Let's hear from those of you who found it relatively easy!

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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Let's hear from those of you who found it relatively easy!

Post by HWoody » Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:22 pm


This forum provides a wealth of information and support to those interested in pursuing a career in Clinical Psychology. But the experiences you read about tend to be skewed towards those that have found it difficult, either to get an AP role or to get on to a training course (understandably, as it's obviously very competitive).

So I'd like hear from those of you who found it relatively easy (without years and years of work experience or applications).

What was it you did / had that meant it was easy - eg 1st degree/MSc distinction, contacts in the field, published something, the work experience you had...?

Context for me being that I'm a mature student (with children and a mortgage) undergoing a career change hopefully to clinical psychology (previous career non psychology, non NHS related), so I don't have years and years where I can apply multiple times. So I'm looking to find out how others managed to do it in an expediated time period.

Thanks in advance!

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Re: Let's hear from those of you who found it relatively eas

Post by ChrisCross » Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:07 pm

Hi HWoody.

Whilst I wouldn't say I found the process "easy" per se, I did manage to secure a place on the course this year on my first application. I suppose I have had a smoother journey than some; I finished my undergraduate degree in 2016, I'm 22 years old and don't have the years of work experience that many bring with them onto the course. Honestly, I did not expect to get on as quickly as I have done but sometimes you just can't predict these things.

Just to give you a bit more context, here is a brief road map of my journey:

:arrow: Completed my A-levels in 2012 and started my BSc Psychology degree
:arrow: Throughout my degree I did bits and bobs of voluntary and paid work (almost 3 years volunteering for the Samaritans once every couple of weeks, spent 5 weeks volunteering abroad in Sri Lanka on a mental health placement and worked on bank as a care support worker for about 6 months one summer).
:arrow: Towards the end of my 3rd year, I transferred onto an MSci programme (basically an extension of my degree with a 4th year that included some taught masters modules and a 9 month placement as an honorary Assistant Psychologist).
:arrow: Graduated with a 1st (though actually this wouldn't have made any difference for the course I was selected for because they do things a little differently).
:arrow: I then managed to secure a paid job as an AP in the same team where I completed my placement and have been working there ever since.

I think one of the most important factors that led to me getting on so early was finding a course that I really clicked with. I learnt a lot on my placement about the kind of clinician that I would like to develop into - someone who is eclectic, integrative, reflective and person-centred - and tried hard to find a course that fit with my ethos. Fortunately, I did manage to find such a course and managed to get a place with them this year. I spent a long time reading through the alternative handbook from the BPS, looking at course websites and talking to current trainees; all really useful ways of getting a feel for the different courses and their approaches to training.

Something else to bear in mind is that courses will have different shortlisting requirements. I chose to apply to the courses that use shortlisting tests and this really worked in my favour (though I can appreciate that tests aren't everyone's cup of tea). In my case, it meant that I could bypass some of the minimum years of work experience requirements provided I did well enough in the tests.

Anyway, I feel like I'm blabbering on a bit now so, to summarise, my point is this: Try to find a course that suits you and one you feel will contribute the most to your personal and professional development. I felt so much more confident in my interview because I just knew that I was exactly where I wanted to be for the next 3 years of training.

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Re: Let's hear from those of you who found it relatively eas

Post by HWoody » Sun Aug 06, 2017 4:37 pm

Hi Chris

Thanks for your post, very interesting to read, and congratulations on getting a place!

The advice you give is helpful, although unfortunately due to family commitments I can't relocate to choose a course, I'll have to apply to where is nearish by. But I will think about what options I have and whether I fit the mould of that course.

It sounds like your 9 month honorary AP placement was very helpful in getting your paid AP post, so will also bear that in mind.

Thanks again

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Re: Let's hear from those of you who found it relatively eas

Post by Knots » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:44 am

Hi HWoody

I agree, it's good to reflect a range of experiences!

My journey to the doctorate has taken a few years, but seems to be a bit smoother than a lot of people.

:arrow: 2009-2013 Competed MA Psychology (undergrad - Scottish system is weird and calls some undergrad courses MAs) and graduated with a high 2:1
:arrow: While I was doing my degree I did a couple of different bits of voluntary work, including 6 months with a mental health charity, who then offered me a part time job as a support worker.
:arrow: After graduating, I worked with the charity for about 18 months, gaining lots of experience of day to day challenges faced by people with severe and enduring mental health difficulties.
:arrow: 2015-2016 Completed MSc Psychological Therapy in Primary Care - Distinction. This course is very practically based - most of the year is spent on placement with NHS boards delivering therapy. Kind of the Scottish equivalent of high intensity IAPT.
:arrow: Applied for Doctorate for first time, but knew I wasn't ready and application was done very last minute - no interviews.
:arrow: 2016 - Present Working as a psychological therapist in NHS.
:arrow: Applied to the course again with some help from colleagues who are clinical psychologists - one outright no, two reserve list places and one interview. This ended up as two interviews and two offers of places, so I will be starting my first choice of course in September :mrgreen:

As for what made the difference for me, I think the distinction in my Masters didn't hurt, but I feel the practical experience from that and the work I've done since and the chance to have a clinical psychologist read over my application and offer advice was just as important. I also invested a lot of time in to making my application the best it could be this time and then loads of time prepping and revising for interviews, meaning I felt relatively prepared, which helped my confidence on the day a lot.

