Re: Do I want to be a CP? What else could I do other than AP?

Information about qualifications, experience and the typical career path
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Re: Do I want to be a CP? What else could I do other than AP?

Post by maven »

Many people regard Assistant Psychologist posts as the only or best way to get a place on clinical training. Whilst AP experience is often "top tier" experience in that it is supervised by a qualified CP and directly involved in psychological services, so it has lots of relevant competencies to gain and opportunities for reflective supervision, the posts are highly competitive (with 100+ applicants who will meet all the essential qualifications) it is not universal or essential as a requirement to gain a place on clinical training. The reality is that many people get onto clinical training without ever having been an AP, and not every AP post is as brilliant as it sounds.

If you are looking for an AP post, be aware of the level of competition. Try to find non-NHS AP posts, and ones that are only advertised on this forum or a company website, as they will have lower numbers of applicants. Read the instructions on how to apply very carefully and ensure that you follow them to the letter so that you are not excluded at the first cut because you've not sent the references, covering letter or essay that has been requested. Also, make sure to tailor every application to show how you want that particular job and demonstrate how you meet every requirement in the person specification. But also be realistic, AP posts are so competitive that you almost certainly need to do a "first foot on the ladder" post for a year or so before you will secure one.

So there may be multiple reasons to look for other relevant posts. If you are looking for long-term employment security it may not even be the best choice to go for an AP post, as many of them are fixed term. I think that somewhere in the definition of "Assistant Psychologist" is that it is a temporary post, intended for people on their path to clinical training. However that is not always rigidly enforced, also there are a number of similar posts for which that is not the case (such as if you work in IAPT, or do the qualification for associate psychologist, or primary mental health care worker, or if you go for a research post). GBC will be listed as essential for many AP posts, but not necessarily all, and not necessarily for the other posts.

You can find adverts through the internet, through standard recruitment websites, and many of the key sites are linked from this forum: the guardian newspaper,, NHS jobs, NHS trust websites, jobs in psychology from the BPS, or

There are a lot of jobs within social services that do not require social work qualifications, such as support workers, project workers, key workers, staff in residential homes, etc. However beyond checking the major private providers' own websites, I am not so certain how to access the adverts for these posts, as social services is a separate agency from the NHS. I do know that they are less competitive than the AP posts, and a lot of them would be good experience and quite interesting and hands-on. from firegal: many of those jobs can be found on more general job search websites such as indeed

There are also other related roles such as nursing assistant, care assistant, special needs assistant in a school, ABA therapist for a child with autism, work with various charitable and voluntary organisations, work with playschemes, etc, etc. You would need to bear in mind that most of these jobs are not very well paid, especially if you move to an area with high cost of living, such as London.

We have a wiki full of other alternatives.

But you may find that you want to look at alternative training that can lead to an alternative career in its own right. In which case, take a look at IAPT, where there is PWP training, senior PWPs and also HI posts and supervisors meaning there is a whole career path within secondary care. Or how about social work, or nursing?

In terms of psychotherapy training, this is also quite a complex, competitive and long-term training. I think that the Tavistock does courses in London and Leeds, and Metanoia is another option. Miriam said: I think (and I could be wrong, as I am trying to remember what a colleague who was in training where I used to work told me) that the training is five years long. I think there is also competition for places that are funded, which are very few and far between. You also have to have personal analysis throughout the training, as well as supervision from a qualified psychotherapist.

In order to figure out the path to clinical psychology (or the alternative path to clinical psychology) that suits you best, you need to narrow down what you are hoping to achieve, and prioritise aspects that are the most important to you. For example, do you want to work/live in a specific area of the UK? Are you only interested in work with a particular client group? Is your aim to work the rest of your career in the UK? Is your aim to get a clinical qualification? etc. I think that is a hard set of things to work out without much knowledge of the system, so why not read all the information that is on this site, and then perhaps you would want to visit or otherwise contact more people who might be able to help inform your choice?

Have a look at here for a list of places that relevant jobs are advertised:
Places to look for jobs

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This wiki entry was last checked by Maven (qualified CP) on 15/2/21

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