As the autumn term draws to a close it is good to take a moment to reflect on where a degree can take people and how it can be used. Psychology is a very broad discipline, encompassing all aspects of behaviour from individual to social perspectives. The breadth of the academic discipline can feel a little overwhelming at first with so many ways to focus on what we do as humans, and so many ways to explain those things we do. Once you have got past the initial rush of ideas, theories, and methods, then you need to focus in some areas and think about how psychology might be used and where it might be used. In the Department, we have an applied focus in what we do. We want our students to think about how they can use what they are learning in different settings, to try and support people and improve communities and lives. This can be seen in the placements offered in the degree, and then again in the MSc programmes with their strongly applied work and research emphasis.
What comes after a degree is important, and reflecting on a developing career can help us all to think about what we know of psychology, and what we think we might want to do with the subject that can inspire and frustrate us. Dan Lawrence graduated a few years back now, and since then has been steadily building his career, completing postgraduate training in forensic psychology with us. It has been brilliant to see how Dan has progressed over the years, and fascinating to read about his route into a career. It’s really useful to see this, and see how we can take opportunities that are in front of us.
Reflections on becoming a Forensic Psychologist
My first steps into the ‘world’ of psychology surprisingly stemmed from a keen interest in sports. Up until sixth form I had very little experience or understanding of psychology in its general sense. However, one of my A level choices was Physical Education (P.E.) and one of the modules within this was Sports Psychology which I found fascinating. When it came to choosing my university options I had no idea what to do and ended up picking Psychology at Cardiff Met (then UWIC) as my first choice. I guess my thinking was along the lines of “well I definitely want to play a high level of rugby in the future, UWIC can help with this and that psychology module I did was pretty interesting, so I’ll give it a go”.
The undergraduate degree was a peculiar experience for me. I remember initially being unenthused about much of the content, which I think related to the broadness of the topics that were being taught. However, my interest didn’t take long to grow and it wasn’t long before modules captured my attention in the same way that the Sports Psychology module had at A level. I noticed early on that it was the programme content which related to mental disorder or crime that I found most interesting (although I also thoroughly enjoyed the Animal Cognition module). This then led me to read about becoming a psychologist and what I needed to do to be one. One thing that was abundantly clear was that, as well as a psychology degree, work experience was paramount. As a result I contacted some people I knew working in one of the prisons in South Wales and I was eventually able to gain a voluntary placement there. I was also able to gain other relevant experience at the time. This along with the Forensic Psychology module in the third year led to my interest in this area to develop further and I knew that in the future I wanted to work in forensic services (either forensic psychiatric or correctional).
Next came the Forensic Psychology MSc at Cardiff Met. My aim initially was to (after gaining more experience) enrol onto the Clinical Psychology Doctorate course, and had not intended to enrol on this course as at the time . After consideration of the various possibilities I decided to do the masters part time whilst also gaining relevant work experience. I figured that having an MSc would only improve my chances. For me the MSc has been the most enjoyable part of my experience so far. I think this relates to it being focused on the areas of psychology that I find most interesting. I particularly liked the range of modules that related to the forensic application of psychology and the frequent guest lectures that were part of the programme. I found that the lecturers and staff that were involved in this degree were extremely supportive and passionate about the development of forensic psychology. Whilst still enrolled on the masters, I was fortunate enough to obtain an Assistant Psychologist role which would later prove to be invaluable experience.
I then applied for the Post Graduate Diploma in Practitioner Forensic Psychology (PGDip) and was fortunate to be accepted for this course. I found this course to be far more challenging (including emotionally challenging) than any of the others that I had completed, which I think was something that I was not fully expecting when I enrolled. I found it to be far less structured and guided than the other courses, which I guess should be expected from a practitioner course as opposed to an academic one, as this certainly encourages autonomy and independence. This is not to say that I did not enjoy the content of the jobs and tasks that I did as part of the PGDip because as I always have, I found the nature of the work that I was doing fascinating and at times, rewarding. There was also some great support available from those involved with the course and the university if needed, which was invaluable. I can honestly say that this course taught me the importance of determination, resilience and making the most of the support that is available, both personally and professionally. Having recently (November 2017) completed the PGDip this marks the end of a long but rewarding journey of studying at Cardiff Met. I am very much looking forward to this next stage in my career, working as a fully qualified Forensic Psychologist.
