As a young adult I joined a local charity organisation caring and supporting children and adults with physical, mental health and learning disabilities. This voluntary work included caring for individuals, on a 1:1 basis, during respite summer camps, social gatherings and also fundraising type activities. It really became a natural progression to pursue a career in mental health nursing.
I started Nurse training in 1987 which included placements in a range of settings including learning disability and acute hospital as well as a range of mental health care settings such as acute admission, intensive care, rehabilitation, care of the elderly and community care.
As a newly qualified Staff Nurse, I particularly enjoyed the challenges of working in acute mental health care. The experience I gained provided a solid foundation and inspired me to further develop my knowledge and skills in psychological interventions in order to maximise client’s progress. I set my sights on becoming a Cognitive Behaviour Nurse Therapist so I undertook post-graduate training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and obtained an NMC Nurse Specialist recordable qualification. This has been one my most rewarding and fulfilling career choices. I currently work within a Psychological Therapies Service, aligned to the Community Mental Health Teams within the Northern HSC Trust.
It is a tremendous privilege to care for those when they need it most and to assist and facilitate them in their journey to recovery. CBT can be provided on an individual or group basis within an out-patient community setting. It is both challenging and stimulating to work as an autonomous practitioner or to co-work on individual cases with colleagues and contribute to a wider team. There are a number of career choices for nurses wanting to work in specialist roles in the area of mental health and in a range of settings including hospital and community. I personally was inspired by an article in a Nursing Journal in the late 1990`s, about a Cognitive Behaviour Nurse Therapist who shared their story of working with a survivor of a tragic rail accident. This individual suffered from trauma and severe burns. It was a story which inspired me to pursue this career path which is both personally and professionally rewarding.
The main core qualities as a Nurse have taught me compassion for others and the belief that others can overcome great diversity. CBT allows you to build upon your therapeutic relationship to instil a sense of hope and empower individuals to rebuild their lives using individualised treatment specific evidence based interventions. This brings huge benefits to service users, their carers and extended families.
Nursing provides career progression crossing over a range of hospital and community settings with opportunities for shift patterns or regular hours. It is a vocational career. I often reflect upon Holywell Hospital’s logo where I trained as a Nurse: “To Comfort Always”.