My name is Valeriia. I am a third-year psychology student at the University of Southampton, hoping to go into Graduate Medicine in the future. My key interests lie within psychopathology and biopsychology. During the summer 2021 I have attended a course about clinical skills in psychology to gain some perspective into what treatment of anxiety and depression is really like, so here is a little insight into my week.

During the first day of the course, I woke up and found myself running an hour late – what a great start to the course. I messaged the programme lead who replied, explaining that the time difference was different to what I had thought it was, but I was very welcome to join into the discussion board. I sat down behind my laptop, with a coffee and found that this course was a lot more popular than I thought it was – there were about 50 people online, all chatting away about exposure therapy. I quickly switched on, remembering the lecture I had watched the night before – the lecturer was going over the key material. After a 30 minute break, we were split up into groups to practice the skills we had learned. This was a new experience to me – very hands on and feeling overwhelmed with all the knowledge I had gained. When we were done practicing, and discussing the best ways to go about exposure therapy in anxiety, we were done for the day. The time had really flown by.

The second day was a lot sunnier which made me feel a lot more awake and focused during the course. With the sun shining through my window and a cup of coffee in my hand I was excited to learn about today’s topic – which was behavioural activation. I had really struggled to understand the theory behind this therapy when I had watched the pre-recorded material the night before, so I had a lot of questions. Nessa, the programme lead was amazing at combating them one by one. Feeling a lot happier with the material, I was ready for lunch. Having made an amazing toastie, I sat down for the practical side of the course. Today I was just observing and giving feedback on other people’s work, rather than actively practicing, which was a nice change. After this, we were done for the day, although I still had two lectures to watch for the day after.

On Wednesday, I found myself feeling a little unmotivated. Having eaten my breakfast and feeling drained, I hopped onto the live session. Schema therapy was the topic for today. This is something that I had done some research on before, so I became quite curious about how it Is applied. Although I struggled with some of the material, the lecturer was quick to iron out any confusion I had. I feel that this made the course so good – although these people were so far away and had so many students on the course, I still felt that they had a personal approach to every student – making sure that all of the material is understood and we know how to apply it.

Thursday was an interesting day. This was the most exciting day for me as the topic of the conversation was rumination-based CBT. Rumination and anxiety is something that I struggle with myself, so I was hoping that I could find out some ways or get some tips on how I could make myself feel better. The course did not disappoint. After learning all of the theory behind the treatment and getting some well needed practice, I felt that I was a lot more confident about why I may feel this way. This was also amazing because I could practice this therapy well as I could really relate to how my patient was feeling. At the end, I felt satisfied with how much difference this course had made to my knowledge and personal experiences.

Friday was the last day – this was a weird thought as I had just managed to get into the swing of waking up early, discussing material, practicing and then watching a lecture. But oh well, this meant that I was close to finishing a course, and contributing to my learning. We were learning about the pharmacological treatments in anxiety and depression. Knowing a lot of people that were on anxiety medication or antidepressants, this course really explained to me why these work, and why such treatments are used. This was also useful material which related to my course a lot, so I really enjoyed the day. As the topic was not a psychology technique we could practice, we spent the last couple of hours together just talking and asking any final questions. On that positive note, we left the meeting, having gained a tonne of practice, knowledge and having made new friends.

Radboud Virtual Summer School

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