Professional doctorate in health psychology thesis portfolio (Wehling : 2019)

Wehling, Helena (2019) Professional doctorate in health psychology thesis portfolio (Wehling : 2019). Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This portfolio outlines the five competencies that formulate the Health Psychology Professional Doctorate. The competencies are outlined by the British Psychological Society (BPS, 2009) and include the following: research via the completion of an original piece of research and a systematic review of existing literature; the development and evaluation of a consultancy; the development and evaluation of a health behaviour intervention; an evaluation of a taught lecture and review of the professional skills gained whilst completing the doctorate.

Throughout completing the doctorate, I evolved from landing a job as an Assistant Health Psychology Specialist at the very beginning into being promoted to a Health Psychology Specialist towards the end of my training. Before I was offered my first job in April 2015, I engaged in voluntary work with patients as well as doing an internship for an interventional trial at King’s College London, until I was offered a full-time job role in a commercial agency who were specialised in developing patient support programmes across a wide range of chronic conditions for many of the leading international pharmaceutical companies. As there was a strong focus on international collaborations both internally and with many clients being located in central Europe, my role then expanded to additionally becoming the representative Health Psychology Specialist for the German office in Frankfurt. In my role as a Health Psychology Specialist I additionally had the opportunity to deliver training sessions to postgraduate pharmacist students as part of their curriculum on various occasions, which entailed applying behavior change techniques with their patients. The focus was on underlying psychology theories to underpin the identification of factors impacting on behaviours around illness and treatment self-management and adherence, and how these may be addressed using a viable interventional approach, for example elements derived from Motivational Interviewing or Cognitive Behavioural Theory.

My external consultancy project in the context of my doctorate training exposed me to the working practices in a different agency, which was important for me in order to be able to adapt to different circumstances, and to challenge me by dealing with two different clients or employers, but also to work under higher pressure, as this meant additional work for me and challenged my organisational skills.

Taking my two years of experience of training in this course into account, I have definitely undergone a dramatic development as a result of the multifaceted programme curriculum– both on a professional, but also on a personal level. Professionally, I have evolved from a recent graduate with very little experience and practical skills working in the UK into a full-time working professional in a health psychology environment that encompasses the relevant aspects of the five competencies. Although I initially did not plan to pursue a career in the commercial domain, I felt increasingly comfortable in regards to my transition into a role in a fast-paced and financially driven business environment, which at times meant compromising academic quality that is common in the research domain, for work outputs that align with specific client needs and restricted time and budget-related restrictions. With the various opportunities I encountered during my time as a trainee, not only did I gain confidence in seeking out experience to enhance my professional skills and status, such as presenting at conferences or sharing my knowledge with undergraduate students, but it also provided a wide range of valuable impressions and meaningful learnings that formed my personal development and made me more open towards accepting challenging situations outside my comfort zone, especially related to networking and communicating confidently with other professionals, which was something I especially struggled with before enrolling on the course.

This journey has overall been an exciting learning experience with many positive milestones I achieved during the process, for example my first publication of my systematic review. I reflect on very positively upon these two years, and I hope to evolve further in the future through becoming and working as a chartered Health Psychologist.

Wehling,Helena_Thesis-portfolio.pdf - Published Version

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