Clinical Psychologist

Clinical Psychologists are involved in a wide range of activities across many healthcare settings, using psychological methods and research to guide and inform their work.

Working with clients, families and carers, Clinical Psychologists aim to reduce psychological distress and to promote psychological well-being by offering various forms of treatment and supporting people to make positive changes to their lives.

Clinical Psychologists also bring this psychological perspective to the development of services and to the work of multi-disciplinary teams, often through providing training and supervision. With highly developed research skills, Clinical Psychologists carry out research, service audit and evaluation.

The Role(s)

As a Clinical Psychologist, you would work with clients of all ages from different backgrounds and lifestyles. They may be experiencing different physical or mental health problems, such as:

  • children with emotional or behavioural issues
  • people with learning difficulties
  • people coming to terms with physical illness or injury
  • anxiety, stress, depression, eating disorders, psychosis
  • dementia
  • young offenders
  • people presenting addictive behaviours
  • people suffering from neurological disorders
  • people with personality disorders

You would undertake a clinical assessment to investigate a clients’ situation. You could also work with other health and social care professionals in multi-disciplinary teams to treat clients with complex physical or mental health problems.

In NHSScotland, Clinical Psychologists may be based in the following healthcare settings:

  • hospitals
  • clinics and health centres
  • rehabilitation units
  • schools
  • prisons

Skills, Interests and Abilities

As a Clinical psychologist, you will need to be:

  • resourceful
  • an excellent communicator
  • able to work in a team environment
  • able to handle sensitive and difficult issues
  • confident working with individuals and groups
  • positive and enthusiastic
  • good at problem solving and decision making

Useful abilities include:

  • being patient and understanding
  • being able to gain clients’ trust
  • good observation an listening skills
  • the ability to remain calm in difficult or challenging situations

Entry Requirements

In Scotland, you can study for a doctorate in clinical psychology at the University of Edinburgh (DClinPsychol) or the University of Glasgow (DClinPsy). These programmes are approved by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and usually take 3 years to complete. To gain access to the course, you are likely to need:

To practise as a Clinical Psychologist in NHSScotland, you must register with the HCPC after completing an approved postgraduate programme.

Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme

Clinical psychologists working in NHSScotland are required to become members of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme in respect of regulated work protected adults and children. This scheme is managed by Disclosure Scotland.

Learning and Development

Once you have graduated, you will be eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC and apply to become a chartered member (CPsychol) of the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

CPD allows Clinical Psychologists to keep their knowledge and skills up to date and is essential to maintaining registration with the HCPC. The BPS offers a variety of courses and CPD opportunities, as well as conferences and seminars where Clinical Psychologists can exchange ideas and update their skills.

Assistant Clinical Psychologists normally join NHSScotland band 5 of the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. Clinical Psychologists start on Agenda for Change Band 7.

Career Pathway

Some Clinical Psychologists choose to become a specialist in a particular area of clinical psychology, such as addiction, clinical health psychology, psychosis or palliative care. As an experienced practitioner, you could become a Senior or Consultant Clinical Psychologist, leading in areas such as adult mental health. This could lead to becoming head of a psychology service.

Professional Bodies

Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC is an independent, UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards for health, psychological, and in England; social work professionals. It maintains a public register of qualified professionals and works to improve industry standards and education. Visit the HCPC website to find out more.

The British Psychological Society (BPS)

The BPS is the representative body for psychology and psychologists practicing in the UK. It promotes excellence and ethical practice in the science, education and practical applications of pure and applied psychology. Find out more on the BPS website.