Extreme Psychiatry | Ex Ψ

Improving communication skills and confidence in psychiatry


LogoIf you are an actor interested in volunteering with the Extreme Psychiatry team, please read on.

Extreme Psychiatry provides free teaching to medical students; nobody on the team is paid. Please don’t apply to act for us if you can only take paid work – we don’t want to waste your time! 

Auditions for 2017 will take place on the evening of Tuesday 10th October 2017. The application  process has now closed, but you’re welcome to apply in advance of the Autumn 2018 interviews, or to observe a session, to see if you want to join us. 

What’s in it for me?

As well as having the opportunity to change the doctors of tomorrow and work with a dynamic teaching team, you’ll learn skills in psychiatric role-play and gain knowledge about common mental health problems – no bad thing to have on your CV, should you wish to undertake professional medical role play work in the future.

We can cover your travel costs, but don’t pay anyone on the team. However, from time to time we are approached to provide teaching in other settings – we always ensure our actors are paid for this work when it is available, offering paid roles to the actors who have provided the most time to our course.

What does it involve?

As an Extreme Psychiatry Actor, you’d sign up to at least 4 sessions in a term. Sessions run on Tuesday evenings, from 5.30-7.30pm, near Waterloo. Term dates for 2017-18 are:

  • Autumn 2017: 24th October-12th December inclusive
  • Spring 2018: 16th January –6th March inclusive
  • Summer 2018: 3rd April – 22nd May inclusive 

We like actors to arrive by 5pm, to allow time to role-play with the doctors on the team, if needed, prior to the start of the session. You’d receive your role the weekend before the session, and have access to psychiatrists who will help you hone your portrayal of different mental health problems. A team training event before the start of term will also help you prepare for a range of roles.

During a session, you’d observe the initial lecture, before role-playing with medical students. Role plays last 8 minutes, and afterwards, you have a few minutes to gather your thoughts before being asked for your opinion on the interview, from your (patient) perspective.

As a member of the Extreme psych team, you’d also provide feedback after the session to the other team members (psychiatrists and senior medical students). This helps them improve their communication and teaching skills ; your opinion as a non-medic and patient advocate is invaluable. After team feedback, you can head home or stay for something to eat and drink.

What makes a good Extreme Psychiatry Actor?

We’re looking for actors who can put aside their own prejudices and expectations of mental illness and respond quickly, flexibly and thoughtfully to direction. We work with people with mental health problems every day, and if you’ll let us, we’d like to help you act convincingly. You need to be able to accept feedback without becoming defensive.

Flexibility is crucial. Each role play is different, and will take you in different directions because students will give you very different experiences and questions in their interviews. We need you to adapt your responses to each student you meet.

The best patient role-players are not necessarily the most experienced actors, but are able to improvise convincingly around the material provided, while remaining aware of how they feel about the student who is interviewing them. Our actors need to be able to give sensitive feedback to our medical students – without destroying their confidence!

How do I sign up?

If you’re interested in volunteering with Extreme Psychiatry, please complete the form here . We won’t be auditioning again until Autumn 2018, so your application will go on hold until then. In the meantime, you’re welcome to observe a session. Just contact us to request an observer slot: extremepsychiatry@gmail.com.


Self-harm role play: Miranda