Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
Department of Psychology and Sport Sciences
University of Hertfordshire
Programme Director: Dr Pieter W Nel
Admissions Tutor: Dr Jacqui Gratton
Programme Administrator: Katie Simmans
Our three-year Doctorate in Clinical Psychology training programme is based in Hatfield at the University of Hertfordshire. It is a 20-minute train journey from Hatfield to Kings Cross Station, London and covers the rural and urban geographical areas of Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Essex.
Our programme is committed to social justice and anti-racist practice, and welcomes applicants from underrepresented groups.
We are a friendly and supportive staff team, which we feel is integral to creating a collaborative and collegiate learning environment. This is important for assisting trainees through what can be a challenging experience at times but also, we believe, in facilitating trainees to become unique and highly competent Clinical Psychologists, where personal values and social and cultural background can be integrated with professional development. The programme prepares its graduates for multiple roles in the expanding world of clinical psychology that includes not only therapeutic work, but also supervision, management, applied research, administration, teaching, consultation and public policy making.
Placements are planned across the three years to meet individual training needs and preferences, while preparing trainees for the needs of the NHS workforce. We have a variety of local specialist placements in terms of clinical group (such as paediatric, health, older adults, eating disorders, psychosis) and therapeutic orientation (CBT, systemic, psychodynamic, CAT and neuropsychology).
We provide high quality teaching in terms of our content and methods. Regular course reviews take place between trainees and the course team. Trainees can participate in committees to shape the training course and continually improve all aspects of the course. We have developed innovative teaching methods to ensure learning is as stimulating, interactive and progressive as possible, such as problem-based learning (PBL) and using the university's high-tech simulation suites for simulation training (role-plays) with actors playing the part of clients, families and helping professionals. Our trainees have the opportunity to engage in training on organisational and systemic influence and leadership.
The high quality of the teaching is reflected in comments by our trainees in the Alternative Handbook 2020. The quality of our teaching was rated as "excellent" or "good" by 91% of respondents and, in particular, 90% % said the teaching on diversity issues was excellent.
A quote from one of our trainees:
"This is an exceptional course: take courage and throw yourself in with both feet - this will stay with you more than anything that you will learn from a book or power point slide!"
And from one of our self-funded trainees specifically:
"Here is the place where I can embrace love and tears; where I can think out of the box; where I can speak with freedom and dance with life. Being a trainee who came from a foreign country, understanding the UK culture and dynamics within a short period of time is challenging. Fortunately, the team is very supportive. My supervisors and tutors, who are open and compassionate, are always there whenever I need help. My cohort is amazing"
We are committed to the meaningful participation of service users and carers in all aspects of the course including teaching, research, staff recruitment and admissions. We have an Experts by Experience subcommittee which meets quarterly and consults to the course team on these issues.
In keeping with our values of putting trainees, diversity, the participation of service users and carers and the needs of the NHS at the forefront of our course, our overall programme philosophy is located within a social constructionist approach. This approach examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality. For instance, the term "depression" can be thought of as a medical diagnosis as well as a normal response to a detrimental social, cultural or economic environment. This critical position is the lens through which we present the core teaching as required for all UK doctorate Clinical Psychology courses. It enables a complex analysis of evidence-based practice, resulting in a drive towards higher standards within the profession of Clinical Psychology.
We are all passionate about Clinical Psychology and helping trainees to develop their unique identity as Clinical Psychologists. This is just a brief introduction to us:
Our teaching team is currently made up of ten Clinical Psychologists and one Senior Research Fellow who all contribute to the course as lecturers and tutors. Dr Pieter W Nel is our Programme Director and Reader in Clinical Psychology Training. Dr Nel has a broad interest in alternatives to orthodox approaches to Clinical Psychology education and practice, including non-pathologising and relational models of training and working with people in psychological distress. Dr Helen Ellis-Caird is our joint Research Lead and has a particular research interest in giving space to stories of resilience and coping, for instance with individuals undergoing IVF or living with chronic health conditions. Dr Lizette Nolte shares the Research Lead position with Dr Ellis-Caird and has added to her Clinical Psychology training with a Doctorate in Systemic Psychotherapy and focuses on social justice informed research, including the issues of homelessness, stigma and social inclusion. Dr Barbara Mason is the Senior Clinical Tutor and leads on the clinical aspects of the training. She has a particular interest in clinical supervision and clinical leadership. Dr Wendy Solomons is the Academic lead for the programme. She is interested in the social construction of health and illness across the life-span, in ethical issues within healthcare, and in qualitative research methods.
