Stephanie works as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner for the North Staffordshire Wellbeing Service. Stephanie offers low-intensity cognitive behavioural therapy for common mental health problems such as depression, generalised anxiety and panic disorder. She started working for the service two years ago. Prior to this Stephanie undertook a Psychology degree and worked as a support worker for a mental health charity. Stephanie came into this role due to wanting to work in a therapeutic setting. In order to give you an idea of what a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner does, Stephanie shared with us what a typical day at work is like...

Close-up of a hand holding a cup of coffee on a wooden table9.00am – I get to work at our main base in Newcastle-under-Lyme where many of our other therapists and nurses work. All the PWPs work from one of our three local bases, whilst the cognitive behavioural therapists and nurses also work from within our local GP surgeries. As always, I started the day with a cup of tea, checked my emails and caught up with a few admin tasks from the day before.

9:30am – This was a client’s initial appointment. Prior to this they would have had a brief telephone screening. This appointment is face-to-face and normally lasts about an hour, the aim of which is to get an overview of the client’s difficulties in order to ascertain the most appropriate treatment to offer to the client. This may be talking treatment within our service, or signposting to other services. In this case, the client was suffering symptoms of generalised anxiety and wanted support managing this. The recommended treatment for this would be with a PWP, so I booked the client to come back to see me again in two weeks to begin treatment. The client also took away some self-help information to begin to look at.

10:30am – After this appointment I had a 30-minute break, so I was able to have another cup of tea and type up the notes from the previous appointments onto our patient system.

11.00am – Another initial appointment, this time the client was suffering severe symptoms of depression which stemmed from a difficult bereavement. In this case two treatments options were appropriate, counselling and CBT, so I discussed both these options with the client and provided the client written information on them. I arranged to call the client in a few days’ time, to see which of the options they would prefer.

12.00pm – Another 30-minute break, this time I had my lunch and spent some time chatting with my colleagues. I am lucky to work with some great people and it’s important to take time out like this to have a break from what at times can be emotionally draining work.

Two women talk across a table in a brightly-lit office room. 12:30pm – This was a face-to-face first treatment session with a client. We usually see clients face-to-face for their first treatment appointments, and then after this most sessions will be over the telephone. We completed a ‘problem statement’ together, a tool used to help summarise the client’s main difficulties. The client had been suffering panic attacks for around a year, and so I talked to the client about some of the research findings into panic to aid their understanding. We agreed for the client to keep a panic diary to help monitor their symptoms and agreed to review this in a weeks’ time.

1:30pm – I had around 45 minutes after this to catch up on my admin, and I typed up the notes from my previous two clients and sent some appointment letters.

2:15pm – This was a telephone treatment with a client, the clients fifth treatment session. These sessions are usually about 30 minutes long. The client had been utilising a technique called ‘cognitive restructuring’, which helps to challenge negative thoughts. Due to the improvements the client had made, we had agreed this would be their final treatment session. We reviewed together a ‘relapse plan’, which helps the client to come up with a strategy should they start to feel low again. I discharged the client, but we agreed I would contact them in 6 weeks’ time for a follow-up call to ensure these improvements had been maintained.

3.00pm – This was another telephone treatment for a client's fourth treatment session. The client had been suffering panic attacks and today we discussed the principles of exposure treatment. Exposure involves clients gradually exposing themselves to situations which trigger anxiety, in order to begin to face their fears, and has been found to be one of the most effective techniques to overcome panic. Together, myself and the client created a list of situations they would like to confront in order of difficulty and planned together of one of these situations the client could confront over the coming week. We agreed I would contact them again in a week to review this and set further goals.

3.30pm – My last appointment of the day was another first treatment session, although this was over the telephone due to the client being unable to travel to our base. This client had been suffering depression since the birth of her son. I am one of the PWP’s in the service who specialises in helping ‘perinatal’ clients – so those planning pregnancy, pregnant or post-natal. We completed a problem statement together, and then talked about the common symptoms of depression. We identified the client had stopped doing many activities she used to enjoy and had little time to herself and agreed addressing this may help the client lift her mood. We agreed over the coming week the client would begin to record what she is doing and write a list of goals that she would like to work towards during treatment.

This bought me to the end of the day – time for me to finish any last notes and respond to any messages or emails before I went home for the weekend. On a Friday evening I always go for a swim, which helps me to relax into the weekend. As I’ve mentioned, this work can be emotionally draining, and so self-care is essential to be able to manage this. I also think its important to remind myself why I do what I do – I feel so lucky to have such a varied job, the opportunity to work in a great team and really help people. If this sounds like a job you are interested in, there are various entry routes and I would recommend contacting your local IAPT service to find out more.

Find out more about the IAPT services MHM provides.