What experience did you have when you got on training?

Discuss applications to the clearing house (and to courses that are not in the clearing house system), screening assessments, interviews, reserve lists, places, etc. here
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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by enid » Thu Apr 16, 2015 11:11 am

I will be 35 when I start training - EEK! But as I have said before, I graduated from my BSc in 2004, aged 24, and only started wanting to do CP three years ago - only one application, two interviews, one place offered.
So my journey is not remotely regular so in a sense I am not sure this will be of any use to anyone, but you never know, I think elements of it will give people hope!

-One A-level (grade A) + an access course in psychology;
-BSc psychology - 2:1 (first class dissertation, which I always plug, but I think mean mark was around 64%. Not sure though);
-MSc health psychology - again average around 62% (graded as a pass, as they didn't have merits back then at that uni - old school red brick). This was also funded by the MRC with full stipend, I always plug this too, plug what you can!;
-Post grad certificate psychological research methods (Pass: 59%);
-Near completion of a PhD in a field that is kind of psychological psychiatry.

Clinical experience:
-Key-worker working 1-2-1 clinically with clients, in a (non-NHS) drug/alcohol treatment service (I can't actually remember if this went on the form!! It was either prospective position or one month in at time of application, and so 7 months in by interview, but I have a feeling I might have just put it as a prospective position);
-Honorary asst. psychologist - one day a week on an acute ward (over a year);
-Honorary asst. psychologist - one day a week in paediatric chronic physical health (over a year);
-Various charity sector positions in research, comms, event management, and some direct client work which I highlighted;
-Various mentor /befriender roles, some paid some voluntary, like with those on the Autistic spectrum (very part-time);
-Support worker to someone with Asperger's (short-term, part-time).

Research and teaching:
-Research assistant x 3 positions (plus I put my masters project on as I was paid to do it) - probably totalling 2 years full-time;
-Academic tutor roles - on MSc, BSc courses and A-level students (spanning 3 years I think).

-Unrelated roles, where I highlighted leadership;
-Project management/coordination in the charity sector;
-Legal clerk job pre-university(!!);
-Teaching asst (primary) pre-university.

My advice would be to smile and shine. Be yourself. The most important thing seems to be to be personable, friendly and relaxed. That was my game plan for interview two. I would also say try to do really well on one or two elements. I think I did particularly well presenting research I'd done at interview, and some questions I think I nailed - keep in mind, supervision, supervision, supervision, the Francis Report, risk, and reflection. There are key things they seem to be looking for, and in this way if you shine in a few areas, you can totally bloop a few other areas and still get on. I definitely blooped some bits - just couldn't answer and they had to spoon feed me the answers, luckily some of that was research. For me it seemed to be that I had a good rapport with the panel and they liked me. Whereas for interview one, I didn't like them at all, and I am not sure they did me!! Good luck to remaining hopefuls. x

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by CurlyHair » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:33 am

Congratulations enid! Great to see someone of an age with me and through an non-traditional route doing well (not that it's not good to see others doing well too!) :D Thanks for posting and hope you celebrate fullsomely!

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by lucyjm » Mon Apr 27, 2015 3:40 pm

After deciding last minute to apply again this year after last year's "trial run", I'm still pretty stunned to say that 1 interview turned into a place at Trent. I'm 24 and will still be 24 when I start; my experience is pretty limited so may give some people hope!

International Baccalaureate in lieu of A-levels (Psych / Bio / English / Maths / French / Art): 39 points
BSc Psychology: 1st Class Hons (graduated summer 2012)
MSc Neuroimaging Methods & Applications: Distinction (completed Sept 2013)
Got a high achiever's scholarship / award at undergrad and a full fee-waiver scholarship for my MSc

6 months full time (unpaid) AP position in neuro rehab - split between community and inpatient. Had the most amazing, supportive supervisor which I think has taken me a really long way.
1 month part time elderly community care.
2.5 months (at time of applying) part time research AP role on a clinical trial working with patients with TBIs. Seriously valuable experience as I have a fair bit of responsibility in this role, including running CBT-based groups.
3 months full time on a graduate mental health placement in Sri Lanka.
2 months full time volunteering abroad with children and adults with a variety of physical and mental health issues.

