Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
University of Liverpool
Ground Floor, Whelan Building
Programme Director: Dr Laura Golding
Admissions Tutor: Dr Gundi Kiemle
Programme Co-ordinator: Mrs Amanda Harrison
An Open Day will be held at the University of Liverpool for potential applicants to the Liverpool course on
Friday 18 October 2019 - 13.30-16.30
You can register your interest in attending the Open Day by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The programme leads to the award of the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology, conferring eligibility to apply for registration as a Clinical Psychologist with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) and for Chartered status with the British Psychological Society (BPS). We are based in the University's Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. The programme is housed in a modernised and refurbished late-Victorian building: accommodation consists of teaching rooms, offices for academic, clinical, research and administrative staff, and meeting rooms. There is also a programme-specific resource room with computer terminals to provide trainees access to the University's IT system, numerous database facilities, software packages, and the internet. There is a range of other computer facilities linked to the University's computer network.
The University of Liverpool has two main libraries: the Sydney Jones Library (mainly for arts and social sciences) and the Harold Cohen Library, which holds the science, engineering, medical and related subject collections. A specialist subject librarian provides support for trainees on the D.Clin.Psych. programme.
Approximately 200 members of staff (Chairs, academic staff and research staff) comprising clinical, applied and experimental researchers conduct funded research in several research groups, including (but not limited to) Addiction, Appetite and Obesity, Forensic and Investigative Psychology, Psychology of Healthcare, Language Development, Mental Health in Context, Perinatal, Infant and Child Mental Health, Neuroscience, and Perception (including Pain Research).
Academic, clinical and research staff on the D.Clin.Psych. programme have additional areas of research interest and activity, and all programme staff supervise clinical psychology trainees on their major research project.
Trainees are registered postgraduate research students PG(R) in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. All members of staff are committed to ensuring that theory and practice elements are fully integrated within a programme structure responsive to both academic and service developments. There is a Programme Training Committee consisting of representatives of appropriate bodies, with three sub-groups responsible for the clinical, academic, and research activities within the programme. Trainees and experts by experience are represented on all management groups.
A large number of NHS clinical psychologists in Merseyside and across the North-West region contribute to the delivery of the programme in some form - through direct teaching, clinical placement supervision, marking and feedback, research supervision, mentoring, or participation in intake/selection processes. Many have honorary university contracts in recognition of these contributions. There are links with many British Psychological Society Special Interest Groups/ regional Division of Clinical Psychology faculties and other pre- and post-qualification activities throughout the North West. Communication with these various sources of support is maintained through a number of channels, including committees, working groups, training events, seminars, the programme's Annual Review Day and the programme newsletter.
The essential aims of the programme are to equip trainees with a theoretical understanding of a wide range of clinical problems, models and approaches, together with essential clinical competencies and a variety of practical experiences as required by a Band 7 clinical psychologist, a junior lecturer in clinical psychology, or a clinical psychology research associate. There is also a focus on the professional aspects of the clinical psychologist's role, and on the acquisition of research and communication skills.
We consider an overall strength of clinical psychology as a profession to be its diversity reflected in the varied backgrounds, experiences, capacities and achievements of its members. We are therefore pleased to recruit people who have come to the profession through different routes, and throughout the programme we aim to foster the individual personal and professional qualities that shape each practitioner's future role in the profession. The programme has a long history of valuing and incorporating a wide range of theoretical and clinical approaches, and encourages trainees to explore how these can be integrated effectively to meet the needs and choices of clients, who are themselves unique and diverse.
The overriding theme is the application of theoretical concepts to clinical problems on an evidential basis, within a problem-solving, reflective approach. In accordance with the BPS accreditation standards, the specific therapeutic competencies identified by the programme are Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT), and Systemic Therapy. Teaching in neuropsychological competencies represents another strength of the programme. In addition to CBT, clinical teaching on other therapeutic approaches is also provided, which includes psychodynamic psychotherapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), narrative therapy (NT), solution-focused therapy, and mindfulness. A strong emphasis is placed on the collaborative development of clinical case formulations, which are capable of informing subsequent interventions. Concern for empirically demonstrated effectiveness is emphasised alongside a broad conceptualisation of what constitutes evidence, and an appreciation of the complexity of understanding individuals' difficulties, together with their aspirations and achievements.
The programme is delivered within a strong values base that promotes a person-centred approach, defends the human rights of experts by experience, and emphasises the development of autonomy. The programme's values are entirely consistent with those enshrined in the NHS Constitution.
