Getting Psychology work experience as a Philosophy student?

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issawrap
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#1
I'm currently studying Philosophy at uni but I'm interested in getting into the field of Psychology (particularly psychotherapy) when I graduate. To get into it and later any postgrad courses, I'm gonna need some relevant work experience in Psychology.

Does anyone have any recommendations for where I should look/what kind of experience I should look at? And how hard do you think it'll be for me as a Philosophy student (rather than a psych student) to get my hands on some experience?

Thank you
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University of Surrey Student Rep
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(Original post by issawrap)
I'm currently studying Philosophy at uni but I'm interested in getting into the field of Psychology (particularly psychotherapy) when I graduate. To get into it and later any postgrad courses, I'm gonna need some relevant work experience in Psychology.

Does anyone have any recommendations for where I should look/what kind of experience I should look at? And how hard do you think it'll be for me as a Philosophy student (rather than a psych student) to get my hands on some experience?

Thank you
Hi Issa!

It's great to hear that you are interested in going into the field of Psychology. For clinical psychology and I believe the psychotherapy area, quite a lot of places really value experience, so it's great that your thinking ahead. I would say maybe see if you could volunteer. For example, volunteer at a charity that may help aid psychotherapy or a charity that is in someway related. That way it shows your passion for your career. Any volunteering to work experience is good, but when its within the area, it's even better and stands out! Are you wanting to pursue a clinical career in this psychotherapy?

Becca (2nd Year Psychology Student)
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artful_lounger
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To pursue a career in clinical psychology (and several related areas) you need a BPS accredited degree, so your first step would be doing a BPS accredited "conversion" masters course, without which some (but not all) work experience options may be more limited to you. Then as you note experience will be important to get onto a DClinPsy to qualify as a clinical psychologist. The UCL DClinPsy webpage offers a great deal of advice about what kind of work experience they (UCL, and I imagine expectations will be similar in other DClinPsy courses) are looking for, and where one might be able to find those postings: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/clinical-psych...orate/applying. In particular:

"One common route is to find work as an Assistant Psychologist. These posts are advertised in the BPS Bulletin (distributed monthly to all members of the BPS) and also (although less frequently) in other relevant publications - for example, the health section of papers such as The Guardian.

As assistant posts are in relatively short supply, it is important to emphasise that they are not the only route to gaining relevant experience. For this reason applicants should think broadly about the possible options open to them. For example, employment in a social work context or as a nursing assistant in a psychiatric unit, or as a worker in a MIND Day Centre would be extremely valuable; all would count as relevant experience."

You could certainly then start by looking at working or volunteering as a care assistant, particularly in mental health/psychiatric contexts, and build up some experience and then maybe look towards HCA roles in those areas for example. Volunteering and/or working with Mind or similar charities may also be a good way to get a foot in the door, as you work towards getting your BPS masters. Once you have said masters, you would I think be able to apply to assistant psychologist positions, and hopefully with the other work experience will have a stronger background to do so!
Last edited by artful_lounger; 1 year ago
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Interrobang
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Check the requirements for the courses that you want to do, as you may not need experience
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issawrap
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(Original post by Interrobang)
Check the requirements for the courses that you want to do, as you may not need experience
But I'll still need the experience eventually to get a job
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giella
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Depends if you want to do psychotherapy (couch and notepad) or a more clinical role (doing psych evaluations, delivering psychological interventions etc) or something between the two.

You don’t need to become a psychologist in order to deliver therapy. Mental health nurses and trained counsellors can do both of those. Becoming a clinical psychologist is a longer and far more specialised route. In addition, psychotherapy has its own accredited professional doctorate route now which doesn’t require a degree in psychology.

You need to work out which you want to do. Doing a psychology degree is arguably a waste of your master’s funding if you know you want to work in mental health because there are so many careers where you don’t actually need it. And getting started in mental health may be a whole lot faster if you took a route in via nursing or social work. You’re building experience there and getting paid to do it, more to the point.

But all of those things start by making sure this is actually a route you’re interested in and not just an idea that you’ve decided looks interesting. I would recommend getting work as a support worker, care assistant or similar on a part time basis at least. You can start building basic skills, test out whether you’ve got the patience to work with some of the more challenging clinical populations/client groups you could expect to work with in a career in mental health and start to get an idea of whether you understand what you’re getting into. There are a lot of transferable skills that you can gain from these roles even if you never end up working with these populations.

As to whether it’ll be hard to get these jobs, no it won’t be because you don’t need a degree to get these jobs. Volunteering likewise doesn’t require any qualifications.

I suggest you really explore these careers in depth first before committing to any course of postgraduate study. Psychology conversion degrees are such a generic qualification in the sense that they are often expensive and don’t really qualify you to do that much besides the rare and competitive job of assistant psychologist. You can become an IAPT practitioner even without a psychology degree. If you don’t specifically want to be a psychologist, it really may not be worth your time to do one. You only get one round of funding to do a masters so it’s something you need to choose carefully.
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