North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme (NWCPP)
Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
School of Psychology
Admissions Tutor: Dr Carolien Lamers
This three-year doctoral programme is a collaborative venture between the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and Bangor University. Successful candidates will obtain a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, which confers eligibility to apply for registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and eligibility for chartered status with the British Psychological Society (BPS). The North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme was the first in the UK to establish the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, leading the way for other programmes.
BCUHB clinical psychologists have exceptionally close working links with NWCPP. The programme was commended by the BPS at its recent accreditation visit for these links and the way in which the programme works alongside clinicians within the Health Board. There are at present some 130 qualified clinical psychologists in North Wales, working across the age range, from birth to old age, in mental and physical health, intellectual disabilities, neuropsychology and medium secure services. Nearly all are involved in the programme through teaching, supervision (clinical/research), assessing academic work, selection and representation on committees.
One of the other distinctive aspects of the North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme is its close integration into an academic psychology department, that is highly rated for both research and teaching. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, Bangor University's School of Psychology maintained its status as one of the top Psychology departments in the UK, with 89% of research output rated as internationally excellent or world leading. It has one of the most vibrant and friendly research communities and was ranked 17th (of 117) for Research Quality (Complete University Guide 2020). The Schools of Psychology, Healthcare Sciences, Sports Health and Exercise Sciences, Medical Sciences, and the Institute of Medical and Social Care Research form the College of Human Sciences. This brings Schools with an interest in health together, creating an environment for shared research strategies and health-related training activities in terms of professional learning. The School of Psychology is a centre of excellence for training in clinical practice and has particular strengths in clinical and health psychology, cognitive neuroscience, applied behaviour analysis, and learning and developmental psychology. The UK's leading Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, is also based in the School.
The School also prides itself on excellent teaching and during the most recent internal Quality Audit of the School of Psychology, North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme was commended for both its teaching and pastoral care of trainees. Professor Michaela Swales, who is internationally recognised for her expertise in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and leader of the British Isles Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Training Team, is our programme director and is a locally practising clinical psychologist. Elizabeth Burnside, our academic director, is an ACT peer reviewed trainer, currently one of 12 in the UK, and also works clinically in local services.
During our last accreditation visit in February 2019, the programme was accredited by the BPS, and re-validated by Bangor University. We were commended for several aspects of the programme: the tight integration and commitment of the People Panel, which is our service user and carer representative group and the multi-layered support systems available to our trainees. They appreciated our innovative outreach work to secondary schools and our commitment to meeting the needs of the local population. This included our efforts to improve Welsh language mental health provision and develop skills in a cultural, linguistic and social context, the engagement and enthusiasm of the local clinical psychologists involved in the training, and the psychological and psychotherapeutic contribution to the regional community and service delivery. We were delighted to receive such strong endorsement from the BPS and Bangor University, and we believe this illustrates the robust and cohesive nature of the programme. Our next accreditation visit is due in 2024.
The programme recognises that clinical psychology is a caring profession with a number of distinctive features. Chief among these are the close interdependence between practice and research, and the systematic application of psychological models, theories and evidence to the needs of service users and carers and the development of services. The main aim of the programme is to meet the needs of the NHS for HCPC registered clinical psychologists who have:
We therefore train clinical psychologists who promote psychological thinking in healthcare settings, by integrating their clinical, academic and research skills, and through critical, reflective and independent thinking. From a strong value base, they act with integrity to make a positive difference to people's lives.
The programme selects trainees for their commitment to clinical psychology and their potential to develop a high level of clinical, academic and research competence. We aim to foster this potential by encouraging the development of skills, knowledge and values that underpin these competencies. This development takes place within a supportive structure that facilitates personal and professional growth and uses the close links that exist in North Wales between the clinical and academic services.
The programme has a positive attitude towards diversity and social inclusion, which is reflected in selection, teaching, value-based practice ideas and the programme's overall ethos.
We continually review the training programme and we are active in making adjustments, where these are indicated, in keeping with the programme's aims and objectives and to meet the needs of the public and the profession. We are currently developing our placements and academic programme to increasingly reflect the competency-based approach in the recent BPS accreditation standards. This will see trainees completing placements across a range of clinical areas focusing on sequentially developing skills in assessment and formulation, therapeutic interventions, and systemic and leadership approaches.
