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 Obti » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:32 pm

I'm 27 going to Bath after my first application (still surprised!), also had an offer from UEL. Hopefully this reassures people that you don't necessarily need to go down the IAPT or AP route and that unique experience can be as useful.

Graduated MSc conversion 2015
- Previous 1.5 years experience working as a support worker for a housing organisation and 6 months experience with learning disabilities as a support worker

- 3 years experience as a peer support worker with an early intervention service
- voluntary involvement with local hearing voices group
- involvement in a multi-disciplinary research team looking at projects related to psychosis

I initially found the other candidates slightly daunting at interview as everyone else I spoke to had AP experience or had completed a PHD, looking back I feel everyone's on an equal playing field and the important thing is to know your stuff and be passionate. Both interviews were completely different but both were focussed on looking at how you think about a particular area and your values rather than assessing specific knowledge.

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

Post by PolkaDot » Sat Jun 16, 2018 11:02 am

Glad to be posting here following a wait on the reserve list before being offered a place at Glasgow.

My route is a bit unconventional and I’ll be 31 when I start:

Left school at 16 with no higher qualifications, worked in call centres/administration for 2 years while doing a NC in administration. Then fell pregnant at 18 and had my son at 19 so decided to go back to college to learn something new. Went and done a NC, HNC and HND in social science. This took nearly 3 years and I achieved 3 A’s which helped me get on to a uni course.

Finished my BA (Hons) Psychology in 2013 and got a first. I had no relevant experience before or during my degree.

Post-Undergrad Experience

8 months (1 evening a week) as a Community Support Volunteer with a charity facilitating Living Life to the Full CBT groups in the adult community.

8 months (full time) working for a learning disabilities charity as a Support Worker.

1 year (full time) as a Clinical Support Worker in an NHS adolescent psychiatry ward.

1 year (full time) as a Psychological Assistant in the psychology department of a prison.

I then completed the MSc Psychological Therapy in Primary Care which involves you being employed for a year by the NHS as a trainee Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology (CAAP) during the course. I worked in Primary Care providing CBT assessment and intervention for adults and was supervised by a CP. I also got a distinction for the course.

Post-MSc Experience

9 months (full time) CBT Therapist with a private company.

1 year by the time the course starts (full time) Mental Health Therapist for the NHS in adult primary care. Also supervised by a CP.

So after 2 degrees and 5 years relevant experience, I’m now on the course. This was my 2nd time applying. Also hopes this helps anyone with children to know that it can be done with some perseverance 😊

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

Post by lilachannah » Sat Jun 16, 2018 10:35 pm

Pretty thrilled (and incredibly relieved!) to be posting here after six applications! Admittedly the first three were submitted when, looking back, I wasn't ready and didn't have much of a chance, but it's been a testing time - particularly the last two years. It's been a long old road but I've learnt lots and met some great people along the way - colleagues and service users. I'll be 33 when I start training.

2004 - A Levels - A,A,B
2008 - Graduated with a low 2:1 BSc in Psychology and Education. I decided that Forensic psychology was my particular area of interest and my initial plan was to pursue this.
2008 - 2011 - Three years as a Support Worker in a private residential home working with people who display behaviours that challenge.
2010-2011 - MSc Forensic Psychology, Merit
2012 - Healthcare Assistant in an NHS forensic secure unit
2013 - Seconded for one day per week to the Psychology department to carry out a service development project (after lots of nagging and pestering!). I realised during this time that I wanted to train as a Clinical psych rather than forensic.
2014 - Research Assistant on a large scale RCT working between an uni, NHS and prison
2015 - Assistant Psychologist in NHS forensic secure unit
2016 - now - Assistant Psychologist in a older adult community neuro assessment service - my first role outside of forensic services, which I was eager to get to broaden my experience, and I've really enjoyed.

Two international conference presentations (one of which was my MSc research), four national conference presentations and I've presented at a couple of local BPS meetings. I also have five peer reviewed publications (one of which is my Msc research).

