Should I attempt to get into clinical psychology? Watch

Porcupayne
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Okay, so I really want to become a clinical psychologist someday... But I've heard that this is an extremely competitive field!! (?)

I've just finished my AS year in my Sixth Form. I study Psychology, Biology, Chemistry and History (which I am predicted ABBC in respectively). I also have a B in my maths GCSE

Do you think I should pursue this career? Are my aims realistic? How much do you think this will cost in the long run - is it worth it?? Thank you for any responses


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Steerm
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If it is what you want to do, at least pursue it! Its easy to be put off by how competitive the dclinpsy is, but what have you got to lose? The volunteer experience you should gain will be valuable for securing other jobs in mental health. If you get a good degree and plenty of experience there is no reason as to why you can't get on training! You will only have the cost of your degree and maybe a masters (not always necessary) to worry about, the doctorate is funded and you receive a salary!
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Plain Marcus
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Hi Porcupayne,


First and foremost I would recommend spending time reading these forum posts: http://www.clinpsy.org.uk/forum/viewforum.php?f=17. A brilliant resource for aspiring clinical psychologists.

In a nutshell, after receiving a BSc (Hons) and Graduate Accredited Degree in Psychology, you then need to secure a place on the Doctorate Clinical Psychology course (D.ClinPsych). This is a "funded" course whereby you are taken on by the NHS as a Band 6 Trainee Psychologist and paid a monthly salary. Essential the actual training "to be a clinical psychologist" costs you nothing.

Nonetheless, you are correct, it is extremely competitive. Most importantly, you MUST attain a high 2:1 or 1st degree in Psychology. Many Universities will not even consider a 2:2. Some Universities will overlook the 2:2 in favour of a Masters degree, but to be honest this is quite rare these days. Additionally, a minimum of 12 months full time experience is needed within a Mental Health setting (preferably NHS). In an ideal world, a job as an Assistant Psychologist for the NHS would be brilliant and put you in good stead for a place on the D.ClinPsych. However, these are also extremely competitive. Many individuals work as support workers and Graduate Mental Health workers on Psychiatric wards or in the community to acquire the necessary experience. Although such jobs are fulfilling, many individuals are put off clinical psychology all together. Do not underestimate these jobs. These places can be mentally and physically exhausting, and the pay does not make up for the dangers or the heavy workload.

All volunteer experience is valuable, although extra merit is provided to certain posts over others (i.e. Peer mentoring is not given the same merit as a Healthcare Assistant in the NHS). In addition to all this experience, a strong academic background is a must. Masters degrees are not mandatory but they can help. Masters degrees in Research Methods are often perceived as valuable (Again, this may not compensate for a lower BSc degree though).

If none of this puts you off go for it! It is a brilliant career to aspire to, just be aware of all the hurdles you have to overcome. Also along the road, do ask yourself specifically WHY you want to be a clinical psychologist. There are many jobs out there that may provide similar fulfillment i.e. Mental Health Social Worker, Clinical Researcher etc.

Hope this helps.
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Porcupayne
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(Original post by Plain Marcus)
Hi Porcupayne,


First and foremost I would recommend spending time reading these forum posts: http://www.clinpsy.org.uk/forum/viewforum.php?f=17. A brilliant resource for aspiring clinical psychologists.

In a nutshell, after receiving a BSc (Hons) and Graduate Accredited Degree in Psychology, you then need to secure a place on the Doctorate Clinical Psychology course (D.ClinPsych). This is a "funded" course whereby you are taken on by the NHS as a Band 6 Trainee Psychologist and paid a monthly salary. Essential the actual training "to be a clinical psychologist" costs you nothing.

Nonetheless, you are correct, it is extremely competitive. Most importantly, you MUST attain a high 2:1 or 1st degree in Psychology. Many Universities will not even consider a 2:2. Some Universities will overlook the 2:2 in favour of a Masters degree, but to be honest this is quite rare these days. Additionally, a minimum of 12 months full time experience is needed within a Mental Health setting (preferably NHS). In an ideal world, a job as an Assistant Psychologist for the NHS would be brilliant and put you in good stead for a place on the D.ClinPsych. However, these are also extremely competitive. Many individuals work as support workers and Graduate Mental Health workers on Psychiatric wards or in the community to acquire the necessary experience. Although such jobs are fulfilling, many individuals are put off clinical psychology all together. Do not underestimate these jobs. These places can be mentally and physically exhausting, and the pay does not make up for the dangers or the heavy workload.