My advice to others who aspire to work in the field of applied psychology would be to decide early on which area it is that you want to develop a career in. Then make every effort to gain relevant work experience as early as you can, the more the better (you can never pester people enough about offering you experience!). If you are able to gain experience whilst still studying then even better. The ‘world’ of psychology is a competitive place so you need to give yourself the best chance you can. Also I was always given the advice that at least a 2:1 in my under graduate degree would stand me in good stead for the future, so aim high and work hard! If you know that becoming a psychologist is something that you definitely want then go for it. Stay focused on your goal and don’t give up, even when things are challenging. If I can make it this far you guys can too.
Best wishes and good luck.
A couple of things stand down when reading Dan’s story. The first is that being interested, and finding that interest, is really important for starting off. The other thing is that hard work and determination are vital. Dr Nic Bowes, who runs the PGDip Forensic Practitioner Programme emphasises this in her comments:
Dan’s good grounding in Psychology was pivotal in his career progression to become a forensic psychologist. Gaining a good, deep foundation in psychological theory is essential if you want to go on to practice. He then completed his MSc whilst working full time in a forensic setting. This demonstrates both his drive and determination – bit also is very sensible. It allowed him to experience what it is like to work in a forensic setting and to test whether he thought this was the setting for him. It also provided some important contacts for him to progress on to supervised practice. Training in supervised practice is very tough. It requires students to develop their scientist-practitioner skills. Students critically reflect on everything they do and every aspect of their practice. Not just what they do, but how they do it. Working in forensic settings whilst training is challenging. Dan’s commitment to his studies and to applying the feedback he received in supervision has been obvious. He’s going to be a great contributor to forensic psychology practice in the UK and it has been great to be with him on that journey.
It’s good to see how a career can develop, especially one that will impact on people’s lives.
We’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for Xmas, and look forward to greeting everyone again in 2018!
Nadolig Llawen a blwyddyn newydd dda!
Fel adran Seicoleg, sy’n falch o fod yn rhan o brifysgol yng Nghymru ym mhrifddinas Cymru, yr ydym wedi bod yn awyddus i adlewyrchu treftadaeth iaith llawer o’n myfyrwyr ers nifer o flynyddoedd. Rydyn ni wedi cyfieithu gwaith myfyrwyr, asesiadau a phob math o bethau, ond heb yr ymgysylltiad yr ydym yn ei wir ddymuno. Roedd yn weddol amlwg yr hyn oedd ar goll, sef staff a oedd yn ddigon hyderus i weithio ac addysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Yn ystod y ddwy flynedd ddiwethaf, rydym wedi gwneud penodiadau staff sydd wedi ein galluogi i ddechrau adeiladu’r hyn yr oeddem yn ei ddymuno. Yn y flwyddyn gyntaf, mae gennym yn awr sesiynau tiwtorial a seminarau yn y Gymraeg, sy’n helpu myfyrwyr i weithio a meddwl mewn dwy iaith. Rydym yn cynnig lleoliadau gwaith yn Gymraeg yn yr ail a’r drydedd flwyddyn, gan gynnig cyfle i fyfyrwyr weithio yn y gymuned gyda siaradwyr Cymraeg.
Mae ychwanegu cyfleoedd yn y Gymraeg yn cryfhau ac yn galluogi cysylltiadau agosach â chymunedau ledled Cymru, ac mae’n ychwanegu at amrywiaeth a bywiogrwydd Seicoleg ym Met Caerdydd. Yn y darn canlynol, mae ein cydweithiwr, Dr Mirain Rhys, yn sôn am yr iaith Gymraeg, ei rôl a sut mae hi’n gweithio i adeiladu mwy o gynnwys Cymraeg i’n cwricwlwm.
Seicoleg drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg ym Met Caerdydd
Mae bob amser yn fy synnu fod rhaid i mi weithiau esbonio fy mod yn dod o gartref lle mai dim ond Cymraeg sy’n cael ei siarad, ac mai Saesneg yw fy ail iaith. Fe’m codwyd mewn tref lle mae dros 70% o’r boblogaeth yn rhugl yn y Gymraeg. Cefais fy addysg yn gyfangwbl trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg hyd nes fy mod i’n 18 oed. Rwy’n siarad Cymraeg bob dydd ac yr wyf yn ymfalchïo yn esbonio fy mod o gefndir iaith leiafrifol, ac mai fy angerdd am gynhaliaeth ac adfywiad ar gyfer iaith ein gwlad fu’n gyfrifol am fy arwain i’m gyrfa.
