Becoming a practicing Psychologist/Psychological Therapist

To practice as a professional psychologist you first need to take a Society accredited undergraduate degree course (The University of Manchester degree course is accredited). If your first degree is not in Psychology,, then you will need to take a conversion course accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) First.

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychologists use psychological methods and principles to assess and treat psychological problems. They promote and enhance mental well-being and research and evaluate new models of psychological therapy. Clinical psychologists support people with issues including anxiety, child and family problems and serious mental illness. They also work closely with other professionals such as doctors, social workers and other professionals to enable them to better support patients. You may also want to see the information on Clinical Associate Psychology, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner and Trainee Associate Psychological Practitioner below for information on ways to gain relevant experience and training.

Clinical Associate Psychology

This new role has been created within adult mental health provision and sits between the role of assistant psychologist and clinical psychologist. Clinical Associate Psychologists (CAP) practice autonomously providing high quality psychological interventions, but under the supervision of a clinical psychologist. Their work is evidence based and uses interventions and assessments, although it can involve working with a narrower population group and range of tools owing to that focus. Students are expected to want to stay and work as a qualified CAP on successful completion of the training rather than see it as a way to get more experience. Training is available at UCL, Sheffield, Scotland and Exeter through a degree apprenticeship and is open to those working in the NHS and nominated by their employer to apply. Interested students and graduates should look for Clinical Associate Psychologist Apprenticeships on the NHS jobs site.


Counsellors help people to identify problems in their lives, reflect on what is happening to them and consider alternative ways of doing things, with the aim to reduce confusion and increase their ability to cope with challenges, or to make positive changes to their lives. Psychotherapists help clients explore and express their thought processes, feelings and behaviour and help clients understand their inner conflicts and find new ways to alleviate and deal with distress. Counselling is often a second or third career, as life experience is valued.

Counselling Psychology

Counselling psychologists employ psychological methods and a therapeutic approach to help people manage difficult events in their life. Counselling psychologists may see clients from any age or clinical group in the both public and private sector. Their role may include counselling the bereaved, couples and families with relationship problems or people with mental health or addiction issues. Counselling Psychology integrates psychological theory with therapeutic practice.

Educational Psychology

Educational psychologists use psychological methods, theories and research to help children and young people who are experiencing difficulties in education. These can include learning, behavioural, social or emotional problems. Educational psychologists assess a young person’s problems by observation, discussion and consultation with teachers, parents and other professionals.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychologists are trained to apply psychological theory to aspects of legal processes in the criminal and civil justice field. The main focus of their work is with offenders, victims and professionals within the criminal justice system. Some forensic psychologists work within academia, the NHS or as part of the child protection team with social services. However, the largest single employer of forensic psychologists is the prison and probation service.

Health Psychology

Health Psychology is a relatively new field of psychology. Health psychologists advocate healthy living through education and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle using psychological principles to promote changes in people’s attitudes, behaviour and thinking about health and illness. Some of their work is concerned with providing the public with information about disease prevention and cure. There may also work providing support for patients and their families during illness and work with teams providing palliative care. Many health psychologists will conduct research for health care providers which will guide health policy decisions and impact on public health communication campaigns.


The clinical side of neuropsychology overlaps with academic neuropsychology, which provides a scientific understanding of the relationship between brain and neuropsychological function. This in turn helps form the basis for assessment and rehabilitation of people with brain injury, or other neurological disease. Neuropsychologists may be employed within the NHS, and also in the independent sector within both private and not-for-profit charitable organisations. Neuropsychologists work with people of all ages with neurological problems, which might include traumatic brain injury, stroke, toxic and metabolic disorders, tumours and neuro-degenerative diseases.

Occupational Psychology

Occupational psychologists are concerned with how people function in work environments. They use psychological methods to assess how the nature of work and working conditions can affect people. Their role can include recruitment and selection, psychometric testing, health and safety, training, appraisals, organisational change and ergonomics. A related area also includes Human Factors work.

Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWPs)

If you want to work within mental health as a therapist but you are not sure if clinical psychology is right for you, it’s worth considering the growing role of the Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner. PWPs are trained to assess and support people experiencing common mental health problems such as anxiety disorders and depression – in the self-management of their recovery, via a range of low-intensity, evidence-based interventions, informed by underlying cognitive/behavioural principles.

Sport & Exercise Psychology

Sports psychologists use psychological methods to help sporting participants achieve positive results. They may work with individuals or teams alongside coaches and managers at both amateur and elite levels. Their aim is predominantly to help athletes prepare psychologically for competition and to deal with the psychological demands of both competition and training, to improve motivation. Sports Psychologists also offer support to clients dealing with the psychological and emotional consequences of injuries. Some sports psychologists will be involved in conducting research into the psychological aspects of sport and exercise.

Trainee Associate Psychological Practitioner

This is a new role providing psychological training for psychology graduates and allowing them to build relevant working experience. The job is at a similar level to the Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) roles, although the PWP roles are exclusively within IAPT addressing mainly mild-moderate anxiety and depression. The TAPP roles instead are across a range of different specialities (including critical care, older adults, primary care, neuropsychology) and aim to fill a gap in provision of support between IAPT and secondary care where patients are not suitable for these services. The TAPP roles are only suitable for Psychology graduates and the course aims to build directly upon graduates’ BSc or MSc giving them greater psychological training than they would receive as a PWP.

These roles can also form a good basis for getting onto the clinical doctorate/ working in clinical psychology.

For vacancies please see the NHS job site