Clinical vs Forensic Psych

Discuss the content and style of the different clinical psychology doctoral training courses, the differences between them, placements, teaching, chat to other trainees and connect with other people who have places on the same course
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Clinical vs Forensic Psych

Post by evsl » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:16 pm

Hi all

I have a query that I cant find answered anywhere else on the site although please feel free to prove me wrong as I think it might be a FAQ....Although I have applied to the clinical training again this year (2 nos, 2 to go), I am starting to think that I may also be well suited to a career as a Forensic Psychologist rather than a Clinical One. However, most peoples advice is to go for the Clinical training and then I can always work in a forensic setting with that qualification.

Becoming a Clinical Psychologist is relatively straightforward I guess, once you get on the course that is! Then 3 years later you are qualified and you can apply for jobs as a CP. Ta-da!

However does anyone know much about becoming a Forensic Psychologist instead? Generally it seems to be getting a Masters in FP (self funded) then needing to get a job in a forensic setting with the eventual aim of becoming Chartered? But I dont know what job this would be, as I guess the MSc doesnt 'qualify' you as a FP? Or does it?? Also, perhaps more concerning, I cant see any FP jobs being advertised in the NHS, police or Prison service, which may suggest there are very few posts going??

Does anyone have any advice on the most common way to become a Forensic Psychologist? Or should I just keep hacking away with the Clinical applications?


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Re: Clincial vs Forensic Psych

Post by semele » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:28 am

I'd really like any words of wisdom on this topic too! I have a Forensic MSc and know that I want a career in a forensic setting, yet the clinical doctorate seems the only practical way of qualifying (it would still be my preferred choice, however it would be nice to know there was a viable alternative!). While I know the basic path to chartership I'm just very unsure what type of post you would have to be working in to do this. Do you actually have to be employed as a trainee forensic psychologist or can you work towards meeting the required competencies in other roles, with supervision? I have never seen trainee positions advertised, in over 3 years of being on the job hunt.
“People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does.”
― Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason

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Re: Clincial vs Forensic Psych

Post by eponymous85 » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:39 am

evsl wrote:
Becoming a Clinical Psychologist is relatively straightforward I guess, once you get on the course that is! Then 3 years later you are qualified and you can apply for jobs as a CP. Ta-da!
As a second yr trainee with no life, no time to be ill and no ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this. Training is HARD, it makes the selection process look like a fun game. Sorry for the massive downer but that's the reality. I hope you find a more useful answer to your question x
The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure. Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, to be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many layered thing.

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Re: Clincial vs Forensic Psych

Post by evsl » Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:47 am

Yeah EponymousI'm sure you are 100% right, knowing lots of other stressed trainees the application is definately the 'easy' bit compared to the course, what I meant was that as long as you're on the course and you pass everything and get your research project done etc, you come out of the course as a qualified CP. You dont need to do any further training to use that protected title.

So definately laugh, no need to cry- I'm not that naive!!


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Re: Clincial vs Forensic Psych

Post by beeny » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:01 am

I went to a careers talk a few months ago on this... I **think** after doing the foresic psych masters and getting an trainee job (FPiT: forensic psychologist in training- v. competitive I believe) you work towards chartered status by submitting portfolios of 4 core roles. The lady was saying that it took most people a lot longer than the minimum 2 years to get chartered (more like 4 plus), I guess because you dont have the formal structure of a course as such

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Re: Clincial vs Forensic Psych

Post by Baneen03 » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:29 am

You have more options to work towards chartership with Forensic Psych than you do with Clin Psych.

The 'traditional' route is to do an accredited MSc in Forensic Psychology and then complete 'stage 2' of the diploma. This is done traditionally by securing a job as a Forensic Psychologist in Training (sometimes advertised as a Trainee Forensic Psychologist). You will be a trainee for at least 2 years but more commonly 4'ish. You will complete exemplars in core areas and these will be externally assessed.

However, you don't HAVE to have be a trainee forensic psychologist to begin stage 2 of the diploma towards chartership. Providing you can arrange appropriate supervision and are working in an appropriate setting, you can work through your examplars without being a trainee. This is less common however and probably is easier if you have a good network of people who could help you out here, i.e. give you opportunities to fulfil exemplars requirements, such as lead training courses etc.

Download the Handbook off the BPS website. It's really helpful.

I would definitely suggest you read more around the role of a forensic psychologist as it seems you're not too clear on this at the moment.

There is a lot of over lap between the work of a forensic and clinical psychologist. However, there are also elements of work that are best suited to one or the other. Personally, I believe that in areas of work dealing with offenders/victims/prospective offenders etc, it is beneficial to employ BOTH forensic and clinical psychologists as what they can offer in terms of expertise can complement each other.

There are however others that would disagree.... :wink:

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Re: Clincial vs Forensic Psych

Post by shadowfox » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:22 am

I work in NHS Forensic services at present and hope to do so eventually as a CP. The advice given to me by the psychologists I work with is to complete the clinical training first, get a post in Forensic services and pursue the chartership as part of your CPD. So this could be one way to get where you want to be.

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Re: Clincial vs Forensic Psych

Post by Lorris » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:34 am


I am also interested in forensic psycholgy and work in a forensic unit at the moment, working with both qualified and trainee forensic psychologists (and clinical psychologists). The qualified forensic psych that i work with trained at Birmingham University where they run a full-time doctorate in Forensic Psychology Practice (3 years) which leads to BPS Chartered Psychology Status. This seems to be based much more on the clinical psychology training model although i think is fairly new and talking to my colleague she said that it took most people in her year 4 years to complete. However its another option? Although i think it is a self-funded course so money might be a big issue.