All volunteer experience is valuable, although extra merit is provided to certain posts over others (i.e. Peer mentoring is not given the same merit as a Healthcare Assistant in the NHS). In addition to all this experience, a strong academic background is a must. Masters degrees are not mandatory but they can help. Masters degrees in Research Methods are often perceived as valuable (Again, this may not compensate for a lower BSc degree though).

If none of this puts you off go for it! It is a brilliant career to aspire to, just be aware of all the hurdles you have to overcome. Also along the road, do ask yourself specifically WHY you want to be a clinical psychologist. There are many jobs out there that may provide similar fulfillment i.e. Mental Health Social Worker, Clinical Researcher etc.

Hope this helps.
Thanks for the reply! You really cleared up a few things for me there

So in order to be accepted into a D.ClinPsych course would you say it's almost essential to have a Master's first? Or is a 1st or 2:1 likely to be good enough?

I'm not too worried about volunteer work etc.. I have spoken to a psychologist working for the NHS and this shouldn't be too much of a problem for me

Also, sorry for all the questions, but is a BSc in Psychology alone the best option? Or would a degree in "Psychology and human biology" or "psychology and cognitive neuroscience" make someone less likely to be accepted? Given that they are all BPS accredited


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Interrobang
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You've had good advice I would just like to add that it's something you can certainly try and aim for, but I would recommend having some sort of back up plan should it not happen for some reason. Always best to be prepared for every eventuality
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Porcupayne
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(Original post by *Interrobang*)
You've had good advice I would just like to add that it's something you can certainly try and aim for, but I would recommend having some sort of back up plan should it not happen for some reason. Always best to be prepared for every eventuality
Thank you. I'll definitely try to keep my options open... that's what I've tried to do so far


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Plain Marcus
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(Original post by Porcupayne)
Thanks for the reply! You really cleared up a few things for me there

So in order to be accepted into a D.ClinPsych course would you say it's almost essential to have a Master's first? Or is a 1st or 2:1 likely to be good enough?

I'm not too worried about volunteer work etc.. I have spoken to a psychologist working for the NHS and this shouldn't be too much of a problem for me

Also, sorry for all the questions, but is a BSc in Psychology alone the best option? Or would a degree in "Psychology and human biology" or "psychology and cognitive neuroscience" make someone less likely to be accepted? Given that they are all BPS accredited


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Hi,

That is a good question. In general, anyone with a 2:2 (or in some cases a borderline 2:1 i.e. 60%) may be better off pursuing a Masters degree. However, they are expensive and they don't guarantee you anything. Consequently, whatever you decide to do, do not pursue one just to get a place on the D.ClinPsych. My advice is to pick a Masters degree that is both useful for Clinical Psychology but also more vocational. I selected a Masters degree in Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology (MRes Program). Firstly, it puts you in a strong position for jobs outside a clinical context i.e. Information Analyst, Social Researcher, Insight Analyst etc. Secondly, it allows you to be a stronger candidate for PhD Studentships (Funded PhD Projects). Thirdly, D.ClinPsych courses are intertwined with research methods and report writing, thus, such a course puts you in a good stead for completing the more research orientated modules.

Providing your BSc (Hons) Psychology is GBC accredited it doesn't matter if its Single or Joint Honors. No extra or less merit is given to either.

Admission tutors are looking for a strong clinical experience (i.e. a good knowledge of working in the NHS as a psychologist, policies, protocols, restrictions etc), clinical skills, and academic integrity.

In terms of keeping your options open, I know of someone who completed a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and then pursued a Graduate Entry Nursing program in Mental Health Nursing (2 year Fast-Track). They loved it. This was enough for them and they no longer felt the need to pursue a career as a Clinical Psychologist. As advised, keeping your options open is a brilliant idea.

