Mature student considering clinical/counselling psychology

Your chance to ask for advice on any aspect of career development that doesn't fit in any of the above categories
cappuccinomonkey
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:55 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by cappuccinomonkey » Mon May 06, 2013 11:26 pm

I would like to say more on the subject, but unfortunately I haven't got the time :(

However, one point I'd like to make, which is particularly relevant to this forum, is that counselling psychology training programmes appear to have become parasitised by unsuccessful clinical psychology applicants. In my cohort, I believe I am the only trainee who has not applied to a clinical psychology programme. As a result, I find myself surrounded by trainees who have signed up to a counselling psychology doctorate as a backup option. Many have little interest in developing their identity as a counselling psychologist, and treat the programme simply as a 'means to an end' (the holy grail of an NHS band 7 job). They bring to the training an individualistic and competitive attitude which I find quite unappealing.
***This user has deleted their account and is no longer able to receive PMs***

Advertisement
Pearson Clinical Assessment publishes a wide range of assessments to support psychology professionals including the Gold Standard Wechsler range. To view our range please visit: pearsonclinical.co.uk/cpf
User avatar
miriam
Site Admin
Posts: 7680
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:20 pm
Location: Bucks
Contact:

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by miriam » Tue May 07, 2013 1:19 am

cappuccinomonkey wrote: counselling psychology training programmes appear to have become parasitised by unsuccessful clinical psychology applicants. In my cohort, I believe I am the only trainee who has not applied to a clinical psychology programme. As a result, I find myself surrounded by trainees who have signed up to a counselling psychology doctorate as a backup option.
That's a really interesting perspective. I've often felt that certain masters courses were set up to exploit the ready market of dclinpsy hopefuls, and I suppose at some level I'd wondered whether that had contributed to the growth of counselling psychology and the lack of differentiation from CP. I hadn't ever thought that the trainees could be seen as parasites!
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

lizzabadger
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:52 am

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by lizzabadger » Tue May 07, 2013 10:17 am

Thank you for taking the time to update us. This is not aimed at you, David, but is a more general point.

I do wonder whether people go into clinical or counselling psychology with a somewhat romanticised idea of what it will be like (you talk about "being in love" with psychology etc.)

It is just a job and full of grotty bits like admin, difficult colleagues, meetings, more admin, NHS "reforms", endless irrelevant infection control training, more admin, long hours, low status in the eyes of the medics, long commutes for many, yet more admin, pay freezes, few promotion prospects, pressure to publish, pressure to see ever more patients, cuts, job insecurity, post-qualification qualifications, more admin. There are plenty of good bits too but it's certainly not all fun.

And yes, the people who get into it are competitive types (as will be most of your medical colleagues, making for interesting team dynamics) - the nature of the selection process ensures this.

I do wish more people would go into it with their eyes open and then fewer people would be disillusioned.

<End of rant caused by having to deal with several disillusioned trainees in the past month!>

cappuccinomonkey
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:55 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by cappuccinomonkey » Tue May 07, 2013 11:11 am

I suspect you're right about the romanticised notion of clin/couns psychology.

Many people start any form of therapeutic training with an idealised vision of what it will be like: therapeutic Hallmark moments, with tearful clients telling them how much they've changed their life, farewell hugs, smiles and waves as the client walks towards the sunset and over the horizon. And then they begin their practice...

I think there's an extra element to clinical psychology training which wouldn't be found in, say, a counselling diploma. The competitiveness of clinical psychology encourages (requires?) a kind of single-mindedness that marks out clin psych training as a goal many years in advance, and works tirelessly until it's achieved (first class degree, voluntary clinical experience while doing that degree, a year or two of low wages as an AP etc.). So even though many of the applicants work with clinical psychologists before applying, perhaps this single-mindedness means they fail to notice the "grotty bits" you mention, or perhaps they convince themselves that things will be different when they practice.

And then their weary colleagues have to listen to them moan when they finally get on training :p
***This user has deleted their account and is no longer able to receive PMs***

lizzabadger
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:52 am

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by lizzabadger » Tue May 07, 2013 11:57 am

Agreed. I think we shield APs from the grotty bits too so they are largely unaware of all the politics, behind the scenes graft etc. etc.. Maybe we shouldn't. It is difficult though as we don't want to put them all off!

User avatar
Spatch
Posts: 1372
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2007 4:18 pm
Location: The other side of paradise
Contact:

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by Spatch » Tue May 07, 2013 1:39 pm

Am finding this discussion really thought provoking. Firstly I am sorry that the OP has experienced their counselling psych training especially having some idea of the ongoing sacrifices that people make on that path. I know its tough for people that are happy with that track, so imagine its even harder if one is disillusioned.

