HI therapist vs AP for clin psych as a long term goal

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HI therapist vs AP for clin psych as a long term goal

Post by Henbri » Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:27 pm


I used to post on this site a few years back, before I had started my undergrad. Five years on, I am a senior psychological wellbeing practitioner working in an IAPT service. I would like a bit of advice on what to do next. My long term goal is the clinical doctorate, however, there has been an opportunity to become an IAPT therapist come up. I have good odds of getting it I should think. However, I am a bit worried that I am going down the wrong path and would need varied experience outside of IAPT. So I am considering applying for AP posts instead but really unsure about the direction to go in.

I have no other experience outside IAPT and some volunteering I did during my A-level studies.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)


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Re: HI therapist vs AP for clin psych as a long term goal

Post by miriam » Fri Jul 26, 2019 12:18 am

What would you find more interesting? What would suit your life better at this stage? More of the same model and client group but at a more complex/skilled level, with a clear career path to fall back on and more pay, or seeing a different service and different client group, and potentially speeding up your path to clinical training, but with lower autonomy and pay in the meanwhile?

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Re: HI therapist vs AP for clin psych as a long term goal

Post by Northernlad » Fri Jul 26, 2019 1:54 am

I was in a similar situation to you. I had spent a number of years in IAPT as a PWP, but in an attempt to broaden my experiences I had just commenced an AP role when a trainee HI therapist position came up. I had to balance up the experience I would have received as an AP with access to a clinical psychologist supervisor - but on a temporary band 4 contract, with a more secure permanent band 6 trainee role with added responsibility/autonomy and a pretty solid plan B if clinical didn’t work out. I ended up applying for the trainee role and was successful.

That year I ended up with 2 interviews for the doctorate which I ended up turning down to complete HI training, and in the last 6 months of the course (it was an 18 month diploma) I received another interview for the doctorate which I was successful with and I am just about to finish my first year of training.

As Miriam said I think it’s worth thinking about what you enjoy, your priorities, and also making a sensible decision for you! As I had two unsuccessful years of applications prior to HI training it felt sensible for me to move into a more ‘senior’ role at a higher pay band, and doing something I knew I would enjoy and would challenge me.

In the additional information section on the application form I also provided clear and honest reasons why I had left an AP role to do HI training and why I wanted to train as a Clinical Psychologist.

I wish you all the best.

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Re: HI therapist vs AP for clin psych as a long term goal

Post by Alex » Fri Jul 26, 2019 7:35 am

I think completing HI training before clinical is beneficial. The reason being getting excellent grounding in CBT (some cbt teaching on doctorates are not very comprehensive at say the least) means that you can choose to focus on many other options in clinical training such as electives in systemic & psychodynamic placements.

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Re: HI therapist vs AP for clin psych as a long term goal

Post by Mudisco » Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:15 pm

It would depend on which CP course you want to apply to. I was a qualified PWP for 15 months when I got on the doctorate and most of my answers from the clinical questions were from when I was a support worker. I know some trainee PWPs and some senior PWPs who got on the doctorate. There is no hard or fast rule really. I'll say go with what you want deep down.

As a senior pwp, I guess you have experience of providing case management and clinical skills supervision as well as auditing the waiting-lists. It looks like a good mix of experience in addition to the clinical skills you have as a PWP. A lot of the CP courses say that they are not really looking for a mix of client groups or experiences but how you reflect on your experiences and how it makes you a strong candidate for clinical training.

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Re: HI therapist vs AP for clin psych as a long term goal

Post by hawke » Fri Jul 26, 2019 7:43 pm

I went from Senior PWP straight to the doctorate.

There are several people on my cohort with IAPT experience - 1 was a HI therapist, but the rest of us were PWPs. Everyone had other experience outside of IAPT - for example, I worked in schools so had experience of a different client group. One uni I applied for told me my experience (or at least my interview answers) was too limited to IAPT. I know countless people from IAPT who have applied for CP training and not got any interviews, although I'm sure a good reflective application could get you further.

Look into the shortlisting criteria of universities you are interested in, as some seem to care more about length of experience, whereas others put more emphasis on diverse experience. Some will be very into CBT, others seem to cover it because they have to rather than because they want to.

The main thing I felt I was lacking from IAPT was an understanding of the clinical psychology role. I had worked alongside 3 CPs, but never been supervised by one. IAPT doesn't give you much experience of working with complex presentations (e.g. psychosis) and I have felt a bit out of my depth at times this year. I think IAPT also lacked opportunities for non-clinical work, like audit and service-level research, but I'm lucky my Masters and a previous job had given me experience there. IAPT also doesn't really encourage engaging with current research, and I've certainly seen a few papers that make me question the low-intensity protocols!

Although I am really enjoying the training, I do wish I had done HI training beforehand. My training has done a very good overview of CBT, but we haven't covered specific models in depth. Much of the learning is left to your own reading, your placement and your supervisor (and many are not CBT specialists). My first placement has focused on other models, and I actually feel less skilled in CBT than when I was working in IAPT. Very few universities are BABCP accredited, and you have to meet a lot of criteria to get accredited yourself. While not an issue for many CP jobs, working in IAPT or supervising CBT therapists often requires BABCP accreditation. I could certainly envisage a world where I did HI / further CBT training at some point in the future.

There is no right pathway - pick the route you would enjoy the most, that fits with your personal life the best, and that gives you the experience you want for your longer-term career as a qualified CP.

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Re: HI therapist vs AP for clin psych as a long term goal

Post by Henbri » Sun Jul 28, 2019 1:46 am

Thank all of you for the advice, it’s been remarkably useful to me. I have felt that I am in quite a unique situation but it would appear that’s not the case (which is reassuring). I think I will have a crack at the HI application and also apply for CP this year and see how I go. Very much appreciated.

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