I struggled with low confidence and serious impostor syndrome earlier on in my career, and I really struggled to get that first assistant post. I know that my low 2:1 has also held me back - which is one of the advantages of the selection tests, as horrible as they are! I'm finally at a point where I feel I'm ready for training; my confidence has grown and my research and clinical experience has prepared me well, all of which I think will make me a better trainee than I would've been at an earlier stage. I also had my Plan B lined up this year (to complete my forensic training), which definitely took some the pressure off at my DClinPsy interviews.

Hang in there, but only for as long as feels right for you - and fill your life with lots of other nice things to keep you going through this very tough process!!

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

Post by Bronwen1991 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 7:32 pm

On my second application, I have been offered a place at Plymouth University.

In all honesty... I was offered a place by the skin of my teeth. At applications I had outright No's from Cardiff and Bath, and reserve interview slots for Exeter and Plymouth. Luckily Plymouth had a slot that opened up. As they allocate places based on interview success, and I have been given my least favoured base, I can assume I did just well enough to get a place....

That being said I am wonderfully suprised and thrilled, and thank to Plymouth for all the support I received during the application process.

I graduated in 2014 and will be 26 when the course starts in September.

My previous experience:

A Levels - A English literature, B law, B psychology

Undergraduate degree - psychology with a years professional placement (Welsh Prison Service) 2:1.
I was also offered 3 months paid work during the summer as an assistant psychologist with the same service in which I completed my placement.

Alongside my A Levels and Undergraduate degree, I worked 30 hours a week in McDonald's and Tesco, completing numerous apprenticeships in hospitality and business management (I know this might seem irrelevant but I made the decision to include these on my application anyway and discussed these in the section for other experience).

Interventions facilitator - at a maximum security prison. In this role I delivered CBT based interventions to offenders.

Band 5 Assistant Psychologist - medium security hospital. This role was service development focused, rather an anything else. I also completed ad hoc bank work as a healthcare assistant sporadically during this time.

Within the last 2 roles I was involved in developing and delivering training, audits, data collection and service tool evaluation. I have never published anything but detailed these in the publications section.

Band 7 high Intensity CBT therapist - with the depression and anxietu service NHS. Trained for 9 months at Exeter University to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in High Intensity CBT psychological therapies. 6 months qualified practice following course completion.

I applied for the DClinpsy in september 2017 and qualfied in the PGDip in march 2018.

I dont really know if this is a different path to DClinpsy or not, but I hope it may give hope to those who reach reserve lists and reminds you that it only takes the one to say yes! Also dont be afraid to consider how seemingly non-related experience, has actually shaped you as a clinican to date.


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

Post by mike » Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:07 am

Starting this year, this is my route onto training.

Graduated in 2012 with combined degree in Psychology and English Language (1st class).

Following this I continued working as a lifeguard for longer than I should have really. I worked in this role up until 2014 when I started work as a Therapeutic Parent (residential worker). In between I also had a short internship at my university as a research assistant supporting research relating to language development in primary school aged children.

Feb 14-Aug 15 Therapeutic Parent - role involved day to day care of Looked After Children, helping to meet their needs and to support the young people following possible traumatic life experiences. This role involved input from CP's, who as part of the staff team I would receive training from and also discuss current presentations of the young people with. Although there was very limited CP involvement, this little bit of experience and the experience gained in residential settings was crucial in gaining an AP position

Aug 15 - Nov 17 - Assistant Psychologist - within a private residential company that again supports Looked after Children. My role involved helping the staff teams across a number of homes in gaining a better understanding of the young people they worked with. I did this through collecting and summarising important background information, using psychometric assessments and co-producing reports that would offer potentially useful strategies and interventions for staff teams to use. As part of this process I also contributed to professional meetings for individual young people, chaired by the CP. This experience, and the level of supervision received, was great in helping me to gain an understanding of potentially how CP's work, formulation,, managing caseload, working within MDT environments and insight into different areas that CP's can work in.

Nov 17- present - Assistant Psychologist - within a private company that has a number of education provisions and residential homes. This role is similar to my previous role in terms of working with LAC and supporting staff teams through training, working together to provide interventions and strategies that can support a child in placement. This role also involves working within specialist education settings that support children with ASD, amongst others.

