How to become a Clinical or Counselling Psychologist | Dr Becky Spelman
Sunday, 21 Oct 2018

How to become a Clinical or Counselling Psychologist | Career Advice by Dr Becky Spelman

By Dr Becky Spelman

In this video Dr Becky Spelman offers advice on how to become a clinical or counselling Psychologist in the UK. Dr Becky talks about tips on how to get in to Doctorate training courses in either Clinical Psychology and Counselling Psychology. This video includes advice on how to get trained as quick as possible and also discusses the difference between Clinical and Counselling Psychology as well as ideas on how to get work experience in the field of Psychology.

Video Transcript

I’m Dr. Becky Spelman, and I’m going to talk about some career advice for people who would like to be either a clinical psychologist or a counselling psychologist.

So first of all, you’re going to need to do a psychology undergrad degree. If you’re in the UK, this is typically three years long. If you’re based in Ireland, it’s going to be about four years long. After this, you, or during, this you should be getting lots of work experience. In my case, when I was doing my undergrad, when I was in my third and final year, I was getting experience in an eating disorder service, anxiety service, and I was also working with addictions. This is all volunteer work in a supportive capacity. I was a volunteer for these various different charities. And it was all adding to my CV in terms of support work. These weren’t counselling roles because I didn’t have that experience or training as of yet.

And then when I wanted to go on to get my doctorate, I applied to every single doctorate course in the UK for counselling psychology. Now, counselling psychology is a paid training course. However, I wanted to get on to the course quite quickly so I could train quite quickly and then get my career so I could start earning money.

That’s not always the case of everyone. Some people want to get on to clinical psychology which is funded by the government. And for people who can’t take out student loans or, for whatever reason, can’t afford to go down the paid route, they can try to apply for clinical psychology places. However, clinical psychology is far more competitive because it’s a funded course. And if you’re looking to train as soon as possible and get qualified as soon as possible, I would highly recommend going down the counselling psychology route. There’s very little difference in the training because you’re going to end up, if you want to go into therapy, you’re going to end up as a therapist at the end of it.

Of course, there is some other career route you can go into it afterwards but if you’re interested in the therapy side of things, both clinical psychology course and a counselling psychology course are going to give you the same qualification at the end of the day, provided your course is eligible for HCPC accreditation.

So a lot of people that I meet go on to do masters and they end up doing non-accredited courses as different postgrads before they actually trained as a psychologist. Now, for someone who wants to get trained fast and spend as little money as possible on getting qualified, the most direct route is do your undergrad, get some experience and then go straight to your doctorate. There is no need to do a master’s. And that’s a mistake that commonly, a lot of people make. You don’t need a master’s in order to go and do a doctorate.

In my case, I went straight for my undergrad degree with no gap year or anything, straight on to my doctorate because it was a numbers game. I just applied to every single course available. I didn’t have particularly good grades or anything but I got offered two places on two different doctorate courses. I chose a course up north as my preferred place of study mainly because it was more affordable than living in London.

So really, the advice is to find the HCPC courses, apply to all of them. If you really do want to become a registered psychologist in the UK, I feel it’s a numbers game, numbers in terms of getting the most experience you can possibly get by volunteering for as many relevant organisations as you possibly can and then also a numbers game in terms of the applications that you make to doctorate training courses.

And it is really surprising to me, the number of students that I meet who are studying psychology who haven’t been given the right advice and then go on and waste £10,000 or more on masters that is actually not going to lead to them being a fully righteous true psychologist.

So my advice to many people is just make sure that you’re doing a course that is leading to accreditation particularly if you’re at postgraduate level. Spend a lot of time on trying to get internships. You can apply to clinics and organisations which will allow you to volunteer so you get a little bit of experience. It is very difficult to get face to face experience as a counsellor without any counselling training so don’t expect to be shadowing counselling sessions or anything like that. But if you can put yourself in the role of a supportive listener in any shape or form, this is all relevant experience that you can put on your CV.

  • By Dr Becky Spelman
  • Videos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check out other related articles

  • 02 Sep 2018

    How to be Successful

    In this video Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman talks about how to be successful. What really counts as success, how to know where to draw the line and how to know if you are spending your time in the right away......

  • 28 Jan 2018

    How To Effectively Set Life Goals

    Setting life goals in our personal lives is something that a lot of us struggle with. Whether we want to lose weight, or work on our pension plan, there are always many reasons to put our goals on the long finger. However, most of us are much better at reaching the goals we are set, or set ourselves.....

  • 22 Aug 2018

    How to challenge unhelpful thinking - a simple strategy

    In this video Dr Becky Spelman discusses a simple strategy to overcome unhelpful thinking. This techniques uses certain questions to help people overcome their unhelpful thoughts......