MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

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jakejames1990
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MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by jakejames1990 » Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:57 pm

Hi all,

Long time forum reader and first time poster. I was just wondering if I might pick your brains with regards to applying for the D.ClinPsy or, specifically, which MSc might increase my chances of gaining a place after recently receiving rejection letters from all of my chosen universities for my 2014 applications :cry:

I am a 23 year old substance misuse specialist for a drug and alcohol treatment service in Plymouth. I have been working within this position for approximately 15 months now; prior to which I was a complex needs facilitator for a children's services company for 9 months and a psychology assistant during my third academic year of my BSc Psychology degree. I also opted to engage in a social psychology internship within my second year of my degree and have volunteered within a counselling capacity to youth offenders for several years prior to starting, and throughout university (for which I achieved a 2:1).

I realise that I do not have as much clinical experience as some (or most?) applicants do and I am still reasonably young. I am therefore not discouraged by my recent rejections and an still enthusiastic to pursue a career within clinical psychology. However, I think in order to do this, it would be preferable to continue working for my current agency which specialises in the assessment and subsequent treatment of individuals with substance misuse issues using psychosocial and pharmacological interventions, whilst undertaking a part time distance learning Master's degree?

I was thinking of one of the following three and just wondered which (if any) would be most appropriate for my goal. I realise that a Psychological Research Methods MSc is highly sought after but I really, really don't want to do a 2-3 year course in stats!

MSc Clinical Applications of Psychology (Newman University, Birmingham)
MSc Psychiatry (Cardiff University)
MSc Mental Health Psychology (Liverpool)

Thanks in advance,
Jake

Randomswirls
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by Randomswirls » Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:35 pm

I did an MSc with the open university that was really good. I know they were closing down a number of there post graduate courses so it may no longer be possible but if it is I'd definately recommend it.

I think when doing distance learning the most important thing is to enaure you enjoy the course as if you don't it goes on and on and on. So do any of the courses leap out at you? Are any of them more suited to you academically eg what's the ratio of exams/coursework? I started doing a taught research psychology masters and enjoyed it but various things happened and in the end I couldn't face more stats so changed to plain psychology and really enjoyed my final two modules which were forensic and developmental.

Lastly I may be wrong but I think that for a masters to count for the dclin it needs to be completed and if your doing distance learning that will take several years and I guess I wonder if it's really worth it? Especially as you are already applying for the dclin and if you have a good 2:1 or first as it's important to remember that's all that unis are looking for a masters is not currently an essential criteria.

Do you have a trusted psychologist who knows you well who could go over your form and see if a masters is really worthwhile or whether more experience would be better?

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moony
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by moony » Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:10 pm

Having done an MSc last year I'd say definitely make it something you're interested in and passionate about. Otherwise you'll find yourself doing a lot of work you find boring and so don't really want to do.

I think the specific course isn't as important in terms of the clinical application, just as long as you can demonstrate higher level research and analytical skills at the end of it.
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lingua_franca
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by lingua_franca » Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:03 pm

I second what the others have said: if you've got a strong 2:i, then there is no point in doing an MSc unless you are particularly interested in the topic.

One thing that did strike me in your post is the kind of language you are using to describe your roles. You've been working in a substance misuse service for just over a year and you are calling yourself 'a substance misuse specialist'. Is this your job title? To my mind, a specialist is someone with relevant qualifications in that area and a whole lot more experience than fifteen months. The same with "I volunteered within a counselling capacity to youth offenders for several years prior to starting" - if you're twenty-three, this would mean you were counselling young offenders when you were still a teenager yourself, which sounds a bit improbable! Some people overstate their experience and qualifications when they apply, and this can backfire - it makes it sound as though you were either trying to work well beyond your competence or that you don't understand what these terms mean; whereas if you reflect thoughtfully on what you've learned and what you hope to learn, then even relatively limited experience can go a long way.
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ClaireEmma
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by ClaireEmma » Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:27 pm

I agree with what others have said about not necessarily needing one for the DClinPsy with your academic profile and thinking about if you want to do the MSc for its own sake i.e. out of interest. I also just wanted to give my perspective on doing a course by distanced learning - I started a distanced learning MSc course but only got as far the PgCert.

This is just my personal experience and if you were to pursue one you may find it very beneficial, but I felt that I was paying about £300 a month to essentially read textbooks, which is something I could have done for free at my local library. There was a weekly tutorial for an hour a week in a sort of chat room format, but it was mostly around summarising the key ideas in the weekly reading. In my undergrad I really valued frequently attending lectures and seminars that were really interactive and a chance to debate ideas or have your knowledge tested and I think that's why distanced learning didn't work for me because the opportunities to do this were really limited. I did have to submit a couple of assignments a term and the opportunity to do reflective essays in particular was really helpful, but overall I found that a lot of the material was repetition from undergrad or that it was stuff I could have done alone for free (with the right motivation, of course).