Ac nid dim ond fi sydd yn y sefyllfa yma! Addysgir bron i chwarter o’r boblogaeth yng Nghymru trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Maent yn dysgu terminoleg pwnc ac yn cael eu cyfarwyddo drwy’r iaith ac erbyn iddynt orffen addysg orfodol, dylai pob unigolyn fod yn ddwyieithog. Ar ôl i fyfyrwyr orffen yr ysgol, mae addysg yn dod yn ddewis. Mae yna lawer o ddewisiadau i’w gwneud wrth gwrs, a bydd rhai yn penderfynu eu bod am wneud cais i Brifysgol. Yng Nghymru, mae dewis arall yn dechrau ennill momentwm – a ydych chi’n astudio gradd trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg ai peidio?
Mae’r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol yn sefydliad sy’n gweithio ar draws holl Brifysgolion Cymru. Ei brif nod yw darparu addysg uwch cyfrwng Cymraeg mewn amrywiaeth o bynciau. Bu nifer o lwyddiannau amrywiol, a gall myfyrwyr ledled Cymru bellach astudio rhan, neu ei gradd gyfan yn y celfyddydau, gwyddorau, gwyddorau cymdeithasol neu gradd iechyd trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Mae’n gwneud llawer o synnwyr i barhau i astudio yn yr iaith y cynhaliwyd y rhan fwyaf o’ch addysg ynddi. Rydych eisoes yn ymwybodol o’r derminoleg sy’n gysylltiedig a byddwch mae’n debyg yn ddefnyddiwr cymwys o’r derminoleg honno yn Saesneg yn ogystal â’ch astudiaethau gradd. Mae dwyieithrwydd yn eich gwasanaethu’n dda fel myfyriwr graddedig mewn marchnad lafur gystadleuol gyson. Mae angen llawer o weithwyr Cymraeg eu hiaith i lawer o ddiwydiannau i gyflawni eu busnes, ac mae hyn yn arbennig o wir am raddedigion y Gwyddorau Iechyd; Mae seicoleg yn rhan bwysig o’r gwyddorau iechyd. Dychmygwch fod eisiau siarad â rhywun am bethau anodd yn eich bywyd, ond rhaid i chi wneud hynny gan ddefnyddio geiriau a thermau nad ydych chi’n teimlo’n gyfforddus â nhw.
Mirain yn yr Eisteddfod yn barod i siarad am y mythau am Seicoleg.
Rwyf bellach wedi bod yn aelod o staff yn yr adran Seicoleg Gymhwysol ers ychydig dros flwyddyn. Un o gyfrifoldebau fy swydd fel darlithydd Seicoleg sy’n siarad Cymraeg yw cefnogi myfyrwyr sydd wedi cwblhau’r rhan fwyaf o’u haddysg trwy’r Gymraeg a’u bod bellach yn trosglwyddo i brofiad ieithyddol gwahanol iawn.
Eleni, rydym wedi dechrau darparu darpariaeth cyfrwng Cymraeg. Y nod yw paratoi’r ffordd i’r myfyrwyr hynny a allai deimlo bod mynd o gael eu haddysgu yn yr ysgol neu’r coleg mewn un iaith i’w haddysgu ar lefel gradd mewn un arall, yn ogystal â’r holl bryderon eraill sy’n dod wrth ddechrau Prifysgol, yn llethol. Cynigir tiwtorial dwyieithog i fyfyrwyr blwyddyn gyntaf lle datblygir eu medrau astudio i gyd-fynd â’u darlithoedd cynnwys. Darperir yr un deunydd cyfrwng Saesneg i’r myfyrwyr â’r grwpiau eraill, ond mae gennym drafodaethau yn y Gymraeg sy’n ymwneud â’u sgiliau trawsieithu, un o’r manteision niferus o siarad mwy nag un iaith!
Ein nod ar gyfer y dyfodol yw parhau i weithio’n agos gyda’r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol i ddatblygu modiwlau a gredydir a fydd ar gael trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Rwyf ar hyn o bryd yn ymchwilio i ddichonoldeb datblygu darpariaeth cyfrwng Cymraeg ar gyfer yr ysgol gyfan gyda’r nod o ddarparu data craff i’r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol ar yr heriau a’r cyfleoedd, o ymgorffori’r Gymraeg i mewn i lawer o adrannau parod. Bydd yr hyn yr ydym yn ei wneud yn yr adran Seicoleg yn helpu gyda’r datblygiadau hyn a bydd mwy o bostiadau blog yn dilyn y datblygiadau cyffrous hyn.