As ChrisCross said, the Alternative Handbook is great for trying to understand more about what the course you are applying to is looking for. If at all possible, I'd recommend speaking to some one who has been on the courses you are applying to, as that gave me an invaluable insight into the ethos and structure too.

Hope that's helpful. Feel free to drop me a PM if you have any particular questions

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Re: Let's hear from those of you who found it relatively eas

Post by HWoody » Wed Aug 09, 2017 2:50 pm

Hi Knots

Thanks for your reply, and congratulations on getting a place!

I interesting again to read your journey. It sounds like you got relevant experience early on in a very practical MSc. I had thought about IAPT as a way in as well but from what I've read (in England anyway) is that it in itself is quite competitive to get on to and then would require more training.

For better or worse I'm currently doing an MSc which suits my circumstances, with little ones, as it is distance learning. But I think the best thing I can do right now is try and get a distinction (currently on track for) and get some work experience with the uni I'm doing it with, even if it is for free.

Thanks v much again!

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Re: Let's hear from those of you who found it relatively eas

Post by Roz93 » Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:50 pm

Hi Woody,

I'm not sure if 'easy' is quite the right expression - but my journey was certainly smoother than some I've read on here! I'm 23, have relatively little experience, and feel like I've certainly 'broken the mold' into entry with an unorthodox backstory, so here goes.

Similarly to Chris, here's a brief roadmap of my journey (or lack thereof!):

:arrow: Completed my A-Levels in 2013 and immediately proceeded to my BSc Psychology degree

:arrow: Had a range of (short-term) voluntary posts during my undergrad, working in care (both mental health and geriatric), volunteering as an RA in the department and helping to look after a child with autism (1-on-1, was a friend's son but was nonetheless valuable experience!). I also created and wrote weekly on a blog, focusing on clinical psychology and psychiatric neuroscience.

:arrow: Completed my BSc in 2016 with a 2:1. I'd had issues with some of the staff and some of the content on my course and became very much 'disillusioned' with the concept of psychology, and actively sought to switch disciples during my 3rd year.

:arrow: Started my MSc September 2016 in molecular biology (Neuroscience). Very quickly realised that though there were aspects of MolBiol that I really enjoyed, my primary interest had always been the psychological/psychiatric discipline and I had a bit of an internal battle about what I was to do next. The MSc has been intensive and left little time for other work - and due to financial issues, what little time I had, I spent on working in a bakery! So, I sought non-clinical 'people-based' posts that were flexible and that I could use to my advantage, and was elected as course and faculty rep with the Students' Union. I also helped with some mental health drives within the university.

:arrow: After seeing peoples' stories on here, I resolved that mine would be the 'long path' to the ClinPsy, and started applying for PhDs in clinical neuroscience/psychiatry etc, attempting to bridge what would become my two areas of academia. I also applied for the DClinPsy - not expecting a place, but just because I wanted to get a feel of the application system. Due to my lack of paid clinical experience, there were few courses I could apply to, but not all courses needed it!

:arrow: I was lucky enough to get a funded place on a PhD at Manchester in April, with a view to start in Oct 17. Though I'd passed the shortlisting tests for the ClinPsy, and was fortunate enough to attend an interview, I didn't really put much pressure on myself because I assumed I'd have no chance compared to those who were much more prepared.

:arrow: In the actual interview, I just tried to be myself. Though I don't have much (if any, really) clinical experience, my reasonably varied positions allowed me some freedom in how I answered the questions. I tried to be open, honest, and person-centered in my answers, and I wasn't afraid to say if I didn't have all the answers they were looking for. I think the biggest plus for me was that I was resonably unfazed, as I hadn't put any pressure on myself to get a place (and indeed, hadn't told anyone that I even had the interview)!

I landed pretty high on the reserve list and was lucky enough to get on the course. One tip I will give is to find a course that suits your character! Much like Chris, I consider myself reflective and person-centered, which seems to be a pretty perfect fit for my course.

The only advice I can give is... be yourself! All experience is translational, but it doesn't hurt to give yourself a realistic timeframe and to try to gain a little more (if you can, even if it's writing a blog or working in a volunteer call center). And really try to find a course that matches your personality - there is a surprising amount of variation out there! Previous writers on this post have all had solid advice - so if I haven't explicitly mentioned anything here, its because they've already said it perfectly! Good luck!
"Imagine others complexly" - John Green.

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Re: Let's hear from those of you who found it relatively eas

Post by HWoody » Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:08 pm

Hi Roz

Thanks for your reply, congratulations on getting on so quickly!

It is very reassuring to me that some people don't have many years of experience before getting a place - I'm not sure if can afford to go more than a couple of years of low paid / unpaid roles before having to choose another path.

I imagine it is much easier to perform well at the interview if there is a low expectation of getting on, I imagine most people get nervous as there's so much riding on it.

Thanks for sharing your experience!

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Re: Let's hear from those of you who found it relatively easy!

Post by sushi86 » Sat May 18, 2019 1:31 am

Hi ChrisCross and knots

I am doing my Msc with clinical placement and hoping to apply after a year gaining experience. I was wondering did you also have great A-level grades which also impacted your application and getting a place?


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Re: Let's hear from those of you who found it relatively easy!

Post by ChrisCross » Mon May 20, 2019 4:37 pm

My A levels were pretty good but they wouldn't have made any difference to me getting a place anyway - reason being, Lancaster doesn't take into account A levels or undergraduate degree classification during their shortlisting (beyond having the standard BPS GBC requirements).

Hope that helps and best of luck with your application.

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