Clinical psychologists treat people whose thought patterns and behaviour are a threat to their own and others’ wellbeing. They assess and provide treatment for people with a wide range of conditions such as depression, eating disorders and addiction.
This page has information on the role of a clinical psychologist. There is also links to further information.
Psychology is the study of how people think and behave – a combination of science and practice. Using direct observation, interviews and techniques such as psychometric testing, you’ll make an assessment of a patient’s problem. Treatment requires the cooperation of the patient and you will work in partnership with them to treat and manage their condition. This will usually take place over a series of sessions.
"One of the great advantages about working as a psychologist in the NHS, is that you can usually find job opportunities wherever you go". Louise Fountain, consultant clinical psychologist
Clinical psychologists work with different and varied client groups, depending on the post. These can include children with behavioural and emotional difficulties, mothers with postnatal depression and young offenders. You’ll draw on your scientific knowledge to bring about positive change. Treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy are now offered to people with range of difficulties including anxiety and depression as well as more severe problems such as personality disorders.
Where will I work?
You are likely to work in some, or all, of the following settings:
- in hospitals
- in local clinics and health centres
- in community mental health teams
- in social services, schools and prisons
- Improving Access to Psychology Therapy services.
You will also liaise with doctors, members of community mental healthcare teams and other agencies such as the probation service and social services.
Want to learn more?
- Find out about the entry requirements for clinical psychology.
- Find out about the training and development opportunities in clinical psychology.
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
Most jobs in the NHS are covered by the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales. This pay system covers all staff except doctors, dentists and the most senior managers.
While training, clinical psychologists will be paid at band 6 and after completing their training, they will be paid at band 7. Clinical psychologists in the NHS will usually work standard hours of 37.5 per week. Terms and conditions can vary for employers outside of the NHS.
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
Once you have qualified as a clinical psychologist, there are a wide range of opportunities. You could apply for more senior positions e.g. head of a clinical psychology service or as a primary mental health worker in child and adolescent mental health services. As clinical psychology relies heavily on research, you could contribute to the development of the profession through research work and teaching. You could apply for a trainee high intensity therapist position, enabling you to work under the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies initiative (IAPT). More information on training and development in clinical psychology.
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
The last recorded figures from 2011 show that there are over 8,000 NHS staff working in clinical psychology - a 16% increase since 2005. The British Psychological Society says that 95% of all clinical psychologists work in the NHS.
Most NHS organisations advertise their job vacancies on NHS Jobs, including those who run NHS services. Some advertise on their own websites. You can find a list of NHS organisations at NHS Choices.
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the values of the NHS Constitution apply in your everyday work. The same will be true if you are applying for a university course funded by the NHS. Find out more about NHS values.
- Further information Expand / Collapse