In terms of therapeutic approaches, we focus on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Third Wave therapies, particularly Dialectical Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. With the local expertise of the Centre for Mindfulness, the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy training team, as well as an ACT peer reviewed trainer and a range of local clinicians using these approaches, we are optimising learning in these exciting clinical areas. We have a strong emphasis on working systemically and we are developing our Compassion Focused Therapy curriculum. Trainees also receive teaching in psychodynamic theory and Applied Behavioural Analysis, as one of the leading centres for training and research in behaviour analysis is based within the School of Psychology.
The programme's Service User and Carer Involvement Group was named by its members the "People Panel". The panel was established in 2008 with the one of its aims the enhancement of trainees' learning from a service user and carer perspective. Service user and carer representatives sit on all programme committees. The panel is involved in a number of different aspects of the training programme and currently comprises individuals who have had involvement with clinical psychology services in a range of settings such as adult mental health, clinical health, older adult, child and adolescent, and intellectual disability services. The representation on the People Panel changes regularly with new members joining and others feeling that their involvement has reached its natural end. Service users and carers play a key role in our selection procedures and are actively involved with a number of teaching sessions on the programme. Trainee feedback on these sessions is always extremely positive and highly valued. Trainees are encouraged to consult with service users and carers for advice regarding potential research topics, use of questionnaires and outcome measures. The People Panel has also assisted in the development of client consent guidelines for trainees on placement, and forms for service user feedback to be completed at the end of the trainee's involvement.
We have trainee representation from all cohort years on the People Panel. This gives regular opportunities for trainees and service users and carers to share and consult on a wide range of clinically relevant topics and areas of development. At the recent BPS and Bangor University accreditation visit in 2019, the programme's People Panel was commended as follows: the engagement of a diverse, committed and passionate group on the People's Panel (Service User group), who positively feed into the programme is an area of good practice.
There are few University towns or cities that can rival Bangor's location. It is set in a region of outstanding natural beauty with the mountains (and the longest zip wire in Europe nearby), lakes and forests of Snowdonia National Park, as well as having North Wales's dramatic coastline on its doorstep. There are unparalleled opportunities for outdoor activities, attracting many students to North Wales. The City of Bangor is compact in size and in a rural setting, leaving it free from many of the problems of the larger cities, however it still has a vibrant student life. Bangor is consistently ranked as one of the most economical places to study in the UK in various cost of living surveys.
Bangor is easily accessible; it is just over one hour's travelling distance from the M56 motorway, which joins with the M6. The M56 provides a direct link from Manchester to the A55 coast expressway, while the A5 is a scenic route through North Wales to Shropshire. Regular fast trains run between Bangor and London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Manchester. There is also an Anglesey-Cardiff air link, which runs Monday to Friday.
North Wales has a rich cultural diversity. A significant proportion of the population in North Wales speak Welsh as their first language. There are several diverse cultural communities in North Wales, reflecting recent and past mobility from other countries.
All of the criteria below are used in the short-listing process, obtaining the required information from the Clearing House application and academic transcript. Criteria identified with a * refer to the minimum requirements that all candidates need to meet. These criteria are assessed by NHS clinical psychologists and programme staff.
We also acknowledge your motivation and commitment by awarding points for any presentations at conferences or other public events, publications in journals or newsletters and voluntary work that you have undertaken. There are no minimum criteria attached to this section.
We welcome applications from all interested high calibre candidates. We strongly encourage Welsh speakers to apply for this programme and we award additional points for your ability to speak Welsh. The legal status of the Welsh language in all areas of life in Wales (including health), and the very significant proportion of the population in North and West Wales who speak Welsh as their first language, means that the programme welcomes the opportunity to train people to fulfil a very real need for delivering the best quality psychological care in the Welsh language. This commitment was recognised during the Bangor University re-validation visit in February 2019.
We can provide a range of facilities to support Welsh speaking trainees to develop their clinical practice skills in the Welsh language, including placements and, where practicable, supervision as well as presenting written and other work in Welsh. We can also support trainees who wish to learn Welsh, wish to refresh their skills, or simply develop more confidence in using their Welsh language skills in practice. As the number of bilingual Welsh-English speaking applicants remains low (1% of all applicants in the UK, as per 2018 intake Clearing House data), the majority of trainees in each cohort is English speaking. Training in a bilingual cohort and community, often rural, also provides excellent opportunities for all trainees to enhance their practical appreciation and skills in matters cultural, and diversity within clinical practice.