Perhaps it would've been different if I'd done the full course and therefore done the dissertation as this is obviously good research experience, but for me it wasn't worth the money it would've cost to stick it out. I decided to continue studying by borrowing textbooks from the library/searching for papers on topics of interest from time to time and start applying for paid RA posts to get more research experience, which is financially a far better option for me. I'm not saying don't do it, but perhaps have a good think about exactly what you want to get out of it, if the way of learning will suit you and how you will manage it financially.

Also a quick aside - you mention a MSc in Psychiatry, but this is a different discipline to clinical psychology with quite a different orientation, if it was me I'd probably stick to a psychology course if I definitely wanted to pursue to the doctorate.

jakejames1990
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by jakejames1990 » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:30 pm

Thanks for all of the feedback guys. Just for clarification with regards to my role, my job title is a substance misuse specialist (as pretentious as it sounds) and I was promoted to this role from the position of substance misuse practitioner within the same agency. Also, I volunteered from the age of 18, working with youths from the ages of 12-18 which to some might some quite hypocritical or less than effective, but my age actually seemed to be an advantage within the context of being able to identify with them and also being seen as a positive role model. These observations were merely from my own subjective interpretations, of course.

As most have mentioned, an MSc doesn't appear to be necessary to gain entry onto the course but, other than just continuing my current job and gaining more clinical experience, I'm not sure in which other ways I can be proactive to support my application? I also know that I will be competing with applicants who have a Masters or even a Doctorate and therefore I assume they will be given priority over myself due to research experience and potential publications?

Regarding my preference of postgraduate degree, they all seem like very interesting and potentially viable options for me after looking at the course content / module structure. They each take between 2 and 3 years via part time distance learning study which would obviously put my clinical psychology application back a few years but I'm in this for the long haul and want to get on a course at some point, even if it isn't now. My rationale, therefore, is that I'll have a postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject plus another 2 or 3 years of clinical experience whilst working within my current agency...

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enid
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by enid » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:37 am

The only one I am not sure about is the one in Psychiatry. I would say it would be best to stick with psychology. Can you not do one part-time for a shorter period of time, 2 years instead of 3. My second MSc was one day a week part-time so I could work 4 days a week. The research methods masters is really beneficial and they do vary. Someone I know specialised in qualitative methods for it, so no stats at all. Mine was really varied, we did a lot of the philosophy of science stuff which was interesting, and crtitical reviews. There was only one quantitative module, it was gruelling, but I am no stats whizz (by any means) and managed it and it was just a module long. The clinical psych ones, however, would probably put you in good stead.

Edit - just realised someone pointed out the Psychiatry point above.

jakejames1990
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by jakejames1990 » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:25 pm

Hi Enid - thanks for the reply,

The more I think about it - especially in light of what you and others have said - the MSc Psychiatry probably would seem a little less relevant for a D.ClinPsy application than a psychological one but there certainly are some overlaps. The modules for example include personality disorders, behavioural disorders, psychosis and substance misuse (the latter of which was obviously of great interest to me considering my current job!)

The MSc in Mental Health offered by Liverpool University seems to be very thorough and comprises the following modules (see below). It takes 2.5 years to complete;

Mind, Brain and Behaviour
Social Psychology
Data Analysis for Psychology
Personality, Individual Differences and Intelligence
Psychological Appraisal and Treatment
Approaches to Mental Health Psychology
Psychotherapeutic Interventions
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in Mental Health Treatment

That being said, would a more clinically relevant MSc be a better option? For instance, the MSc in Clinical Applications to Psychology is made up of the following (see below). The website quotes a completion time of between 2 and 4 years;

Research Methods in Clinical Psychology
Adult Psychopathology
Issues in Psychotherapy: A Critical Approach
Professional Issues, Ethics and Diversity
Clinical Forensic Psychopathology
Childhood Psychopathology.

The former seems to be more theoretical and the latter appears to be based more on clinical practice. I'm just unsure as to which of these would be a better option for me personally.

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ClaireEmma
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by ClaireEmma » Mon Mar 10, 2014 4:08 pm

Hello again,

Just thought I'd chip in again seeing as you have some more questions about the Newman modules - I should say first that the exact modules can vary from year to year. For me, first year was research methods, adult and issues in psychotherapy. When I enrolled the forensic module was supposed to be part of second year, but at the beginning of second year it was replaced with a neuropsychology module, which for me was a bit disappointing because I was looking forward to forensic but that's just me. The module on psychotherapy was really interesting and considered issues such as diagnosis vs formulation, effect of medication on someones ability to participate in therapy and diversity in therapy (e.g cultural differences). However, this course is not really about how to do different types of intervention so if thats what you were hoping for the modules on the Liverpool course on interventions and CBT may be what you are looking for (but I don't know, haven't done it). The adult psychopathology module was quite good for learning about various types of psychological difficulties (depression, OCD, phobia etc) in terms of the recognition of symptoms and what treatments are recommended (i.e theoretical underpinnings of CBT for depression), but there wasn't that much around actually developing formulations or how to do CBT.