My 2.5 month AP position (which I'm still in) is a mix of research and clinical...I'm doing clinical stuff in a research context so I guess that counts.
This was topped up to full time with RA work on a chronic pain study, employed for same length of time.
6 month part time RA position during my Masters
Masters dissertation project was a bit of a monster which I undertook almost entirely by myself, so I really plugged that. Very non-clinical though - using human brain stimulation to look at the timings of neural activity underpinning visual consciousness (yeah...).
Undergrad dissertation using pharmacological models of anxiety to test out novel psychological therapies - also a bit of a monster, I became an RA for this project because they needed me for more than my allotted course hours, and ended up giving a poster session and a full presentation on it at a conference.

So I had pretty much bare minimum experience...I just really plugged my academic record and the fact that I have had a role that integrates research and clinical practice. Walking talking proof that it only takes one interview!

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by jamesivens » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:34 pm

Hi all

don't think i've done anything massively different from many people on here. My a-levels were pretty average and my degree was a low 2:1 and it felt at times that it would be a barrier to training. I was quite set on continuing on with the High Intensity CBT as there's some quite cool jobs out there nowadays, and was a bit of a surprise that the clinical place came up.

BSc Psych - 2:1
MSc Psych (by research) - Pass with Merit
PGDip Low Intensity CBT
PGDip High Intensity CBT (currently doing)

High intensity CBT therapist
Assistant Psych in psychological medicine
Assistant Psych in problem gambling
Assistant Psych in older adults secondary care
Assistant Psych in stroke and neurorehab

Couple of publications
Couple of national conference presentations
Research assistant at university

Brain injury, mental health charities e.g. Anxiety UK, befriending in Learning Disability
Probably owe most of my experiences to volunteering at evenings and weekends (not at the same time! but a few hours a week/month over a number of years), as this gave me experience in different areas which then led onto the different roles and opportunities.

Good luck everyone who's applying and building up experience

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Biggsy1988 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:23 pm

Hi all,

This was my third application and I will be 27 when I start training. I feel my recent NHS and volunteering experience made me so much more better prepared going into interviews this year; I felt that I knew what I had to, rather than frantically revising things I had absolutely no idea about! My experience is:

BSc Psychology (2.1)
MSc Forensic Psychology (Merit)

10 months as a support worker in a locked rehabilitation hospital (adult mental health) - Private Sector
2 years 6 months as an Assistant Psychologist in the same place as above
6 months as an Assistant Psychologist on a low secure ward/challenging behaviour service - NHS. This is my current post

None - except from my dissertation for my MSc which I did not publish

7 months as a listening volunteer with Samaritans
When it comes to dreams one may falter, but the only way to fail is to abandon them - Alexander Grayson (Dracula 2013)

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by moonbeam » Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:54 am

Well - it feels weird posting in this thread. I'm definitely still in shock - I have the confirmation email though. It. is. real. :shock:

This is my first application (I'm 26) and I will be 27 when I start training (I think that's the average isn't it?). I only applied last year because I truly felt ready. My experience is all forensic related - but I realised early on in my MSc that I definitely wanted to be a CP (in a forensic setting) and not an FP! I think my experience is a little different maybe.. my GSCE's are not exactly brilliant grades, but I do consider myself as a grafter since leaving high school. It also took me a long time to get an AP post - always the 2nd best candidate apparently!

- No A levels! I went to college to study public services (I wanted to be in the police at the time!)
- BSc (Hons) Criminology & Forensic Psychology (2:1 - Graduated in 2009)
- Qualification in Counselling Concepts (alongside my degree in final year)
- MSc Forensic Psychology (Will finish this in the summer)

Paid roles:
- 2 years as a support worker in a medium secure hospital (adult males) - NHS
- 2 years as a senior support worker in a medium secure hospital (adult women - WEMMS service) - NHS (same hospital as above)
- 18months as an AP in a female prison - NHS (I've had some very good training in this post, such as DBT and CBT training as well as attending conferences as well as lots of therapeutic work with clients)
- 2months RA in offender research - NHS (this wasn't on my form as I only started a few months ago)

- 2.5years as a shadow project worker at Addaction (for offenders being released from prison) - Charitable sector
- 1 year as an AP working in a complex cases team (no clinical contact) - NHS
(I did both of these roles whilst working as a support worker)
- 4 years on a local BPS committee doing various roles and helping to organise conferences

- None. Although I have presented at 1 conference and have done talks for college students about the clinical psychology career.
Last edited by moonbeam on Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
There may not always be a solution to the problem, but there is always another perspective...

