Monday, 19 June 2017

toxic supervision

yesterday Teviot Place Edinburgh
Last night on twitter I was reflecting on the toxic nature of the PhD supervision at the University of Edinburgh Clinical Psychology department which I experienced over 9 months from September 2016.  It caused me physical health issues, gut problems, having to get blood tests and stool samples examined via my GP, and having to cancel a London trip, taking part in the Windhorse and Basic Attendance Workshop on 3 May.  I'd already bought the plane tickets so it cost me financially.

At the final supervision meeting on 2 May 2017, I felt ganged up on, undermined and bullied, my research proposal on evidencing Safe haven crisis Houses was questioned and criticised, and I was made to feel "less than".  This was particularly cruel because I'm a lone "worker", unpaid Carer, campaigner, writer, activist, with no team to back me up.  The only person who supported my academic quest from the offset was Prof Andrew Gumley, supplying a positive PhD reference and offering formal mentorship.

After the supervision relationship broke down I found out from a Clinical Psychologist, formerly employed on the DClinPsy programme at Edinburgh, that 8 others had been bullied in the department, including himself, trainees and other staff, some of whom resigned because of it.  This person had raised a formal complaint with the university but got no justice and had to leave because of it.  When I heard about the bullying culture I raised concerns with Judy Thomson, Director of Training for Psychology Services NHS Education for Scotland.  NES fund the DClinPsy training at both Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities.

Ms Thomson eventually responded saying: 

"I have consulted internally about the best way to respond due to the seriousness of the issues raised. We will not be investigating this as a formal complaint as the concerns relate to a service provided by the University of Edinburgh and by named employees of that organisation. Although NES has an interest in the quality of the learning environment, the primary governance responsibility rests with the University.  Therefore we are proposing that we pass the information you have provided to the University, requesting that they deal with the points that you have raised and advise us of the outcome – as well as liaising with you directly.  Please can you confirm that you are happy for your email of 23 May to be passed on to the University of Edinburgh and we will progress with this action?"

At first I wasn't keen to be taking forward another complaint, due to the remembered stress of having had to complain about human rights abuses in Stratheden IPCU, Fife, February 2012.  Which resulted in an apology from NHS Fife after my complaint was upheld by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. However I talked it over with my son and decided to proceed with the complaint, supported by NES.  This process is now ongoing.  [The University of Edinburgh's Complaints Procedure.]

I am very sad that my PhD hopes have been dashed, it's disheartening and disempowering, especially since I'm constrained financially, as an unwaged Carer, on a basic State Pension, no Carers Allowance.  At the November 2016 meeting with the Edinburgh University Clinical Psychology Professor I'd suggested that he could organise for me to undertake a few hours lecturing per week, enabling me to self fund the PhD.  However he wasn't willing or able to do this, although Ms Thomson thought this was viable when we met on 20 April 2017, prior to my PhD being withdrawn.

I feel bruised and battered after this toxic supervision experience.  It's very unfair, considering my situation and all the work I've done since 2008, voluntarily, to promote safer mental health services in Scotland, and Fife in particular.  Speaking out about human rights abuses and advocating for others who have been bullied for speaking out.  I deserve respect and recognition for standing up for, and with, others, at a cost to myself.

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PhD Clinical Psychology University of Edinburgh - Withdrawal of Offer 9May17

4 May 2017: "no way we can guarantee success": the breakdown of supervision; "slumbering time bomb"

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Cycling as therapy, yesterday on train to Edinburgh then cycling down Leith Walk, out to Portobello then round by Duddingston and down to the Meadows:


bike parked Teviot Place Edinburgh yesterday
 








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