If English is not your first language, you will be required to provide proof that you possess an adequate level of English competence. You need to have obtained level 8 on the IELTS scheme*, with no elements below 7.5. This does not apply to Welsh/English bilingual candidates. Having completed an academic psychology programme in the UK through the medium of English will be considered proof of your English language competence.
The Programme is an equal opportunities organisation and welcomes candidates from all backgrounds and ages. The Programme also operates the Disability Confident Scheme. The minimum criteria identified above with a * are applied when you have indicated in Basics - Disability Scheme section of the application that you want your application to be rated under this scheme. Please contact Carolien Lamers for further information and to discuss support that can be made available to you during the selection process and any reasonable adjustments that might be required during training.
Universities will not usually allow you to enrol onto a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology if you are currently enrolled on any other degree, eg a PhD or Masters programme. If you have any outstanding requirements from another programme, you may be required to withdraw from that programme in order to take up a place or to continue your studies on a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Being in the final stages of such a programme, ie submission of thesis has occurred or is imminent at the time of applying, your application might be considered.
During the selection process, we will contact you by email only, so please check your emails, as well as emails that may have gone into your spam folder, and update us with changes in your contact details.
Local NHS clinical psychologists, People Panel members and programme staff are involved in all aspects of the selection process, applying the criteria as set out in the Entry Requirements section above. If you have not been short-listed for interview, we strongly recommend you check your details against our selection criteria.
If you are invited to attend for interview, you will also be invited to join us for an evening meal (usually the night before your interview), where you have the chance to speak to current trainees and hear a bit more about the training programme. The interview panel members will not be attending the event. Attending the evening meal is optional and not part of the selection process.
Usually we interview three times the number of training places. The interview panels usually consist of local clinical psychologists, People Panel members and programme team members and involve the assessment of clinical, academic, research and reflective skills as well as suitability for clinical training. Throughout the interview process you will be supported by programme staff, who do their utmost to put you at your ease. All candidates will be contacted as soon as the interview panels have made their decision. You will also be offered a time to call for further feedback. The interviews are scheduled to take place 16-20 March 2020.
If you are invited for interview, we will ask you to provide evidence of your identity or status by, for example, providing your passport, photocard driving licence etc. You will also need to verify your qualifications by, for example, providing original certificates, and bring other relevant documents.
Fitness to Practise is a requirement of all professions registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). During training (pre-registration), monitoring of Fitness to Practise is the responsibility of programmes. Candidates should refer to the HCPC standards for a definition of Fitness to Practise.
Concerns about Fitness to Practise could be raised during the selection process. This will include the manner and tone of written and verbal communications with the programme at any stage of the selection process, as well as behaviour during the interview process.
During the selection process, issues that could significantly impair a candidate's capacity to practise in an open and reflective manner will be noted. These could be for example, whether an individual is open to feedback about any relevant concerns, shows appropriate self-awareness in relation to difficulties that impact on their capacity to work, and is willing to work collaboratively with relevant staff to address (and hopefully to overcome) these.
Once you have been offered a place, the programme will assess Fitness to Practise through screening procedures. The offer of a training place is subject to satisfactory checks with local Occupational Health services and with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). If the DBS check confirms the presence of convictions, the Head of the Clinical Psychology Service and the programme director will assess if the candidate can be accepted onto the programme. In the case of an unsatisfactory Occupational Health Check, the offer might be withdrawn if no reasonable adjustments can be made to enable the candidate to undertake the training.
Currently trainees are full-time employees of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. On entry to the programme, all current trainees started on the first pay point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales, and move to the second and third pay points annually dependent upon successful progression through the programme. Please see our website for the job description and person specification for a trainee clinical psychology post at the North Wales Clinical Psychology Programme. Travel costs are currently paid from an agreed clinical base and subsistence may also be available for overnight accommodation either during placement or academic teaching blocks.
Trainee posts are currently funded by the Welsh Government, who also pay the university fees. There are currently ten training places per annum. However, a Government review of funding arrangements is ongoing and candidates are advised to check the Clearing House Funding page and our own programme website for updates.
Due to funding regulations and restrictions we cannot accept self-funded trainees or trainees who would normally be charged overseas fees.
The programme is full-time and the length of the programme cannot be reduced through the accreditation of prior learning or experience: all trainees are required to complete the full programme of training in order to qualify.
