So, you’re sold that Health and Social Care is the path for you. That’s great and all, but where on earth do you start...
- Requires excellent communication and listening skills, empathy, and the ability to deal with people in distress
- With experience and further training, option to specialise in clinical neuropsychology
- Option to work as a freelance consultant, advising other professionals and clients, or set up your own practice
As a clinical psychologist, you'll see people who have psychological difficulties like anxiety, depression, phobias or eating disorders. Your aim is to reduce the distress and improve the psychological wellbeing of your clients.
- Assess clients’ needs through interviews, tests and observations
- Decide on the most appropriate form of treatment, like therapy, counselling or advice
- Plan treatment programmes
- Work with clients in groups or individually
- Write reports and go to case conferences
- Carry out research and work closely with other professionals, like doctors and probation officers
- Produce legal reports and act as an expert witness in court
You could work in an NHS or private hospital, at a client's home, at a university or at a health centre. Your work may be emotionally demanding and sometimes distressing.
Working hours are typically Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, although you may do some extra hours in the evenings or at weekends. Occasionally, you may work as part of an on-call system covering emergency situations.
This role requires someone with excellent communication and listening skills, empathy, and the ability to deal with people in distress.
To be a clinical psychologist you must pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults.
You'll need to complete a 3-year degree in psychology accredited by The British Psychological Society (BPS) or a 3-year postgraduate doctorate in clinical psychology.
You may be able to study for an approved postgraduate conversion course, if you're a graduate in a subject other than psychology or your psychology degree is not accredited by the BPS.
Competition for postgraduate training is strong. You'll need an upper second class degree or higher, and evidence of excellent research skills to apply. You'll also need relevant work experience.
You'll also need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council to be a Clinical psychologist. It would be useful to join The British Psychological Society for professional development and training opportunities.
It may be possible (but less common) to do a clinical associate in psychology integrated degree apprenticeship; a clinical associate in psychology works under the supervision of a registered clinical psychologist. The clinical associate in psychology role sits between psychology assistant and qualified clinical psychologist. You'll usually need
a degree in a relevant subject for a degree apprenticeship, and graduate basis for chartered membership (GBC) for the British Psychological Society.
There is a structured career path within the NHS and you should be able to progress through the pay bands as you gain experience and move into new roles. With experience, you could produce legal reports or act as an expert witness in court. You could specialise in working with groups like children, young offenders or older adults. With experience and further training you could specialise in clinical neuropsychology. You could move into research or teaching. You could also work as a freelance consultant, advising other professionals and clients, or set up your own practice.