Does this seem like a valid plan of action?

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Does this seem like a valid plan of action?

Post by Lorna »

Background: I have a 2i in Educational Studies from York and a PGCE from Dundee. I've struggled with depression most of my adult life resulting in a 'bitty' CV- I taught for a year, did admin, taught English in China. Most recently I've worked for a Housing Support Service where there's a substantial number of mentally ill people including depression, anxiety and hoarding. I found that I was actually good at my job and I particularly like listening to and supporting people who also have depression and anxiety. I'm currently recovering after having ECT in 2022 and losing several months memory along the way but I run an art group for the socially isolated and volunteer doing service delivery projects with my old housing charity. I'm hoping to return to work this summer. I've just started psychotherapy on the NHS (not my first time) but really hoping that this could be 'it' and I'll get the skills to handle myself better. I'm taking the OU module D110 to see if I enjoy psychology and I am, particularly the effect of culture on experiments. I'm half way through and on track to get a 1st for the module.

The plan: To do a 3 year MSc Conversion- either UHI or Robert Gordon's. Working as a mental health peer support worker or health care support worker in our local psychiatric hospital. Then, a 1 year full time MSc in Psychological Research Methods at Dundee. Then applying for the DClinPsy- Edinburgh is closest to home, maybe Glasgow as first and second choices.

Questions: Would I be expected to have several different client group experiences during those 3 years? LD is another possibility locally but I've not had any experience. As would dementia in the hospital. Also, I'm 43 now so I'd be around 47 when I first apply to the doctorate. Will that count against me? My thought is I'd have 17 years of work ahead of me so still a decent ROI.
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Re: Does this seem like a valid plan of action?

Post by Geishawife »

There's quite a lot to unpick here, so I'll try to formulate a helpful response!

First of all, no, you will not be expected to have experience of several different client groups. The majority of people who get onto the clinical doctorate will have some experience, but it does not need to be in multiple areas. Many will have had experience in only one specialism. Also, your age should not count against you. Many people train a little later in life and your life experiences could actually be a bonus when applying, depending on how you frame them and reflect upon them.

BUT...... I do think you need to have a good think about what it is about Clinical Psychology that appeals to you and whether the long road ahead will meet your needs and desires. The roles of the CP are many and varied and the training is very intense and demanding, so you really do need to be aware of what you are letting yourself in for. You mention the "listening to and supporting people who have anxiety and depression". Does this mean it is the therapy aspect of CP that appeals most and is the area you wish to work in? If so, it's worth exploring whether training as a therapist or a counsellor might be a better option. It will be a quicker route to the kind of work you hope to undertake. If you are not really interested in the consultation work, the supervision, the service development, the research and audit and the teaching and training aspect of the role, then CP might not be the best option. Of course, you could well be interested in all those things, in which case CP might be a good option! Just make sure you are clear in your mind what you want at the end of the journey.

You also mention doing an MSc in Research Methods. Why would you want to do this? In and of itself, it will not necessarily improve your chances of getting on to the clinical doctorate and, at this stage in your journey, seems to be an unecessary addition. You already have a 2:1 and a PGCE, so, assuming you do well in the conversion, an MSc seems an expensive, and potentially unecessary, addition.

Most of all, however, I would encourage you to rein your plans in a little and focus more on the journey and each stage you are at. For now, put thoughts of MScs and D.Clin.Psys to one side and focus on getting the most out of your studies and your current employment. There are so many things that can change over time and being too focused on "a plan" can lead to us missing out on the development opportunities and pleasures that can come "with the moment".

I hope that makes some sense! Whatever you decide, good luck.
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Re: Does this seem like a valid plan of action?

Post by Julie »


You've raised some interesting points about the path to a clinical doctorate in psychology and the importance of thinking carefully about your motivations and goals.

It's true that clinical psychology offers a multitude of paths and specialisations, each of which requires intense commitment and careful thought. Your suggestions about possibly training as a therapist or counsellor are sensible, especially if the therapeutic aspect of clinical psychology is my main interest. It prompts me to reflect on my career aspirations and on the path that would best suit me in helping those suffering from anxiety and depression.
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Re: Does this seem like a valid plan of action?

Post by miriam »

I mostly agree with Geishawife, though I do think there are benefits in diverse experiences - inside and outside the NHS, with different models of working, and with different client groups. I also think you need experience after getting GBC - normally for two years or so - not just lower level experience alongside being a student. And IMO an MSc isn't necessary, especially after a conversion at masters level.

I also want to note, with due recognition for the fact you are early in your career and may have lived experience of a very medical model, that your way of talking about people is quite jarring to me, and may be a barrier in this profession. You use a lot of pejorative language, describing people as diagnoses, and "mentally ill", which feels very outdated and not aligned with the way that most people work in our profession.

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