The academic component of the programme aims to actively engage trainees in the learning process. This is helped greatly by the relatively small size of each year group, allowing plenty of scope for discussion and development of ideas and skills. The majority of teaching, which is carried out in dedicated teaching rooms in the School of Psychology at Bangor University, is workshop-based, with theory-research-practice links developed from the outset. Trainees are expected to take an active role in teaching by bringing their own clinical material and experiences to discussions, and by taking part in role-plays to develop skills.
The programme structure is currently being reviewed to reflect a competency based approach and the structure of the teaching timetable will be altered accordingly. The academic curriculum emphasises a life-span perspective. This means that topic areas can be taught by clinicians from a range of specialisms, thus ensuring that the trainee gains a developmental view and appreciates how the same theoretical models are applied with different client groups. Third year academic sessions usually pursue a range of topics at a more specialist and advanced level.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy teaching has been introduced at the start of the first year, and includes two skills workshops where trainees have the opportunity to obtain feedback on role-plays from their peers, programme staff and members of the People Panel. The Third Wave Therapies are taught across the three years. In the first year there has been a focus on Mindfulness, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. These skills are further developed over subsequent years, while Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is introduced in Year 2. The DBT teaching (and related clinical experience) has been expanded so that trainees can have acquired all the knowledge-based competencies and most of the practice-based competencies they require for accreditation as a DBT therapist by the Society for DBT in the UK and Ireland, that implements the International DBT Accreditation standards. Teaching on therapy processes, professional conduct, reflective practice and research runs throughout the three years.
Most of the teaching takes place in academic blocks as well as "college days" spread more evenly across the year, to further encourage theory-research-practice links. There are also two teaching days each academic year, when all three cohorts come together, where specialist and current topics are presented and discussed. Recent all cohort days have focused on "Working in Wales" and "Working with people who are homeless".
While clinical and academic psychologists within North Wales undertake the majority of the teaching, psychologists from outside the area and other professionals are also invited to contribute where appropriate. Members of our People Panel and other service users and carers are actively involved in a number of teaching sessions throughout the three years. Trainees greatly appreciate and value their perspective and feedback remains consistently high. Trainees give feedback on all academic sessions, thus enabling the programme to keep improving the standards of its teaching.
There are four academic assignments to be completed across the three years, including one reflective essay. While the format for the assignments is set, the trainees choose their own clinically relevant topics for these. Welsh speakers can submit their work in Welsh.
Clinical experience starts in November of Year 1 and extends over the three years of the programme. The timing of specific placement experience is currently being reviewed, however, placements will aid trainees to first develop skills in assessment and formulation before moving onto developing skills in therapeutic interventions and specific psychological therapies. Later placements will focus on developing skills in systemic and leadership competencies and trainees will end their training with an elective placement of their choice. With the exception of the final elective placement, trainees will complete a report of clinical activity (RCA) for each of these placements, including one CBT-RCA.
All clinical placements will be undertaken within the large geographical area of North Wales, which extends from Wrexham to Pwllheli, Holyhead to Newtown and Dolgellau and covers post-industrial towns and cities as well as rural communities. Placements currently available include: adult mental health including enduring mental health problems and working in inpatient settings, older adults including working in inpatient settings, child and adolescent services, neuro-developmental services, adult and child intellectual disabilities, forensic services, adult and child brain injury services, eating disorders, health clinical psychology including renal care, pain management, diabetes, chronic fatigue services, oncology, palliative care, weight management and paediatric services. In addition, trainees can gain further clinical experience in using particular therapeutic approaches such as Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, CBT for psychosis, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy and Schema Therapy. Each placement is evaluated by the clinical supervisor, assessing a full range of clinical and professional competencies.
Placement agreements are negotiated at the beginning of each placement by the supervisor and trainee in conjunction with programme staff. These agreements are reviewed mid-way through the placement. Trainees provide feedback on all placements as part of our endeavour to ensure that the high quality of clinical experience is maintained and improved.
Welsh speaking trainees are often allocated placements where they can work using the Welsh language in their clinical practice and, where possible, with their supervisor. Funding is available for Welsh language courses for those wishing to learn Welsh or those who would like to have a refresher to increase confidence.
The aim of the research curriculum is to ensure that trainees gain experience in using a range of research models and strategies and obtain a sophisticated understanding of the evidence base underlying clinical practice. Training in research skills occurs throughout the three years.
