Dr Laura Clemens is a Clinical Psychologist, based at the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust’s service in Birmingham, West Heath House. Here Laura gives some insight into what a Clinical Psychologist does, and what it's like to work for the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT).
How long have you been at BIRT?
I’ve been with the Trust just over four weeks and so far I’m really enjoying it. It feels like I’ve been here a lot longer!
What made you want to work for BIRT?
I was really interested by the psychology-led model of rehabilitation that’s used at BIRT services. It’s quite rare, not a lot of brain injury services work in this way. I had previously been doing rehabilitation work in the community and it seemed like a great opportunity.
What is your role and how does it fit into the multidisciplinary team at West Heath House?
There are many different aspects to my role as Clinical Psychologist, but one of the main things I focus on is the impact of an individual’s brain injury on their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Part of my role is to assess this impact, along with the wider multidisciplinary team, in order to support service users to set goals and think about what their long-term rehabilitation goals are. I also work with the team to coordinate pre-admission assessments, so deciding whether somebody would benefit from rehabilitation at BIRT. Additionally, my role involves working with the team to develop behavioural guidelines; helping them to understand service users’ behaviour and come up with strategies to deal with challenging situations.
How does your role benefit service users?
It benefits them in lots of ways, but the key thing is helping individuals to understand what has happened to their thinking as a result of their brain injury. Often people don’t recognise their difficulties, so part of my job is to help them understand this and come up with strategies to help them overcome these difficulties. We set goals with individuals and support them to live the most fulfilling and independent lives they can. Having only been at BIRT for four weeks it’s hard to pinpoint a particular individual who has achieved a particular goal in this time, as rehabilitation is an ongoing process and doesn’t happen overnight, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the service users make progress.
What’s the best thing about BIRT?
The multidisciplinary team are fantastic. They are so friendly and welcomed me right away, and it’s amazing to work with people who are so dedicated and committed to what they do. I’ve also loved meeting the service users at West Heath House, getting to know them and their individual characters, and thinking about their rehabilitation goals and the progress they could make.