Wrth gwrs, nid pob myfyriwr all siarad Cymraeg, ac nid pawb sy’n gallu ei defnyddio o fewn eu haddysg. Ond bydd yr elfen o ddewis sy’n hollbwysig ym mhob sefyllfa ieithoedd lleiafrifol yn cael ei ymgorffori ymhellach i Seicoleg ym Mhrifysgol Metropolitan Caerdydd fel y gall pob myfyriwr barhau â’u taith addysgol trwy’r naill neu’r llall o ieithoedd swyddogol Cymru.
Yn ystod haf 2017, mynychodd Mirain yr Eisteddfod gyda chydweithwyr o’r adran Seicoleg, a chafodd ei dal ar gamera gan S4C:
Rwy’n falch iawn o’r ffordd yr ydym yn cefnogi Cymraeg yn allanol yn awr, a gellir gweld hyn yn cael ei adlewyrchu mewn sylwadau gan ein cydweithiwr, Dr Delyth James:
Ymunais â’r Adran Seicoleg Gymhwysol ym Mhrifysgol Metropolitan Caerdydd yn 2015, ar ôl gweithio ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd ers dros ddeng mlynedd. Yno yn yr Ysgol Fferylliaeth, datblygais y ddarpariaeth Gymraeg ar draws pob un o’r rhaglenni ôl-raddedig 4-blynedd ar gyfer y Radd mewn Fferylliaeth, gan ganolbwyntio’n bennaf ar ddatblygu sgiliau cyfathrebu ac ymgynghori myfyrwyr a fferyllfeydd ac ymarferwyr yn y Gymraeg (neu’n ddwyieithog).
Pan ymunais â Phrifysgol Met Caerdydd, roeddwn wrth fy modd dod o hyd i amgylchedd croesawgar a chefnogol i barhau â’r gwaith hwn ac ehangu’r ddarpariaeth Gymraeg i weithwyr gofal iechyd proffesiynol eraill a myfyrwyr seicoleg. Rydym yn cydweithio’n agos â chydweithwyr ar draws Prifysgolion eraill yng Nghymru a’r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. Er enghraifft, cyflwynodd Mirain a minnau yn ddiweddar weithdy Cymraeg ar gyfer myfyrwyr Meddygol a Fferylliaeth ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd ar y testun ‘Dibynniaeth’ (Addiction).
Rwy’n siŵr y byddai Mirain a Dan yn cytuno â mi fod yna brysurdeb gwirioneddol ac ymdeimlad o frwdfrydedd yn y Brifysgol ar gyfer meithrin a defnyddio ein sgiliau iaith Gymraeg o ddydd i ddydd yn y gweithle ac wrth baratoi ar gyfer cyfleoedd cyflogaeth myfyrwyr yng Nghymru ar ôl iddynt raddio.
Mae yna lawer o frwdfrydedd dros gefnogi ac annog ein holl fyfyrwyr i ddatblygu sgiliau ar gyfer y dyfodol, ac rydym yn ymfalchïo yn y gwaith rhagorol y mae myfyrwyr yn ei wneud gyda’n holl bartneriaid lleoliadau. Rydym am ddarparu’r sgiliau angenrheidiol i’r myfyrwyr ar gyfer y dyfodol, ac un ffordd y gallwn ni wneud hynny yw cydnabod pwysigrwydd iaith wrth ymgysylltu â’r cymunedau o’n cwmpas. Mae’r mentrau Cymraeg yr ydym wedi’u dechrau yn cyfoethogi ein hadran, ac mae canlyniadau cyffredinol ehangach i ni i gyd y tu hwnt i’n gwaith bob dydd. Edrychaf ymlaen at ddangos mwy o waith iaith a lleoliadau’r adran!
As a Psychology department proudly part of a Welsh university in the capital of Wales, we have wanted to reflect the language heritage of many of our students for a number of years. We have translated student work, assessments and all sorts of things, but without the take up that we really desired. It was fairly obvious what was missing, staff who were confident enough to work and teach through Welsh. In the last two years, we have made staff appointments that have enabled us to start to build what we wanted. In the first year, we now have tutorials and seminars in Welsh, which help students work in and think in two languages. We offer service learning placements in Welsh in both the second and third years, offering students the chance to work in the community with Welsh speakers.
The addition of Welsh language opportunities strengthens and enables closer links with communities across Wales, and adds to the diversity and vibrancy of Psychology at Cardiff Met. In the following piece, our colleague Dr Mirain Rhys, talks about Welsh language, her role and how she is working to build more Welsh language content into our curriculum.