The "Liverpool Experts by Experience" (LExE) group is a strategic stakeholder group, acting as a "critical friend" to the programme. The group aims to provide a framework for Expert-by-Experience (EbE) involvement across all aspects of programme delivery, including selection, teaching, assessment, clinical training, and research. The group supports networks between service users, carers and professionals, acknowledging that psychological distress and mental health issues have the potential to impact on everyone.
The programme places emphasis on relevant practical experience which applicants are able to relate to psychological approaches and theory. This may be gained in a range of settings where psychological principles are applicable, including supervised work as an assistant psychologist (or equivalent) in a psychological therapies service, or in a supervised post within a related (mental or physical health) service context. Supervision from a qualified clinical psychologist substantially enhances the value of such experience. Similarly, experience as a postgraduate research student or work as a paid research assistant on a clinically-relevant research project enhances applicants' research experience, although it is preferable if this has entailed a reasonable amount of direct contact with service users. An equivalent of one year whole-time paid experience in suitable (preferably NHS) settings is considered a minimum requirement at the time of application. However, due to the high level of competition for a limited number of places, candidates are very unlikely to be short-listed for interview if their application only evidences the minimum requirements.
Candidates are generally expected to have at least a 2:1 honours degree in psychology or an equivalent combined honours degree, where psychology accounts for more than 50% of the programme content and examinations.
In practice, the majority (but by no means all) of successful applicants have a high 2:1 or First class honours degree and (although not essential for minimum requirements), further postgraduate qualifications, such as a relevant Masters in an area of psychology (eg clinical, counselling, health, forensic), MRes, or PhD. However, applicants with an excellent undergraduate record but without postgraduate qualifications may also be selected for interview. Applicants with a 2:2 would need to evidence additional academic achievement and postgraduate research qualifications/experience in mitigation. For applicants with a completed PhD, the class of undergraduate degree is irrelevant.
All applicants must be eligible for Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society.
In considering applications, short-listers and selection panels attach significance to the following:
Trainees spend 50% of the programme gaining supervised clinical experience on placements across the North-West of England. Several local NHS Trusts support the programme by providing these placements, many of which are in Merseyside, but also include Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria.
Trainees need to be aware that in applying for the Liverpool programme, they have agreed that they will have to travel required distances from their home to the locations specified above. The majority of core placements will be in the Cheshire and Merseyside area; travel within placements will also be expected. It is necessary that all applicants must possess a full and valid driving licence that entitles them to drive in the UK, and have regular access to their own transport (own car or equivalent motorised vehicle) to enable them to fulfil the requirements of placements (subject to reasonable adjustments for disability, for which candidates without a driving licence must provide formal evidence in order for interview offers to be made). If offered an interview, candidates will be required to confirm that they will be able to bring their photocard driving licence on the day, which will also be used as documented photographic proof of identity. Candidates without a photocard licence must bring their paper driving licence and current valid passport. Candidates who attend on the day of the interview without valid documentation (or proof of driving licence exemption) will not be interviewed.
If English is not an applicant's first language and their university qualifications were not taught and examined in English, they will need to provide evidence that they have an adequate level of English language ability. This should be a TOEFL or IELTS test if possible, and a copy should be submitted with their application. The minimum scores needed are: 100 for internet-based TOEFL, 600 for paper-based TOEFL or 7.0 for IELTS with no element below 6.5.
Applicants should have home (UK/EU) fees status and be eligible to work in the NHS. Please see the funding section below for more details about this requirement.
Applicants entering the programme who are registered for a higher degree such as an MSc, MPhil or PhD (or equivalent) will be expected to have submitted their thesis in advance of the start of the training programme in September 2020 (although any viva voce examinations can take place after this date, usually within three months of starting on the D.Clin.Psych. programme).
First, there is an initial screening of anonymised applications in order to exclude candidates who do not meet the minimum requirements (eg candidate does not have GBC, or minimum work experience, and is not a UK/EU/EEA applicant). The first short-listing stage is conducted by programme staff who rate applications according to pre-determined criteria for academic achievement, relevant work experience, interpersonal qualities, and quality of references. Applications scoring above a certain cut-off then go through to the second stage, in which local NHS clinical psychologists and experts by experience involved in the D.Clin.Psych. programme, short-list according to the same pre-determined criteria, to produce a list of applicants for interview and a reserve list for interview. Candidates who are unsuccessful at this stage are informed of the outcome. Please note that due to the high volume of applications, it is not possible to offer individual feedback to applicants who are not selected for interview.