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by midas » Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:07 am

Third application, I will have just turned 30 by the time I start training, so that milestone will be out of the way!
First one was a real practice, I got 4 straight rejections, totally expected and was fine with them.
Second was a punt, I didn't think I would get anywhere but others around me were much more confident in my abilities, I got one interview which turned into a reserve place. Big learning exercise.
Third was my last attempt in my mind, I simultaneously applied to the civil service fast stream and was successful, so I thought that was the end for me in terms of CP. I got 2 reserve places for interviews, one turned into an interview and an offer. Its been a long road...

3 Bs at A levels. Didn't actually get onto the psychology course I wanted, had to settle for joint honours with biology, but a couple of months in I asked if I could transfer and as they had several drop outs, and my A levels indicated I could handle the course (maths, biology and psychology) they let me on!
BSc (Hons) Low 2:1, graduated way back in 2007!
MSc Applied Psychology (Therapies) Merit. I honestly believe this was key in everything else that followed...

Paid experience
3 years working an admin/sometimes being an assistant doing psychometrics in private practice for family assessments
9 months NHS AP in tier 2 CAMHS
9 months NHS AP in tier 3 CAMHS (meant to be 6 months, they fought to keep me there!)
18 months NHS AP in CAMHS LD (worked in an amazing MDT, with outstanding supervision, this must have been what did it!)

During and after uni I was a supervisor in a coffee shop (management, organisation, leadership) then I took a year out to travel.
I've been working as a government social researcher since March but this wasn't on my form.

Voluntary experience
I spent a few months after travelling volunteering at a drop in centre for young people.

I have had a couple of articles published in newsletters, but nothing academic. I've presented at workshops based on outcomes work I facilitated, and I developed a website for a cross area CAMHS service - not quite disseminations but really useful for the service!! And the standard evaluations, audits, annual reports for all the CAMHS teams I worked with.

I think I would probably fit into the "standard" route, but its just taken me a long time to get to where I am! I found that a good team and supervisor absolutely make the difference, going from a role where it doesn't matter if you turn up, to an integral member of the team, learning from those around you and being supported, trained, developed along the way. An AP is not just a data entry clerk, and employers should have a responsibility to nurture their development. I am a very fortunate person.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Itachi » Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:35 pm

So pleased to be able to finally post here after years of reading everyone's posts!
I'm 24, had 3.5 interviews this year - one place so far; no interviews last year, and one interview the year before.

A Levels AAB
BSc Psychology (hons): 2:1, 67%
No further qualifications/publications etc.

Experience - Post University (approx 4 years in total)
9 months, 3 days - Hon. Assistant Psychologist, IAPT
6 months, 2 days - Hon. Assistant Psychologist, Child mental health in Educational setting
14 months, FT - Assistant Psychologist NHS, Health Psychology
6 months, FT - Research Assistant, Depression RCT
12 months, FT (current) - Assistant Psychologist NHS, Substance Misuse

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Jadety » Fri May 01, 2015 3:04 pm

Can't quite believe I'm posting here after reading these for so long!
I'm 25 and this was my first time applying.

B.A Hons Psychology (2.1)
M.Sc Applied Psychology (1:1)

7 months FT ABA tutor in school for children with autism (1-1 work)
13 months PT voluntary AP/research psychologist Intellectual Disability Service (2 days/week)
4 months PT voluntary AP community mental health service (3 days/week)
18 months FT AP Brain Injury Service (current)

3 months PT Research Assistant on PhD study (1 day/wk)
Presented at 4 Conferences but no publications

1 year Childline Call Facilitator (4 hours/week)
3 months Support group facilitator for people with OCD (2 hours/month)

Also completed several months of personal therapy which I feel was invaluable to being able to reflect on my personal experiences and how these impact my work with clients.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by haymond » Sun May 03, 2015 11:10 pm

Before I comment on my experience, I just want to say thank you for everyone on this forum and those who have helped me on my way, the support has felt invaluable.

