Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Discuss the content and style of the different clinical psychology doctoral training courses, the differences between them, placements, teaching, chat to other trainees and connect with other people who have places on the same course
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Marlowe
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Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by Marlowe » Tue Dec 12, 2017 6:42 am

I'm curious about the deeper reasons why people choose the clinical v. the counselling routes, and have a question for all CP and CoP students and graduates please. Imagine a hypothetical situation where you go back in time, to before you started your doctorate. Clinical and Counselling Psychology courses in this magical place are exactly equal in terms of intake, full funding, geography, diversity, teaching quality, time, status, and job prospects. You're guaranteed a place on the course of your choice, and a fabulous, well paid and fulfilling job of your choice at the end of it. So the only differences, then, are the course content, the placements, and the requirement to have personal therapy. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

Which course would you choose to do? Why? (And a third optional question, is your answer the same as the course you chose in reality?)

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ChrisCross
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Re: Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by ChrisCross » Tue Dec 12, 2017 10:42 pm

Hi Marlowe :)

I'm a first year DClinPsy trainee and, whilst I am relatively new to the profession, I thought I might respond to your thread as this is something that I have personally been thinking about a lot recently.

I will admit that my understanding of the differences between clinical and counselling psychology is pretty limited but, more and more, I am learning that the boundaries between the two professions seem to be blurred at best. It seems, to me, that psychological professionals are so diverse that it's difficult to categorically separate the two routes based on who we are and what we offer. Prior to training I worked as an AP, alongside various different psychologists and mental health professionals. Whilst my supervisor was a Clinical Psychologist, I also worked alongside several fantastic Counselling Psychologists who influenced my current practice and ways of thinking.

To be honest, the main reason I chose clinical over counselling psychology at the time was because of funding. I was already in upwards of £60k debt following my undergraduate degree and couldn’t bear to take out any more loans and get myself into more debt. In the hypothetical situation that you describe, I do wonder whether I might have been more pulled towards the counselling psychology doctorate. My thinking tends to be more aligned with humanistic, person-centred and integrative approaches and I prefer to draw from a variety of different therapeutic models depending on the person, their wants, needs and understanding of their difficulties. I find myself questioning the validity of the evidence base and would consider my philosophical standpoint to be much more social constructionist than positivist. In the past, I have been referred to as “fluffy” in my approach (whatever that means, right?) and some have suggested that counselling psychology might have been a better fit.

Ultimately though, there is so much diversity within the professions as well as between them. Do I think that I would have chosen a different path if money wasn't an issue? Maybe, but I'm not quite so sure. Although I sometimes feel like a bit of a fish out of water in ClinPsych I also feel very grateful and fortunate that the particular DClinPsy course I'm on places so much emphasis on personal development and reflection. I know that it's early days for me yet, but already I am thinking long and hard about the kind of psychologist that I truly want to be, and that's a journey that I feel I would have embarked on regardless of which route I chose to take.

Hope there is something useful to you in this post and apologies if it just reads like a lot of waffle!

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Marlowe
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Re: Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by Marlowe » Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:51 am

Very interesting, thank you ChrisCross! I am similarly fluffy and it’s good to hear from you. Feel free to start a thread anytime to discuss the validity of the evidence base, and social constructionism v. positivism. Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot, but I’m leaning towards thinking that *because* I’m fluffy it would be good for my brain and training breadth to choose ClinPsy. It would add to and complement what I already do rather than always running down the same track. And perhaps, one day, it gives better leverage for introducing some degree of fluffiness into the mainstream... in a rigorous manner, of course. Your post also reminds me that there’s relatively little difference between the two choices. Whichever we choose doesn’t rule out anything for the future.

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Re: Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by mungle » Wed Dec 13, 2017 11:15 am

Honestly, I didn't want to get into tonnes of debt, had a mortgage and bills to pay and couldn't contemplate unpaid work. In your hypothetical situation and with the benefit of hindsight I'd probably choose Counselling Psychology and secure a very good research supervisor to ensure I beefed up that side. I like the idea of training where my teachers have greater self-awareness (hopefully! - from personal therapy) and my fellow trainees are also having personal therapy.

However, it does still seem easier to get work as a clinical psychologist than counselling psychologist. In the current situation, I'd still pick Clinical psychology for financial self-sufficiency and job prospects but seek opportunities to also have clinical supervision from Counselling Psychologists.

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Re: Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by hs577 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:47 pm

I’d still have chosen counselling psychology which is what I did. I liked the psychodynamic base of the course. I also wanted to develop my qualitative research skills and wanted the freedom to think if I want to go in private practice etc then I owe no one anything.

I didn’t have any financial issues as I’m from a single parent family so I’m used to having no money and grew up with near enough nothing ie bare minimum like many people. Therefore when I’d been plodding along in band 5 positions for about 4 years i’d saved up. I’d additionally done a lot of paid work whilst at uni for undergrad so had saved up then. Think I’d had 5 Part-time jobs over my time at uni and some were simultaneous. I purposefully chose a uni with a good reputation but cheap standard of living location wise. I also lived near there where is grown up and with the type of place I lived it was easy to get a seasonal job over summer.

It may have also worked out petrol wise for the local clinical psychology course as with only having to go 140 plus miles round trip daily for 2 days per week vs 5 per week I saved in that respect. I worked 2x 10 hour days, later 3 days per week 7.5 hours at b5 then final year b6 over 4 days from April (teaching had dropped to daily after Easter). We also only went in to uni Oct- may so placements were nearer home. I had a mortgage to pay which was no issue with working. You just need to be determined and organised.

