The three-year, full-time Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is based within the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN). Trainees spend three days a week on supervised clinical practice placements and two days a week are dedicated to teaching, study and research.
Aims & Philosophy
To benefit service users, carers and wider society by training clinical psychologists who:
- are skilled in evidence-based psychological assessment and intervention
- produce applied research of the highest quality and impact
- progress to become leaders within the NHS, clinical academia and beyond
The training programme values the reflective scientist-practitioner model as a basis for clinical psychology. There is a strong emphasis on integration of theory, research and practice in all aspects of the programme.
The biopsychosocial framework underpinning the Programme identifies biological, psychological and social factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of psychological difficulties and mental disorders across the lifespan. Our understanding of the framework is that it is linked to a continuum view of psychological difficulty. Thus, the programme seeks to understand these difficulties from an assumption of commonality of experience and human potential to support wellness and resilience.
The programme takes cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) as its main therapeutic modality, reflecting the world-leading research expertise within the IoPPN and its evidence base. Alongside CBT, there are also particular strengths in family therapy, neuropsychology, mindfulness and health psychology.
A further strength is the cohesive and comprehensive range of local and national specialist placement opportunities across three world-renowned NHS Trusts: South London and Maudsley, King’s College Hospital and Guy’s & St Thomas’ – known collectively as King’s Health Partners.
A final advantage is the vibrant and diverse communities within South East London; the programme values and positively promotes equality and diversity.
The programme meets the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) education and training standards – the statutory regulator for practitioner psychologists in the UK, and has full accreditation from the British Psychological Society (BPS).
On successful completion of the programme trainees are awarded the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. The award confers eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC to practise as a clinical psychologist in the UK, and graduates are able to apply for full membership of the Division of Clinical Psychology from the BPS.
Trainees are full-time professionals in the NHS, registered students at King's College London and key stakeholders whilst training. To facilitate good communication and focus on trainee issues, trainees participate in programme training committees and hold year group meetings with the programme director and other senior staff, helping to shape the programme’s development and evolution. Trainees also lead a number of working parties which inform programme development, including the Increasing Access Committee and Service User Involvement Working Party. As well as enhancing the quality of the programme through their feedback, these experiences provide opportunities to develop skills in leadership and systemic working.
The programme has a number of systems in place to ensure trainees feel supported, as well as to create a stimulating and rewarding environment for trainees to develop personally and professionally during their training:
- Before joining the programme, each new trainee is contacted by their ‘buddy’ - one of the current first year trainees - to facilitate their transition onto the programme
- Each trainee is allocated a personal support tutor – a qualified clinical psychologist available for confidential advice and support
- Trainees are also allocated a clinical tutor who will visit them on placement throughout the three years to maximise continuity, support and development
- Each trainee is assigned an appraiser from within the programme team to support progression across all aspects of training
- Reflective practice groups and case discussions run throughout training, which provide an opportunity for trainees to reflect on the impact of training and clinical work
Additionally, the Student Services Department of King's College London offers counselling, welfare and medical services. These services can be accessed through the Compass Office based at the King’s College Denmark Hill campus.
The Doctorate is intensive, running for three years full-time. The programme consists of academic, clinical and research components, and trainees are required to pass in all areas. Most of the academic teaching, research supervision and clinical supervision are carried out by members of the Department of Psychology or clinical psychologists working within King's Health Partners.
Specialist contributions to academic teaching are also made by experts from several other departments within the IoPPN and by invited outside speakers. For departmental and Institute research interests visit the IoPPN webpages.
In each year, trainees spend three days per week on supervised clinical placements (Tuesdays to Thursdays, 9:00 – 17:00) with Mondays and Fridays dedicated to teaching and research. Trainees undertake six 6-month placements. The four ‘core’ areas of the programme are Adult and Child Mental Health, (year 1) and Older Adults and Intellectual Disability (year 2). The third year comprises two elective or specialist placements.
Attendance at all course components is mandatory, including during the induction period. The length of the programme cannot be reduced through the accreditation of prior learning or experience. All trainees are required to complete the full three years of the programme in order to qualify.
Whilst on the programme, all trainees take annual holiday entitlement within set time periods to fit in with teaching and placements.
The content of the academic curriculum covers the broad topics of:
- Adult mental health (including anxiety, depression & psychosis)
- Psychology and psychiatry of childhood and adolescence
- Neuropsychological theory and practice
- Clinical psychology as applied to intellectual disability and neurodevelopmental disorders
- Mental health of older adults
- Clinical health psychology
- Forensic psychology
- Psychological therapy (with strong emphasis on CBT, family therapy and mindfulness-based therapies)
- Research assessment and methodology
- Professional, legal and ethical issues
- Race, equality and diversity
The curriculum is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, reflective practice meetings and small group tutorials. This range of approaches intends to fulfil different learner needs, and offers trainees opportunities to reflect critically on theoretical issues, their application to their clinical practice and research. Curriculum delivery reflects the sequence of practice placements to enhance theory-practice links, and builds core competencies in theory, practice and research development across the three years of training.
Clinical Practice Placements
Trainees undertake six 6-month placements over the three years of training:
Year 1: Adult Mental Health (one placement) and Child & Adolescent Mental Health (one placement)
Year 2: Mental Health of Older Adults (one placement) and Intellectual Disability (one placement). Trainees have the option to enrol on a placement based in Ireland during this year
Year 3: Elective or specialist placements (two placements)
Placements take place predominantly within King’s Health Partners, but there are a handful of non-NHS placements in the private and third sectors available. Placements are allocated on the basis of core competency needs for each year of study, although there may be some flexibility to consider with trainee preferences and to facilitate Service Evaluation Projects in the first year.
By May of the final year trainees submit a research thesis of between 25,000-55,000 words. The thesis is comprised of:
• Literature Review
• Empirical Project
• Service -Evaluation Project (Conducted in the first year)
Trainees are encouraged to start work on the research elements early on in the programme, and progress is assessed twice a year via the submission of Research Progress Reports. These reports allow the programme team to provide advice, feedback and support to trainees to ensure they stay on track. The reports also provide an opportunity for trainees to disclose any problems they are having to the programme team.
Supervision and Assessment
Trainees are allocated clinical placement supervisors and a clinical tutor who will visit them during their placements. The Service Evaluation Project and all Clinical Competences are assessed by their clinical supervisor(s), and trainees choose their own research supervisors for the Literature Review and Empirical Project.
Qualifying examinations are held in June of the first year to assess academic curriculum and theory-practice links. Clinical placements are assessed by clinical supervisors, and the research thesis is assessed at a viva examination by two external examiners in the summer of the third year.
Trainees are also required to pass three assessments of clinical competence to qualify from the Programme. These assess generic therapy skills, cognitive therapy and cognitive assessment competencies.
The failure of two placements, or of an examination resit, or resubmitted assessments of clinical competence or the viva examination, will constitute a Programme failure. No lesser exit award is available under the Programme
In addition to summative assessment, the Programme provides formative feedback and assessment in a variety of ways, including annual appraisals and trainee-led conferences which take place in all three years: in Years 1 and 2 trainees present themed talks on clinical practice, and in Year 3 findings from their research thesis. Trainees receive presentation skills training in the third year of study from an external specialist.