Route to Clinical Psychology - Resources & Information

Information about qualifications, experience and the typical career path
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Route to Clinical Psychology - Resources & Information

Post by Guest23 » Sun Apr 29, 2007 5:13 pm

N.B. The following is neither comprehensive, nor gospel...

A useful first introduction from the BPS


To become a qualified clinical psychologist in the UK you will need (as a minimum):

• A good psychology degree/qualification (2:1 or above*†) accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) that confers Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC).
• To complete a three year postgraduate doctoral training programme (DClinPsy) leading to eligibility for Chartered status (for courses see here).
• Some ‘relevant experience’ (min 6-12 months, but more typically 2 yrs), required to secure a training place, which might include experience such as an assistant psychologist, a research assistant, a graduate mental health worker, a learning support assistant, a care worker, or a role in IAPT, to name but a few. Ideally some of this would be under the direct supervision of a qualified clinical psychologist within the NHS.
-Applicants apply for training places through the Leeds Clearing House
-N.B. Be warned this is a very competitive area. There are only around 550 training places available each year offered by about 30 universities around the country, and only about 25% of applicants who apply each year are successful in getting onto courses. The average age of those at the beginning of training is around 28. More on the stats here and here.
*Some courses will accept 2:2 + a Masters degree
†For your final year it is important to prioritise your academic work - get the best possible degree result you can.

For further information see:
Further information from a careers advice website
The Division of Clinical Psychology’s home page

General Tips:
- Relevant ‘paid’ experience in NHS settings which is directly supervised by a CP tends to be valued more highly – will also provide you with a reference. Try for all (viable) assistant (or equivalent) posts (and make yourself known beforehand; visit/telephone call + do your homework etc) – worth searching the net (e.g. NHS websites/local press/ BPS Appointments Memorandem/ etc).
- Failing this, in addition to seeking other relevant employment also look out for voluntary work/honorary contracts where they already employ assistant psychologists – puts you in a good position when a post becomes available. Networking with clinical psychologists is important in facilitating this – Don’t forget research opportunities/posts either!
- For a list of CPs in your local area there is a directory on the BPS website - Also worth asking your friends/relations/neighbours etc.

Re AP posts – be aware that:
- It is extremely rare to be offered an AP position without already having completed your undergraduate degree/GBR.
- Posts are scarce and can attract upwards of 150+ applicants. Typically half a dozen will be offered interviews, which is a 95%+ rejection rate at the application stage.
- For some people it can take up to 50+ applications to land such jobs, so brace yourself for a lot of potential rejection and try to remind yourself it’s not personal.
- Posts are very competitive and applicants will include people who have been employed as APs in the past, possess other clinical & research experience, and have a masters and/or other qualifications already under their belts etc.

Wikis you may find helpful in relation to work experince:
Do I want to be a CP? What else could I do other than AP?
10 Top tips for under/graduates to get a foot on the ladder
Variety vs sticking with a good post
Do I have to deal with poo or violence to get on the ladder?
What should I do next? MSc, PhD, RA or AP experience?

Psychology Assistant Groups/Websites
For a list see BPS website
Example: North Thames Graduate Psychology Group (meets last Tuesday of the month at UCL) The website can be found here
For clinpsy’s assistant group page

Re clinical application:
- Ideally aim for getting a reference from a (NHS) clinical psychologist (who has preferably done many before).
- It may well be worth putting an application in if you ‘sell’ your experience (what you have learnt) well. Not everyone has had an assistant post and this is not the only way to get onto training.
- Give your form to a clinical psychologist and/or trainees to check over (preferably those who have done short-listing before).
- Don’t underestimate the value of academic ability and research posts at the application form stage (some courses will consider 2(ii)s if you also have a ‘relevant’ MSc – best to have both clinical and research experience).
- You can strengthen your application with counselling/CBT/psychotherapy courses (which can be helpful for reflecting on your clinical work) as well as conferences/workshops/ posters/publications, but it’s how you present this experience (i.e. what you have learnt) that will make it count (CPD plays a big part in the profession) and don’t forget to tailor it to course philosophy/selection criteria.
- Attend to your application form very carefully (e.g. spelling & layout) – It will be speed read – Don’t give them an excuse to reject you: the rejection rate for each course is about 75% or more (i.e. the vast majority) before the interview stage. This drops to around 65% at the interview stage: competitive. [E.g. In 2007 UCL received over 700 applications, interviewed ca. 126 people, and took on 42 trainees. Assume an average of ca. 12 mins are spent on reading each application.]
- Take care how you ‘pitch’ your application – Some courses have very different philosophies and vary widely in their selection criteria (would suggest taking an ‘eclectic’ interest, in terms of approaches and settings – a ‘balanced’ view – but never at the expense of thoroughly researching the courses you’re interested in).
- A few courses openly provide the criteria by which application/interview forms will be judged. It is in your interest to get hold of these.
- You can statistically increase your chances of getting an interview place by applying to those universities where the ‘application to training places ratio’ is more favourable or applying to those universities that are in the same geographical area.