Our Clinical Lecturers similarly have subjects they are passionate about teaching and which stimulate their research. Dr Becky Adlington has particular interests in early interventions for young people and paediatric psychology, and owing to her own experiences in positions of leadership is motivated to understand how clinical psychologists, and mental health professionals in general, relate to their own self-care. Dr Jennifer Heath has a keen interest in supporting patient-engagement in their physical and mental healthcare and conducting research for patient-benefit. Jen has added to her Clinical Psychology training with a PhD in Applied Psychology. Dr Barbara Rishworth is passionate about social justice and co-produced practices and as such is influenced by postmodern therapeutic approaches in both practice, service delivery and research (eg community psychology, liberation psychology and narrative therapy).
Dr Jacqui Gratton is leading on the selection process of trainees onto the course and is one of the course tutors. She has a strong interest in human rights, culture and the impact of traumatic events such as war, persecution and domestic violence. Dr Keith Sullivan supplements the Clinical Psychology staff team with his expertise in quantitative research methods. Dr Maria Qureshi focuses on supporting our self-funded trainees. She has an interest in intellectual disabilities and Autism spectrum conditions, community psychology and issues of diversity and how they intersect.
We have two very approachable programme administrators, Catriona Roy and Katie Simmans. Cat manages the placement administration and Katie works full-time for the programme and is knowledgeable about all other administrative aspects of the course for our trainees and staff team.
The course itself is located in the new purpose-built Health Research Building on the College Lane Campus. Our trainees have shared use of a spacious and bright seating area with a kitchen and balcony for coffee breaks, lunches and relaxed group discussions. The programme is based within the University's Department of Psychology and Sport Sciences, which has a strong reputation for the quality and range of its teaching and research. The University as a whole has been granted a gold TEF award for outstanding teaching (the Government's assessment of teaching excellence in higher education).
The University of Hertfordshire is expanding, with the recent opening of a new campus, state-of-the-art recreational facilities and campus accommodation. Trainees also benefit from the excellent and modern library with the option of sofa hubs for group working. There are university-wide "e-learning" facilities and access to a purpose built, advanced simulation training centre which provides realistic and safe clinical and community environments for scenario-based training
The University of Hertfordshire (UH) is looking for candidates who can demonstrate academic excellence and the ability to apply psychological knowledge in clinical settings. The Clearing House provides a generic Trainee Job Description and Person Specification.
Additionally, we highly recommend that you look at the information about Fitness to Practise requirements provided on the Clearing House Application pages.
Please note the following information regarding university regulations on the completion of previous courses before enrolling for the DClinPsy. Once enrolled at UH the completion of previous courses can only be done with special permission from the University.
At the time of applying, minimum entry requirements at UH for NHS funded places are as follows (please see our University of Hertfordshire Doctorate in Clinical Psychology webpage for entry requirements for fee paying places):
There are no Accreditation for Prior (Experiential) Learning (AP(E)L) concessions, exemptions or advanced progression to training prior to entry nor whilst on the course.
Offers of places will be conditional upon satisfactory occupational health clearance and criminal records checks and any other checks deemed necessary. Training as a clinical psychologist involves working with children and vulnerable adults. Throughout the selection process and the training programme we will take stringent measures to ensure that the clients that trainees work with are safeguarded.
Successful completion of the training results in eligibility to apply for registration as a Clinical Psychologist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and for accreditation by the British Psychological Society (BPS).
We now have 22 NHS funded places and 2 self-funded places for the new cohort on the programme. We are keen to encourage applications from people with a wide range of backgrounds. We strongly believe that diversity of cultures, social and economic experiences and individual perspectives within a trainee cohort substantially benefit the learning environment for all trainees. Further, it is essential that as Clinical Psychologists we contribute to a cohesive and diverse workforce within the NHS and reflect the client groups we have a duty to serve.
