This year is my final year of my Master of Clinical Psychology, after which I will be a qualified psychologist. To fully appreciate the impact of my personal goals of becoming a psychologist (and eventually a Clinical Psychologist) I must introduce you to the community of the Riverland in South Australia. It is a beautiful area of SA with a collection of towns littered around a winding Murray River. It is also considered one of the largest mental health hubs of rural SA. Many people living in surrounding areas need to travel to the Riverland to access mental health services. The problem is that there are currently no clinical psychologists living in the Riverland. There are a few general psychologists and some clinical psychologists who visit from Adelaide but the need in the community greatly outweighs the resources available. This situation worries me, especially when I consider the higher rates of suicide in rural areas which will likely only get worse as hope falls and financial stain looms in drought-stricken areas. Once I am qualified, I will be able to lessen the mental health load and eventually I hope to supervise psychologists in training with the aim of increasing the professional support in the community.
Firstly, I must get through the next year of hard-yakka. The Master of Clinical Psychology is unlike any other postgraduate program. The level of work required by the program's board of accreditation verges on impossible. Last year, there were many emotional breakdowns and moments of overwhelming stress from the entire cohort, myself included. As a student representative, I encouraged everyone to support each other as a team. This year I have moved back to South Australia for my final year while the majority of my cohort remains in Queensland. Over the following year, I need to complete coursework, write a thesis and work as a provisional psychologist in two 16-week placements, which is unpaid work with clients who often have complex issues. It is a mentally draining and exhilarating amount of work. It has been really tough but I've loved every second of it so far. Furthermore, my main goal is to become the best asset to the Riverland which means dedicating all of my time to growing as a psychologist and learning as much as I can.