Trainees complete a data analysis project and a service-related research project during the first and second year of the programme. Throughout the programme, trainees work on a large-scale research project which forms their doctoral thesis. The thesis comprises of a literature review or meta-analysis, an empirical study and a paper on the clinical and research implications of their work. This work is expected to be of a publishable standard and we have an excellent record of trainee publications in academic journals. In their final year trainees have a viva, where they defend their thesis.
The research team endeavour to support trainees to do projects in their areas of interest, rather than being assigned projects from a list. Recent theses include research into: insight in traumatic brain injury, fatherhood in deprived communities, neighbourhood social capital and psychiatric admissions rates, and voice-hearing. For a full list of thesis titles, please see our website. Research supervision is provided by the programme team, local clinical psychologists and colleagues in the School of Psychology. The programme supports research projects from across the scientist practitioner tradition, using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. In addition, research in clinical and clinical health psychology is one of the strengths of the School of Psychology.
We hold an annual research conference where the trainees present their research projects through presentations or posters. We invite new entry trainees to this conference before they start on the programme.
There are no unseen written examinations on the programme. Competencies in theoretical aspects of clinical psychology, clinical skills and professional issues are evaluated by continuous assessment through a range of academic assignments, presentations, evaluations of clinical and professional competencies, reports of clinical activity, including one using CBT, a reflective piece of work, a service-related research project, a database analysis project and a large-scale research project (the thesis). Although the format of the assessments is set, the trainee decides on the clinical topic area they want to address. The assignments are marked by two clinical psychologists. External examiners with extensive experience of clinical psychology training programmes play an active role in benchmarking our marking system. At the end of the third year, the thesis is evaluated by viva voce examination.
Welsh speaking trainees have the option of completing their assignments through the medium of Welsh. The programme organises translation services.
The small size of trainee cohorts enables the programme to have a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. In order to address individual training needs, the programme has a system of allocating a training co-ordinator to each trainee. The training co-ordinator is a member of the programme team, who oversees and monitors trainees' development over the three years of the programme. Each training co-ordinator works with between four and six trainees.
We recognise that fellow trainees are often an important source of support and all first year trainees are linked with a buddy from the second year when they start the Programme.
Each trainee is also funded to receive 24 personal and professional development sessions from recognised counsellors, therapists or clinical psychologists, who are independent of the programme. These sessions are voluntary and confidential to the trainee and counsellor; the programme has no knowledge of which trainees take up the sessions. Trainees can also select a personal tutor (a local NHS clinical psychologist) to discuss matters to do with training. An annual study leave budget is also available for external conferences and workshops.
In addition to the Programme library based within the Deiniol library, trainees have access to the wide range of facilities at the university library and the School of Psychology (eg psychology and computer laboratories). Trainees can also access the NHS libraries in the main district hospitals. There is a dedicated trainee room that contains computers. We also have a test library with assessments which trainees are required to pass-out on as part of their core placements.
All trainees are registered with Bangor University library, which is a participating member of a UK-wide scheme called SCONUL Research Extra. This allows the opportunity to join and borrow from the libraries of other universities that may be more conveniently located. Trainees have an allocation of 20 inter-library loan vouchers per annum, which enables them to obtain journals, books and theses.
Lease cars are available to trainees on the programme and many trainees take advantage of this opportunity.
There are trainee representatives on all the programme committees and the People Panel, and trainees are consulted in the organisation of the academic teaching. Trainees are also asked to feedback on all teaching sessions and are required to complete a feedback form on all placements they undertake.
Dr Katie Bigham - Clinical Tutor
Dr Christine Blincoe - Academic Tutor
Dr Elizabeth Burnside - Academic Director
Ms Fiona Greenly-Jones - PA to Programme Director/Senior Administrator
Dr Mike Jackson - Research Director/Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology
Mrs Debbie Jones - Admin Assistant (Curriculum and Clinical)
Dr Carolien Lamers - Admissions Tutor
Ms Donna Pierce - Programme Manager
Dr Renee Rickard - Clinical Director
Mrs Anna Roberts - Admin Assistant (Curriculum and Clinical)
Dr Chris Saville - Research Tutor
Professor Michaela Swales - Programme Director/Chair of Board of Examiners
Ms Mared Williams - Admin Assistant (Research/Finance/Selection)
Additional contributions to the Programme are made by colleagues from the School of Psychology, Bangor University and Clinical Psychology Departments of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.