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Career profile: Clinical psychologist

psychology brainGet the lowdown on what the job involves, what qualifications you need and how long it takes to train.

A what?

Clinical psychologists aim to reduce psychological distress and to enhance and promote psychological well-being.

They work with people with mental or physical health problems - which might include anxiety and depression, serious and enduring mental illness, adjustment to physical illness, neurological disorders, addictive behaviours, childhood behaviour disorders, personal and family relationships. They work with people throughout their lifespan and with those with learning disabilities.

On the job

Clinical psychologists work in a range of environments including hospitals, health centres, community mental health teams, child and adolescent mental health services and social services. They will often work alongside other professionals including doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

To assess a client, a clinical psychologist uses a variety of methods including psychometric tests, interviews and direct observation of behaviour. Assessment may lead to therapy, counselling or advice.

Course entry requirements

Universities tend to be flexible about which A-levels, A/S, GNVQ or Scottish Higher subjects are necessary for entry onto psychology degrees, but undergraduates need to be able to handle scientific concepts, to be numerate and to have developed writing skills.

Biology, mathematics, English, history, economics or similar arts or social science subjects are all useful preparation for a degree course. Maths at the Scottish Standard Grade or at GCSE level, at grades A, B or C is usually required

To become a qualified psychologist you will need to undergo further post-graduate training, after your first degree.

What does the training involve?

You must first achieve an accredited honours degree in psychology (you can convert from one which is not accredited or not psychology) to obtain Graduation Basis for Registration (three-four years full time).

The next step is to complete an accredited postgraduate training course in clinical psychology (three years full time).

Related links

(Information taken from NHS Careers)