By: Mary Tobin who starts the MA in Applied Psychology (Mental Health) this September.
I came to UCC as a mature student to do a BA in Applied Psychology. The combination of college, family responsibilities, work, and voluntary commitments was a challenge to manage at times. Two of the things that sustained me through my degree were my passion for my chosen course of study – and sharing that course with some of the friendliest, funniest, and most interesting people who I’ve met. For me, having a second chance at education meant that I was determined to ride out the occasional wobble and keep trying to do my best and engage fully with my studies.
An important part of the BA in Applied Psychology is the independent research project. I was lucky to have both the freedom and the support from my academic supervisor to carry out a research study of my own design, on a topic about which I care, with a community-based sample. Taking on this intensive research work built on my practical skills (such as participant recruitment and analysis) but also built up my sense of myself as a researcher and someone who belongs in this academic space. The milestones in my educational journey were these rare but recurring moments of gradual realisation: Yes, I actually know what I am about and what I am talking about.
The choice to do a postgraduate degree in UCC was a straightforward one. My chosen course – the MA in Applied Psychology (Mental Health) – is the only Masters degree in psychology in Ireland which has an integrated six month placement supervised by a clinical or counselling psychologist. The School of Applied Psychology in UCC has been building links with Adult Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and Intellectual Disability Services, as well as other psychological service providers including counselling, addiction services, services for older adults, and those for other vulnerable populations. This means that I will have the opportunity to work in a supervised placement – an advantage for any psychology graduate planning to apply to clinical doctorate programmes.
As well as a placement, the MA will also allow me to keep developing my research skills on another independent research project. I will also have the benefit of taught modules which are tailored for students pursuing the clinical psychology route.
Although I am apprehensive – to say the least – about the financial challenges of a postgraduate course in UCC, I know from my undergraduate experience that I am in the right place, doing what is right for me.