I did try to gain experience in a completely different area however, it proved to be difficult. I applied for this role for two reasons;

1 - I felt that I had been in my previous AP for long enough and perhaps had taken as much from it as I could. Although I knew my current role would be similar, and perhaps less clinical, I knew it would give me experience of working within a different organisation, with different expectations and ways of working. This was important and something I was able to talk about in interviews.

2 - This reason is not relevant at all for training but was important to me. Having became a dad for the first time a few months prior, applying for and accepting the role was influenced by this factor. The current role has cut my commute to and from work by over half (from 1hr 15 to 30mins each way) and is significantly more money. These may not be influencing factors for other people (and I would not necessarily recommend moving between 2 very similar AP roles in the same area) but in my position they really were. I am also aware that starting training I will have a longer commute again but this is fine :)

In my current role I am supervised by an Educational Psychologist, and the role itself is potentially more Ed Psych orientated. However, I have been able to link in with CP's and working in residential homes has allowed me to improve my skills.

That's my experience. It is not as wide, or even as in depth, as a lot of other people. I have worked mainly in one area for over four years. However, through the different roles I have been able to manage challenging situations, support children that are deemed "in crisis", and supported service users with a wide range of needs. It has been an enjoyable (for the most part) journey and for any people struggling to get Assistant roles within the NHS I hope that my experience can help you to feel a little bit more positive about the process and seek out other avenues.

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

Post by becky1989 » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:41 pm

I will be starting at Staffs this year after my third application. I will be (almost) 29 when I start:

2008: A levels in English lit (C), Sociology (B), and Psychology (C)
2011: BSc (Hons) in Psychology 2:1 alongside an optional Counselling module. I also completed a variety of voluntary positions, including Peer Mentor with the University support service, Mentor for BeatBullying, and a Research Assistant work experience with a Health Psychologist.
2012: 7 months working as a Support Worker in a residential care home for adults with Learning Disabilities and 5 months employed as a Smoking Cessation Practitioner. During this time I also volunteered; 7 months volunteering for Mencap supporting adults with Learning Disabilities to access the community, and 5 months co-facilitating self-help groups with the NHS
2013: Worked full-time as a "Graduate Therapeutic Care Worker" (basically care worker with a Psychology degree) based in residential care for adults with Learning Disabilities, working on behaviour management and self-help groups. I worked full-time for one year then went down to part-time for a further year whilst I completed my MSc.
2014: MSc in Clinical Aspects of Psychology - Merit. As part of this I also completed a placement as an Honorary Assistant Psychologist in the Child Anxiety Clinic NHS.
2014: After completing my Msc I then worked as an Assistant Psychologist for a private care company offering residential and supported living for aduls with Learning Disability and/or mental health needs, primarily focussed on behaviour management and staff training.
2015: 11 months employed as a Senior within private care companies focussing on (again!) positive behaviour management for adults with Learning Disabilities and "challenging behaviour". I was also the lead for sensory sensitivities.
2016: 6 months employed as an Assistant Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner in an IAPT service providing low-level CBT interventions for people with mild-moderate depression and anxiety, and leading psychoeducational groups.
2016: I then decided to explore another career in Social Work and joined the Think Ahead programme, I qualified as a Mental Health Social Worker in Sept 2017 and have been working as a qualified SW since then. I am due to complete my MA in Social Work next month. Unfortunately, Social work is not for me and I almost gave up on my CP dream before deciding to apply one last time, until finally....
2018: After being 1st on the reserve list I have been offered a place to study DClinPsy at Staffordshire University and I couldn't be happier!

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

Post by HannaHLx » Fri Jul 06, 2018 7:44 pm

Thought I'd post since I spent hours reading through this thread in the past and worrying I'd never get there. I was offered a place this year on my first application (2 offers!) and I will be 24 when I start the course. I still think someone is winding me up... can't quite believe it.

Graduated from my undergrad in 2016 with a first.

Experience gained during my undergrad:

- 1 year support practitioner for adults with severe and enduring mental health difficulties living in the community
- 6 months support worker at an after school care with children with learning disabilities
- 6 weeks Mental health placement in Sri Lanka
- 2 years volunteer counsellor with Childline

Experience after Graduating

- 10 months Clinical Support worker with NHS at Adolescent Inpatient Unit
- 9 months (13 months by the time I start the course) Assistant Psychologist (band 4) with Forensic CAMHS service

Not a huge amount of experience, but I was lucky to be part of a really good service as an AP and for me it's been about making the most of that experience and learning from everyone I've worked with :)

Good luck and congrats to everyone else with offers!!

