Should I apply for training? / What do I need to do next?

Your chance to ask for advice on any aspect of career development that doesn't fit in any of the above categories
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miriam
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Should I apply for training? / What do I need to do next?

Post by miriam » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:03 pm

We've had a lot of posts from people asking for advice about which of two options to take, or which path to follow with regard to their next step in gaining experience, or whether they are ready to apply for training. There are also lots of posts where people seem really anxious about not being able to get an AP post, or a 'good enough' first job after graduating. So, it seems time for some generic advice.

1) First off, chill out. Take a few deep breaths. Put things into perspective. Anxiety doesn't help anyone. Panic posts create an atmosphere of anxiety and it isn't necessary. Lots of routes lead to the same destination, and there is not only one way to have a satisfying career in mental health.

2) There are no definitive 'right' answers. People get AP posts and/or onto training with a variety of different experiences. There is no evidence as to whether it is better to have experience as an RA vs in IAPT, for example. Neither does it really matter so much which exact MSc you choose (unless it’s for the purposes of gaining GBC, in which case it needs to have that). Having an AP post is not essential to getting onto training.

3) Nobody finds it easy, and there are no magical short-cuts. Everyone has to start with posts that get their foot in the door or voluntary experience or a combination of both, to then gain the experiences that help get the 'better' posts. If you are applying for lots of posts and not hearing back at all, then you need to either:
a) be more creative, cast the net wider, seek out non-NHS employers, look at voluntary opportunities
b) start one step lower on the ladder, eg by applying for care assistant or support work posts, classroom support posts, domiciliary work, work on help-lines
c) get some feedback about your application form - is it too long? too short? does it just list experiences but not reflect on what you learnt from them? does it use pejorative or overly medical terminology? does it have spelling/typing/grammatical errors? do you sell yourself effectively?
d) send out more applications - in an economic downturn, public sector jobs and those with secure income get more applicants, so expect to make a lot of applications before you get a post
e) be patient – short-listing can take a long time, and it may be 6-8 weeks before you hear back from some adverts

4) We've given loads of information in the wiki about the typical path to training, the advantages and disadvantages of certain options over others, we've even compiled a list of the experiences people had when they got onto training. There is no secret rulebook that has more information than this, so please just apply the general ideas to your own situation rather than giving a potted history of your qualifications and experiences and wanting us to make the advice specific to you.

5) Only you can decide whether you are ready to apply for training. If you have a good range of experiences to reflect on and really know what a CP does and what training entails, fill in the form and give it a go. Just be aware that it is a highly competitive process, so success is never certain, and if you don't have the kinds of experiences detailed as what successful candidates had when they got on you may not be offered interviews. This isn't the end of the world, it’s just a chance to do something else you enjoy for a year to build up the experiences you lack so that next time round you can shine against the competition.

6) The minutest details of what you write on your application forms don't actually matter. What matters is not how you format the dates, or what you write to indicate a qualification has not yet been completed, or whether you write your reference in APA format or BPS style guidance. What matters is that you have good experience and qualifications and have been able to reflect on how these equip you for the role ahead, both in terms of the demands of training and the work of a qualified CP. Don't try and fill it with buzz words and lingo, try and give a flavour of who you are, and what makes you stand out as a CP of the future.

7) Have a fall back plan. Not everyone who wants to be a CP is going to make it. Feeling that is your only option leads to anxiety, and that narrow-focus desperation is very off-putting to people selecting for posts and training course places. CP training is one way to carve out a career in mental health, but its not the only way. Also CP is just a job, its not your whole life, so make sure you give time to your family, friends, hobbies and other aspects of life, so that you retain some balance and perspective.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

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ell
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Post by ell » Thu Oct 21, 2010 11:50 am

Nice sticky/post Miriam - makes a lot of sense and covers most people's anxieties. Also much-needed, if only to stop me replying to the next "Should I apply" thread with a flippant "No." and offending someone unnecessarily. :oops:

I think it's really helpful for people to give the site a good search if they have these questions - it's usually been covered before. Therefore, I think a bigger/more obvious search button needs to be created. People don't seem to use it, and poor heatherb (I think it's her, or maybe h2eau) is forever directing people to it.

L

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Post by Bantam » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:56 pm

I agree with Ell. A more obvious search button could be helpful. I think I was visiting the site for a few months before I managed to locate it!!

I actually think that a search bar would be useful at the top of the page as it's immediately obvious what it is for and prompts people to search instead of relying on the persons own initiative.

(apologies if I'm taking the thread off topic)

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Post by escapee » Thu Oct 21, 2010 5:51 pm

Oooh I think a search bar at the top is a brilliant idea. I wonder if this is possible?

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Post by shadowfox » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:10 pm

Some really good clear headed and sensible advice there miriam thanks!!! especially the chill out part.... it is not the end of the world and always have a Plan B!!! :)

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Re: Should I apply for training? / What do I need to do next

Post by River » Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:40 pm

For other members reading this - I have sometimes found it a bit annoying and counter-productive when someone who is already qualified or on the D.Clin course tells me that being a clinical psychologist is not the be all and end all and that there are plenty of other options. This has not been remotely comforting when coming from someone who is already in the position that I want to be in!

However, what I have found very positive is talking to people who are already working in these different careers, or what are often referred to on this site as 'plan B' options. I have recently starting working within IAPT, and a large number of people there originally wanted to get on to the clinical training and have now decided that the IAPT route is better for them.

Therefore, I suggest that if someone is very anxious about getting the 'right job' in order to progress to clinical psychology, I would recommend having a chat with people from all sorts of careers within therapy, seeing what they have done, and they may do a better job of convincing you that getting on to the doctorate course is not the only thing you can aim for.

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Re: Should I apply for training? / What do I need to do next

Post by Spatch » Sun Jun 05, 2011 9:49 pm

I have sometimes found it a bit annoying and counter-productive when someone who is already qualified or on the D.Clin course tells me that being a clinical psychologist is not the be all and end all and that there are plenty of other options. This has not been remotely comforting when coming from someone who is already in the position that I want to be in!
Okay, I can see that. To flip it around, is there anything that qualifieds or trainees CAN do that would be more helpful?

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Re: Should I apply for training? / What do I need to do next

Post by fabfran85 » Wed Aug 31, 2011 4:29 pm

Thank you Miriam for this post. The last paragraph about clinical training not being for everyone has hit home for me as just today I discussed with my Clinical supervisor today the possibilities of back up plan/different career path. I have come to the conclusion that, although I love working as an Assistant Psychologist, Clinical training may not be for me. I have written a post in relation to this as I wish to seek advice about what else I can do with my experience. Mental Health Nursing is one option but I would greatly value people'a advice as to what other options may be available for me. Please see my post.

Edited to create link directing people to FabFran's other post about career options. Mod

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Re: Should I apply for training? / What do I need to do next

Post by astra » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:31 am

Wise words Miriam, and timely! I've replied to a few just lately with "do a search - the answers are all there"!!
From the point of view of mindfulness, as long as you're breathing there's more right with you than wrong with you. Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Re: Should I apply for training? / What do I need to do next

Post by Beautifulmind » Tue Dec 10, 2013 12:46 pm

Great advice, thanks :)

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Re: Should I apply for training? / What do I need to do next

Post by kiora » Tue Oct 28, 2014 7:46 pm

uh oh. i literally JUST wrote a 'what do i do' post before I saw this ... :shock:

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