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Dr Kate le Maréchal
Health, NHS

One on one: Dr Kate le Maréchal

We dipped into the Society member database and spoke with Dr Kate le Maréchal, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Service for Evelina London Cleft Service.

12 September 2022

One alternative career path

I seriously considered doing a medical degree and I really enjoy working in hospital settings. I am fascinated by the interface between the physical and psychological self… you cannot treat one without the other. I work in a service providing comprehensive lifespan care for individuals born with a cleft and their families, and am so proud of the way that the members of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) value each other’s roles and contributions. Being a psychologist in a medical setting is a perfect fit for me. I spend a lot of time in clinics alongside patients and have developed a good understanding of a wide range of medical conditions and procedures. I feel privileged to have the time to spend with patients discussing their treatment options and their expectations for change – both physically and psychologically – and to be alongside them throughout their treatment journey.

One proud moment

Being appointed as Head of Service (Lead Clinician) for the hospital surgical service that I have worked in for the last 13 years. Historically, Heads of Service in the hospital have always been medical or dental consultants and it is ground-breaking for a Clinical Psychologist to have been appointed to lead the service. 

One thing I couldn’t do without

My friends and family (and colleagues too, no doubt!) will tell you how stubbornly independent I can be and how much I pride myself on always being on top of things and supporting others too. However, as John Donne said back in 1623, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself’ and I have learnt that accepting support is not about showing weakness but, rather demonstrates strength and courage in itself. I tell my clients this and should certainly listen to my own advice! I have had great supervisors and mentors professionally and I have some rather brilliant colleagues and friends who are consistently there for me.  In recent years I have also invested in a period of personal therapy which was quite life-changing and certainly helped me through a difficult period in a way that I don’t believe anything else could have. 

One song

‘Unwritten’ by Natasha Bedingfield. She wrote it for her younger brother in recognition of the fact that others can often make us feel like we are supposed to have everything ‘figured out’, but our lives are blank pages that we get to fill meaningfully and in our own unique ways. In my work, I often meet with individuals who are struggling to achieve the expectations that they and others have placed upon them. I use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) ideas and am particularly interested in supporting people to consider their values and identity and to find ways to move forward meaningfully in line with these. This song speaks to me of giving ourselves permission to work out what matters for us as individuals and to work towards those goals, since these are the ones that will bring true satisfaction.

One organisation that I’m proud to work with

Individuals, organisations and charities work tirelessly to help improve the lives of those affected by congenital or acquired visible difference. Often they are under-resourced to do this valuable work, and the pandemic and other issues such as cost of living increases have further impacted on their funding. The Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) is a small but brilliant charity which describes its purpose as being ‘to support people to take control of their journey, connect with others, and use their voices to impact the future of care’. I am so grateful to be able to direct clients to CLAPA and other organisations like them, and to work in partnership with them.

One inspiration

Would it be really naff to say ‘my clients’? I have been qualified for more than 20 years now and continue to be blown away each and every day by the individuals that I have the opportunity to work with. Having therapy is not always easy for clients and I never underestimate their courage and commitment to the process and what it costs them to show up, even when sessions might be difficult or even painful at times. I genuinely learn a huge amount from those that I meet with and it is a privilege to be there alongside them and to witness their psychological growth.

One thing that psychologists do really well

The Clinical Psychology Leadership and Development Framework published by the Division of Clinical Psychology in 2010 remains a really useful document and I have drawn on this both in my role as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and now in my Head of Service position. The Leadership and Development Framework emphasises the need to be aware of our personal qualities and values and to apply our professional skills and knowledge to be effective leaders. I totally agree that our core psychological competencies and relationship expertise in engagement and collaboration can serve as valuable tools for effective leadership. I am pleased to see that teaching on leadership is beginning to form part of Clinical Psychology training and try to provide my more junior clinical psychology colleagues and trainees (and even assistant psychologists) with leadership opportunities at every stage of their careers.