I did defer for a year in my final year as I had a bereavement and had been typed to a private provider so wanted my head clear to do my thesis so just worked full time in my b6 role. I had no issue getting the job I wanted straight away. I applied in August, was offered it, was signed of sept, served my 2 months notice for current role, had 3 weeks off (I wanted this) then started.

Sorry about typos did this on my phone.

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Marlowe
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Re: Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by Marlowe » Thu Dec 14, 2017 3:11 am

Thank you for interesting answers!

hs577 wow that’s quite a journey. Sorry I’m unclear on one thing, did you do paid work as part of the course?

I asked the hypothetical question above because I’m interested in motivations beyond the practical. But I also asked for myself, because I still have the choice ahead of me, and as some here have mentioned, I think I can find workarounds for the practical differences. At the moment though, when someone writes about their CP course I feel sure I want to do that, and then someone writes about their CoP course and I change my mind!! Wishing I could tailor a hybrid :-P But mostly I think, I’ve just spent 5 years part-time qualifying as a counsellor and it’s time to develop “the other side of my brain” as it were. And I’ve already done all those personal therapy hours, if they insist I do them again then I’m out...

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hs577
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Re: Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by hs577 » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:14 am

Hi,

You will, with counselling psychology, have to do the personal therapy hours so that may be a deal breaker for you as you say. Some courses do Accredited Prior Learning (APL) so you can start second year but then have less time to gain 450 therapy hours (some courses are more therapy provision hours and of course there's usual cancellations and DNAs to consider).

In my first year of the course my role didn't allow me to put therapy hours on top of my PWP caseload after I'd done the CBt training component of the course. I was full time prior to the course then went part-time and compressed my hours as I'd just had enough. In my second role I was allowed by the manager to see people on top of my PWP caseload. (I got the appropriate supervision etc too with this). Therefore, I managed to do this within working hours. I saw people in the evening on my other 2 placements that were not paid but you definitely can get paid sessional work. Overall, it's all do-able just a lot of organisation and I then tended to do my uni work on weekends as I'm not as good doing academic work in the evening although I did do the occasional evening of uni work where needs must etc. I also booked A/L and took TOIL when near assignments in advance to give me a few days leeway if needed.

When I got the band 6 role I only saw very few for my course as I'd pretty much finished my therapy hours in march but just went over to finish clinical work etc. When the private company took over I pretty much handed in my notice within 6 weeks of them doing so, did my 2 months notice and left. The upside of the private company was that you get paid extra hours as the service had, had a lot of change that needed implementing and multiple people had left but I found it too stressful to have that going on and finishing my thesis. So was relieved to get the same job under the NHS again even if it was 55 extra miles per day. Therefore, there are options if you're working it's just how supportive your employer is that can make a difference.

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Marlowe
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Re: Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by Marlowe » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:35 am

That’s super helpful, thank you hs577.

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Re: Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by Spatch » Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:21 pm

I am a clinical/research psychologist and would have chosen the clinical route even if there was parity between it and counselling.

The focus on psychotherapy wasn't the key draw for me, more of the idea of the
empiricist scientist practitioner
applying psychological theory and models to a range of contexts and evaluating the impact. I think the increased emphasis on psychometrics, research methods and the mandatory cross lifespan training (CAMHS, LD, AMH, OA) contributes a lot beyond the practice of therapy. I think the integration in the NHS and organisational understanding that comes part and parcel of being a Band 6 employee was crucial for me, as I am interested in service development, leadership and management. I am also drawn to the more severe end of the clinical spectrum, which is the traditional domain of clinical psychology, (although granted there is a greater counselling psychology presence at the more severe end nowadays).

While you can replicate a lot of the above if you are a motivated counselling psychology trainee and are able to secure the relevant placements, supervisors etc, I do think it would be harder, and I think you would be a rarity in a cohort. Maybe this will change as counselling psychology develops.
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Re: Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by miriam » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:34 pm

Likewise, I'd have gone for clinical still. Of all aspects of the role I'm least interested in delivering therapy (which is the primary focus of the Counselling Psychology training), and I value the standards our high level of competition and rigour of selection provides, the breadth of populations we have to work with to pass the course (as it ensures that we are aware of the whole lifespan, intellectual and physical health issues, and the systems around the individual) and the non-clinical skills the training instills. I've come across too many people with narrow experience who are qualified in Counselling Psychology, and it feels like they've missed out on the breadth and rigour of CP training, because of the depth of the therapy focus.

Frustratingly, to me it feels like counselling psychology is a seedling trying to grow too close to the parent tree, and without enough of a separate identity compared to clinical. Every aspect of the competencies and training is referred to by comparison to clinical, and in those circumstances I'd always choose the parent qualification, rather than the off-spring.
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See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

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Re: Did you choose Clinical or Counselling Psychology? Why?

Post by firegal » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:30 am

I'm a second year clinical trainee and my thinking is very much along the same lines as Spatch and Miriam. For several years before I got on the course I was battling with the PhD vs ClinPsyD decision, CoP never even entered the race in my mind. Like Miriam, 1:1 therapy is probably the thing that comes lowest on the list in terms of my interest in what psychology had to offer. The breadth of the professional role has always been one of the main attractions for me, and my goal is very much set at holding a split clinician/researcher role one day.
Not for a moment saying those things wouldn't be possible as a CoP, just that when I was choosing that wasn't the picture of CoP I had in my mind.

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