2008 - 2011 - BSc Psychology - 2:1
- About 6 months of volunterring as an activity leader for older adults and people with LD
2011 - 2013 - Support worker in CAMHS inpatient
2013 - 2014 - MSc Mental Health studies - Merit
- 6 months placement working in IAPT
2014 - current - Trainee Psychological Wellbeing Practioner

What helped me

- I felt lucky that I was able to get involved in different things during my time working in CAMHS, ranging from running groups, shadowing psychologist/family therapist, and being involved in research. All of which came about from being proactive.
- Whilst being a support worker may not seem that relevant at the start, it has really helped me to develop my skills in developing therapeutic relationships.
- Gaining placement opportunity as part of my MSc. I would recommend anyone thinking about studying psychology, to try and a choose a course that includes a placement. I feel also that speculative CVs may be relatively successful if aimed at IAPT compared to services looking to employ APs.
- Getting feedback on applications from generous people on this forum
- Whilst I did not get any APs positions, I did get invited for a few interviews. Part of what helped was being strategic about this. This involved not relying of NHS email for APs as there is a delay, but searching on NHS jobs regulary. Applying quickly. Creating a base AP form, which contains different points I can make to address common personal specifications.
- Two books has helped me a lot. What is Clinical Psychology? by J Hall and S Llewelyn. This details how clinical psychology operates in different fields of mental health, and helpful for tailoring applications. Forumulation in Psychology and Psychotherapy: Making sense of other people's problems. Useful for clinical vignettes.
- Using a reflective Journal. Helpful to record your journey, practising being reflective, and using these for interviews.
- I joined a mentoring scheme for people from BME background, where Universities in and around London are involved. I believe d.mcquade.ucl.ac.uk is the adminstrator for this.
- Apply for uni's where there is a selection test before the interiew
- As difficult as can be, try and appreciate the journey as opposed to the destination. Part of what helped is managing my expectations.

What I would of done differently

- Get to know research/stats better during at my undergraduate. Personally I just learnt enough to pass without really understanding this. However I have learnt how important this is, and appreciate the systemic effects that research can have to alleviate psychology distress. Also I guess I could of also harder to try and get a first during undergraduate.
- I would of tried to be a bank support worker during my undergraduate.
- Try and learn more from my colleagues

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by kathryn » Tue May 05, 2015 1:55 pm

2009 - 2012 : Psychology BSc (First Class)

July 2012 - October 2013: Support worker (charity, CYP with autism & challenging behaviour, 30 hours per week)

April 2013 - October 2013: Volunteer Assistant Psychologist (NHS, health psychology, 1 day per week)

November 2013 - October 2014: Assistant Psychologist (NHS, health psychology, full time)

November 2014 - present: Assistant Psychologist (NHS, older people, full time)

Just accepted a place to study at Leeds on my first application.

I was lucky enough to attend a career talk given by an NHS AP during my third year of study so I had a clear idea of the sorts of experience I needed and competition I was going to face! As a result, I was very selective about which jobs I applied for, not applying for any AP jobs at all until I had over 12 months SW experience and 6 months as a volunteer AP. Similarly, I didn't apply for training until I was in my second AP post. I have taken quite a laid back approach of just enjoying each new role and how great my life is now, rather than trying to constantly chase the next new tick in a box. I think that's really worked in my favour as I haven't felt "burnt out" by constant application/rejection. That said, I was also tactical in looking for an AP post in the same field as my volunteer AP post, then looking for a completely different service/population in my second AP post to broaden my experience.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by moonbeam » Tue May 05, 2015 2:31 pm

kathryn wrote: Assistant Psychologist (NHS, health psychology, full time)
Very intrigued by this - I'd love to do a placement within health psychology
There may not always be a solution to the problem, but there is always another perspective...