All selection processes are undertaken by the University, which operates Equal Opportunities policies. We aim to implement fair selection procedures and no candidate will be discriminated against on grounds of race, colour, creed, disability, age, gender or sexual orientation. The programme actively encourages applications from psychologists from minority groups and seeks to enhance opportunities for applicants from these groups to obtain a place by allowing discussion of this at various points within the selection process (for example, candidates are invited to consider contextual considerations and reflections).
Enquiries regarding any aspect of applications, including support available for candidates with disabilities, should be addressed to Katie Simmans, Programme Administrator. Every effort is taken to make reasonable adjustments in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire Disability Services.
If candidates believe their qualifications reflect lack of opportunity (for example, through social disadvantage, earlier life experiences, cultural factors) rather than ability, they should explain this clearly in their application. Similarly, mature candidates who come to psychology after a less conventional educational path will not be disadvantaged, but it will be helpful for them to explain their educational and career pathways in their application. We will consider this information when rating the application. Further, along with other courses, we are hoping to include contextual recruitment in our selection process this year.
Application forms are used at all stages in the selection process. Any candidate known well to the reviewer is passed on and rated by another reviewer.
Applications are first screened to ensure they meet the minimum admissions criteria as outlined above. Eligible applications are then independently rated by the Course Team and local Clinical Psychologists with respect to demonstration of: academic ability; relevant experience (and the application of learning gained from this experience); and personal and professional suitability. From these ratings, a short-list is compiled of candidates to be invited for interview. We regret that, due to the large numbers of applications and limitations on resources, we are unable to give individual feedback to candidates who are unsuccessful at this stage.
Short-listed candidates are then invited to the University to participate in a range of selection tasks. Interviews for self-funded places with take place on 16 April 2021. Interviews for NHS places will be held from 19 to 21 April inclusive although there may be extra slots added around this time period due to the recent funding of additional places.
The interviewing process consist of three parts, all taking place on the same day: an individual panel interview addressing academic competency and professional and personal suitability; a group task to assess clinical knowledge and interpersonal skills; and a written exercise assessing research knowledge and writing skills (at the point of interview all applicants with reading or writing needs are asked to inform the course). The aim is for all interviews and assessments to be rated by at least two selectors either from the programme team or Clinical Psychologists working in local services. Experts by Experience also rate the group task.
A talk will be given by Dr Nel, our Programme Director and there will be opportunities to ask questions and meet with current trainees. Dr Maria Qureshi will also be available to speak with self-funding candidates.
Candidates are informed of the outcome, and those not successful at interview are offered feedback by telephone if requested.
We encourage applications from candidates whose first language is not English, but we will need to be provided with evidence of an English language proficiency of IELTS level 8 (with no score below 7.5 in each test element: listening, reading, writing and speaking) or equivalent.
Applicants must send evidence of their English language proficiency with their application. Failure to provide this evidence will mean that your application cannot be considered.
Please note: UK Visas and Immigration now only accept IELTS for English language proficiency tests taken outside the UK. For this reason, the University of Hertfordshire will only accept an IELTS test result, taken within the last two years.
All applicants applying with non-UK degrees should please note the requirements regarding degree transcripts, which should be translated into English where necessary.
All students will follow the same programme of study regardless of how their place is funded.
There are currently 22 NHS funded places available per cohort. Current NHS trainees are employed full-time as Trainee Clinical Psychologists on a three-year, fixed-term contract, with a hosting NHS Trust. Funding for current NHS trainees includes University fees, full-time salary (currently at the starting salary for Band 6, point 21, of Agenda for Change pay scales) and expenses (for example, travel) in line with standard NHS Terms and Conditions. The University conducts all aspects of the selection and interviews of applicants to the course.
In addition, there are a number of ways in which the course may support trainees regarding financial and practical matters. Some funding is available to contribute to costs related to completing a Major Research Project (MRP).
Self-funded trainees follow the same full-time three-year programme as NHS funded trainees.
Two fee-paying places will be available on the Hertfordshire programme in 2021. These are open to International, European and British applicants. Applications for our fee-paying places can be made directly to the programme via the UH website or through the Clearing House website using Course Code 11 - X.
