In November 2015 we were invited to present at Pearson’s Digital Technology in Psychology Conference. This conference was designed to provide a forum for psychology professionals to talk about the impact digital is having on research and clinical practice.
Richard Pierson is a freelance psychologist based in Yorkshire. He primarily works in schools and is an Associate Fellow of the BPS and Chartered Psychologist. Richard worked in the computer industry, the Police Force and teaching before becoming a psychologist. In this article he describes a typical day working as a freelance Chartered Psychologist.
I came into psychology via an unusual route working in the computer industry, the Police Force and finally teaching.
My previous jobs have all involved both Psychology and computers, with a common theme of education or training: as a Police officer I researched and lectured on both driver and crowd behaviour. In the computer industry I worked on developing computer based learning systems. As a teacher I had an obvious and vested interest in child behaviour and learning, taking on a senior role in assessment.
With further training I became a member of the British Psychological Society, progressing to become a Chartered Psychologist and now an Associate Fellow.
My main interest is in psychometrics and I now work as a freelance psychologist, mainly in educational settings. I am particularly interested in the development of computer-based assessments which I believe provide the gold standard for consistency and the opportunity to develop adaptive assessments which reduce fatigue and encourage engagement for the participants.
A typical day
As a self-employed psychologist there is no typical day - there is the “feast or famine” of long hectic periods with plenty of work set against fallow periods. So what do I actually do?
There are always emails to check - clients who are looking for assessments or further information from previous ones or advice on further action. I take some new work or refer others to practitioners according to geography or area of expertise: it’s vital not to take on work outside my area of confidence.
There’s also marketing emails to reach new customers or maintain existing relationships.
There may be appointments to schedule, or confirm: there’s nothing worse than driving for an hour or more to meet a client who is apparently elsewhere. Even though I email, ring or text to re-confirm (and sometimes all three), I have clients who’ve forgotten which can be very frustrating!
A particularly enjoyable aspect of my work is looking at, and working with new materials which are being developed or standardised. This takes me into new schools and people’s homes all over the country. I meet children and adults of all ages and from all walks of life and get a real insight into how the other half live.
Although I enjoy this experience it makes me sad that there is still so much depravation in our society with many people living in sub-standard accommodation, working in low-paid, part time jobs and struggling to make ends meet.
A large part of my work involves assessing students in school who may be eligible for examination access arrangements.
These are adjustments made within public examinations to ensure students with a long term disability are not disadvantaged in the exam situation. Adjustments may mean they have more time to process information and formulate their responses, are given a reader to help them make sense of the exam paper, or other options specific to their needs.
Schools I work with tend to be exceptionally well organised and optimise their use of my time, ensuring I have a constant stream of students to assess throughout the day.
With all the sessions I have completed I pride myself on running a smooth operation and leave the schools with the assessments and the necessary documentation completed. This means their students receive the support they need with approval from the JCQ (Joint Council for Qualifications). Without this approval schools may be barred from running national qualifications, so it
is important to get things right!
Challenges and rewards
Undertaking these assessments is interesting and rewarding as I meet a wide range of students, some of whom are reluctant to accept the support offered. I also find students who have managed to keep under the radar in class, yet struggle to read with any degree of fluency or understanding.
It comes as a surprise to me that they reach Year 10 (age 14 - 15) before the need for support has been identified: the students often tell me that they misbehaved in class as a distraction or simply because they aren’t able to access the texts. A particularly memorable student had been placed in low ability groups but produced excellent prose under dictation and went on to achieve success in his GCSE examinations using a word processor: the beaming smile on his face when I told him this could be arranged was heart-warming.
When I have time to spare I continue work on various research projects which could involve data collection, statistical analysis, writing up or editing a journal submission.
This often takes rather longer than I would have hoped, but there is a sense of satisfaction when I finally send it off.
As I am self-employed I have a business to run, so completing invoices and sending them off for payment is a job for the end of a day.
In November 2015 we were invited to present at Pearson’s Digital Technology in Psychology Conference. This conference was designed to provide a forum for psychology professionals to talk about the impact digital is having on research and clinical practice.read more
Google the term ‘digital technology’ and the most common phrase you’ll see is ‘How digital technology will change the way we work’.read more
When set the challenge of creating a Digital Technology in Psychology conference, my first response was excitement.
It’s such a wide subject there’s bound to be lots to talk about – let’s get everyone involved…this however was closely followed by the thought, What if no one turns up? and Is technology as central as we like to think it is…?
Lucky for me, people did submit papers on a range of topics and sign up to attend. So last week we held our first Digital Technology in Psychology conference at York University. We were delighted to welcome our keynote speaker, Dr Tom Manly co-author of the TEA and the new TEA-CH-2. Dr Manly’s talk looked at ‘What is attention?’ and explored the evolution of technology in delivering assessments. A first look at the exciting new TEA-Ch2 was also provided and we can certainly say the new space dog and alien were warmly received.
This was followed by Sarah Kate Smith who led a fascinating discussion around Dementia and Assistive Technology; showing examples of how technological interventions can be used to promote conversations, social interaction and leisure activities. Introducing CIRCA, Sarah’s talk highlighted the importance of including feedback from individuals with dementia into the design and functionality plans of technology.
Did you know that about 8% of people will experience problems with #PTSD that persist beyond 3 months? This was one of many areas highlighted during Sara Simblett’s talk, 'A systematic review of web-based technology to assist emotional adjustment and self-management of symptoms related to post-traumatic stress.' Here Sara looked at the different approaches that have been taken to studying the effectiveness of Interapy as a Treatment of Post-traumatic Stress via the Internet.
After the break, Astrid Coxon generated lots of conversation and app sharing ideas with her talk on, 'The effectiveness of internet-based interventions for managing stress and anxiety in students in higher education: a systematic review'. Looking at some of the studies around web-based interventions and where the gaps currently exist. A conversation that then continued on twitter.
'This Much!, This Feeling & Backdrop: The development of touch device procedures for the qualitative and quantitative assessment of children's positive and negative experiences', was an enlightening talk from David Glasgow. Exploring a number of different apps, the accompanying video’s showed a young boys interactions, and revealed how important additional information could be obtained to help shape understanding and care plans.
Lola Oyelayo and Nick Reynolds, then joined us from Head London to run an exciting workshop on exploiting digital for dementia and depression. A session which pulled together many of the threads of conversation from the day. Beginning with a presentation the team highlighted some of the many issues that are affecting the development of technology in the psychology field including:
- How will an increasingly digital literate population will affect how we provide support for individuals with #dementia in the future
- How do we solve the problem of efficacy for #mentalhealth apps?
I look forward the sharing the outcomes of these workshops in a later blog.
As a first event, we were delighted to see the group so engaged in the topic, we’ll be sharing podcasts from many of the talks over the coming weeks, and so if you were unable to attend, you can sit back with cup of tea and catch up!
I’m also pleased to see that the conversations are already continuing. Sarah Kate Smith will now be joining an exciting line up of presenters for Online Working Memory Week where Sarah will be presenting on ‘Exploiting touch screen tech to promote communication, social interaction & leisure activities with people living with dementia.’
Thank you to all our presenters and delegates who helped to make this first event a success. Watch this space for plans for 2016.
#WMLearn | #DigitalPsych15read more
Last Thursday, The Communication Trust and Pearson were proud to announce the winners of the 2015 Shine a Light Awards, a national awards scheme that celebrates innovative work and excellent practice in supporting children and young people’s communication development.read more