety of experiences – work and otherwise - that fellow students brought to the course. The time spent with each other, and the experience of sharing thought process and problems, led to lasting friendships. Mauricio also credits the opportunities offered by the time spent at Yale with significant development of his research abilities. By not assigning students to a specific lab, but rather offering a unique experience for each person depending on their interests, the year enabled Mauricio to develop his independent research skills in a personalised and high-calibre environment.

Following the MSc DNP, Mauricio embarked on the Clinical Psychology Doctorate at UCL. His DClinPsy thesis focused on fidelity measurement for the implementation of social network interventions for complex mental health difficulties, looking specifically at the trial of ‘Open Dialogue’, a model of mental health care which involves a consistent family and social network approach to treatment. Mauricio is now undertaking post-doctoral research in the Netherlands with the Phrenos Center of Expertise for Severe Mental Illness and the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht), where he is principal investigator for the evaluation of the implementation and effects of Peer-supported Open Dialogue (POD) in the Netherlands. He is also working with other institutions to build a global consortium around the approach. Mauricio is additionally undertaking further PhD study on the background to the project, in the area of recovery-oriented care, and building up his own private clinical psychology practice.

Mauricio reflects on the DNP course as marking a big moment in his life both personally and professionally. He highlights the way in which his experiences on the programme led to better embedded research skills which have supported him in his career since, and also the quality of the relationships he developed through the course, including work with Prof Eamon McCrory, Dr Helena Rutherford and Dr Vanessa Puetz, as well as all the other staff who encouraged him on his journey. Mauricio describes the Centre as being ‘like a big family. Once you’re part of it, everyone is friendly and supportive…through participation in your course, as well as joining in with the other opportunities offered through being at the Anna Freud Centre, you form bonds and a sense of community, and the support stays with you.’

Mikoto

MSc Development Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP)

Meet one of our brilliant alumni, Mikoto Nakajima, Junior Consultant at public sector management consultancy The PSC (The Public Sector Consultants), and graduate of the Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP) programme.

Following her undergraduate degree in Psychology at McGill University in Montreal, alongside which she worked as an ABA therapist with young children Research Assistant, Mikoto followed her interest in pursuing clinical psychology to the MSc DPCP at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families. Mikoto wanted to explore different approaches to clinical work, including psychoanalysis, and the opportunity to complete a placement as part of the course particularly appealed.

There were so many memorable things about the course’, recalls Mikoto. She cites in particular the work discussion groups, which formed an integral part of the reflective element of the course, as a safe space to explore ideas. The parent–infant observation, too, was a real highlight. The small cohort of just 12 students created an intimate atmosphere and the feeling of experiencing something unique together, especially given the move from the Centre’s historic home in Maresfield Gardens to the new Kantor Centre for Excellence half-way through the course.

After completing the course with submission of her thesis, Mikoto took five months away from study and work, during which she travelled to a number of countries, including Iceland, India, Japan and Morocco. Mikoto found this time incredibly helpful to reflect on the previous two years, as well as to think about what she wanted to do next. With experience of having worked in the health and social care sector in number of countries, including in social work in Japan, Mikoto had found that there were common themes across the challenges faced by those working within and accessing services. These included structural issues, as well considerations around the decision-making process and how this translated to front-line activities. Mikoto began to think about the design and delivery of services in a broader sense, and the impact that she could have through being involved in a more strategic way. She successfully applied for a Junior Consultant position with The PSC (formerly known as 2020 Delivery), starting in January 2020.

In her public sector management consultancy role, Mikoto supports services to make structural changes to improve processes and delivery. This includes working with NHS England, as well as NHS Trusts and Local Authorities across the country, for example looking at the process of how an A & E department manages admissions. Mikoto feels strongly that the transferable skills – as well as the knowledge of clinical work – that her masters provided her with have been hugely helpful for the consultancy role. ‘So many industries value what the study of psychology gives you,’ she reflects. ‘This includes the interpersonal skills you develop, as well as the client management element.’ Mikoto also values the rigour of the qualitative research skills she developed through the MSc DPCP course, and the way in which the course emphasised the application and translation of research to the real world. These skills have helped Mikoto evaluate the links between user experiences and higher-level decision making in her work in healthcare consultancy.

