Community psychology in action: Clinical psychologists & trainees on the Leicester course digging potatoes as part of a community psychology project: Read more here

Who are we & what do we do?

Clinical psychologists are highly trained professionals. We work to improve mental wellbeing and reduce psychological distress by:

  • Improving the psychological health & performance of individuals, families, organisations & communities through skilled, knowledge-based services;
  • Innovating in response to clients’ needs & thereby developing applications of psychology & related disciplines;
  • Designing, developing & supporting accessible services to support these innovations.

We provide evidence-based assessments and interventions across a wide range of healthcare services, and supervision and consultancy to colleagues from a variety of disciplines. We work to alleviate psychological distress in children, adolescents, adults and older adults, in mental and physical health services, and in out-patient and in-patient settings. We have advanced skills in a variety of different therapeutic models, including cognitive-behavioural, psychodynamic and systemic therapies and community approaches. We also routinely undertake research and service evaluation, contributing to the current state of knowledge in our field.

We offer a bespoke approach to assessment and intervention, whether it be of individuals or groups, putting relationships with clients and the client perspective at the centre of our work. We aim to fit our approach to clients rather than the other way round. We regard formulation, or the in-depth understanding of clients and their difficulties, as key to informing a successful psychological intervention. Although we are well-versed in the medical model and its application to psychological problems, we question an exclusive focus on this approach and offer a psychological perspective to broaden and improve understanding and treatment efficacy.

We work with families and groups as well as individuals, and are also trained to consult to staff teams and services, providing supervision and developing psychological thinking at the organisational level. We increasingly receive requests to provide clinical supervision, reflective practice and staff support to multidisciplinary colleagues. This is in recognition of the positive impact of sharing psychological thinking and an understanding of relational processes across clinical teams – both on the quality of clinical care and staff wellbeing.

There are currently twelve and a half thousand clinical psychologists in the UK, and sixteen hundred in training at thirty-three University centres. The profession is predominantly female at this point in time and is committed to statutory registration under the Health and Care Professions Council.

How to become a Clinical Psychologist?

Clinical psychology involves a minimum of seven years’ pre-registration training in quantitative and qualitative psychological research, and a variety of psychological models and their applications, as indicated in the diagram below. The first three years of undergraduate study place an emphasis on general psychological processes; whilst the latter three years of doctoral training, undertaken after at least a year gaining some sort of clinical and/or applied research experience, involve a series of academic assignments and clinical practice placements, mostly within the National Health Service, under the supervision of a qualified Clinical Psychologist.

The Clinical Psychology Training Pathway