So you want to be a Clinical Psychologist?

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.

Academic requirements are pretty stringent for clinical psychology training and it is usual to have a 2.1 or above; courses are looking for evidence of good academic performance.

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:

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 (, 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:

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22 Responses to “So you want to be a Clinical Psychologist?”

  1. Jamie Davies August 3, 2008 at 9:13 am #

    Excellent article MyClinPsychLife. A super overview of how to get into Clinical Psychology.

    Thanks for a great article.

  2. Zakiah Hakim September 26, 2008 at 7:57 pm #

    That was a very informative and useful article! Thanks for that.

  3. stephen sones October 3, 2008 at 9:31 am #

    This site is awwwwsome man. Surfs up dude. Looking forward to some new stuff. peace out x

  4. rupert July 26, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    wait a minute…….
    WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT???????????????????



  5. Neil September 5, 2009 at 10:31 pm #

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been looking forward to applying for a doctorate in clinical psychology for months and now applications have opened I was worried since my academic credentials are fine (expected first or at least 2:1 BSc) but I have no clinical experience. Looking through your list of ideas has shown me I actually do have some experience (advocacy) and possible family experience may be of help. I will make sure by following up some of your ideas pronto! I can’t thank you enough for your info :-)

  6. Portland therapist February 23, 2010 at 1:45 am #

    Aside from the passion of helping those who are severely disordered, one wonders about the economics of this path…

    In ’98, an APA executive council member (whose name I forgot) who lectured at the Saybrook Institute mentioned that in the future, the pressures of managed care might drive income down to that of teachers.

    Were this the case, he warned that clinicians might be better served exiting the field, and redefining themselves as “lifespan consultants.”

  7. Rose Goldsberg April 20, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

    I have been a teacher for ten years and am badly seeking a career change. Interested in pursuing a MSc in psychology at Kingston Uni (you graduate with a GBR). Do I need to have covered some sort of psychology module in order to gain entry into the masters program?

  8. jisha vinoj May 17, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    nice to read ur articles. i am much interested and basically a graduate in Physics. planning to MSc Psychologoy. will it help me to acquire a career in india?

  9. Jess July 18, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

    The article which you have written is very good. I am currently a third year psychology student but feel abit stuck now. I want to be a clinical psychologist or councellor, do you advice I do a postgrad course? A masters in clinical psychology? I am not sure if you can get straight on assistant psychologist places based on just a degree. I have lots of volunteering and a work placement during the summer tho. Any help is greatly appreciated! :)


  10. mallikarjun July 30, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    dimplom in clinical psychology six month and one year course would you tell me sir/madam

  11. Beck August 31, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    I am looking for a slight career change, I have an Bsc psychology 2:1 and am a qualified psychiatric nurse about to embark on a Clinical hypnosis course with a local university. I have worked alongside psychologists for a few years, does anyone have advice on my eligibility for training as a clinical psychologist?Great article by the way

  12. Mari January 17, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    Iwonder if you can tell me if there is a limit to the number of times you can apply to Clinical Psychology Training?

  13. ALI LEE May 27, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    Razi I know you your the man I saw last week I gave you £10 to borrow and I am still waiting for you to give it back! Dont give any money to this silver tongued sly fox.

  14. Candycan July 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    I would like to know what the requirements are for applicants in terms of mental health (current and history). ie can you become a clinical psychologist if you have mental health problems? I have wanted to train in this area for years but I also want to be realistic before I go and do an undergrad in psychology and apply to clinical psychology only to be turned down for having loose screws. Are there specific rules?

  15. Angela September 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    I am a Bachelor Student at the University Of Phoenix..I have 9 questions that I need to answered by a Clinical Psychologist…its due by tuesday… Does anyone know of any psychologist who can answer them? I have attached them below…

    Ask the following questions to each of your interviewees:

    • In what setting do you practice? How long have you been practicing?
    • What are your specialties or areas of clinical focus?
    • What are the most common disorders you treat?
    • Do you have any special certifications or training beyond your original graduate coursework?
    • How do you approach therapy or treatment? Do you use specific modalities, techniques, or interventions?
    • What ethical and legal issues do you think are the most challenging or common?
    • Do you have an opinion on where you think the field of psychology is heading?
    • What do you enjoy most about your work?
    • What advice would you provide an aspiring psychologist or therapist?

  16. London Counselling September 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    To be somebody takes a lot of requirements for you to be considered. On this great informative post I can only say that being a clinical psychologist would need a lot of expertise for you to be one. Instead of doing things the other way, just choose to comply all that you could do with for your wanted attainment

  17. Brad January 20, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    If I do an undergraduate degree in Clinical Psychology, will I have to still do the trainee programme? Also, it is a Bsc Hon degree, so will I have to do a “conversion course” for GBR. I’m very confused :-/

  18. Net July 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    wow in reply to Neil, if you are going to work with a variety of different mental or physical health problems, i sure hope that you get a clinical training prior to being unleashed on clients.
    Great article, very helpful.

  19. habiba September 9, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    i wana become a clinical psycologist. now tel me wat should i do after graduation in psycology?


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