I am torn between three career options, how do I decide what to do with my life?

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TeaAndCats
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Hi!

I am a Psychology graduate trying to figure what to do with my life. I have applied for some Clinical Psychology courses and some Counselling courses (MScs) and I really don't know what to do. Recently, I have also come across Speech and Language Therapy, and it really appeals to me. So far I have been building up experience within these sectors and I am enjoying it but also really keen to get back to studying so that I can progress with my career.

I have tried being a Research Assistant briefly and really enjoyed it but, since graduating, have not had any luck getting these kind of jobs because they are highly competitive. I was thinking that if I did a MSc in Clinical Psychology then this would increase my chances of getting a job like this, or maybe something like an Interventions Facilitator (would appreciate any advice on this if anyone knows more about this?) After this, I could maybe go on to do a PhD in Clinical Psychology and become a Psychologist, which would be cool but again, it's highly competitive!

Being a counsellor appeals to me too and for a while I really thought this was what I wanted to do, but I am worried because it's something I have never done before and I might not be any good at it! I am also concerned that maybe I would feel a bit too emotionally exhausted...Further options for becoming a counsellor would include doing a separate course outside of uni, so if I did want to do that I suppose I could at another time when I have the time and money etc etc., but I am not sure if I would want to do this and I would prefer the university setting (also found a nice uni and great-looking Counselling course there, but I know that shouldn't be a main factor for deciding!) I also just feel like I could gain lots of transferable skills through doing a course like this, so if I decided not to be a counsellor afterwards, it's not the end of the world?!

The final option which appeals to me is Speech and Language therapy. After gaining experience within SEN schools, I have found that I really like working with children with SEN and the job description of Speech and Language Therapist really appeals to me in general. However, I am also worried that I have never tried this before!

If anybody has any guidance I would greatly appreciate it! Given the current situation that the world is in, I probably won't be going to uni this year anyway like I thought I would, but this has given me a chance to think about things and what I want to do.

Thank you!
Last edited by TeaAndCats; 6 months ago
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Lord Asriel
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This is quite a common situation that graduates who have studied psychology find themselves in. Looking at each option individually, and having worked closely with members from each discipline, I would think about the following:

-Clinical Psychology: This is the route I know most about. Firstly, it's not a PhD you will need, but a practitioner doctorate in clinical psychology (DClinPsy). Having an MSc can help if you have a low mark, but really it will be your experiences, solid academic/ research evidence and ability to reflect that will get you onto a course and stand out from the crowd. The toughness of this route comes with the getting onto training (and doing a doctorate is stressful), but once you are on you get paid decently to do your doctorate, have many options open to you and there is more work than there are Clinical Psychologists coming off training courses (so it is like medicine in that regard).

- Counselling: The tricky thing about counselling training is that although it is easier to get onto, it's far, far harder to make a living once you qualify. The vast majority of counsellors really struggle to find consistant paid work, and a high percentage end up using their counselling training on a voluntary basis. It's not a protected profession (like Clinical psychologist or SALT), and there is a massive oversupply compared to the market needs. Obviously, some counsellors do find steady work, but the bottleneck is really after qualifying rather than before like SALT or DClinPsy.

-Speech and Language Therapist: Like nursing or occupational therapy, this is a good vocationally based route where there is good demand for graduates, and the competition is less cutthroat than Clinical Psychology, and less academically intense considering you are training at 'graduate' level rather than doctoral. I have worked with SALTS and have a lot of respect for them, but its possibly less versatile as a qualification, and there are fewer at higher grades than clinical psychology or medicine.

The best thing you can do is try to spend time working in settings where you will get to meet the above 3 professions, and talking about the way they feel about their jobs. This can be as a care assistant or admin in an NHS clinic, or even volunteering in settings where these professionals are likely to work. You won't be directly watch what they do, but even being in the same setting and looking after the same people will give you an insight into each job. Hope you find something that suits you.
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Interrobang
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If you like working with SEN children, you could consider educational psychology, although it is very competitive to get onto, like clinical psychology.
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Noodlzzz
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As Lord Asriel points out there's a difference between a clinical psych PhD and a doctorate of Clinical psychology. I am doing the former if you have any questions.
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TeaAndCats
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(Original post by Lord Asriel)
This is quite a common situation that graduates who have studied psychology find themselves in. Looking at each option individually, and having worked closely with members from each discipline, I would think about the following:

-Clinical Psychology: This is the route I know most about. Firstly, it's not a PhD you will need, but a practitioner doctorate in clinical psychology (DClinPsy). Having an MSc can help if you have a low mark, but really it will be your experiences, solid academic/ research evidence and ability to reflect that will get you onto a course and stand out from the crowd. The toughness of this route comes with the getting onto training (and doing a doctorate is stressful), but once you are on you get paid decently to do your doctorate, have many options open to you and there is more work than there are Clinical Psychologists coming off training courses (so it is like medicine in that regard).

- Counselling: The tricky thing about counselling training is that although it is easier to get onto, it's far, far harder to make a living once you qualify. The vast majority of counsellors really struggle to find consistant paid work, and a high percentage end up using their counselling training on a voluntary basis. It's not a protected profession (like Clinical psychologist or SALT), and there is a massive oversupply compared to the market needs. Obviously, some counsellors do find steady work, but the bottleneck is really after qualifying rather than before like SALT or DClinPsy.

-Speech and Language Therapist: Like nursing or occupational therapy, this is a good vocationally based route where there is good demand for graduates, and the competition is less cutthroat than Clinical Psychology, and less academically intense considering you are training at 'graduate' level rather than doctoral. I have worked with SALTS and have a lot of respect for them, but its possibly less versatile as a qualification, and there are fewer at higher grades than clinical psychology or medicine.

