How to Become a Clinical Psychologist
If you want to further research the role of a clinical psychologist then it is highly recommended that you read What is Clinical Psychology? By John Hall and Susan Llewelyn.
If you are considering clinical psychology as a career. Make sure you are aware that it is one of the most competitive areas in psychology and although this guide aims to give you an idea and a set of steps to land a job as a clinical psychologist it will do be as straightforward in real life. Also bare in mind that you do not have to complete all these steps in order.
The Route into Clinical Psychology
The very first step in your career into clinical psychology is to complete an undergraduate psychology course that is certified by the BPS and is eligible for the ‘Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC)’.
Now, if you already have an undergraduate degree and it is not eligible for the ‘Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership’ then you may have to pay for a conversion course.
To become a clinical psychologist you will need to achieve a degree with a high 2:1 or preferably: a first.
If you have not managed to achieve either a high 2:1 or a first, then you may still be able to become a clinical psychologist, but you will have to complete a masters and in some cases a PhD.
Once you have your psychology degree and/or masters and PhD, then the next thing you have to get is work experience. You may have got work experience as part of your degree if you took a 4-year sandwich course, in which during the 3rd year you complete work experience. If you did complete a sandwich degree or are thinking about a sandwich degree then you will already be ahead. Ideally, to become a clinical psychologist you would get work experience at an NHS hospital, but you may want to consider any work experience in which you have to work with a range of people with a range of backgrounds and needs. With work experience you should be aiming to display the skills needed to deal with people as this an integral part of the role of a clinical psychologist.
Working as an Assistant Psychologist
Now you have got through all that you can start work as an Assistant Psychologist. The role of an assistant psychologist is to work with clinical psychologists. This is where the real learning begins. Unlike most work experience places (unless you were lucky), assistant psychologists are usually paid within the NHS. Bare in mind that it is common for people to have worked in more than one assistant psychologist post, in fact be prepared to spend around 2-3 years working as an assistant psychologist.
Alternatively, you could take a research assistant post, but you will have to make sure that the research is related to clinical psychology.
Once you have worked as an assistant psychologist you can apply for a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. When you get in, you become a Trainee Clinical Psychologist, which is a well-paid position.
Once you have completed your Doctorate in Clinical Psychology you can apply for the roles of a Clinical Psychologist!
Questions to Consider
If you are considering becoming a clinical psychologist then you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
Can I deal with being in a stressful environment?
What is it about clinical psychology that appeals to me?
Are there any other areas of psychology that appeal to me more?
Am I good with people?
Do I like spending time with people?
Can I deal with people who are feeling distressed?