Mikoto also reflects positively on the two-year timeframe of the MSc course: ‘It gave us time to develop, to process and fully consider all the new ideas and theories we were presented with from the first semester onwards.

Mikoto’s journey since her MSc has seen her step outside a previous dream of what she imagined she might be doing, and she is keen to share with current and prospective students that there is no rush – the key thing is to ensure some time and space to explore the world and the different ways that you might be able to make an impact in the areas that you would like to work. While Mikoto does consider potentially returning to clinical work in the future, she also continues to further broaden her outlook through her current role.

Rosa

MSc Development Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP)

Meet Rosa Town, one of our brilliant alumni.

After studying social psychology as an undergraduate at Smith College in the United States, and also having worked as a camp counsellor for children with special needs as well as an academic tutor and nanny, Rosa had a burgeoning interest in developmental psychology. She found details of the MSc in Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice online, and felt it offered the perfect opportunity: the chance to pursue study and work in an area of interest, as well as live abroad and experience a different culture. Rosa was also drawn to learning more about the NHS, with an awareness of how this contrasted with healthcare services and provision in the US. The clinical placement aspect of the course, too, offered an experience which can prove difficult to find outside of a masters.

Rosa’s clinical placement turned out to be a particular highlight of the two years on the course, offering the opportunity to work within a real-life setting. Rosa also notes the significant impact of the teaching provision, and the influence of being introduced to new ways of thinking about things, including psychoanalysis and psychodynamic approaches. The course also emphasised multiple perspectives on developmental psychology; working in multidisciplinary CAMHS teams as part of the placement allowed Rosa to see how these multiple perspectives could play out in a practical setting on different cases. In addition, the course offered the chance to be creative, to try out skills learnt, as well as to develop important qualitative and quantitative skills. Throughout, Rosa felt challenged but supported, and in an individual way, which has shaped her subsequent career path.

The varied combination of course content meant that following the course, Rosa could apply for roles with a sense of being a well-rounded candidate. Having enjoyed the research project element of her MSc, and also having started to see London as home, Rosa applied for research roles based in the capital, and worked on a number of projects through positions with the Evidence Based Practice Unit (EBPU) and University College London (UCL). These roles involved using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate interventions and projects including a counselling service for victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE), a new psychology-informed peer mentoring programme, and HeadStart, a National Lottery-funded community programme aiming to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people across the UK. Rosa also was an author on several research papers, including a paper based on her MSc thesis.

While working at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Rosa became aware of opportunities for PhD study, and last year began her PhD project investigating self-management of mental health for LGBTQ+ young people. Based at the EBPU, funded by NIHR ARC North Thames and sponsored by UCL, Rosa’s research aims to contribute to understanding around self-management and self-care in the context of youth mental health, and to specifically focus on how LGBTQ+ young people self-manage their mental health, including the barriers and facilitators to this process.

In allowing her to bring her previous experience, and helping to solidify some of her thinking, Rosa credits her masters study with being a springboard to the steps she has taken since. Rosa reflects: ‘I’m still drawing on the things I learnt, as well as lots of the connections I made. I feel very grateful for the experience.

Selina

MSc Development Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP)

Meet Selina Sfeir, one of our brilliant alumni, who graduated from the Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP) course in 2019. Selina has recently worked as an Assistant Psychologist in Hillingdon CAMHS, and is now returning to study having been accepted to graduate entry Medicine at the University of Birmingham.

Selina completed her undergraduate degree at the American University of Beirut, graduating with joint honours in Biology and Psychology. Her interest spanned both subjects, and she also harboured an interest in Psychiatry. Looking at masters courses to continue her study, Selina researched a number of programmes in the UK and particularly in London, before deciding that the DPCP masters at the Anna Freud Centre was the right course, citing its unique offer and also its length, with the opportunity the two-year time period offered to settle and build a life somewhere new.

 

Selina recalls the small nature of the course cohort fostering a sense of closeness. She remembers fondly chatting for hours with her fellow students after the teaching on the Psychoanalytic Thought module in the first term, as they explored Freudian concepts such as transference with others that shared their interest in the subjects. Selina also counts the opportunity to complete her placement at a specialist children’s hospital - Great Ormond Street – as a particular highlight of the course. Selina joined a nursing shift once a week, working alongside frontline staff and getting to know patients, with the work-based discussion group element of the masters providing valuable reflection time for these experiences. Further long-lasting experiences and knowledge were found in the parent-infant observation sessions. Selina notes that the opportunity to be part of this special relationship in such a manner, and to witness developments and changes in dynamics, helped her to observe and think about such relationships in a new way.