Hope this helps.
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Plain Marcus
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(Original post by Isis_on_the_cake)
It's only psychology, few smart people enter that field


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Could you elaborate more on that please?
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Lucasium
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(Original post by Plain Marcus)
Could you elaborate more on that please?
It's not a proper science really


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Porcupayne
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(Original post by Plain Marcus)
Hi,

That is a good question. In general, anyone with a 2:2 (or in some cases a borderline 2:1 i.e. 60%) may be better off pursuing a Masters degree. However, they are expensive and they don't guarantee you anything. Consequently, whatever you decide to do, do not pursue one just to get a place on the D.ClinPsych. My advice is to pick a Masters degree that is both useful for Clinical Psychology but also more vocational. I selected a Masters degree in Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology (MRes Program). Firstly, it puts you in a strong position for jobs outside a clinical context i.e. Information Analyst, Social Researcher, Insight Analyst etc. Secondly, it allows you to be a stronger candidate for PhD Studentships (Funded PhD Projects). Thirdly, D.ClinPsych courses are intertwined with research methods and report writing, thus, such a course puts you in a good stead for completing the more research orientated modules.

Providing your BSc (Hons) Psychology is GBC accredited it doesn't matter if its Single or Joint Honors. No extra or less merit is given to either.

Admission tutors are looking for a strong clinical experience (i.e. a good knowledge of working in the NHS as a psychologist, policies, protocols, restrictions etc), clinical skills, and academic integrity.

In terms of keeping your options open, I know of someone who completed a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and then pursued a Graduate Entry Nursing program in Mental Health Nursing (2 year Fast-Track). They loved it. This was enough for them and they no longer felt the need to pursue a career as a Clinical Psychologist. As advised, keeping your options open is a brilliant idea.

Hope this helps.
That has certainly helped a lot. Thank you


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Plain Marcus
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(Original post by Isis_on_the_cake)
It's not a proper science really


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That is a rather bold, and somewhat misguided interpretation of the field. What exactly is a "proper" science?

Your earlier comment "It's only psychology, few smart people enter that field" again is foolish. I don't believe you really understand much about the subject. I would advise you to refrain from making such meaningless comments unless you have a coherent and justified argument to go with it.

Consider this the beginning of your Undergraduate education...
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prophetkid
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This thread has really helped me as I'm aiming to be a clinical psychologist.

I am studying the same A Levels (minus history) and predicted similar grades, although I'm in my second year at A2 now (A*BB).
Assuming you're currently in the progress of selecting universities to apply for, please look carefully. It may be beneficial to find a course which offers a work placement module, which could hopefully get you more relevant voluntary experience before the PhD. Also, I'd suggest looking at Russell Group universities/those high in league tables for psychology, as they stereotypically have the best teaching. Oh and don't pick a university because of the fancy equipment they have! Chances are you won't get to use them as an undergrad. These are some things I'd suggest, so you don't make the same mistakes as me.
Good luck!


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Sinatrafan
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The real question is how long are you prepared to wait? Everyone wants to be a clinical psychologist at the start of uni. Upon graduation perhaps 10% still pursue this idea. After trying for 3-4 years that number is down to a handful of people. 5 years post graduation (the number of years since I graduated) 1 person from my year of 200 has just been accepted onto a training post.

If you meet the requirements (BPS accredited degree, perhaps an MSc and lots of relevant work experience) and try year after year after year then you may well be able to get on a training doctorate. However if your motivation wanes and you want to be in a stable job and on the career ladder before you're 30, then it will be more difficult.

It is also important to remember that the medical and nursing side of mental health services are largely ring fenced, and luxuries such as having a psychologist on your team are the first things to be cut when the NHS is under pressure. With the NHS facing a tough and uncertain future I'm doubtful that the prospects for clinical psychology are going to improve.
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Plain Marcus
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(Original post by Sinatrafan)
The real question is how long are you prepared to wait? Everyone wants to be a clinical psychologist at the start of uni. Upon graduation perhaps 10% still pursue this idea. After trying for 3-4 years that number is down to a handful of people. 5 years post graduation (the number of years since I graduated) 1 person from my year of 200 has just been accepted onto a training post.

If you meet the requirements (BPS accredited degree, perhaps an MSc and lots of relevant work experience) and try year after year after year then you may well be able to get on a training doctorate. However if your motivation wanes and you want to be in a stable job and on the career ladder before you're 30, then it will be more difficult.