Re clinical interviews:
- Practise clinical/research vignettes – The interview panels will be looking for knowledge of ‘theory-practice links’ and research design.
- Familiarise yourself with/practise ‘standard’ areas of questioning, taking care not to spout ‘stock answers’, and be prepared to reflect on (and critically evaluate) the clinical & research work that you have done, as well as your personal motivations for pursuing clinical psychology.
- Warning: after you net an interview, the decisions are almost exclusively based on what happens on the day (more of a level playing field). Whatever the result – get any feedback that is on offer.

Good Luck – perseverance is the key.

Resources & Information

Useful books:

Mary Boyle & Christopher Whiteley (2003) Chapter 1: Clinical Psychology In ‘Applied Psychology’ Rowan Bayne & Ian Horton (2003)
Katherine Cheshire & David Pilgrim (2004) A Short Introduction to Clinical Psychology
John Hall & Susan P. Llewelyn (Eds) (2006) What is Clinical Psychology?
Alice Knight (2002) How to Become a Clinical Psychologist - Getting a Foot in the Door
David Pilgrim & Andy Treacher (1992) Clinical Psychology Observed Currently out of print (the link is for new and used)
Andrew Page & Werner Stritzke (2006) Clinical Psychology for Trainees: Foundations of Science-Informed Practice
Patel, N. et al. (2000) Clinical Psychology, Race and Culture: A training manual
Johnstone, L. & Dallos, R. (2006).Formulation in Psychology and Psychotherapy.

Journal articles (a selection):

- Clare, L. (1995). Successful Applicants for Clinical Training: A Descriptive Profile of One Trainee Cohort. Clinical Psychology Forum, 77, 31-34.
- Hatton, C., Gray, I. & Whitaker, A. (2000). Improving the Selection of Clinical Psychologists. Clinical Psychology Forum, 136, 35-38.
- Huey, D.A. & Britton, P.G. (2002). A portrait of clinical psychology. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 16, 29-78.
- Roth, T. (1998). Getting on Clinical Training Courses. The Psychologist, 11, (12), 589-592
- Roth, T. & Leiper, R. (1995). Selecting for Clinical Training. The Psychologist, 8, 25-28.
Papworth, M. (2004). Getting on clinical psychology training courses: Responses to frequently asked questions. Clinical Psychology, 42, 32-36.
- Papworth, M. (2007). Getting on clinical psychology training courses: Responses to frequently asked questions (part 2). Clinical Psychology Forum, 177, 37-41.
- Phillips, A., Hatton, C. & Gray, I. (2001). Which Selection Methods Do Clinical Psychology Courses Use? Clinical Psychology, 8, 19-24.
- Phillips, A., Hatton, C. & Gray, I. (2004). Factors Predicting the Shortlisting and Selection of Trainee Clinical Psychologists: A Prospective Cohort Study. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 11, 111-125.

Other Useful Websites and Resources

Forum resource:
For current/professional issues see DCP’s ‘Clinical Psychology Forum’ (Journal/Newsletter) – recent issues older than 6 months available.
DoH website for latest NHS initiatives – Clinical Governance, Agenda for Change, CPD, Mental Health act/bill, HPC, statutory regulation, NSF/KSF, New Ways of Working, Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies, etc.
The DCP publications page
The Alternative Handbook (2007) - Gives trainees’ views of courses

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Content checked by qualified Clinical Psychologist on 10/12/2009
Last modified on 10/12/2009
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