Psych & Behav student Chloe Davis tells us about her voluntary summer placement
Name: Chloe Davis
Degree course: Psych & Behav
Will graduate in: 2019
Last Summer, I had the incredible experience of volunteering in Bali for four weeks with SLV Global – a company offering mental health placements in Sri Lanka, Bali, and India. As a psychology student who is considering Clinical Psychology as a career path, I have often found that gaining hands-on work experience can be difficult because of the confidential nature of the work but a casual google search led me to SLV, and their promise of “providing volunteers the chance to gain much desired psychology work experience” in amazing locations (I have always loved travelling) felt like the perfect fit.
Arriving in Bali, the first week of the placement was training and orientation – a couple of days learning more about what we would be doing before some down-time involving going on a “jungle weekend” which included a mini hike and white-water rafting, and ending in us being driven to our homestays (part of the placement costs cover staying in the home of a Balinese family – they were so lovely and provided us with breakfast each morning and cooked us dinner every night!). For the next three weeks we were given a timetable that told us what projects we would be involved in each day and with whom; projects ranged from working in a psychiatric facility, teaching English in schools, working in special needs schools, or running sessions that had been requested by the local community (e.g. running yoga sessions for the elderly community members).
‘we had service-users practice picking up and passing objects with clothes pegs to work on their pincer grip, or we had them weaving paper baskets’
Being a mental health placement, there was a strong emphasis that every session we ran needed to have a clear psychological focus and benefits, which was reflected in the activities we chose. For example, in a session targeting fine motor skills we had service-users practice picking up and passing objects with clothes pegs to work on their pincer grip, or we had them weaving paper baskets. Whereas, another session focusing on self-expression and identity may have seen them creating self-portraits or collages.
Every Monday we planned our sessions for the week, which we then ran from Tuesday through to Friday morning– seven in total. From Friday afternoon to Sunday evening the weekends were our own to do what we liked. SLV helps you organise taxis and drivers so that you can see a lot of Bali over your three weekends (though many volunteers also decide to stay in Bali after the placement ends). Alongside some of the amazing people I met on this placement, we spent our weekends scuba-diving, canyoning, experiencing a Balinese massage, and even climbing a volcano at three in the morning to watch the sunrise from the top!
‘the hands-on experience I received and a deeper knowledge of global mental health practices was extremely valuable’
On the whole I could not recommend this placement enough, there is of course a cost to the flights and the project but a travel grant from my college, and one from the Jack Petchey foundation made it much easier (and many volunteers also fundraised), but it was definitely worth it. I met some amazing other volunteers who I hope to remain friends with and the hands-on experience I received and a deeper knowledge of global mental health practices was extremely valuable and helped cement my decision to follow Clinical Psychology as a career path. The placement also taught me useful skills such as working in large groups and being flexible (when a session didn’t go to plan), skills which I know I will take with me into future jobs.