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

Post by Eriya » Mon Aug 27, 2018 11:08 am

As I am about to start training with Lancaster next week I thought I would add to this thread! I am 30 years old - I think it's nice to see that it's not just people in their early-mid 20s who get on! I applied 3 times and had 3 interviews in total (0 on my 1st application, 1 on my 2nd application, and 2 on my 3rd application). What I think really worked for me were the GMA tests, so I would definitely suggest trying to apply to a couple of unis which do those kinds of tests, especially on 1st application - just to see if it works for you (I didn't think it would for me!).

2007-2011 MA (Hons) Psychology - 2:1
2016-2017 MSc Psychological Therapy in Primary Care - pass

Didn't get any relevant experience during my undergrad - I worked in a shop and a library. At that point I was very naïve about clinical psychology and had no idea what was required. Following my undergrad I worked for a year in a library - it was full time, well paid, and nice hours (9-5), so I got sucked into it for much longer than I planned. I think I was also kind of scared of the types of jobs that are considered relevant experience for CP (e.g. the idea of personal care freaked me out).
2012-2015 - I eventually gathered my courage and applied to volunteer with ChildLine as a counsellor. I did this for almost 4 years and I think it was really good "foot in the door" experience! It was also quite enjoyable and gave me lots of satisfaction.
2012-2014 - Once I got started with ChildLine I felt more confident applying for more relevant experience and got a post as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities living in supported accommodation. This was with the local council, and so the pay wasn't too bad, however there was no CP involvement. I also completed an SVQ3 while in this post. I only planned to stay in this role for 6 months, but it ended up being 2 years!
2014-2015 - After having worked with LD for 2 years I decided a change was really needed, so I became a nursing assistant on an acute MH ward with the NHS. I really didn't enjoy this post, there was no CP input (only psychiatry) and I hated the shift pattern (12.5 hour days), but ended up staying in this post for 11 months.
2015 - I was very lucky to then secure a position as a AP in a 3rd sector organisation which delivered vocational rehabilitation for adults with acquired brain injury or MH problems. In hindsight this wasn't really a AP post, had no CP input and was very target-driven. However, I really enjoyed the client contact, delivering and developing group sessions on topics such as guided CBT, personal development or brain rehab (e.g. memory, executive functioning). I was in this post for almost 6 months, as at that point I got a place on the MSc.
2016-2017 - As part of the MSc I was employed with the NHS as a Trainee Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology (CAAP), working in a primary care service delivering CBT to people with mild-moderate common mental health problems. The MSc was amazing and I loved it, even though I had to live between 2 cities while I did it (home and the city in which I had my placement) - I don't drive, so it was impossible to commute daily.
2017-now - After qualifying from the MSc I got a job as a Psychological Therapist with the NHS, working again in primary care with mild-moderate common MH problems. I will have done this for just over 1.5 years once I start training. This has been great experience managing my own caseload, completing assessments, formulation and treatment.

All of my experience was done in Scotland and most of it in one city - so it is possible to get relevant experience without relocating, although I've found that it wasn't easy! I hope my experience so far helps people to see that it's ok to get started later on, and that you don't have to start gaining experience as soon as you start your undergrad! I think it's also important to highlight that it's ok not to enjoy some of the jobs you do on your way to getting into CP - it's ok if it's not all rosy!

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

Post by David93 » Mon Sep 17, 2018 4:15 pm

I was offered a place this year on my first application and I will be 25 when I start the course.

2011 - 2015 BSc Psychology - first.
2016 - 2017 MSc Psychological Therapy in Primary Care - passed with distinction.

During my undergrad I worked as a mental health support worker. I worked with a variety of client groups including the elderly, individuals with learning disabilities and severe and enduring mental health problems. I believe that this role was an important first step to allow me to gain experience and knowledge of mental health problems in a community setting.
While studying my undergrad I also gained some research experience via my university. Specifically, I volunteered as a research assistant at my university for around 6 months. This provided experience of recruitment, data collection & administering outcome measures. I also worked for a third sector organisation as an evaluation intern for around 4 months.

