Team Pic.jpgAniqa Hussain, CATALYST Assistant Psychologist

Aniqa was one of the first to join the CATALYST programme, a programme  aimed at aspiring psychologists from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and disadvantaged backgrounds.

Here, she shares how her CATALYST Programme journey helped her gain invaluable work experience.   

"The CATALYST Programme has been an invaluable experience for me.

Since graduating from university, I was worried whether I would be able to get a job as an Assistant Psychologist (AP). I always heard about how competitive it is to get this role and thought getting an AP role straight away would be impossible without volunteering first."

Aniqua Hussain

When she heard about the CATALYST Programme, it seemed like an ideal opportunity to gain the experience she needed.

My university had e-mailed about the CATALYST Programme which was a paid placement opportunity specifically designed for graduates like me who lacked the experience. It sounded like the perfect opportunity so I applied straight away.

The application itself was easy and straightforward and mainly focussed on my passion for clinical psychology. The assessment process was a bit intensive with three parts, but Simon gave a very helpful webinar beforehand which helped me prepare.

I appreciated that the programme gave me a choice of location and service I would like to work with and did their best to accommodate that.

My line manager was incredibly lovely as well as the rest of my team. My colleagues were always helpful and patient and gave a lot of great advice. My line manager was always considerate of whether I was getting a wide range of experience that would be helpful for pursuing future roles.


During my time, I was able to meet service users and shadow several staff members including Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Assistant Psychologists which was great. I got a lot of experience working closely with vulnerable populations.

One aspect of my placement which stood out to me were the opportunities available for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and throughout the programme I have been completing training for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Family Work and training for psychological assessments such as Comprehensive Assessment of At-Risk Mental States (CAARMS).

I gained a lot of confidence as a person, and I’ve gained greater understanding of how mental health services work and the psychological models and interventions provided for service users. 

I also learned a lot about the experiences service users have had by hearing it first hand from them.