Nicki Carpenter - educational psychology team profile

A member of the team describes their role and what it's like to work in educational psychology.

I have worked for Kent Educational Psychology Service (KEPS) for 14 years in the East Kent Quadrant.  Prior to this I completed my placement with the service while training at University College London (2003, MSc).

My work involves applying psychology as a process and in content.  I combine this with an understanding of child development and sound interpersonal skills.  I work alongside stakeholders with the aim of improving the wellbeing, raising attainment and achievement of young people (0-25 years). I use consultation methods to apply the process of psychology with parents, carers and a variety of staff, across schools and settings.

I enjoy developing relationships with key staff in schools, enabling us to focus together on a problem area, and use evidence based psychology to inform interventions and develop new ways of practice. My work can focus on individual young people, groups (pupils or staff) or the whole school systems.  I use a problem analysis framework to consider the multiple variables that may interact, contributing to a problem.  I can then support considering where change could be possible.

I thrive on the variety of the work, and in selecting psychological techniques that could best support change. I use principles from Cognitive Behavioural Approaches (challenging thoughts and feelings), The Solihull Approach (considering interactions and how we relate to and support to each other), and Solution Focused techniques (finding and extending exceptions to a problem), to name but a few.

I particularly enjoy training and developing small staff groups.  I offer a range of training, from Precision Monitoring (a 10 minute method for ensuring mastery of skills where children are stuck) to awareness-raising in working memory or understanding anxiety in autistic children in schools.  I have recently developed tailored training for a school about difficulties in maths.  I was able to summarise and share best current thinking on the neurological, developmental and anxiety provoking aspects of learning maths within a school.  I hope to follow up, after reflecting on training evaluation feedback, and to consider with the school the developments they would like to make in class practice and in targeted interventions.

I also enjoy strategic core work for the Educational Psychology Service.  I have for the past 5 years (with interruptions for maternity leave) chaired a steering group for the development of Cognitive Behavioural Approaches for use in schools.  We have been successful in developing supportive resources for training courses, interventions with groups/individuals and a supervision system.  This has enabled our staff to further develop skills and confidence in applying Cognitive Behavioural Approaches in schools.  This has also given rise to the development of a Mindfulness branch.

Working for a large service is just exceptional in terms of the variety of skills and expertise I come into contact with, on a daily basis, with my colleagues.  This is instrumental in supporting and challenging my practice.

Nicki Carpenter - Main Grade Educational Psychologist with Senior Practitioner status