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by kathryn » Tue May 05, 2015 2:55 pm

Moonbeam - I worked 2 days a week in a chronic pain service and three days in HIV management. Really interesting work -feel free to PM if you want to talk more!

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Boon » Mon May 11, 2015 2:49 pm


As I have found this forum very useful over the past couple of years, I felt that I should contribute something too. Here's a summary of my experience:

I worked in public sector business roles for 13 years before deciding to pursue a career in clinical psychology. I’ll be 37 when I start training and it was my second attempt at applying.

4-A levels (AABC)
Undergrad - social science subject (First)
MSc Management (Distinction)
2013 MSc Psychology - conversion (Distinction)

Voluntary Experience
2013: Honorary Assistant Psychologist, 1 day per week for 9 months whilst doing my conversion course.
2014: Honorary Assistant Psychologist, 1 day per week for 6 months whilst working in a non-psychology job.

Paid Experience
2014-15: Assistant Psychologist, 1 year, FT

2 x conference posters
No journal publications.

2 x service evaluation/audit projects whilst working as an A.P.

2014 – No interviews.
2015 – 3 interviews, which lead to one reserve place and two offers. I hadn’t expected to get any interviews at all so I was delighted about this. I think what helped when it came to interviews, was having had good supervision during my paid A.P. role, being focussed with my revision (i.e. reading about a range of topics rather than pre-preparing answers to questions) and feeling fairly calm during the interviews. My interview performances were not perfect so I was pleased to get a couple of offers.

I hope that is of use or interest to someone.

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Re: What experience did you have when you got on training?

Post by Beth » Sat May 16, 2015 6:06 pm

I found this thread really helpful in the past which Is why I want to contribute to it.

I'm 27, 4th year applying and 4 years since graduating from my undergrad.

2012 - 2 interviews, two reserve places
2013- 1 interview, a no
2014 - reserve for interview not turn into interview
2015 - 3 interviews, one reserve place, one offer (still waiting in other will update when comes through)

2007-2011 BSc Applied Psychology. This included a placement year which I did in a low secure private hospital

Jan-June 2012 honorary research assistant

Two submitted and one in preparation (this is how it was on my application form) these where from work from my assistant posts one tow BPS DCP the other two peer review journals.minalso had some disseminations on there.

Clinical experience
2009 - 9 months placement student in low secure hospital
2009/2010 - 1 year part time (2 days a week) assistant psychologist in low secure hospital
2011/2012 - 1 year part time (3 days a week) honorary assistant psychologist in chronic pain
2012/2013 - 14 months part time (1 1/2 day a week) assistant psychologist in neurorehab
2013 - 7 months part time (3 1/2 days a week) assistant psychologist in stroke
2013-2015 2 years full time assistant psychologist in inpatient rehabilitation units (mental health)

I also had some experience with children from my sixth form days which was also on my form.

My jobs have never been straight forward as you can see. Lots of part time jobs. They all over lapped or followed on from each other so I didn't have any gaps in my employment and the stroke and neurorehab jobs were in the same hospital but I had separate contract supervisors etc but where advertised together.

I think I've been really lucky with working in physical health, neuro and mental health and I feel that's really allowed me to see what psychology offers in different areas. My publications have all taken place within my assistant roles, which I personally found helped me think about research in the environment compared to RA experience in a uni. I have had a few different supervisors which has really allowed me to experience different ways of being supervised and working which I have enjoyed.

I wasn't going to apply straight out of uni but my supervisors at the time encouraged me to saying I had enough experience and was showing the right thinking. Personally,looking back, I wish I had enjoyed life a little more along the way and not worried so much about "getting on" and "ticking the boxes" etc. This really does feel the right time. I feel confident now in expressing my views in MDT and have feel I didn't have much more to get out if AP roles. What I think helped this year is in the last year or so I have really developed as a clinician and become comfortable with who that is and why I have certain views. I feel I'm in the best place to be on training. (I NEVER thought I'd be one of those people writing that!)

I hope that is of some help to some people.

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