After graduating in 2015 I was not confident enough to apply for the doctorate. Instead I decided to apply for the MSc Psychological Therapy in Primary Care. I started this in 2016 and gained experience of delivering CBT based interventions. After graduating from the MSc I worked as a Mental Health Practitioner, which involved providing assessment, formulation & treatment of mild- moderate mental health problems within a NHS Primary Care Mental Health Team. During this role, I managed to consolidate my knowledge of CBT and received further training in CBT for eating disorders. I worked as a mental health practitioner for 1 year and managed to build up some sort of confidence/ self- belief. I then decided to apply for the doctorate. I found the application process daunting and I did seek some advise from clinical psychologists I had worked with. I found this to be a helpful start to help me understand the process.

To reflect on my experience, I feel that it was important for me to work as a support worker during my undergrad. I believe it allowed me to develop my interpersonal skills and understanding of mental health issues. I do not think I would have progressed as quickly to my MSc if I had not had this experience, but then again I could be wrong. My experience as a mental health practitioner was extremely important in enhancing my understanding of and competence in assessment, formulation and treatment.

If I could give any advice- it would be try and get some experience early on if you are in a position to do so. If not by looking at past posts it is by no means essential. My last words of advice is try and not be put off from applying due to self-doubt. Any application successful or not is beneficial to allow you to progress to the next step!

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

Post by CBlackwell » Fri May 10, 2019 10:36 am

Seeing as I've frequented this forum, and this particular thread over the years, having now got an offer to start training in Leeds in September I thought I would add my piece! :)

23 years old.


1st Psychology BSc at Newcastle University, graduated July 2017. Extracurricular: Committee of Psychology Society, Member of Feminist Society, Student Staff Committee Representative, Student Mentor. Thesis was an experiment the effect of an attachment prime on medically unexplained symptoms.

2015 - 2017 (part time during uni holidays) - Mental Health Nursing Assistant
2016 (1/2 day a week for 4 months) - Volunteered with a research project looking at motivation to lose weight in obese individuals
July - December 2017 (full time) - Mental Health Nursing Assistant for NTW NHS Trust. Got very varied experience working across a lot of different wards.
2017-2018 (2 hours a week for 6 months) - Volunteer for Circles 2 North East (community project for rehabilitation of convicted sex offenders)
January - August 2018 - Assistant Psychologist (4) in a CYPS Inpatient Hospital
August 2018 - Current - Assistant Psychologist (4) in a Neuro-rehabilitation Hospital

This year was my first applying.
Rejected from KCL (ioPPN) and UCL, reserve list interview for Newcastle, interviewed for Leeds (successful!)

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

Post by jessicaaaa » Fri May 10, 2019 7:19 pm

Thought I'd add my journey as I have found other people's stories so helpful!

I'll be 24 (just about to turn 25) when I start training


BSc Psychology: 1st Class (graduated 2016)
MSc Clinical Health Psychology: distinction (graduated 2017


During my undergraduate I did lots of odd bits and bobs:

~3 years (1 morning a week) - Voluntary NHS AP (group facilitation)
~5 months (Summer and Easter holidays) - Playworker
4 months - Research Assistant (scholarship summer project at my University)
~ 1 year (approx 1 morning a week) Voluntary Research assistant for a local private practice psychologist

During my masters
~1 year (relief) Mental Health Recovery Worker (essentially a 3rd sector support worker role, very varied role community/supported accomodation/variety of client groups and needs)

After my masters:
5 months (FT) Research Assistant in Educational Psychology (started this before my masters ended in a moment of madness)
11 months (FT) Guided Self Help Worker (in Scotland you don't need a pwp qualification to do this, it's more like an AP role) in a NHS Primary Care team
~4 months (FT) Assistant Psychologist in an NHS Older People's Psychology team (taken from when I applied)

Reflections and tips?

I was very fortunate to be able to do small pieces of voluntary work and a masters degree - both of which have really helped me develop clinical/research skills that helped me gain paid posts.

I also think that when you look at my paid, NHS psychology experience, it's not so much compared to some others (less than 2 years) so it can be done!

