Assistant psychologist

Assistant psychologists undertake a variety of roles in supporting people with mental health problems.

Working life 

Typically, you’ll provide clinical support under the direct supervision of a qualified psychologist who would usually retain clinical responsibility for patients and service users. 

Two psychologists talking

You’ll work as part of a multidisciplinary team and may be involved with:

  • carrying out neuropsychological assessments
  • contributing to multidisciplinary discussions about a client's diagnosis, treatment, risk assessment and care plan issues
  • undertaking specified behavioural observations and assessments
  • seeking and acquiring specific information by reading notes, investigating histories etc
  • carrying out specified treatment and intervention programmes with clients or groups of clients
  • working with client's carers, relatives and others involved in their care including mental health workers
  • researching and gathering information

In addition, they would be expected to maintain clear written records, draft reports, letters and summaries of assessments and observations of treatments. You'll usually work as part of a multi-disciplinary team, which will typically include psychologists (clinical, counselling, forensic or health), social workers, occupational therapists, mental health nurses and psychiatrists.

Entry requirements 

Applicants for these posts usually need a degree in psychology, ideally one recognised by the British Psychological Society (BPS). 

Universities are usually flexible about the A-levels, A/S, GNVQ or Scottish Higher subjects needed for entry onto psychology degrees. Undergraduates will need to be able to handle scientific concepts, be numerate and have excellent writing skills. Biology, mathematics, English, history, economics or similar arts or social science subjects are all useful preparation for a psychology degree.

At level 2, maths GCSE at grades 4-9 (C or above) or the Scottish Standard Grade are usually required.

Must have skills

You'll need a range of skills, including a knowledge of psychological theory, an interest in how people think and behave and the ability to relate to a wide range of people including patients and colleagues. You'll need to be patient and sympathetic. 

You'll also need to be able to demonstrate the values of the NHS Constitution.

Training and development 

Your career could lead to training as a fully qualified clinical, health, counselling or forensic psychologist as you'll have gained practical, hands-on experience. You may also be able to apply to train as a psychological wellbeing practitioner. 

Pay and benefits

You'll usually be paid at band 4 or 5 of Agenda for Change (AfC) pay and work standard hours of 37.5 per week. You’ll also have access to our generous pension scheme and health service discounts, as well as 27 days of annual leave plus bank holidays.

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