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Biography

Throughout my working life, I have always been drawn to service development and quality improvement work as well as continuous learning. After gaining a first class degree in Behavioural Sciences from Huddersfield Poly, I worked in a third sector substance misuse service as a service development worker, spreading the organisation across the borough as well as developing different components to the service offer. During this time I also gained a MSc in Analysis of Decision-making Processes, which addressed decision-making at the individual, group and societal/political level, my thesis for which positioned therapy as a decision-making process. I embarked on my Clinical Psychology training in 1987 at University of Birmingham, then working in psychiatric rehabilitation and older adults services. I developed secondary mental health community psychology services, articulating the role as one of change agent as well as therapist, embedded in multi-disciplinary teams. I changed career at this point, taking a post at Wolverhampton University as a Senior Lecturer in psychology, teaching undergraduate psychology students, supervising research and developing with colleagues the qualitative research methodology teaching in the programme. I also developed, with counselling colleagues, the doctoral programme in Counselling Psychology. I returned to the NHS in 1998 as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with the role of developing a more therapeutic culture within acute psychiatric inpatient care as well as developing an integrated and embedded model of psychological work for such acute, short-term settings. I am still in the same organisation, now called Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, still overseeing acute psychology, having had a period as Trust professional lead and now lead psychologist for the Trust's mental health services. I also led the development of the Make a Difference group - the Trust's expert by experience involvement forum - the work that I feel made more difference to people's lives and recovery journeys than anything else I've been involved with so far.

Within all of my roles I have led culture change programmes as well as working on regional and national projects. Examples include developing the 'transfer from classroom to clinic' component of HEE/HEWM 'upskilling the workforce in psychological skills' project, participating in the development of Good Practice guidelines for working in inpatient older adult settings for the older adult faculty of the Division of Clinical Psychology and, currently, leading the MERIT vanguard's Recovery Culture workstream, a culture change programme across the four West Midlands mental health provider Trusts and their communities. In 2015, I have also gained a PhD in Organisational Development titled ''Planets aligning' and 'lightbulb moments': A realist evaluation of how OD interventions do and do not work.' In 2017 I was honoured to be accepted as a Fellow of the RSA for my change work and commitment to thee mission of 'enriching society through ideas and actions to bring about positive social change'.

I am also a mother of four young women and a grandmother. My twin daughters have diagnoses of Asperger's syndrome and both have had significant mental health struggles relating to this. My lived experience as a mother of teens receiving mental health services has been personally transformational in my true understanding of person-centred services, understanding the struggles of getting effective services and finding caring, compassionate relationships within those services. I have realised how far off the mark much of my professional training has been in understanding the lived experience of people with mental health problems. I have learned so much from my daughters and their peers about how to provide 'helpful help' and work in true collaboration. This has re-ignited my passion for and commitment to true coproduction and culture change, especially in mental health services.

 


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