Would like to follow up a few points
While I will get the chance to add some research skills and experience to my portfolio, research is regarded as a 'second class citizen' within my programme.
I have some exposure with 2 counselling psych programmes and have several friends from this (so cant generalise to all couns psy courses), but I did observed that there is less emphasis on research than on clinical programmes. HOWEVER, I also noted that there can be a difference in attitude to the type of researclh, with the ethos of some Coun Psy courses often favouring qualitative studies, and understood this to be related to the humanistic, phenomeological underpinnings of the field. Was wondering if there would be some scope to develop in that direction?
I am not sure why you would do a clinical or counselling doctorate if Band 7 jobs in the NHS are of no interest to you. This is what the training is for, surely? What were you hoping for?

If you would like an academic psychology post and don't want to work in the NHS then in your shoes I'd consider getting another PhD offer and quitting the counselling.
I would challenge this. I think this is a really narrow perspective on what a psychologist can offer, both clinical and counselling. Although the traditional Band 7 onwards career progression is the path for a substantial number of us, its certainly not the only (or even best) way for a psychologist to engage with their career. There are huge developments in the third sector, social enterprise, clinical research and other areas that fall outside "the NHS Band 7 experience". Often these are far more rewarding and allow scope for the individual flexibility. Agenda for Change is all about "The post not the person" but I think for many psychologists the post ought to be about the person, their unique skillsets and aptitudes (again which I think personally think is better developed in a counselling psych framework than clinical).

As for quitting for an academic PhD, I can tell you from personal experience that pure research is often oversaturated and increasingly difficult, whereas hybrid clinican-researchers have a flexibility to mix and match and adapt to circumstance.
However, one point I'd like to make, which is particularly relevant to this forum, is that counselling psychology training programmes appear to have become parasitised by unsuccessful clinical psychology applicants. .... Many have little interest in developing their identity as a counselling psychologist, and treat the programme simply as a 'means to an end' (the holy grail of an NHS band 7 job). They bring to the training an individualistic and competitive attitude which I find quite unappealing.
I think this is a real pity, as coun psy has its own strengths and identity and it would be tragic to lose that. I think I would be incensed too if people saw clinical as a gateway to doing something else like management or stay off the dole queue, and trampled over its unique "soul". However, if you do feel passionately about it, you could be the one that fights the good fight for it and raises their awareness (even though you may not get far).

Also agree with the point about individualistic and competitive attitude, but have a different take. As I am someone who is that way, and am happy to own that characteristic, do you think that people like me have nothing to contribute or you can't learn anything from us? You may not need to be friends with us, but perhaps some of that competitive aggression could help your field, as it has helped ours and medicine?

cappuccinomonkey
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:55 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by cappuccinomonkey » Tue May 07, 2013 5:41 pm

Spatch wrote: I have some exposure with 2 counselling psych programmes and have several friends from this (so cant generalise to all couns psy courses), but I did observed that there is less emphasis on research than on clinical programmes. HOWEVER, I also noted that there can be a difference in attitude to the type of researclh, with the ethos of some Coun Psy courses often favouring qualitative studies, and understood this to be related to the humanistic, phenomeological underpinnings of the field. Was wondering if there would be some scope to develop in that direction?
Yes there is considerable variation between couns psych programmes when it comes to the importance placed on research. As you rightly point out, there is also a pervasive view that qualitative research is a better philosophical 'fit' with counselling psychology. For my part, I will be making the argument that counselling psychology needs to be a little less one-eyed in this respect.
... but I think for many psychologists the post ought to be about the person, their unique skillsets and aptitudes (again which I think personally think is better developed in a counselling psych framework than clinical).
I agree with the points you make. Counselling psychology is a perfect fit for me as a person and the way I like to work.
As for quitting for an academic PhD, I can tell you from personal experience that pure research is often oversaturated and increasingly difficult, whereas hybrid clinican-researchers have a flexibility to mix and match and adapt to circumstance.
It's quite possible that I'll pursue a research PhD (within evolutionary psychology) after I've completed the DPsych. I have several research interests within both theoretical and applied psychology, so I hope to pursue as many of these as I can while also practising as a therapist.
However, if you do feel passionately about it, you could be the one that fights the good fight for it and raises their awareness (even though you may not get far).
That's exactly what I plan to do :)
Also agree with the point about individualistic and competitive attitude, but have a different take. As I am someone who is that way, and am happy to own that characteristic, do you think that people like me have nothing to contribute or you can't learn anything from us? You may not need to be friends with us, but perhaps some of that competitive aggression could help your field, as it has helped ours and medicine?
Certainly counselling psychology could learn some "competitive aggression" from the adopted clinical psychologists who now populate the training programmes. But is this an ability/attitude that counselling psychology values? I don't believe it does.
***This user has deleted their account and is no longer able to receive PMs***

Lancelot
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2009 8:07 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by Lancelot » Tue May 07, 2013 8:34 pm

lizzabadger wrote: I do wonder whether people go into clinical or counselling psychology with a somewhat romanticised idea of what it will be like.
I certainly think that there is maybe not necessarily romanticised but certainly idealised view of what training will be like. In fact training can be messy and not what trainees expect. They may have placements where there are difficulties with supervision, find clients do not fit in with the models or there not always a clear direction, short placements where they rarely settle in a team before moving, etc.

