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Cheryl Jones: My Working Life

Published on: 22 Feb 2024

Terri Hodgkinson: My Working Life

 

What did you want to be when you were at school/growing up? 

I wasn’t sure but I knew I wanted to help people. 

 

Why did you decide to take your current role? 

Having spent many years working in the NHS in a range of different services, I felt frustrated that those with mental health challenges weren’t having their needs met. They ended up bouncing around various teams rather than being offered compassion and treatment. Their needs were either too complex for primary care or weren’t high risk enough for secondary care. As a result, they were unable to access psychological services, or if they did, they were swiftly deemed to be unmotivated or disengaged because they didn’t immediately do what the services expected. I felt this was an unrealistic expectation, as therapies were often being provided by multiple people and there was little, if any, or kindness or consistency. I decided to move into private practice so that I could make a real difference for those whom I was working with.

 

What three factors make you skip into work? 

I enjoy the freedom to work in a more holistic way.
It’s incredibly rewarding to work with people who feel they have ‘failed at therapy’ because they have tried so many times but it hasn’t worked or lasted for them. When you see them start to succeed and thrive it’s a wonderful feeling. 
It always feels a huge privilege to work with people who have been badly hurt or harmed by caregivers and services and have them put their trust in you to help.

 

What are three factors that make you frustrated at work?
Other services! For example, when social services are provided with psychology reports but don’t act on them. It leads to more injury but they never take responsibility for this. 
The downside of private practice is that I can’t provide the service for free. That’s particularly tough when I can see someone is highly motivated to engage but they can’t afford therapy and I know NHS services won’t work with them because they don’t meet thresholds.
There is so much I want to learn but it can be expensive and there are not enough hours in the day to do it.

 

Why would you recommend your career/role to someone else? 

I think it is an amazing honour to be able to help people. It’s very life affirming to see people who, following therapy,  learn to really thrive despite having lived through some of the most horrendous experiences.

 

What positive aspects would you highlight? 

The extraordinary changes that people/services/businesses/systems can make when given opportunity, compassion and support. I learn as much from the people I work with as they do from me. 

 

What has been your biggest career disappointment or challenge and why, and how did you overcome it? 

I grew very frustrated by the bottleneck into senior leadership roles in the NHS and I felt it was exacerbated by a high degree of nepotism. I was disappointed I wasn’t able to influence services more. 
For this reason I set up my own independent practice. I wanted to create stable foundations and a premise embedded in the service from its conception of supporting as many people and their carers/families/friends/employers as I can. It means I can provide a service and work with others who share similar values to my own. These values include encouraging growth, providing challenge, reducing complacency and facilitating openness and learning.
I now choose to sit on strategy boards that enable and create policies that reduce the opportunity for nepotism. It’s important to me to do what I can to protect those who are just starting out in their careers. At the moment I do this by contributing to the work around codes of conduct and membership policies for the British Psychological Society.

 

What was your best career move? 

Going into independent practice. It’s enabled me to do more, sitting on strategy boards and also influencing change within other organisations from schools to international corporations. 
I feel I am now able to use my time in more constructive ways – whether that be through facilitating therapy sessions, delivering supervision or mentoring, or engaging with business and adapting corporate policies. I know this work enables employees to thrive both in the workplace and in their personal lives. There is definitely more meaning in the work I do now.  

 

Can you describe what you do in one sentence? 

I support people/organisations and systems in the most interesting and unexpected ways.  

 

What qualities do you think you need to do your job well? 

You need to have awareness, integrity, honesty, humility, warmth, creativity, flexibility, optimism, humour, curiosity, compassion and competence. You also need the ability to self-reflect, be strategic, fair, patient, persistent, determined, dedicated, supportive and have a growth mindset.

 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a patient or work colleague? 

Look after yourself first, because who will be there when you can’t? Also, everyone, regardless of who they are, deserves love and compassion. 

 

What do you do to relax/de-stress? 

Trampolining, reading, cycling, yoga, exploring, and most importantly spending time with friends. 


Biography:
Cheryl graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Criminology at the University of Glamorgan in 2001. She went on to complete a Masters Degree in Research Methods in Psychology with Swansea University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Cardiff University. 
She was accredited with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) in 2018 and has been a member of the British Psychological Society since 1996, gaining Graduate Basis for Registration in 2002.
Her first job was as a Team Leader with the drug and alcohol charity Turning Point for Devon Partnership NHS Trust. She has also worked at the Ministry of Defence as an Assistant Psychologist delivering the SilverCloud online psychological wellness resource to military personnel and other defence staff both in the Uk and overseas. Other roles include working as a High Intensity Therapist and Supervisor in two Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services in the south of England and Psychological Therapist and Supervisor at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust providing specialist assessments for adults and young adults and their families and carers and strategic development of services.
She is currently the director of Epione Psychotherapy Ltd, a private company that delivers online therapy for both young people and adults as well as working with businesses around improving mental health support and policies in the workplace.