Last year, I had one interview and was not successful. This year I got three interviews and was successful at one (withdrew from another)! So excited to get started :D

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

Post by whatsupdealer » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:02 pm

2nd time applying and was very lucky to get 4 interviews! I turned 28 this April :D

2007-2009 Mediocre A Levels: B, C, D
2009-2013 BSc Human Biology and Psychology: 1st Class
2013-2015 MSc Psychology Conversion Course (part time): Distinction
No Publications

2017-Present: Full time AP in an NHS adult community secondary care service
2016-2017: Full time AP in a private inpatient CAMHS hospital
2013-2016: Full time HCA in a private inpatient CAMHS eating disorder hospital (doing mainly night shifts alongside my conversion course)
2012-2013: Part time Volunteer at a Mind Day Centre (2 days pw), Alzheimer's Society (2 days pw) and a children's mentoring charity (4 hrs pw)

To all those with a Conversion Course and/or not so great A Levels, don't give up!

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

Post by Aanneett » Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:11 pm

I'm so excited to be writing this post. I hope it shows that you don't have to have an amazing start to be able to get a place.

I have applied once, had two interviews; one resulted in an offer and the other resulted in reserve for offer.


I have moved to the UK in 2009 and went straight into year 11. I have failed all of my exams.

2012 - got accepted for a college course and completed basic Maths and English course during that time.
Finished in 2013 with Distinction in Travel and Tourism. My English was still bad, I was using Google translate for each assignment.

2013 - 2016
BSc in Psychology, Counselling and Therapies. Graduated with First Class Degree.
I have presented my dissertation on couple of conferences.

September 2018- January 2020
MSc in Child and Adolescent Mental Health
My dissertation is involved in a CAMHS project running across East Midlands.

When I was applying I had no idea what grade I will finish with so I put Merit / Distinction (predicted) on my application. Now I know I am graduating with a Distinction 😁

2016 Project Leader (this resulted in publication). Working with children in primary school; writing books by children for children in English and their home language. I was involved in this project on my last year of UNI, additionally to my dissertation.

2016 Senior Mentor (3 months) - NCS the Challenge

January 2017 - March 2018
First full time job: Senior Therapeutic Care Advisor, working at semi-independent placement for young people (16-25). Supervised by CP. Strong focus on DBT. Private sector.

March 2018 - February 2019
Full Time: Senior Youth Support Worker
Same job as above but with children 8-16 and 16-25.
Supervised by CP, less therapeutic focus than previous company. Private sector.

February 2019 - January 2020
I've applied for my first Assistant Psychologist post and managed to get it.
Full time: Changing Minds IAPT, NHS.
3 months at band 4 doing telephone assessments
7 months at band 5 (Senior AP) providing guided step 2 CBT at clinics

March 2019 - December 2019
Bank Assistant Psychologist at Crisis Cafes, NHS.

After I applied for the Doctorate I have decided to apply for my second Assistant Psychologist post and now I am working at the Personality Disorders Hub, but this wasn't on my application. This is in secondary care with adults, NHS.

I also have a weekend job (2-12 hours per week) as a Senior Therapeutic Assistant working with children in care. Private sector.

My journey sounds relatively easy as I never applied for many things, but this is only because I was careful with my applications. I only applied when I felt ready and when I was really interested in the job. I wasn't applying for jobs that were not in my area of interest or were irrelevant to my experience. Same with the Doctorate, I've graduated in 2016 but only felt ready to apply now.
Last edited by Aanneett on Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by nicairey » Sat Apr 11, 2020 10:11 am

Delighted to post on here after reading all the journeys! I'm 23 years old now but will be 24 by the time I start my training at Manchester in the Autumn after my first time applying through the Clearing House route.