You looked at the disappointment and desperation of getting on/or not a clinical course on this forum. I think if you knew the reality of clinical training and not put it on a pedestal you wouldn't be so desperate or disappointed. You realised the clinical may not be the only career to make you happy or will all have the answers. Not that I saying there are no good things but it needs tempering.

hettie
Posts: 156
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2008 3:00 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by hettie » Wed May 08, 2013 4:57 pm

Hi, Just to add an alternative, am in my last year of my counselling psych training and I actually don't know a single person who applied to clinical psychology training... And I know 3 cohorts now (I took a year out for maternity and we hare modules in our last year). Plus our course is fairly obsessed with research both in terms of research training, publication (we are supposed to publish based on a smaller research project before we even embark on our final thesis) and quality of research......Guess it depends on the institution. Sorry to hear that it wasn't what you wanted,but there are counselling psychs pursuing research careers, so maybe you haven't really shut the door on that just yet...

cappuccinomonkey
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:55 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by cappuccinomonkey » Wed May 08, 2013 5:49 pm

That's encouraging to hear. Thank you!

It goes to show how much variety there is between counselling psychology programmes.
***This user has deleted their account and is no longer able to receive PMs***

Alex
Posts: 300
Joined: Tue Aug 23, 2011 10:01 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by Alex » Wed May 08, 2013 6:10 pm

cappuccinomonkey wrote:That's encouraging to hear. Thank you!

It goes to show how much variety there is between counselling psychology programmes.
Can you transfer onto the second year of another counselling psychology course? From looking at the uni, specification, structure and talking to CounPsy trainees the courses are very different. One I can think of has a very good research department and encourage counselling psychology trainees publish to thesis and other work on course.

cappuccinomonkey
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:55 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by cappuccinomonkey » Wed May 08, 2013 8:18 pm

Yes it's possible to transfer from one programme to another.

However, since the courses vary in structure and therapeutic approach, it doesn't always follow that the first year on one course is equivalent to the first year on another. Some year 1 modules may need to be completed before a transferring student can progress to year 2.

In addition, not all programmes will have capacity to take transferring students in years 2 and 3. While there will naturally be a few students who withdraw during or after year 1, there are also folks returning to the programme after taking time out for various reasons.
***This user has deleted their account and is no longer able to receive PMs***

Amusicum
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:27 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by Amusicum » Fri May 10, 2013 7:50 am

Hi David,

Thanks very much for the reply. I'm sorry things haven't worked out quite as you imagined but thank you for your honesty. I would definitely look into transferring into the 2nd year of a different Counselling Psychology programme - think that would be ideal. From what I've heard, City University run a good Counselling Psychology doctorate (unless that's the one you are on at the moment!!!)

lexi81
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:05 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by lexi81 » Fri May 10, 2013 8:33 am

After reading about some of your experiences of individuals on counselling psychology doctorate programmes, I can't help but feel a little cross that people who really wanted to become clinical psychologists may be using this path as a way of getting into jobs . As an individual who is generally interested in counselling psychology I feel that this down plays counselling psychology somehow and is also unfair in terms of taking places from those of us who are purely interested in a counselling psychology route and this branch of psychology, especially since this is such an expensive course !!

Just my thoughts

Alexa

msrisotto
Posts: 86
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2010 2:38 pm

Re: Mature student considering clinical/counselling psycholo

Post by msrisotto » Tue May 14, 2013 3:04 pm

lexi81 wrote:After reading about some of your experiences of individuals on counselling psychology doctorate programmes, I can't help but feel a little cross that people who really wanted to become clinical psychologists may be using this path as a way of getting into jobs . As an individual who is generally interested in counselling psychology I feel that this down plays counselling psychology somehow and is also unfair in terms of taking places from those of us who are purely interested in a counselling psychology route and this branch of psychology, especially since this is such an expensive course !!

Just my thoughts

Alexa
My preference was for a Clinical course primarily because it was paid! My (rather naive I suppose!) opinion is that Counselling Psychology risks being elitist because only rich people can afford it. That's likely what makes the Clinical route so competitive.

Given this, is it surprising that people who love Psychology initially try to get paid whilst qualifying, then if repeatedly unsuccessful, go for the more expensive option? At least you are getting people who are passionate about the field! Anyone else would have given up way before getting to that point!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest