Following the first ‘So you want to be a psychologist?’ post we have a guest post from the author of MyClinPsychLife – a blog following a trainee clinical psychologist – about how to get into Clinical Psychology as a career.
So you’re studying psychology and loving it …. you think you may want to be a clinical psychologist… but you haven’t got a clue where to start?!
I remember that feeling well….. fast forward a few years and I’m about to embark on my final year as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist! I hope this article will be useful in helping you to think about a career in Clinical Psychology…..
So what are the Entry Requirements?
The British Psychological Society (BPS) states both academic and clinical requirements for gaining a place on a clinical psychology training programme.
1. Academic Requirements
You will need ‘Graduate Basis For Registration’ (GBR) with the BPS. What is GBR? Having GBR means your studies have equipped you with the knowledge and skills that the BPS consider to be an important foundation to further training in psychology.
Ideally, you will have a degree that provides GBR. However, if you have completed a degree in a subject other than psychology or your psychology degree doesn’t provide you with GBR, you will need to do a ‘conversion course’ (usually 1 year full time) or the ‘Qualifying Exam’.
Further information about GBR can be found from the BPS website here.
2. Clinical Requirements
The BPS requires that you have gained ‘relevant experience’ before you apply. This means you have gained some sense of what work as a clinical psychologist may involve, by being exposed to the types of clients and services that clinical psychologists work with.
You can start gaining this experience while you are studying, although you will need to plan your time well as you don’t want it to jeopardise your academic performance.
Gaining clinical experience:
Enthusiastic psychology students and graduates are often just the people charities and other organisations are looking for as volunteers. In my experience, being proactive about phoning/e-mailing relevant organisations and asking what opportunities were available was always warmly received!
Here are a few ideas for gaining relevant experience: .
- Volunteering with the ‘Niteline’ Listening Service at university/The Samaritans Helpline
- Becoming a Mentor for young people (e.g. with The Princes Trust)
- Volunteering with hospitals, therapeutic communities and projects for young people/ people with learning disabilities etc
- Working as an Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) Tutor – working with a child with autism
- Advocacy work for older people/people with learning disabilities
- Completing a sandwich year of relevant experience in your degree if your university offers this option
Once you’ve graduated (congratulations!) the goal is to engage in a role in which you are supervised by a Clinical Psychologist. In the past, the ideal jobs for this were Assistant Psychologist and Research Assistant posts. More recently, the government has committed to improving public access to psychological therapies and there are increasingly jobs such as ‘Low Intensity Therapists’, ‘Primary Mental Health Care Practitioner’ and ‘Primary Care Graduate Workers’ which can give you very relevant experience and supervision from a clinical psychologist.
Job vacancies are advertised in:
- BPS Appointments Memorandum (www.psychapp.co.uk)
- NHS Jobs (www.jobs.nhs.uk)
- Jobs in Research, Science, Academic and Related Professions (www.jobs.ac.uk)
Applying to Clinical Psychology Training
Once you’ve got your degree and some relevant experience, it’s time to apply. Most people need to spend a year or two gaining relevant experience before feeling confident to embark on the application process, which requires you to complete an application form, attend interviews and increasingly, complete additional interview tasks.
Competition for training places is fierce. The Clearing House for Postgraduate Courses in Clinical Psychology (http://www.leeds.ac.uk/chpccp/index.htm), cite that the success rate in 2007 was only 25%. However don’t let this statistic depress you too much, after all, each year almost 600 applicants (583 in 2007) become Trainee Clinical Psychologists! As the advert goes, in a few years time, “It could be you….”
Want to find out more?
I have written an E-book, ‘An Inside Guide to Clinical Psychology’ and have also wrote a blog about Clinical Psychology Training. For more information, check out my website: http://www.clinpsychapp.com/