Welsh Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan
It always surprises me that sometimes I have to explain that I come from a home where only Welsh is spoken, and that English is my second language. I was raised in a town where over 70% of the population are fluent in Welsh. I was educated solely through the medium of Welsh until I was 18. I speak Welsh every day and I take pride explaining that I am from a minority language background, and that my passion for our country’s language maintenance and revitalisation led me to my career.
And it’s not just me! Almost a quarter of the population of Wales are educated through the medium of Welsh. They learn subject terminology and are instructed through the language and by the time they finish compulsory education, each individual should be bilingual. After students finish school, education becomes a choice. There are many choices to make of course, and some will find themselves deciding on and applying to a University. In Wales, another choice is beginning to gain momentum – do you study a degree through the medium of Welsh or not?
The Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (Welsh national college) is an organisation that works across all Welsh Universities. Its main aim is to provide Welsh medium higher education in a variety of subjects. There have been various success stories, and students across Wales are now able to study part or all of their arts, sciences, social sciences or health degree through the medium of Welsh. It makes a lot of sense to continue studying in the language that most of your education was conducted in. You are already aware of the terminology involved and will most probably be a competent user of said terminology in English as well through your degree studies. Bilingualism serves you well as a graduate in an ever-competitive labour market. Many industries need Welsh speaking employees to carry out their business, and this is especially true of Health Sciences graduates. Psychology is an important part of health sciences. Imagine wanting to talk to someone about difficult things in your life, but having to do so using words and terms you don’t feel as comfortable with.
I have now been a member of staff at the department of Applied Psychology for just over a year. One remit of my position as a Welsh speaking Psychology lecturer is to support students who have completed most of their education through Welsh and are now transitioning to a very different linguistic experience.
This year, we have begun to provide Welsh medium provision. The aim is to pave the way for those students who might feel that going from being educated at school or college in one language to being educated at degree level though another, as well as all the other anxieties that come with starting at Uni, is overwhelming.First year students are offered a bilingual tutorial where their study skills are developed to aide with their content lectures. Students are provided with the same English medium material as the other groups, but we have discussions in Welsh which engages their translanguaging skills, one of the many benefits of speaking more than one language!
Our aim for the future is to continue to work closely with the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol to develop credited modules which will be available through the medium of Welsh. I am currently researching the feasibility of developing Welsh medium provision for the whole school with the aim of providing Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol with insightful data on the challenges, and the opportunities, of incorporating the Welsh language into many willing departments. What we’re doing within the Psychology department will help with these developments and there will be more blog posts to follow on these exciting developments.
Of course, not all students can speak Welsh, and not all that can want to use it within their education. But the element of choice which is vitally important in every minority language situation will be incorporated further into Psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University so that each student can continue their educational journey through either of Wales’ official languages.
In the summer of 2017, Mirain attended the Eisteddfod with colleagues from Psychology, and was caught on camera by S4C:
I am very pleased with the way that we are outwardly supporting Welsh now, and this can be seen reflected in comments from our colleague Dr Delyth James:
I joined the Applied Psychology Department at Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2015, having worked at Cardiff University for over ten years. There at the School of Pharmacy, I developed the Welsh language provision across all 4-years of the Pharmacy Degree plus postgraduate programmes, focusing mainly on developing pharmacy students’ and practitioners’ communication and consultation skills in Welsh (or bilingually).
When I joined Cardiff Met Uni, I was delighted to find a welcoming and supportive environment to continue with this work and expanding Welsh language provision to other healthcare professionals and psychology students. We work closely with colleagues across other Universities in Wales and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol. For example, Mirain and I recently delivered a Welsh language workshop for Medical and Pharmacy students at Cardiff University on the topic of ‘Addiction’.
I’m sure Mirain and Dan would agree with me that there is a real buzz and sense of enthusiasm in the University for nurturing and using our Welsh language skills on a day to day basis in the workplace and in preparation for students’ employment opportunities in Wales after they graduate.
There is a lot of enthusiasm for supporting and encouraging all our students to develop skills for the future, and we take pride in the excellent work students do with all our placement partners. We want to provide students with the necessary skills for the future, and one way we can do that is in recognising the importance of language in engaging with the communities around us. The Welsh initiatives we have started enrich our department, and have broad consequences for us all beyond are everyday work. I look forward to showcasing more of the language and placement work of the department!