Trainee support systems

Any form of professional training is potentially stressful and we recognise that the programme team and supervisors cannot necessarily provide all the support that may be required. How can I get support flowchart shows how the different components discussed below are related to each other.

Within the programme we hope to promote a mutually supportive atmosphere in which programme members feel able to share concerns and issues with one another, with the programme team and with supervisors.

We recognise that the four components of the course: university attendance, clinical placements, research and independent study may be difficult to balance. 

Trainees with personal problems or psychological difficulties that are affecting their studies and work should contact a member of the programme team. This would normally be their appraiser, but may also be their clinical or research supervisor, tutor, clinical tutor, the programme director or another member of staff.

Please remember to talk with your appraiser if you begin to experience difficulties.

In addition there a various support systems that can be accessed through the university including;
academic skills support and Wellbeing services. Exeter expects that everyone is treated with dignity and respect, however if there are any issues relating to discrimination there are sources of support available; dignity and respect and speakout.

Occupational health services are available both through the university and Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust. The programme administrator has details.

Experiential Group

As part of the commitment to the development of reflective practice trainees attend a confidential reflective group. This provides trainees with an opportunity to further their understanding of individual and group dynamics and work through any emergent dilemmas in a facilitated context. The content of the meetings will be confidential between the facilitator and the trainees, but if there are any important issues coming out that the University should know about, the facilitator or the trainee would alert the appraiser.  Meetings are scheduled to take place while trainees are in Exeter for teaching blocks and will run through all three years of the programme.

Buddy System

Trainees from the earlier cohort will welcome trainees before they arrive and act as “buddies” to help new trainees settle in. This will be particularly important for trainees who move to the region from elsewhere and who may want advice about travelling and places to live.


PGR Pastoral Tutor

Further information of the roles of PGR Pastoral Tutors can be found in the Supervision of Postgraduate Research Students: Code of Good Practice.



Exeter trainees are encouraged to seek a mentor. This can be a helpful source of support during training that falls outside of the programme.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is offered by someone of the same profession, who is not part of the Exeter training course, who can offer a trainee time to address their development as a clinical psychologist. Mentoring is not supervision, therapy or training. Mentoring is similar to a coaching relationship, with the mentee active in setting the agenda to address their needs in relation to their professional development.

This may be a one-off meeting, or a series of meetings which may continue after qualification, this will be decided by the trainee and mentor. This could be offered face to face or remotely via phone or skype.

All conversations are confidential between the trainee and mentor. The mentor-trainee relationship is separate from the course and there is no feedback to the programme. However, a mentor has a duty of care and would have to take action if concerned about a trainee.

What might a trainee be looking for in a mentor?

There are a range of qualities or experience that a trainee might be looking for in a mentor.

General mentoring – Trainees often seek out a mentor that they think they can have honest and supportive conversations with. Often this tends to be a supervisor (past or present) or someone who has taught on the programme.

Specialty expertise - Trainees may have a commitment to working in a particular area and really benefit from mentoring from someone who has experience in this specialty. This could be a commitment to work with a specific group of people, a specific way of working or in a specific context.

Experience of work outside the UK / international trainees– Trainees may have an interest in working in other countries and appreciate assistance in how to progress towards gaining this experience. International trainees might also value support from someone who is interested in clinical psychology outside of the UK.

Newly qualified: mentoring from people in their first, second and third year of practice. Often newly qualified practitioners bring that additional aspect of being close to the training journey.

We find in Preparation for Qualified Practice (PQP) teaching with our Year 3 that inviting in presenters in the early years of their career is invaluable to our trainees. Trainees value guidance in navigating early career choices in the transition from trainee to qualified practitioner.

As a trainee – how to a go about finding a mentor

At the beginning of each academic year a list of mentors will be circulated, and you can approach a person on the list. Alternatively you may wish to ask a current or previous supervisor (who’s not on the list) to be your mentor. That would be good too.

Things to consider when setting up mentoring;

Issues for discussion between mentor and mentee:

o What the mentee wants from the mentoring, in terms of goals, content and process
o How often to meet or make contact and where/how
o How much time is allocated
o If any records be made of the mentoring sessions
o How to deal with issues of confidentiality
o How to regularly view progress
o The agreed duration of the relationship
o How the mentoring agreement can be concluded if other than the specified time.

Are you interested in becoming a mentor?

We welcome new mentors. The programme facilitates mentoring for trainees by providing a list of possible mentors. Please contact  with the following information, and we will add you to our database.
Contact details:
Course & year of qualification:
Pen picture:

Mentoring code of practice based on the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC)

1. Mentoring is a confidential activity, in which both parties have a duty of care towards each other.

2. Both mentor and mentee should be volunteers; either may dissolve the relationship if they feel it’s not working. However, they have a responsibility for discussing the matter together and coming to a mutual agreement about the ending.

3. The mentor’s role is to respond to the mentee’s developmental needs and agenda; it is not to impose his or her own agenda.

4. Mentor and mentee should respect each other’s time and other responsibilities, ensuring they do not impose beyond what is reasonable.

5. Mentor and mentee should also respect the position of third parties, other members and colleagues.

6. The mentor should not intrude into areas that the mentee wishes to keep off limits, unless invited to do so. Mentors should check this out with mentees and, where appropriate, suggest that mentees seek counselling.

7. Mentor and mentee should be open and truthful to each other about the relationship itself, reviewing from time to time how it might be more effective.

8. Mentor and mentee share responsibility for the smooth winding down and proper ending of their relationship, when it has achieved its purpose, or renegotiating a future relationship.

Sourced from: Brockbank & McGill (2006) Facilitating Reflective Learning Through Mentoring and Coaching.