Since finishing the MSc DPCP programme, Selina has been working for Hillingdon CAMHS in an Assistant Psychologist role in the Multi-Agency Psychological Service (MAPS), a Local Authority-commissioned service that works specifically with looked-after children. However, Selina has long been interested in both physical and mental health, and the link between the two, and often considered pursuing medicine. The is something she is now taking up, with the graduate entry Medicine course at the University of Birmingham. Selina is keen to bring her knowledge from previous experiences to her training, and to undertake mental-health informed medical study and practice.

Eva

MSc Development Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP)

Eva Sprecher, one of the Anna Freud Centre’s brilliant alumni from the MSc in Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP), is currently studying for a PhD at UCL. Eva also works part-time as a Research Assistant for the Centre’s Reflective Fostering Programme.

Eva completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Oxford, and went on to teach Physics in schools. While Eva had found her undergraduate degree to focus largely on the lab-based, empirical side of Psychology, contact with children from a range of backgrounds through teaching, including children in care, set Eva on a path of interest concerning the more pastoral dimension of supporting children’s development. Eva’s interest in learning more about this aspect of raising young children, and about the related mental health experiences of children and young people led her to the DPCP course, which she began in 2016.

Eva recounts the experiences that have stayed with her from the programme. The first of these was the high level of engagement she recalls from teaching staff. ‘People are interested in your personal development, including your personal strengths and things that you want to work on – as a student I’d never had that before. Everyone knows your name, knows what your specific interests are and what you’re good at, as well as the things you find a bit harder. People care, and treat you like someone who they also want to learn from too, even though they have the greater experience and knowledge in their field. I’d never had an experience like that in education.’

Eva also highlights the significant impact of the CAHMS placement as part of the course. ‘It would be totally remiss not to mention the CAHMS placement. To be able to see and experience yourself what it is like to provide mental health support to young people in distress and families needing support – there’s no replacement for that. I learnt so much from it.’ The accompanying discussion group was also something Eva considered to have real complementary value. ‘Even though I don’t work clinically anymore, I still think about those experiences very frequently in understanding the populations I work with now.’

Eva has continued her connection with the Anna Freud Centre, and is currently undertaking PhD research, supervised by Professor Nick Midgley and Dr Michelle Sleed. The subject of her PhD research is understanding experiences and influences in relationships between foster carers and young people in care. This research is linked to the work being done as part of the Reflective Fostering Programme at the Centre, tying into Eva’s part-time Research Assistant role.

‘It’s hard to overstate the opportunities which being part of the Anna Freud Centre presents,’ reflects Eva. ‘You become connected to so many people who are so senior and well-respected, with good reason, in their field. And the breadth of knowledge that you acquire is quite exceptional – DPCP is a broad course in terms of perspective and approaches, and you emerge as very well-rounded in terms of your knowledge in the area. So rather than becoming more clinically or research inclined, or psychodynamic or cognitively biased, you end up with lots of different perspectives. I think that makes you quite an attractive prospective employee, as you’re not wedded to one approach – you’ve been challenged constantly to think about alternatives. At least that’s how I felt from DPCP. It does lead you to think there’s no one answer to things!’

Kimberley

Child Wellbeing Practitioner (CWP)

Meet Kimberley Saddler, one of our brilliant alumni. Kimberley completed the Child Wellbeing Practitioner (CWP) programme in 2018, and has recently returned to the Anna Freud Centre as a tutor on the programme. Kimberley shares some of her reflections on the course and tells us about her journey since.

“I had always had a passion for working with children and young people with mental health difficulties and had wanted to gain experience of this, so when the CWP course came up at the Anna Freud Centre/UCL, I went straight for it!

I loved the course, I learnt a lot of really valuable knowledge and skills. I trained in the first cohort of trainee CWPs back in 2017–18 (pre-Covid-19) and so travelling to the University building and the Anna Freud Centre was all really exciting to me. I was excited to be part of institutions that were well known for their research and practice in mental health.

