Investigating motivations and barriers to working with older peple among psychologists in clinical training in the UK.
Background and Aims: The population aged over 65 in the UK is increasing, however this population
is traditionally underserved by clinical psychologists. Part of the reason for this underservice may relate
to psychologists' reluctance to work with this group. The literature suggests a number of issues which
may account for this reluctance, e. g. professional ageism, anxiety about ageing, death and dependency.
This research aims to explore the relevance of these issues among clinical psychology trainees, as well
as exploring their attitudes towards psychotherapy with older clients and their thoughts about how
recruitment could be improved
Design and Participants: A cross sectional postal design was used. Questionnaires were sent to
trainees at 25 of the Clinical Psychology Training courses in the UK. Three hundred and seventy-one
trainees returned questionnaires.
Measures: A questionnaire was designed by the author which included a number of published
Results: The trainees reported that they were less interested in working within the older adult specialty
than within the adult or child specialties, although older adult services were more popular than learning
disability services. The trainees' interest in working with older people could be predicted by their
interest in this area prior to training; by aspects of their ageing anxiety and by their experience of
working with older people during training. The trainees' age; death anxiety and attitude to older people
did not predict their interest in this area. Trainees further discussed how they thought approaches
should be modified with older people; why they thought recruitment to this area may be problematic
and how recruitment could be improved.
Discussion and Implications: The discussion considers provisional explanations for the findings. The
clinical implications are examined particularly in terms of recruitment to the older adult specialty. The
limitations with this study are explored and ways forward suggested