2012-2014: A-Levels (ABC)
2014-2017: BSc Psychology, graduated with a 1st (which I scraped!)
I applied at this point to the DClin at Hull Uni as my undergrad was at UoY. The interview wasn't great and I wasn't offered a place which destroyed me at the time as I so desperately wanted to pursue Psychology. I was told by the lead interviewer that they could see me working as an Occupational Therapist, and as rewarding as OT may be, it really wasn't what I wanted to hear! I was pretty devastated but my undergrad personal supervisor was a star and convinced me to continue to follow my heart and passion so I applied for an MSc
2017-2018: MSc Clinical Applications of Psychology (Distinction)

2015-2018: I completed various volunteering roles in the NHS whilst at uni and at home (OPMHS, LD, CAMHS). Initially my experience wasn't particularly clinical and I would go and sing and play my guitar for social groups. Perseverance and commitment paid off and in 2017, the voluntary services manager gave me several placements which were more clinically-oriented (a CAMHS autism psychoeducational skills group, cognitive stimulation for OPMHS, psychoeducational and socialisation based work for CAMHS). I feel like I really came into my own and grew in confidence in these latter placements and was trusted to lead and design activities.
Feb - July 2018: Part of my MSc was a placement. Due to my experience in the aforementioned sectors, the placement coordinator suggested that I might want to work in a service for adults, which I jumped at. I started my placement in the February at a NHS mental health service provider in the Community Psychology department, with my role mainly shadowing the Consultant Clinical Psychologist (in meetings/ for client work) and completing service-relevant research. I really enjoyed my placement and was asked if I would extend it, which I jumped at the opportunity to. In the May a role was going to come up in an AP role so I increased my volunteering days to 4x per week (my MSc teaching and exams had ended, I volunteered in another trust on the other weekday and worked on a weekend) to gain more experience to make me a good candidate.
July 2018 - July 2019: Assistant Psychologist (Band 4). I got the role! I initially split my time between the autism diagnostic service and the community psychology service (secondary-care working with SMI) and as time passed I moved firmly into a role in community psychology. Role consisted of completing comprehensive lifespan assessments, psychometrics, service-related audit and research
August 2019 - now: Higher Assistant Psychologist (Band 5). Due to service expansions, I was promoted to Higher AP in August 2019. My role expanded to include low-level anxiety management and emotion regulation skills work, training and providing some supervision to new APs, developing research further within the organisation and continuing with assessments. I was fortunate to gain experience doing some psychometric work with patients in the locked rehab and assessing patients with high suicidality.

I have one published and several in submission, however none of these were published at the time of my application

Other experience:
I have completed some lecturing on a local Psychology Foundation Degree
Presented at a national conference

I chose to go to the University of York for my undergrad because I loved the uni (and definitely fangirled that Alan Baddeley lectured there!) but I also really wanted to get into professional psychology quickly and get onto the Hull DClin. I was absolutely devastated by that rejection but now, I am grateful for it. It showed me the drive and passion I have to get into this career. I was so determined to prove that I was capable and the experience I have gained since has been second-to-none. Staff on my MSc tried to encourage me to apply to the DClin in my Masters year but I didn't want to and I actively chose not to apply for the 2019 intake. I'm fairly confident in my academic abilities and I really wanted to experience working full-time properly and get my teeth stuck into clinical work. That choice seems to have paid off. When I started my application in Sept/Oct 2019, I felt SO ready to pursue doctoral study. For me, it really was about choosing the right moment and not rushing myself. I've seen others mention a Plan B and how this helped take the pressure off and I totally agree with this sentiment. When I compare 21-year-old me applying for the Hull DClin compared to 23-year-old me getting a place on the Manchester DClin, my attitude was so different, at 21 my application was the "be all and end all" but at 23, I knew it might not be my time but I would benefit from the experience of rejection, just as I had done previously.

Application Process:
I had three straight rejections this year and was invited to do the screening test for Manchester which I thought I messed up massively! Turns out I didn't and I got an interview, and subsequently a place. It only takes one!!

Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:31 pm

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

Post by gregjames » Mon May 18, 2020 2:53 pm

Having lurked on this forum for a good few years, I am ecstatic to finally be able to post here. I will be 27 when training starts, This was my first time applying, though it has been a long time coming. I finished my undergrad in 2015, but wanted to wait until I stood somewhat of a chance before applying. In the end I applied for 4 universities, got one interview and one offer. One chance is all it takes!

My journey was one that I hope can give hope to those people who don't feel like they have a chance after struggling at undergrad, and to the people who worry that they'll never get the "right" experience.