I really enjoyed meeting people and embarking on the journey together. I felt that we were part of something huge, something that was really going to make an impact on how mental health interventions were going to be delivered. Years on, I have seen how effective it has been, so I feel really privileged to have been part of the first cohort of trainees.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the weekly skills practice sessions. At the time, we were based at the Freud Museum in Finchley, North London, and it always felt really comfortable, like being in a family home (literally). My main takeaway from my experience at the Anna Freud Centre as a trainee was that it’s okay not to be perfect and ask for help! Our assignments really helped us with reflective skills, rather than being perfect, and so I felt more and more confident as time went on.

Since qualification, I have continued working as a CWP with Islington CAMHS. In 2018–19, I completed a master’s degree in Cultural and Global Perspectives in Mental Health Care at Queen Mary, University of London. My learning from this course has led me to deliver training related to diversity to trainee CWPs. I realised how much I enjoyed teaching and so I recently started as a Practice Tutor on the CWP course back at the Anna Freud Centre which has been really exciting so far. I have been able to use my experience as a CWP to teach trainees and feel really privileged to be able to influence the course teaching as part of the course staff! It’s really good to see that the CWP route is now a profession where you can progress.”

You can read more about the Child Wellbeing Practitioner programme here.

Rita

MSc Development Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP)

Meet Rita Maroun, one of our brilliant alumni. Rita completed the MSc in Developmental Psychology and Clinical Practice (DPCP) in 2017 and has recently begun Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy training.

Rita was drawn to the DPCP course for what she describes as its unique intersection between research, clinical theory and practice, which made it feel like the only one of its kind in this way. The course offered a multi-perspective lens on child and adolescent mental health as well as the chance to apply learning and knowledge in practice through the clinical placement, research project, and parent-infant observation. The historical significance of the Anna Freud Centre and its track record in the field of child, adolescent, and family mental health was also something which attracted Rita to the programme.

Rita recalls the supportive atmosphere at the Anna Freud Centre as being a highlight of her experience of the DPCP course, and as underpinning the way the content was delivered and engaged with by her and her fellow students. Lectures were supplemented with small group seminars to explore topics in greater depth. Work discussion groups provided reflective spaces to enhance learning and the quality of work on placement. Research workshops an exchange of ideas and critical thinking regarding individual research projects and the link between research and clinical practice.

Rita shares a few further reflections on her experience:

“It was such a diverse course; there were people from so many different countries, linked together by a shared passion for children and young people’s mental health and helping children, young people and families. We could challenge each other and offer different perspectives, and these connections have turned into long-lasting friendships. We’ve been able to stay in touch, continuing to collaborate and keep these discussions alive.

I also wanted to mention the quality of the lectures and teaching. What we were presented with was cutting-edge, up-to-date research – what was going on currently in the world of child mental health. Many of the guest lecturers were the people who wrote the relevant papers and were actually working on the research, which was really valuable. A lot of thought went into who was teaching us and what was being taught: there was all the theory but also lots of practical things – for example, how to meaningfully engage with routine outcome measures and research…there was the sense that they wanted us to emerge as being in touch with everything going on in child mental health, and to be well-rounded in our understanding. We not only learned how to support families therapeutically, but also how to proactively engage with the wider system that impacts their lives.

I was also lucky to have my clinical placement at the Centre. I got to work with clinical and specialist trauma services. The team I worked with really modelled how to do meaningful work, and this helped me walk away with a clear idea of the kind of clinician that I wanted to be.”

After the MSc, Rita returned to Lebanon, and has since been involved in two different projects. One focused on setting up a school-based programme aiming to raise awareness about how to understand and promote mental health and emotional well-being. The second was a national alternative care pilot project in Lebanon aiming to strengthen the prevention of family separation and develop alternative family-based care options for children who cannot be with their primary caregivers. Rita cited the knowledge she developed whilst on placement as crucial to her work as a Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research Officer. Alongside these projects, Rita continued to work therapeutically, providing psychological support to children who have suffered abuse.

These experiences inspired Rita to train as a Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist at the Northern School of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy. She feels she continues to see and make links to her experiences on the DPCP programme, particularly between psychoanalytic, neuroscience, and systemic perspectives.

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