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From a pub to a private practice: a unique journey to psychology

A story about an educational psychologist’s distinctive journey to owning her own private practice. Read the case study now.

19 August, 2020

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Professional Development & Mentorship Private Practice Success Story

The journey to becoming a psychologist is typically linear. With years of tertiary study underpinned by work experience and practice supervision, there is a lot that goes into becoming a psychologist and then determining your discipline. But for some, the journey to becoming a registered psychologist can involve many twists and turns.

Robyn Stead, Educational Psychologist and Founder of Educational Psychology Services (or EDPSYCH for short), is one of the professionals whose journey was unique. While she’s currently running her New Zealand-based private practice, the journey to arrive where she is today was far from conventional.

The offbeat path to psychology

Robyn initially graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and despite her interest in education she didn’t feel ready to settle in a career, so she took off overseas and gained experience in all sorts of roles: she worked as a nanny, she worked in pubs, and then in admin for a pharmaceutical company.

After a couple of years in Europe, Robyn decided the time was right to train as a teacher, so she trained to become an English teacher in the United States and taught for several years, but quickly realised that her passion was in special education. So, Robyn did further study to develop her expertise in special education and added another qualification to her resume.

After years in the United States, Robyn moved back to New Zealand and ran into a professional hurdle. At that time, special education was yet to become an in-demand role, so she went back to mainstream teaching and it was at that moment that Robyn encountered the possibility of becoming a psychologist.

“I was working with a psychologist who was working with one of my students and she said, ‘you should train to be a psychologist.’ And I thought, ‘oh no, I've already done enough university training.’

“But I did go on to train to become a psychologist, and I went into a service called the Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour, which is a service that works with kids that have mild-to-moderate disabilities. So, I worked there and became a practice leader. And then about two and a half years ago, I started my private practice.”

Importance of staying current

Robyn says that there are a lot of things about her role as an Educational Psychologist that gets her out of bed every morning, but if she was to nominate one thing that stands out above the rest, it’s the privilege of being able to interact with young people and their families, as to support them to ensure they get what they want out of their education journey.

And given the commitment and obligation to continuing professional development (CPD), staying across the latest research, and innovations in assessments and resources is what Robyn says is integral to her work as a psychologist.

“We owe it to all our clients to remain current with what is best practice in the moment and that changes so much depending on what research is coming through. So, it's critical for all of us in our profession to continue to learn - you can't just rest on your laurels as a psychologist.

“I've always thought that if you ever get to the point where you think you know it all, then that is the time to step away and retire. You need to have some degree of uncertainty that sits with you throughout, perhaps an awareness that there's always more to learn.”

Why Pearson Clinical?

Robyn says that Pearson Clinical is a reliable resource that helps her knowledge remain current and has worked closely with Melissa Stephens for over 10 years, who is one of Pearson Clinical’s Consultant Psychologists, to upskill on assessment resources. Psychology assessments are inherently detailed and technical, so for Robyn, this is where her relationship with Pearson Clinical (and namely Melissa) is all-important.

“Melissa gets to the point and understands what you're asking - it’s extremely helpful. I can send Melissa an email about an assessment and she will respond and provide a clear explanation, and she'll even cite the research if it's appropriate.”

For Robyn, Q-interactive is a tool she uses frequently in her work as an Educational Psychologist, and highlights the value of the training videos, which she often references to ensure she’s getting the most out of the platform. She adds that the availability of recommended books helps to contextualise assessment tools, too.

“I can quickly go into the Q-interactive training videos and cross check things, such as: am I handing the blocks to the kids correctly or am I clicking the timer at the right moment? I find that resource really helpful. And that’s true for Pearson’s manuals and book recommendations – they’re an asset that ensures you’re always on the right track.”

Robyn’s message to psychologists seeking assessment solutions is clear: Pearson Clinical’s resources are “easy to access” and “high quality”, and their Consultant Psychologists are a great asset to have to ensure you’re getting the most out of your initiatives.