X Close

Clinical Associate in Psychology (CAP) Apprenticeship Programme



Interview with Takunda Karima Apprentice Clinical Associate Psychologist (CAP)

By Ciaran O'Driscoll, on 9 October 2023

Interview with Takunda Karima Apprentice Clinical Associate Psychologist (CAP)
by Anni Raz, P&P Communications Assistant Psychologist

FROM the SLAM Newsletter



This month, Anni Raz sat down with Apprentice Clinical Associate Psychologist, Takunda Karima.

  1. Could you please tell us more about the CAP role?

CAP is a new role with myself being a part of the third cohort of trainees. CAP’s tend to be psychology graduates who study an 18-month integrated master’s apprenticeship programme with a participating NHS trust. The role aims to fill an identified gap between Assistant Psychologist and qualified Clinical Psychologist roles. We aim to provide high quality evidence based psychological support within the community.

I am based in a Lewisham secondary care CMHT and I work with adult service users with complex mental health difficulties. My role involves working independently on a day-to-day basis with my work regularly supervised by a registered practitioner psychologist who ultimately holds the clinical responsibility over my work. Over the course of training, I have learnt to provide psychological assessments, formulations and deliver brief psychological interventions to the communities we serve.

  1. Where did your interest and passion for psychology originate and can you tell us you’re your favourite element of the CAP role is?

 Coming from an ethnic minority background a part of my passion for psychology and being involved in the workforce comes from noticing the lack of representation of people who look like me in the field. I am particularly interested in increasing the representation of black men who are able to access psychology in a safe manner. We all know about the discrepancies and disproportionate representation of black men under the mental health act and involuntary admissions. I am curious by this and want to be part of a profession constantly aiming to tackle this issue. I am also really grateful that in my role so far, I have received positive feedback from service users who have appreciated working with a professional they can relate to.

This is also something I thoroughly enjoy about the CAP role. We can provide psychological support to people who might not ordinarily receive or be able to access therapies. Sometimes service users experience difficulties coming to team base or aren’t ready for an intense highly specialised therapy, but the CAP role is step towards trying to fill in that gap in my current service. We are able to address issues like readiness and engagement by providing brief psychological interventions and we try to meet service users where they are in their journey towards recovery. This acts as my favourite part of the role – seeing a gap in provision and filling it!

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey into the CAP role? And if someone was interested in starting training, what steps would they need to take?

I initially worked in digital media at the beginning of my career. In my early 20’s I had first-hand experience of mental health difficulties whilst being a carer for someone living with depression and this inspired me to pursue a career in psychology. I completed a post-graduate psychology conversion degree and then gained initial mental health experience by volunteering with a crisis support line and some paid work as a graduate mental health worker.

For anyone interested in applying for CAP training the essential criteria is having that approved qualification in psychology what confers eligibility for graduate basis for registration with the British Psychologist Society (BPS). Also, some experience of paid work supporting people experiencing mental health difficulties is required. These tend to be the core first steps if you are interested in training as a CAP.

  1. What does a day look like for a CAP?

 Whilst in the training post your time is split between teaching days at a higher education institute and clinical days at your work setting. On the teaching days we have lectures taught by Clinical Psychologists with a broad range of experience and expertise. This covers a broad range of learning topics aimed at supporting us to work psychologically across various types adult mental health settings. We are also trained in specific formulation and evidence-based interventions approaches derived from CBT or DBT skills that can be applied flexibly depending on the CAP’s work setting.

On my clinical days I am getting involved in MDT meetings, and providing care to service users, offering 1:1 assessments and brief therapeutic interventions as part of a stepped care psychology offer. These range from psychoeducation & coping skills to transdiagnostic approach to interventions offering graded exposure, behavioural activation and emotion regulation support interventions as agreed with my clinical supervisor, based upon formulation of an individual’s presenting difficulties.

Contributing to audit/research/QI within the Trust also tends to be a salient aspect of the CAP role. As part of the master’s degree we are required to carry out a piece of research or audit in our clinical setting. I am currently carrying out an audit on the Dialog use in the CMHT I am working in and how that is being implemented in the team. This supporting the quality improvement focus currently underway to improve the uptake of this within the team.