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Re: Clincial vs Forensic Psych

Post by agent_pickle » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:42 am

i am currently doing the forensic msc at the iop. i'd like to do clinical, but i like offenders (and working with them!).

there are very few stage 2 vacancies available and although the qualification should only take 2 years after the msc, many people i know are taking twice as long. this is through no fault of their own; the bps take six months or so to accept one piece of work and provide pretty limited feedback. i've heard a number of people say that if they'd known it would be so hard, they'd have done clinical. if i'm not mistaken, in the last three years or so, only seven people have been given chartered status.

another option is the forensic doctorate. if you have the msc you can do a 2-year top-up at nottingham, get a dforespsych and you're chartered. if not, both nottingham and birmingham do a three year doctorate. however, these places are self-funded so you're looking at twenty thousand or so in fees plus living costs for three years. i reckon this would come to some fifty thousand, which is a rather significant amount. there are possibly plans in the pipeline for it to turn into a funded course, like clinical, but with the current financial situation as it is i wouldn't bank on it.

so, from what i know, the forensic route is no easier than the clincial, but i couldn't say whether it's harder. it all seems to be ludicrously difficult, it must be said; though i'm not sure why. it doesn't even seem to be a case of supply and demand, i've seen no evidence that a shortgae of psychologists has led to a massive increase in pay!

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Re: Clincial vs Forensic Psych

Post by evsl » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:03 pm

ahh sounds like not just me who is confused then!! I was just quite suprised when looking into Forensic MSc that all they seem to suggest is that the MSc can help people get onto the Clinical training, rather than suggesting that there is a seperate career path as a Forensic Psychologist. My expeirence of working with offenders woudl certainly suggest that a mixuture of Clinical and Forensic specialists would be best, but perhaps most people are CPs who are interested in the Forensic route.

The Forensic Doctorate sounds great, if only I had a spare £50k, what with wedding planning and house renovations at the moment!!!

Thanks guys!

On a seperate note, why does it say 'Naughty Naughty!' at the top of the Forum page????

:roll: xx

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Re: Clincial vs Forensic Psych

Post by chixta » Tue Mar 08, 2011 11:50 pm

I'm a clinical psychologist working in a forensic team - I know I made the right decision in choosing to train as a CP not an FP and I know I made the right decision applying my clinical skills within a forensic setting. As an assistant psych, I worked with other assistant (forensic) psychs, working towards chartership and it looked like such a lot of paperwork - it put me off for life!

Yes, clinical training is hard (I've been through the 'no light at the end of the tunnel' thing too!) But looking back, I feel such an achievement having completed it and I feel like I've grown so much as a person and as a therapist, that I feel 100% confident that I made the right decision to choose clinical over forensic training. However, you may find FPs saying the exact opposite to me, so at the end of the day, go with your heart and what you feel is right. Good luck!! :D :D

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Re: Clinical vs Forensic Psych

Post by Soph84 » Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:57 pm

I work in a medium secure forensic mental health service with both a clinical psychologist and a forensic psychologist. The assistant psychologist here is completing her core roles for forensic chartership in her current position so as long as you are working in a forensic setting and are able to apply the skills you need to complete the core roles and you are supervised by a 2 years post-chartered forensic psychologist, I don't think you have to specifically be a trainee.

From what I can gather from the assistant and the forensic psychologist here - chartership is HARD and very stressful. The goalposts seem to keep moving and it can take a long time to get chartered. I understand what you mean about clinical, once you're on the course, you know what is required to finish the course chartered but with forensic, you don't seem to know if the goalposts are going to move.

I think, in a nutshell, the road to chartership for either is very hard but for different reasons, so it's probably best for you to figure out what it is specifically about working with offenders that you're attracted to and make your decision based on that (eg, forensic = risk assessment/management; clinical = assessment/treatment....rather crude distinction, I know- there's obviously a lot more to it). That's how I figured out that I definitely want to go the clinical route.

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Re: Clinical vs Forensic Psych

Post by saramatthews » Sat Nov 26, 2011 1:45 am


Noticed this post is from a while ago so dont know how relevent this will be but...i was a Forensic Psychologist in Training for 7 years before i left to have a baby. Chartership is extremely challenging. It most definately takes longer than the 2 years in my experience its more like triple that. The chartership route is very demanding and the high pressure of the job makes fitting in chartership work very difficult so you end up doing most of it at home after a full days work. There are many ppl i have worked with who love their work and find it very rewarding despite chartership demands so i must provide a balanced view however most i know have given up as guidelines seem very unclear and as someone pointed out, very few have got through. There is no intermediate job between trainee and charterted either where once there was the position of higher psychologist so essentially you are stuck on a fairly low wage for a very long time which can also be a downside. I personally got out having done a year of chartership work, getting very dissillusioned by it and becoming a mum. I feel theres much more diverse populations to work with in clinical in so many different ways than in forensic which basically deals with the management of risk. Another good idea on here was to reflect on why you want to work with offenders etc because its a pretty tough job and you hear some pretty disturbing stuff at times so you need the enthusiasm to carry you through really.

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