Clinical psychology is defined as the application of psychological theories, models and research in a clinical setting. Clinical psychologists work in both health and research settings with both adult and child populations. They engage in diagnostic and therapeutic work in a variety of problem areas such as developmental and emotional problems, intellectual and physical disabilities, major mental disorders, relationship difficulties and anxiety and depression. Clinical psychology is thus an extremely wide and generic field.
The aim of this research was to find information in regard to pursuing a career in clinical psychology, and to give a brief overview of the work that is involved. The study followed a progressive line of enquiry, a step by step basis of entering the career.
The areas covered include the educational requirements, and the work experience relevant to obtaining a place in a clinical psychology course. An investigation was also carried out to identify the clinical psychology courses available in Ireland and the U.K., and the potential employers for those who have qualified.
An outline of how to succeed as a clinical psychologist and the skills and abilities relevant to this was also drawn up. Finally, a brief summary of the findings, and an assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of a career in clinical psychology was made.
This section will deal mainly with postgraduate courses in the Republic of Ireland and the UK. Currently there are 27 postgraduate courses operating in the UK and three operating in Ireland.
The three Universities offering a doctoral programme in clinical psychology in Ireland are University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway). There is however, also a Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) diploma course on offer in Ireland which takes two years to complete. As NUI Galway is a very new course, UCD and TCD post-graduate courses will be concentrated on. There are many institutions in the U.K which offer postgraduate courses in Clinical Psychology, these include University of London, University of Birmingham, University of Leeds and many others (included as a list in the appendices).
The doctoral programme in Clinical Psychology is a three-year training programme. The general purpose of these courses in Ireland is to produce qualified clinical psychologists who are equipped with the skills to work in all areas of the Irish Health Service. Professionals with the ability to work at different levels of health care systems and the ability to adapt those skills to different settings and client groups. The British Psychological Society has withdrawn from accreditation of non-U.K courses. However, UCD is accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) and the TCD course has applied for accreditation from the PSI also.
Both programmes are advertised in The Irish Psychologist in December. The UCD course is advertised in a national newspaper in January and TCD advertise within all University Psychology Departments in Ireland and the U.K. and on the web. Both universities carry out preliminary and secondary interviews in order to select their candidates.
Applicants for the courses must hold a 2.1 honours degree in psychology or an honours diploma in psychology, which makes them eligible for graduate membership of The Psychological Society of Ireland or the British Psychological Society. In addition graduates should have relevant experience in clinical practice and/or clinical research.
The course runs for three years, inclusive of holidays. It involves academic coursework, research work and clinical experience through placement. A thesis is due at the end of the third year. Clinical experience is a major part of the doctoral programme, for example, fifty-five per cent of the total available course time in TCD is allocated to clinical experience. With regard to funding, the TCD course is funded jointly by Trinity and the Northen Area Health Board and graduates must work for the sponsoring health board for three years following successful completion of the Course. UCD students may gain sponsorship from Health Boards and Health care agencies. This would also involve a contract to work for the sponsoring agency after the course has been completed.