  1.  What opportunities are available for CAP’s beyond the role?

As the CAP role is new and developing there is some ambiguity and uncertainty around the future of the role but there is also some excitement. As this role is developing, us current CAP’s and supervisors have the opportunity to help shape the identity of the role over time. I see a lot of opportunities for CAP’s to gain experience in a variety of clinical areas within adult mental health service. A variety of CAP’ roles are being advertised across mental health services including in inpatient, community, crisis and home treatment teams, eating disorder, etc. Due to the nature of the role and the wealth of experience you gain, there is also opportunities for further training. For those who are interested in further progression they can move onto doctoral training for clinical/ counselling programmes.

So, the future is uncertain but also broad!

  1. Do you have any advice for those who are interested in the CAP role?

I would highly recommend the CAP role to anyone who is interested! It is a new and exciting role and it creates more opportunity and access for people to work psychologically outside the traditional roles. In my experience, majority of people entering the workforce through the CAP role have been met with enthusiasm and optimism. There is also an element of financial security whilst training which is always helpful!

However, at times you may also face some resistance to change. It can be difficult for the wider MDT to understand this role and accept changes in the development of new roles. I think as someone interested in this role it is important to be aware of the context you are entering and the position of CAP’s alongside other roles. Also, I would encourage any incoming CAP’s to use supervision to reflect on some of the challenges and how to manage some of the uncertainty.

Clinical Associate in Psychology UCL Conference 2023 ‘Innovation, Impact and Inclusion in the NHS’

By Ciaran O'Driscoll, on 31 May 2023

Written by Prakriti Gupta-Stelk

On May 5th, 2023, the UCL Clinical Associate Psychology (CAP) Apprenticeship programme hosted its very first CAP conference. This programme began in 2020,  and we’re thrilled to announce that there are now over 130 CAPs (qualified and apprentices) working across 8 London Trusts! The conference was all about ‘Innovation, Impact, and Inclusion in the NHS’, and it showcased the incredible role that CAPs are playing in expanding the psychological workforce. The conference’s lineup was jam-packed with innovative achievements and strategies on how to make psychology accessible to the wider community while supporting the NHS’s long-term plan.

The day started with a welcome note from the course director Dr Ciarán O’Driscoll, followed by a keynote speech by Dr Ravi Rana (Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Director of Therapies) from East London Foundation Trust, a CAP trailblazer from one of the first Trusts to welcome CAPS.

Co-production with the Recovery Model – Vivienne Isebor, Clinical Associate in Psychology & Cassandra Chennis, ELFT (scan to QR code to access the presentation)

Vivienne and Cassandra were such a delight to listen to! Their presentation had a heavy focus on the importance of involving more people in mental health through the use of co-production and co-facilitation through the Recovery College. They shared some amazing ideas on how to creatively use narrative and faith-based approaches such as writing a “tree of life” poem, a letter to self, positive affirmations, and even practicing body positivity to help people better understand and work on their self-esteem. By allowing individuals to take on the role of “agents of change,” they truly emphasized the value of bringing psychological-mindedness to a wider audience.

 Working in partnership with the community – Leah-Marie Simon, Clinical Associate in Psychology, ELFT (scan to QR code to access the presentation)

Leah Marie had so much excitement to share about the amazing community psychology programs happening at ELFT. One of her favorites is called Recipes of Life. This unique therapy concept combines talking therapy with cooking and eating sessions to make health and well-being a culturally relevant topic. By sharing the stories behind their favorite recipes, people can connect with their strengths and those of their loved ones.

Another fantastic program Leah Marie spoke about was Creative Narrative Writing for Afro-Caribbean people. Each week, the group explores a different theme, such as reaching out, stigma, and well-being. It’s a great way for people to connect and express themselves creatively.

Leah Marie was also enthusiastic about the Black Men’s Group in Newham. This is a safe space where black men can come together to learn about and discuss mental and physical health. It’s an amazing opportunity for education and connection.

CAP identity – Dr. Ciaran O’Driscoll

The focus was on the pivotal role that CAPs have played in the NHS for the last three years, and how they have contributed to the success of various services through their help and support. The panel discussion that followed was very engaging, and the audience had the opportunity to ask questions, gaining a better understanding of the role of CAP apprentices and their future with the NHS. We also learned how CAPs have transformed the mental health workforce, and were blown away by the unique insight that the panel provided into the world of CAPs. The amount of work that has gone into creating this new and exciting niche role is truly impressive!