The current fees are £24,020 per year for the teaching component. In addition, annual placement fees are between £1,750-£,1900, with some variation related to the specific number of days on placement in each academic year. Both the course fees and placement fees are subject to change. There is not a salary attached and it is the individual candidate's responsibility to ensure they have the means for funding prior to the start of the course. Travel expenses and living costs would need to be financed by the applicant. The full three-year course would need to be committed to. Please note that we are not aware of any current grants available from the University towards the fees or living costs. Campus accommodation is available at reduced rental for all students, although early application is recommended. While the course is identical for NHS funded and self-funded trainees, we recognise that being self-funded can involve additional complexities. We therefore have Dr Maria Qureshi to work with and support the needs of self-funded trainees.
The programme takes three years (full-time) to complete and comprises academic, clinical, research, and professional development training. Each academic year starts at the end of September or beginning of October with a four-week, full-time introductory block of teaching. This is followed by teaching all day on Thursdays and Fridays during term-time. All academic teaching takes place at the College Lane Campus in Hatfield and attendance is mandatory. Two and a half days a week are spent on clinical placement (more outside term-time) and half a day each week is allocated to study time. In the second and third year of training, time is allocated on the timetable to complete a small-scale service-related and a major research project.
In line with our on-going commitment to social justice and anti-racist practice, we are currently engaged in a comprehensive process to decolonise all aspects of our training programme.
The academic programme is based on the standards for accreditation for Doctoral programmes in Clinical Psychology (BPS, 2016) and comprises six main areas of teaching:
Each of these six areas is further divided into a number of specific teaching modules that span the three years of training and correspond as much as possible with the structure and sequence of clinical placements. An awareness of the issues of ethical practice and equality for all is highlighted in all modules. Particular consideration is given to the many ways in which issues relating to diversity and inequality impact on the work of practising Clinical Psychologists within the lectures, and all lectures are formally evaluated on this by the trainees.
Three main models of psychological therapy are currently taught on the programme: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), systemic and family psychotherapy, and psychodynamic psychotherapy. We are working on bringing the systemic elements in line with AFT foundation and diploma accreditation criteria.
The academic programme at UH is located within the overall programme philosophy, which places particular emphasis on incorporating a social constructionist approach to conceptualising psychological difficulties and their management. In line with the programme philosophy, an important aim of the academic programme is to train Clinical Psychologists who can understand and apply a range of psychological theories and approaches to both clinical practice and research. We teach our trainees to draw on multiple theoretical perspectives and the evidence base to develop individually tailored assessments, formulations, interventions and evaluations of complex psychological problems. We emphasise the flexibility to adapt and combine different approaches as a key competence, and our curriculum therefore aims to develop a broad, thorough and sophisticated understanding of various psychological theories and therapeutic approaches.
The programme utilises novel methods for learning:
At UH trainees are regarded as mature students, and for this reason an adult learning model is adopted. In line with this model and the overall programme philosophy, it is recognised that not only do trainees learn in different ways, but also that they can pursue their own perceptions of the material being taught and interpret it for themselves.
In line with HCPC requirements for all clinical training programmes, all trainees selected will be informed of the various activities that form part of the academic curriculum (eg role-plays, problem-based learning, simulation training, small group discussions etc). Consent to participate in all aspects of the academic programme will be sought prior to the programme commencing.
Our placements are located over a wide geographical area encompassing Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, West Essex and South Essex, and most are not easily accessible by public transport, so the ability to drive, and access to a vehicle, is essential (unless exempted due to a disability). Trainees are encouraged to live within appropriate travelling distance to their NHS base and University base and the programme cannot accommodate requests to minimise travelling distances, particularly if a trainee chooses to live outside of the geographical area covered by the programme. The course enjoys excellent relations with Clinical Psychologists in the region, and this is reflected in the quality of placements available.
Our trainees generally undertake six placements, each of approximately six months, although year-long placements are also available. Placements developing core competencies usually take place during the first and second years of training and cover working age adults, older people, children and young people, people with intellectual disabilities and sometimes other client groups.
In the third year, a range of placements in specialist areas, and at advanced levels, is available. Placements are allocated to ensure the development of core competencies and experiences for all trainees, as well as to meet the specific training needs of individual trainees.