Have a look for open days, these can be really helpful when choosing courses.

jakejames1990
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by jakejames1990 » Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:08 pm

ClaireEmma89 - thanks for the continued input, I really appreciate it. Yeah that's the kind of interpretation I got from reading through the modules as well. Thankfully a lot of my current role utilises Motivational Interviewing, CBT and Psychotherapy (among other interventions) so I have a pretty good grounding on the theory and applications of such within a clinical context.

For me, I guess my interest in one of these Masters is twofold; firstly what I would be most interested in studying in order to improve my education and subsequent practice and secondly to what extent each of the qualifications will look to someone reading my doctorate application on paper. In an ideal world the former of which would be my primary driving factor since it will mean that my own knowledge and practice are improved which would therefore positively impact successful treatment outcomes for my clients. That being said, I also want to gain a place on the D.ClinPsy course so obviously I want to look as good as I possibly can too.

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ClaireEmma
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by ClaireEmma » Mon Mar 10, 2014 5:35 pm

I do understand where you are coming from, its a big commitment of your time and money so you want it to count for as much as it can. However, from the selection criteria that I have seen (most don't publish them but I believe Sheffield and Bath do), if you've done a MSc and passed by the time you apply, you may get a bonus point in the academic criteria. It doesn't look like they really consider what university it is from or what modules you studied, but feel free to correct me anyone I'm just guessing. So I'd go with which one you would enjoy most/learn most from.

Edit: I'd also add that some courses use selection tests and you are invited to these as long as you meet the minimum criteria (eg. Lancaster), so for these courses having a MSc wouldn't directly count for anything, but obviously could be beneficial to draw on in tests/interviews.

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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by semele » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:25 pm

I'd be inclined to go with the Mental Health MSc over the Clinical Psychology one. As others have said, the specific MSc title/area doesn't matter as much as that you enjoy it and learn something useful from it. I'm a little suspicious of masters programmes in Clinical Psychology specifically (not implying there is anything lacking in the subject area-they sound really interesting!) purely because I don't see the benefit of an MSc title so closely linked to the content of another professional training, but that offers no qualification in itself or is any guarantee of a career in the field. I think you can get just as much knowledge and understanding from a broader MSc in mental health, but this is likely to also be relevant to many more jobs and doesn't narrow your options so much.
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jakejames1990
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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by jakejames1990 » Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:44 am

If the particular MSc doesn't necessarily matter, what about a degree within a different field of psychology which confers to the BPS criteria; for example one in Health Psychology or Forensic Psychology so that I could expand within this area should I be unable to get a place on a professional doctorate for Clinical Psychology?

Clin Psy is of course my preferred option but it might also be good to have a plan B I guess; given that the volume of applications seems to be increasing each year and competition between applicants is fierce. :cry:

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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by WindWhisperer » Tue Mar 11, 2014 10:55 am

semele wrote:I'm a little suspicious of masters programmes in Clinical Psychology specifically (not implying there is anything lacking in the subject area-they sound really interesting!) purely because I don't see the benefit of an MSc title so closely linked to the content of another professional training, but that offers no qualification in itself or is any guarantee of a career in the field.
I just wanted to say I couldn't agree with this more! :) As a current first year trainee who considered doing an MSc in Clinical Psychology a couple of years ago I've noticed that the syllabuses I'd looked at are very similar to what I'm receiving during training; so I think if I had pursued the MSc I'd now be feeling slightly aggrieved at paying for a masters that I would then essentially repeat during training. (Obviously this is just my personal opinion and I know a couple of people who are currently doing the MSc and loving it).

I ended up doing an MSc in Research Methods in Psychology as I was aware that the research-side was the area I had least experience in, I think that approach to selecting a masters is what I'd recommend if you decide that an MSc is definitely what you want! Good luck :)

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Re: MSc Considerations for D.ClinPsy App

Post by Alexander » Tue Mar 11, 2014 11:33 am

I disagree with what some others have said about the importance of an MSc for DClinPsy. For those without a 1st class degree, publications or any post-graduate vocational research experience, I consider an MSc to be a good way to strengthen one's application with regard to academic and research experience. While a 2:1 is sufficient to apply, the majority of applicants will have a 2:1. To stand out, having a 1st or post-graduate degree helps. Look at the Alternative Handbook and you'll see that many courses offer 30-50% places to people with MScs or other postgrad qualifications.

Regarding the particular course you take, I agree that it has to be something that interests you, but I would say that Research Methods MSc are not just statistics courses. I'm taking one at the moment and only two of the ten taught modules I'm taking are statistics. The rest are research methods, generic research skills, neuroscience methods, fMRI methods, and general Issues in psychology.

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