A clinical psychologist works to asses and treat people who suffer from mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders as well as treating people with severe psychological conditions such as schizophrenia or personality disorder. They will usually work for the local NHS trust and move between hospitals, local health centres or even as part of social services. Once you have gained enough experience you may also want to set up your own private practice and help people in their day-to-day mental health.
In order to qualify as a clinical psychologist you will need to study a university bachelor degree and then complete some postgraduate research. This could either be a general degree in psychology or a course which specifies in clinical psychology. After this you may become a registered clinical psychologist with the Health Professional Council (HPC) for which you will need to complete a doctorate in clinical psychology at an institution recognised by the HPC.
The first step in becoming a clinical psychologist is gaining at least five GCSEs graded A*-C including mathematics, English and science. After this you should progress on to study A levels in psychology and related subjects such as mathematics and science subjects. University courses will either be three year bachelor degrees or four year masters degrees, many of which involve some placement training. In order to be accepted on to a doctorate course you must hold at least a 2:1 degree in psychology or clinical psychology or hold a 2:2 with extensive practical experience.
Gaining work experience is an important part in becoming a qualified clinical psychologist. You should try and gain experience as young as possible by approaching local clinics and your NHS trust. Whilst at university you will, depending on your course and institution, be given practical experience within the NHS or a private practice with which the university is affiliated. Most doctorate programmes require some sort of practical experience for admission so you should see whether your course offers a placement before applying.
Career pathways after graduation
Once you have become a qualified clinical psychologist you will probably start off by working for a local NHS trust. Here you will gain lots of practical experience with which to build upon your academic training and prior practice. Due to the small amount of qualified clinical psychologists it will be possible to further your career by taking better jobs around the country or even the world. You may even want to establish your own private practice where you can offer your skills to individuals who are suffering from mental health problems.