It is also important to remember that the medical and nursing side of mental health services are largely ring fenced, and luxuries such as having a psychologist on your team are the first things to be cut when the NHS is under pressure. With the NHS facing a tough and uncertain future I'm doubtful that the prospects for clinical psychology are going to improve.

Not to be pessimistic - but have you noticed there is an increasing rise in the amount of "Self-Funded" places on the D.ClinPsych. This was unheard of 5 years ago. I sincerely hope that funding places do not become obsolete.... With an unsteady future for the NHS, I wonder how much more of a battering Mental Health Services will take...
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Sinatrafan
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It would be a shame if self funded places raise the number of clinical psychologists in circulation. Basic economics tells us that the more of something there is the less it is worth. More supply of psychologists will push wages down, and at the end of a long hard training program of many years you want to be assured of a decent salary.
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scrawlx101
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(Original post by Sinatrafan)
The real question is how long are you prepared to wait? Everyone wants to be a clinical psychologist at the start of uni. Upon graduation perhaps 10% still pursue this idea. After trying for 3-4 years that number is down to a handful of people. 5 years post graduation (the number of years since I graduated) 1 person from my year of 200 has just been accepted onto a training post.

If you meet the requirements (BPS accredited degree, perhaps an MSc and lots of relevant work experience) and try year after year after year then you may well be able to get on a training doctorate. However if your motivation wanes and you want to be in a stable job and on the career ladder before you're 30, then it will be more difficult.

It is also important to remember that the medical and nursing side of mental health services are largely ring fenced, and luxuries such as having a psychologist on your team are the first things to be cut when the NHS is under pressure. With the NHS facing a tough and uncertain future I'm doubtful that the prospects for clinical psychology are going to improve.
so what would you say the alternative is if a person does a psychology degree with the view of one day being able to help people and be well off?
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Sinatrafan
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There is no easy solution but mental health nursing or becoming an OT in a psychiatric setting are reasonable options.

The best option however is to pursue graduate medicine with an aim of becoming a psychiatrist. Now this obviously requires the individual to be interested in health generally as they'd need to spend 6 years studying general medicine and surgery before entering psychiatric training.

But psychiatrists are massively in demand at the moment and if you can get over the hurdle of getting in to medicine a very good career lies a head. Now graduate medicine is fiercely competitive, but it is slightly less competitive than clinical psychology and offers far better pay and job security in the long term.

Some people of course prefer psychological approaches to mental health rather than the medical model, which may obviously put somebody off.
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scrawlx101
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(Original post by Sinatrafan)
There is no easy solution but mental health nursing or becoming an OT in a psychiatric setting are reasonable options.

The best option however is to pursue graduate medicine with an aim of becoming a psychiatrist. Now this obviously requires the individual to be interested in health generally as they'd need to spend 6 years studying general medicine and surgery before entering psychiatric training.

But psychiatrists are massively in demand at the moment and if you can get over the hurdle of getting in to medicine a very good career lies a head. Now graduate medicine is fiercely competitive, but it is slightly less competitive than clinical psychology and offers far better pay and job security in the long term.

Some people of course prefer psychological approaches to mental health rather than the medical model, which may obviously put somebody off.
not an option for me since I picked Eng Lit,Psychology and Economics for A-Level....what are some good oppurtunities available to me?
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Sinatrafan
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That isn't a problem, science A Levels aren't required by all graduate medical schools.

Doctors
Nurses
Psychologists
OTs
Social workers
Support workers

They are the list of professions who work within a mental health MDT. Outside of those the only other way to work with patients in a mental health setting is probably counseling. Aside from being a psychiatrist or a psychologist none of those roles are particularly well paid.
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scrawlx101
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(Original post by Sinatrafan)
That isn't a problem, science A Levels aren't required by all graduate medical schools.

Doctors
Nurses
Psychologists
OTs
Social workers
Support workers

They are the list of professions who work within a mental health MDT. Outside of those the only other way to work with patients in a mental health setting is probably counseling. Aside from being a psychiatrist or a psychologist none of those roles are particularly well paid.
any other well paying jobs i could do with a psychology degree...i hopefully plan on doing a masters(im in year 12 atm) in psychology if i really do go along with being a psychologist(i know its really hard to get onto one) so i could really appreciate any other careers since i feel like ive really narrowed down my job prospects and i cant really seem to widen them in my opinion...
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