How has your time at Royal Holloway prepared you for what comes next in your life? Blog post 2, by Maleha Abbas

How has your time at Royal Holloway prepared you for what comes next in your life? Blog post 2, by Maleha Abbas

Year 3 students were asked to answer this question: How has your time at Royal Holloway prepared you for what comes next in your life?

Maleha Abbas decided to write about how her work experiences as a psychology undergrad student at Royal Holloway opened her way as a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology


During my first year at Royal Holloway, I began working as a Psychology Assistant at Royal Free NHS Trust hospital in Hampstead, London. I was interning under a Clinical Neuropsychologist, who specialised in diagnosing Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I was trained on taking patient histories, conducting neuropsychological tests, and assessing patients on Depression inventories such as the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. I was also shadowing a Geriatrician Consultant (Dr Mizoguchi), who taught me how to read MRI scans and how they can show brain atrophies due to Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. When I was trained, I started assessing patients one-to-one and conducting memory assessments. During my time here, I also took part in clinical research, where I was involved in analysing data, and writing up articles and presenting posters. The research was about Delirium and Dementia amongst patients who were currently admitted in the hospital ward, and how their length of stay could potentially be reduced. This poster was selected at the British Geriatric Society’s conference in 2017, and it was published with me as second author. This clinical experience opened further doors for me in research and clinical psychology.

In my second year, I started working with Dr Michael Evangeli in the Clinical Psychology Department at Royal Holloway, where I took part in searching for literature, and drafting and analysing results for his research paper on HIV disclosure among adolescents. This research paper has been sent for a review for potential future publication. This experience has taught me research skills, and how to deal with a large amount of data. Throughout this placement, I was able to use SPSS efficiently, and also understand how to write an academic article which would be suitable for publication.

I also interned at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Texas, USA. I was selected by the Psychiatry Department of Mood and Anxiety Disorders program to assist with their clinical trials. I was working alongside outstanding Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Research Coordinators and working with patients who suffered from Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety and PTSD. I was responsible for conducting on-phone assessments of patients who wanted to take part in ongoing clinical trials. This involved me asking questions regarding their clinical history, family history, mental health history and details about their antipsychotic medications. I was also certified and trained to administer the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale with patients who exhibited suicidal behaviours. I was further trained to administer many other clinical rating scales like MINI interview, CAPS-5 for PTSD and SCID.

I now have three offers from the United States for a Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, and I have accepted an offer from Los Angeles. If you are planning to take this career, I would suggest getting in touch with Psychologists and mental health practitioners. Tell them that you’re passionate about working in mental health, and I’m sure you will hear back from at least one. That one door will open unlimited options and learning opportunities for you in the field of Clinical Psychology.