The future of CAPs – Dr Angela Husband, Deputy Lead Secondary Care Newham, ELFT (scan to QR code to access the presentation)

During her presentation, Angela shared some exciting news about CAPs at ELFT. The number of CAPS has nearly doubled in just two years thanks to their integration across multiple teams. It was clear from her presentation that CAPs play a vital role in the NHS long term plan. While there has been significant progress in understanding their role and growth trajectory, there is still more work to be done. We need to find ways to better utilize their skills to support staff wellbeing and retention, among other important initiatives.

CAPS in Community Mental Health Teams undergoing transformation – Sara-Nicole Gardener, Clinical Associate in Psychology (link to slides)

Sara-Nicole presented the findings from her service related research project, exploring the barriers and facilitators influencing the uptake of a new model of service delivery. This useful piece of work identified best practice and areas for improvement within the service. She also gave an overview of some of the interventions she has been delivering within the service, and the qualitative feedback from service users and other members of the team. This presentation highlighted the skills, values and unique contributions CAPs can bring to a team.

CAPS in Home Treatment Teams – Dr Nicole Hudson, Clinical Psychologist and Neusha Golshan, Clinical Associate in Psychology Apprentice, CNWL (scan to QR code to access the presentation)

We had an amazing session with one of our current Apprentices and her supervisor, who spoke about the integration and role of a CAP within a home treatment team. They highlighted how having a CAP within the team has resulted in an increase in both trauma-informed care and overall psychological mindedness within the team. It’s been amazing to see how having a CAP within the team is allowing more and more people to access psychological therapies, providing peer training, and helping with quality improvement through research. We were inspired by their presentation and hope that more home treatment teams will utilise CAPS within their services. Exciting times ahead!

CAPS in Older Adult Services – OXLEAS Foundation Trust, Dr. Jacob Waite, Clinical Psychologist and Local CAP supervisor;  Hope Donnelley, Clinical Associate in Psychology and Noursel Kaye, Clinical Associate in Psychology (scan to QR code to access the presentation)

Their presentation was really interesting as they explained why CAPS are so important in older adult services. The two CAPs ended the presentation by sharing their roles within their teams. Dr. Waite spoke about the emotional journey of integrating a new role into a team, from feeling proud to feeling frustrated, but ultimately finding joy when the service is able to meet the needs of their clients better than before. Hope and Noursel both shared their specific roles. Hope is leading the psychological perspective within her MDT, conducting memory assessments, working with one-to-one clients, and contributing to service development and research. Noursel talked about how she delivers groups, creates treatment plans, provides training, and creates positive support plans for challenging behaviors. It was really inspiring to see how much these CAPS are contributing to their teams!

 CAPS in Community Rehab Services – The Community Rehab Team at WLT, Jyoti Kalyana, Clinical Associate in Psychology; Rehnuma Choudhury, Clinical Associate in Psychology, Dr. Annis Cohen, Psychology Lead for community Rehab (scan to QR code to access the presentation)

We had such an interesting presentation on community rehab and its role in the treatment of psychosis within the NHS. The speaker started off by explaining the importance of this treatment and then focused on the challenges that arise when finding the right psychological expertise to fit the team’s needs. Luckily, CAPs are here to fill those gaps! They have a fantastic range of clinical skills and expertise in trauma informed care which allows them to provide much needed psychological input at various stages within the team. They are able to work with individuals, conduct group sessions, complete assessments, and are incredibly flexible and accessible to everyone on the team. Thanks to CAPs, the team has reached new heights!

The day ended with a closing speech by Prof. Stephen Pilling, Director for the Centre for Outcomes Research and Effectiveness & Head of the Department of Clinical, Education and Health Psychology at UCL.

Prof. Pilling spoke about how the role of psychology in the NHS is helping to fill gaps that services have been struggling with. He was so impressed by the work presented throughout the day and spoke about how the CAPs training programme could inform new pathways in psychological training. He emphasized the need for universities to offer more integrated programs that are accessible to adult learners.

After the conference, we all enjoyed some coffee and took some time to check out the incredible research posters presented by Sarah Coleman, Rehnuma Choudhury, Sarah Nicole, Hope Donnelley, Tatiana Cano, and Georgina Ward. Congratulations to Rehnuma Choudhury for winning the best poster award for her impressive work!

Overall, it was an absolutely amazing day filled with happiness, positivity and laughter. And of course, let’s not forget about the tea and cookies! The conference really highlighted all the strengths and achievements of our incredible psychological workforce.

CAPS Alumni Isabel Sherman on ‘How ‘CAPs’ can bridge the gap between Assistant to Clinical Psychologist’

By caps_msc, on 8 June 2022