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Clinical psychologists


Would you like to know more about what it’s like to work as a clinical psychologist? Watch this video with Dr Najma Khan-Bourne, a consultant clinical neuropsychologist, to discover what it’s like to work in this area.

What do clinical psychologists do?

According to the British Psychological Society, psychology is a popular subject to study because it has an impact on all areas of life, from education and health to the economy and crime.

There are many areas of psychology. One role is that of the clinical psychologist, where the aim is to alleviate psychological distress and to promote psychological health. Clinical psychologists often assess, formulate and provide treatment for people with a wide range of conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and addictions.

Some clinical psychologists will specialise in particular fields. For example clinical psychologists who work in neuropsychology will focus on neurological conditions.

In a hospital, clinical psychologists are likely to help the ward teams work more efficiently to make the overall treatment of their patients more effective and are involved in a vast range of patient care.

If you are the kind of person who likes to hear people’s stories and to help them help themselves, you’re quite flexible and you like working within a team, then this is a great profession for you.'

Dr Najma Khan-Bourne, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist


To become a psychologist in the UK, you will need to go to university to study an accredited BSc or BA Psychology degree. Undergraduate psychology students 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 studying psychology at university.

After completing your undergraduate degree, you will then be eligible to apply to become a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). This is the starting point to your career as a psychologist as it allows you to apply for postgraduate training in your specific area of interest.

There are all sorts of different pathways you can take such as cognitive, developmental, social or neuropsychology. If you wish to practice in the NHS, you will then need to complete further clinical training (the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology) to enable you to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Alongside academic qualifications, analytical, communication and interpersonal skills are also very important as you will need to reassure and advise patients or their relatives on a day-to-day basis.

Career opportunities

A career in psychology can be very varied and there are many career pathways available to you. Once you have completed your undergraduate degree you may choose to specialise in a particular area such as clinical neuropsychology, forensic psychology or counselling psychology.

Aside from working in a hospital, you could also become involved in research and influence public health policy or work in the community with outpatients. You can also choose to specialise as an occupational psychologist and work in sports or business.

Studying psychology opens up many opportunities. However, students generally go on to roles within one of the following areas:

  • academia, research and teaching
  • clinical
  • educational
  • forensic
  • health
  • neuropsychology
  • research
  • sport and exercise.

Top tip

If you’d like to find out more about all of the different areas of psychology and discover what career path might be right for you, have a look at the British Psychological Society’s helpful careers advice webpages.

Find out more



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