Time Management Tips for 4+2 Provisional Psychologists
When commencing an internship, navigating the required tasks, competencies and assessments can seem quite overwhelming, and you might wonder how you will manage to keep up with everything. While this can all this can seem rather daunting in the early stages, good organisation and time management will go a long way in helping you to feel in control, as well as making steady progress throughout the internship.
We have put together a few tips to make the process more manageable:
Familiarise yourself with the assessment tasks required
There is a range of assessment tasks that need to be completed during your internship, in order to demonstrate proficiency across the nine core competencies. Reading the guidelines and making a note of the tasks required at the various stages of your internship can help to demystify the process and make it easier to put a plan in place. Systematically working through the requirements, rather than putting them off until the final months of your internship, will ultimately result in a smoother process as well as reducing any undue pressure.
There are some assessment tasks that you can complete earlier in your internship and others that can be left until you have gained more knowledge and experience. For example, your summary of ethical issues needs to completed in the first year and can be started as soon as relevant issues arise, whereas you will sit the National Psychology Examination in the second half of your internship, as by this stage you will have a greater understanding and knowledge of many of the key assessment areas.
During your internship you are required to demonstrate competence in a range of different psychometric assessments. Some of the mandatory tests may not be available at your workplace, and not all supervisors have access to a test library, so it is important to consider how you will meet the requirements for psychometric testing. Sourcing a secondary supervisor who has expertise in psychometric assessment and access to tests is a good option. Alternatively, some organisations offer specific training and supervision in psychometric testing. You will require training and practice in the use of each test before your supervisor can assess competence, and each test needs to be observed at least twice, so allow plenty of time for this process rather than putting it off until the end of your internship
Keep logbooks and reflective journals up to date
Logbooks and reflective journals need to be completed and signed by your supervisor each week. It is important to keep these up to date as it can be difficult to catch up once you get behind. Logbooks also help you to keep track of your work and ensure that you are getting enough client contact hours and the correct ratio of supervision to working hours. This will give your supervisor a clear sense of the work you are doing each week, as well as ensuring that you are logging everything correctly. Once you get into the swing of things, completing your logbook should only take a few minutes at the end of each day.
Your reflective journals can be a valuable tool for reviewing your work, including any challenges or difficult situations you may have experienced, and need to be completed on a weekly basis. This provides an opportunity to reflect on your responses to situations, consider how you might approach these differently in the future and identify any learning outcomes. Self-reflection is an important skill that you will develop and use throughout your career as a psychologist, and your journals will assist in this process.
Allow plenty of time for case studies
You are required to write four case studies for each year of your internship (if you are working full-time), focussing on both assessment and intervention. Half of these need to be submitted to the Board. Case studies provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate and consolidate skills and knowledge in a range of areas, including assessment, clinical diagnosis, case formulation, evidence-based practice, treatment planning and delivery of interventions. It can be helpful to keep this in mind as you progress through your internship, and to keep track of assessments and interventions that could be used as suitable case studies. Allow enough time to research, write and review each case study, as well as time within supervision for discussion and evaluation before submitting case studies to the Board.
Case studies can be a source of angst for many provisional psychologists, but they needn’t be. Try not to put these off as you will need to wait a few weeks for the Board to assess them, so get started as soon as you have an appropriate case to write about. Once you have completed your first case study, you will be more familiar with the structure and requirements, and expectations, and you should find subsequent case studies a bit easier and less daunting.
Establish a clear professional development plan
You are required to complete 120 hours of professional development activities throughout your internship, and these should be ideally be targeted to meet your specific needs. A professional development learning plan should be prepared, reviewed and evaluated every six months in consultation with your supervisor, to identify learning priorities, goals and outcomes. When developing this plan and choosing professional development opportunities, consider your learning needs, areas of interest and longer-term career goals, as well as budget and time-constraints.
With such a range of different courses and workshops on offer, it is worth investing some time to research the best opportunities to suit your current needs. If you are on a budget it is also possible to find free or low-cost training opportunities. You can also include learning by reading and activities to prepare for the National Psychology Examination as professional development activities. Try to space your professional development across your internship so you can spread the workload, and if you enrol in longer courses ensure you allow sufficient time for any readings or assessments that may be required.