The best thing you can do is try to spend time working in settings where you will get to meet the above 3 professions, and talking about the way they feel about their jobs. This can be as a care assistant or admin in an NHS clinic, or even volunteering in settings where these professionals are likely to work. You won't be directly watch what they do, but even being in the same setting and looking after the same people will give you an insight into each job. Hope you find something that suits you.
Thank you so much, this is all really helpful.


I've obtained a First-Do you think there would be no point for me to do a Masters in Clinical Psychology? Could you tell me more about the difference between the PhD and the DClinPsy please? Wow, okay thank you! Do you think that doing a MSc in Counselling would give me some transferable skills that I wouldn't get with other courses, due to the nature of the course (for example, learning to be an active listener etc etc) which employers would value? Or no more so than any other MSc? If I did go down this route, do you think this could help me to obtain an assistant psychologist job, or would you specifically need to have done clinical to increase your chances there? Great, thank you! It's good to know there is a good demand for graduates in SALT. That's definitely something to consider. Thank you!
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TeaAndCats
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(Original post by Interrobang)
If you like working with SEN children, you could consider educational psychology, although it is very competitive to get onto, like clinical psychology.
Thank you, I'll definitely have a look into that. Would you say it is as competitive as Clinical then?
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TeaAndCats
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(Original post by Noodlzzz)
As Lord Asriel points out there's a difference between a clinical psych PhD and a doctorate of Clinical psychology. I am doing the former if you have any questions.
Please could you tell me more about the differences?
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Noodlzzz
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(Original post by TeaAndCats)
Please could you tell me more about the differences?
PhD is purely research, DClinPsych is almost all practical and applied therapy skills, though I believe you do a research dissertation end of the course? Could be mistaken.

Also DClinPsych is funded by NHS at band 5 i believe whereas PhD can be funded through the university or research bodies but often a lot less financially than clin psych doctorate

Also the career you go onto after whichever you choose is vastly different
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TeaAndCats
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(Original post by Noodlzzz)
PhD is purely research, DClinPsych is almost all practical and applied therapy skills, though I believe you do a research dissertation end of the course? Could be mistaken.

Also DClinPsych is funded by NHS at band 5 i believe whereas PhD can be funded through the university or research bodies but often a lot less financially than clin psych doctorate

Also the career you go onto after whichever you choose is vastly different
Ahh okay, thank you! What kind of careers would you go for with the PhD?
How are you finding the course? How much experience did you get before applying?
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Noodlzzz
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(Original post by TeaAndCats)
Ahh okay, thank you! What kind of careers would you go for with the PhD?
How are you finding the course? How much experience did you get before applying?
Experience wise nothing apart from my undergrad and masters dissertations
Career wise you can either go down the academic route (lecturing, post doc researcher etc. - which is my aim) or industry (don't really know the details im afraid)
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Interrobang
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(Original post by TeaAndCats)
Thank you, I'll definitely have a look into that. Would you say it is as competitive as Clinical then?
There are fewer places on the ed psych doctorate and fewer people applying, so they are probably similar in terms of how competitive. Clin might be slightly more competitive, but unis get hundreds of applicants for approx 15 places
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ajj2000
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Wouldn't the first thing to do be improving your applications for research assistant / honourary type positions? These seem to be pretty important for getting onto the DClinPsy course and give some useful insight into whether you might enjoy that route.
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TeaAndCats
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(Original post by ajj2000)
Wouldn't the first thing to do be improving your applications for research assistant / honourary type positions? These seem to be pretty important for getting onto the DClinPsy course and give some useful insight into whether you might enjoy that route.
Yeah, I’ve tried sooo many different applications and had no luck! Do you have any tips? (:
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TeaAndCats
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(Original post by Tayaa8)
you seem to have many options but just pray to God first to clear the confusion. For many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is The Lord's purpose that prevails ( Proverbs 19:21)
Thank you (:
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TeaAndCats
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(Original post by Interrobang)
There are fewer places on the ed psych doctorate and fewer people applying, so they are probably similar in terms of how competitive. Clin might be slightly more competitive, but unis get hundreds of applicants for approx 15 places
Ah, okay. I’ll have a think about it, thank you for your help (:
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(Original post by TeaAndCats)
Yeah, I’ve tried sooo many different applications and had no luck! Do you have any tips? (:
There is a forum for prospective clinical psychologists where you can get feedback and advice from people who recruit such positions.
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TeaAndCats
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(Original post by Noodlzzz)
Experience wise nothing apart from my undergrad and masters dissertations
Career wise you can either go down the academic route (lecturing, post doc researcher etc. - which is my aim) or industry (don't really know the details im afraid)
Ah that’s great, how did you decide to get into academia? Thank you for your help (:
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Noodlzzz
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(Original post by TeaAndCats)
Ah that’s great, how did you decide to get into academia? Thank you for your help (:
I took a Clinical focused masters with the intent to got onto the dclinpsych but after doing practical therapy skills and theories of CBT etc. I decided I much preferred the dissertation and theoretical essays so went down the PhD road.
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giella
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If you want to get on with it Speech and Language Therapy will get you there fastest, most likely.

It’s a diverse career but not as well paid at the top as CP or EP. This is possibly set to change in a few years and you would possibly be able to leverage your experience in SLT to doing the doctorate in CP eventually.

I would not advise doing counselling without a clinical background. Apart from private practice – where you would have to convince people to part with their money on the basis of your experience – you will not be likely to find paid work within the NHS doing it without a clinical background. It also takes just as long to do it as either SLT undergraduate or the professional doctorate in CP or EP, but without the job security.

To reiterate what many others have said, you need experience. There’s nothing else that you can do to ensure you’re making the right decision.
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