The Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) career and role
The PWP role is an attractive one for people working in the NHS or in Social Care. We have already seen people from a variety of backgrounds entering the IAPT PWP workforce, including support workers, psychology assistants, Health Trainers, Support, Time and Recovery Workers (STR) or indeed professionally qualified staff, who want a change of direction e.g. Nurses.
PWPs are recruited as trainees at band 4 of Agenda for Change and qualify as PWPs when they successfully complete their training, enabling them to move on to band 5. This will be a sufficient level of remuneration to continue on for a long career for many, but it is important to consider career development opportunities for those who wish to progress. It is vital to keep experienced people in the PWP role and some areas have already developed senior PWP posts (examples of job descriptions can be found on the IAPT website). This role may include supervision, management, liaison, specialism and education, sometimes in a joint post with a university or in an HEI full time.
PWPs may also want to move on to training in psychological therapies e.g. High Intensity (HI) CBT, Counselling or into different professions such as Social Work. Indeed, there has been a worrying exodus of PWPs, often newly qualified, into HI CBT training and guidance has been issued, in the form of a joint statement with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), click to download a pdf copy.
Whilst there is room for people who see the PWP role as a stepping stone to a different career, this must not be the primary group of people recruited into trainee roles. This would repeat the mistake of the Graduate Worker in Primary Care role, where most were psychology graduates with good degrees, who went on to train as professional psychologists. In the long run, this led to an unsustainable workforce
More information about PWP career development and career progression is available in the PWP Good Practice Guide, available from http://www.iapt.nhs.uk/workforce/low-intensity/.