Dr Kay Frost, C&I Clinical Psychologist, is retiring on 16 July. After joining the Trust in January 1972, Dr Frost is one of our longest ever serving employees.
Here, Dr Jeff Halperin, Former Head of Psychology and Dr Stuart Linke, Head of Complex Depression, Anxiety and Trauma (CDAT) Service share Kay’s story, the commitment she has made to our service users over the decades and why she will be greatly missed by us all.
Dr Halperin said:
“Kay’s career is a history of our recent times. She was truly an NHS baby. Growing up in the aftermath of the second world war, the NHS provided a vision that guided her career, the principle that people should be able to access high quality state healthcare throughout their lives.
Graduating from Oxford in 1967, she trained to be a clinical psychologist and in 1970 started her first job at Friern Hospital, a vast old asylum with corridors so long and eerie that they featured in one of the early films of Alice in Wonderland. These were the days when the only access to mental health care was through the old and forbidding asylums. There was no community care. Psychology was just a very peripheral add-on to medical care and Kay was just one of the two asylum psychologists. The service was part of the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine and in 1975 it was moved to the newly built hospital in Belsize Park. Kay has been a part of it all. The numerous expansions, transitions and reconfigurations of mental health services from remote asylum to District General Hospital, to the early days of GP-based services to Community Mental Health Teams, to IAPT, and of course more recently to the Complex Depression, Anxiety and Trauma Service.
Kay’s career is also a rich history of the development of psychological therapies. Her training in the late sixties reflected the dominant behaviour therapy model of the era but she soon began her lifetime practice of developing her skills; Kay was always open to new ideas and ready to question her assumptions. At Friern she worked with the pioneer for Personal Construct Therapy (Fay Fransella) and through the coming decades engaged with training and workshops across the emerging therapy scene from Rogerian Client Centered Therapies, Group Psychodynamic Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) Systemic Therapies, CBT, Schema Focussed Therapy, Trauma Therapies, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and in more recent years developing services for Mindfulness-based CBT and ADHD, and an expertise in Dissociative Disorders and Medically Unexplained Symptoms.
I worked with Kay since she employed me at the Royal Free 37 years ago. Where to begin? I have to start with her patients – they loved her and benefited enormously from her skill, insight, sensitivity, compassion and absolute and tireless commitment to their cause. As a team player she was a fantastic support to colleagues, she loved to see junior staff develop and grow and has been a hugely admired supervisor and mentor throughout her career.
Kay was my first boss and frankly I can’t imagine a finer exemplar for her profession; a wonderful teacher, mentor and source of knowledge, kindness and support. From my earliest days I felt in awe of her perceptiveness and thoughtfulness. I sought her view before making decisions because she could so often be relied upon to come up with a different and previously unexplored perspective. Much of this of course is down to Kay’s unerring pursuit of fairness, her honesty and her desire for transparency, and a determination that every voice should be heard. This would include uncomfortable or disruptive views and to her great credit Kay was never afraid to voice a view that challenged the current zeitgeist.
Was Kay seriously without a flaw? Well personally I rather enjoyed her single peccadillo. Always so fair and reasonable about everyone she would just occasionally allow herself to lapse into the briefest word of disapproval or bluntness. However, being so discrete and conscious of this breach she would speak in the most hushed of tones, a whisper that was inaudible. I felt ashamed to ask her to raise her voice let alone to repeat herself, and so almost never heard the content – alas no gossip then! Kay’s long career has been a blessing for all who have had the pleasure and good fortune to work with her either as a colleague or a patient.”
Dr Linke said:
“Kay received her NHS long service award last year (Kay is pictured second from left receiving her award). She has worked in multiple teams including the old psychology out-patient services, iCope and Camden CMHTS. She was one of the founder members of CDAT and has been hugely influential in setting up and guiding its development. Kay enjoys working directly with service users and embodies the compassionate approach to therapy that she willingly teaches others. I write this in the present tense because, despite retirement, I feel sure she will find a way to continue her vocation in some way or other.
Kay has a passion for team working that has been evident throughout her career. She has offered both formal and informal support to all the CDAT team members. This often delayed the report writing or data entry so she would often be found at her desk early or late catching up. Kay’s contribution will be greatly missed. Not just in the hours she put in, but much more in the quality of her insights, thoughtfulness and willingness to say what she thought in a way that could be heard and absorbed. Kay has been a great source of support to me personally and the whole of the team. A true NHS professional.”
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