In Scotland, so I had Highers rather than A-Levels: BBBC
BA Psychology (2:1, 61%)
MSc Clinical Health Psychology (Merit).

Experience (2013-2020)
Samaritans (early 2013-mid 2016): I started volunteering with Samaritans during 2nd year of my undergrad, not to gain relevant experience but because I had lost a family member to suicide the year before and wanted to provide support to people who were struggling. I started off on the phones as a listening volunteer, but towards the end of my undergrad also started volunteering additional hours as a recruitment and selection co-ordinator, hosting recruitment events and running the selection night for my local branch.

Support work (early 2016-late 2017): I was unemployed after finishing my undergrad, struggling to find any relevant work, and it took me 6 months to find work as a support worker for Scottish Autism. I worked full time in this post for 8 months to help fund my MSc, and continued to work full time whilst studying, and continuing to volunteer with Samaritans. I really enjoyed the client support side of the work, but found the organisation to be poorly managed.

LifeWorks, Employee Assistance Programme (Late 2017-Late 2018): This is where my journey goes a bit off the usual track. I was employed by a third sector organisation who provided telephone assistance to employees struggling with work-life issues. My main role was assessing patients for suitability for short-term counselling that the service provided and triaging/signposting to appropriate support.

Assistant Psychologist, NHS Pain Management Service (Late 2018-Present): The holy grail! A permanent Assistant Psychologist post in an area I am really interested in, the only downside being a 2 hour commute! I have absolutely loved this role as it has allowed me to be involved in really significant service development projects and to develop my own research project (A Delphi study to develop a shared framework to operationalize patient complexity). My biggest piece of advice I could give is to try and get involved in as many varied pieces of work as you can. I offered to assist with one research project for the Cystic Fibrosis service, which then lead to me doing work for lots of different services such as Bariatrics, Weight Management, Clinical Genetics and Cardiac Psychology.

The closest I came to any published work was conference presentations, but they were all incredibly valuable experiences.
• NHS Scotland Event 2020: Compassion in Weight Management – The “Eat. Think. Change” disordered eating programme (Poster, first author)
• Pain Matters Spring Edition 2020: Lothian Pain Management Service (guest author and guest editor)
• European Cystic Fibrosis Society Conference 2020: Moral Distress in Cystic Fibrosis Clinicians (Abstract and presentation co-author, also published as a supplement to the Journal of Cystic Fibrosis)
• British Dietetic Association (BPA) Obesity Specialist Group Annual Conference 2020: “Eat. Think. Change.” Evaluation of a Psychology and Dietetic-led group for Disordered Eating in patients with higher body weight in NHS Lothian (Abstract and Presentation, first author-presented by colleague).
• Scottish Pain Research Community (SPaRC) Annual Scientific Meeting 2020: Piloting Community Pain Management to Improve Access to Chronic Pain Services (Poster, first author)
• North British Pain Association Winter Conference 2019: Community Pain Management: Expanding Chronic Pain Services in Lothian (Poster, first author).
• NHS Scotland Event 2019 Expanding Chronic Pain Services to Develop a Pain Management Pathway in NHS Lothian (2 day facilitated poster presentation, co-author). This project was nominated by East Lothian GP partners for the Royal College of General Practitioner's Cluster Local Improvement Project Award 2019.

My main piece of advice would be to speak to current trainees. Ask them about the experience they had when they got on and it may seem less daunting. I applied for at least 60 Assistant Psychologist jobs from 2015 until I finally got one in 2018 that turned out to be perfect for me. Try not to be disheartened by rejections. In 2018 I was rejected at interview for 4 AP posts, at interview for one PHD, and at the application stage for the Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology Masters in Scotland. One month later I got my AP post. 18 months later I have been accepted onto the DClinPsy on my first attempt.

I don't have a great deal of direct clinical experience. The majority of the experience I do have is in the form of telephone support. At my interview I forgot to even speak about any specific clinical experience I had! Being involved in service development, and being able to see where psychology fits into a whole systems approach is absolutely where I shone in my interview, and is something I think every applicant should take some time to consider. Get involved in service development. Try to learn about services you don't necessarily work in, and think about the big picture.

Best of luck to everyone reading this!

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