Current placements include opportunities for specialising in therapy approaches such as: Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy; Systemic Family Therapy; Psychodynamic Therapy; and Cognitive Analytic Therapy. There is additionally a choice of clinical psychology fields, eg paediatrics, forensic, inpatient, eating disorders, early intervention in psychosis, neuropsychology and neurological rehabilitation. Health psychology placements include HIV, chronic fatigue and a specialist burns unit. Trainees have the option of applying for nationally accessible placements such as at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust and the Anna Freud Centre.
Each trainee is allocated a Course Tutor from the staff team for the duration of their training. The Course Tutor undertakes reviews with trainees and supervisors at the mid-point and end of each placement. The tutor also meets individually with trainees at the start of each placement, in order to review and facilitate their clinical development. The Course Tutor is also responsible for completing annual appraisals and for providing pastoral support.
In line with the concept of the "scientist-practitioner", our programme of research aims to equip trainees with the knowledge and skills required to undertake high-quality research, appraise literature critically, and adopt an evidence-based approach to clinical practice, where possible. We also aim to foster in trainees an awareness of the need for, and motivation to undertake, research in clinical settings - both during their placements and after qualification - to contribute to the evidence base of the profession.
Formal teaching introduces trainees to a range of methods and issues arising in the conduct of clinical research. This includes research design, qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis, guidance in the use of statistics, and the process of planning and organising research projects. A wide range of statistical and computing facilities is available, with excellent support from School of Psychology teaching staff.
At the beginning of the first year, our trainees conduct a Small-Scale Service-Related Project while on placement (typically an audit or service evaluation). Work towards the Major Research Project (MRP) begins late in the first year, when trainees are given information about research opportunities in the region and the research interests and contacts offered by the course team. As a course team, we have both qualitative and quantitative research expertise. We have particular interests in health psychology as well as children and young people, leadership and issues of social justice. In the second and third years, substantial blocks of time are set aside to complete the literature review for the MRP, to collect and analyse data, to write up the dissertation, and to summarise the research in a format suitable for submission to a journal. Supervision is provided at all of these stages. Submission of a paper based on this research to a peer reviewed journal is a final research requirement of the course.
The final degree is awarded subject to satisfactory performance in the clinical, academic and research components of the programme. These aspects are evaluated formally within a system of continuous assessment. Academic performance is formally assessed through a written exercise, and the presentation and reflective accounts of problem-based learning assignments. Research assessments include a Small-Scale Service-Related Research project, Major Research Project (up to 30,000 words) and associated journal paper (2,000 - 5,000 words), as well as an oral examination in Research Design during the first year. Clinical skills are assessed through placement-related documents (Supervisor Evaluation of Clinical Competence, Log of Clinical Experience and Skills) and through four Clinical Case Reports based on clinical work conducted on placements.
In addition to these formal evaluations, trainees are monitored throughout training by their Course Tutors, in order to provide them with qualitative feedback, and opportunities for development of competencies. Trainees are also required to undertake case presentations and a videotaped clinical skills exercise, for which they receive qualitative feedback.
As a Course Team, we recognise that the course is a demanding one, and aim to provide a supportive climate during training. Seeking support is viewed as a professionally responsible course of action. A range of structures and procedures have been put in place to provide trainees with adequate support. Advice and support is provided to trainees from the Course Tutors, who meet regularly with trainees to address any concerns. In addition, each trainee is allocated a Professional Mentor. These are local Clinical Psychologists whose roles are kept separate from any evaluative component, and who may provide support, guidance and advocacy. New trainees are also allocated a "buddy" from the year above for peer support. Finally, each cohort participates in reflective group work with an independent facilitator, focusing on reflective learning and support. Participation is compulsory and time is provided within the academic timetable for this.
The University's Counselling Service is available to trainees; in addition, the course team can advise trainees regarding accessing personal therapy and access to disability support.
Dr Pieter W Nel - Programme Director & Academic Lead
Dr Barbara Mason - Clinical Lead
Dr Wendy Solomons - Academic Lead
Dr Helen Ellis-Caird - Joint Research Lead
Dr Lizette Nolte - Joint Research Lead
Dr Maria Qureshi - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Jacqui Gratton - Clinical Lecturer & Admissions Tutor
Dr Barbara Rishworth - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Rebecca Adlington - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Jennifer Heath - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Keith Sullivan - Senior Research Fellow
Katie Simmans - Programme Administrator
Catriona Roy - Deputy Programme Administrator