In order to promote greater diversity in our profession, we take positive action where disability is disclosed. In practice, this means that anyone with a declared disability who is placed on the reserve list for interview, will automatically be offered an interview. For the future, we are also considering how to promote diversity even further in our selection procedures.
Fitness to practise is a requirement of all professions registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (please see the HCPC website if you need more information about fitness to practise). During training, monitoring of fitness to practise is the responsibility of course centres. Concerns about fitness to practise could also be raised during the selection process, including the manner and tone of written and verbal communications with the course centre at any stage of the selection process, as well as behaviour both during and between interviews for those candidates called for interview.
During selection, course centres may take note of issues that could significantly impair trainees' capacity to practise in an open and reflective manner, eg 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) any issues.
80 interview offers are usually issued for each interview cycle. Successful applicants invited for interview are seen by two panels. For the first (research and academic) panel, they are asked to make a short presentation based on a research task, which they will have prepared and completed in a timed preparation session immediately beforehand. Additional academic and research questions will also be asked. The second (clinical and professional) panel involves questions and materials designed to explore candidates' clinical and professional knowledge, experience and values. Interpersonal skills are assessed in both panels. All panels include University programme staff, NHS clinical psychologists and experts by experience. Ratings are then produced which are used as the basis for offering places. In practice, this procedure has resulted in applicants with a range of experiences and qualities being offered places. All procedures are conducted within the framework provided by the University's and NHS Equal Opportunities policies. The selection procedure is carefully reviewed on an annual basis.
All offers of a place on a course are dependent on satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service and occupational health checks.
Criminal record checks are usually made through the Disclosure and Barring Service (for England and Wales) or Disclosure Scotland. The checks will disclose information such as: unspent and spent convictions; police information such as cautions, reprimands or warnings; etc.
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 kept safe.
On completion of the selection process, any candidates who attended for interview but were unsuccessful in securing a place at Liverpool or elsewhere, are offered the opportunity for telephone feedback concerning their performance with the two interview panels. The feedback will usually be provided around July/August each year by a member of the programme team who will have interviewed the candidate.
Candidates for 2020 entry should check for funding updates on the Clearing House Funding page.
The programme is currently funded for 24 places per year through a contract with Health Education England North (HEE-N). Current trainees are full-time employees of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and have annual leave and other benefits in line with usual NHS entitlements. On entry to the programme all current trainees commenced on the first spine point of Band 6 of the Agenda for Change pay scales. Currently, travelling expenses are paid for travel to placement, University fees are paid directly by HEE North, and trainees have an allocation of £200 per year for attendance at conferences and for the purchase of books (in addition to a separate £1,000 budget for their large-scale research project).
Applicants should have home (UK/EU) fees status (if you are unsure of your fees status, please follow the link to check). The programme is only able to accept applications from individuals who are current citizens of the UK, EU Member States, or European Economic Area (EEA) States and who are eligible to work in the NHS. Non-EEA applicants are not usually considered because the NHS does not employ anyone as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist who does not have the right to work in the UK. Please note that we are not qualified to advise you on whether or not you have the right to work in the UK. The programme does not accept applications from self-funding applicants.
The academic content of the programme is organised within a series of teaching units which provide detailed coverage of the theoretical and research bases of clinical psychology. Programme teaching units can be grouped into five sets as follows:
Concurrent with these teaching units and running throughout the three years of the programme, trainees from all three year groups come together regularly in medium-sized reflective practice groups which involve discussion of clinical and professional material from concurrent placements. Small cohort-based personal and professional development groups also run through all three years of the programme, providing opportunities for trainees to reflect on various aspects of the interface between their personal and professional lives.
Each trainee is allocated an Academic Advisor/Personal Tutor from amongst the staff team, who will support their learning and development for the duration of their training. The trainee-centred annual review process provides a further opportunity for reflection on general progress and personal achievement across all aspects of the training programme.
The programme begins with an introductory academic block of five weeks' duration, designed to equip trainees with the basic skills necessary for their first placement experience. Academic teaching continues on two days a week (Mondays and Tuesdays) during the university terms of the first year, reducing to one day (Mondays) in the second and third years. Terms are approximately 10 weeks long. At the beginning of each six-month placement, there will be a two-week teaching block, during which experience on the preceding placement will be reviewed, and preparatory work, including coverage of relevant teaching areas, undertaken for the forthcoming placement. Teaching occurs usually from 09:30-16:30 (with one hour for lunch) but trainees are expected to be available at the University from 09:30-17:00 for any additional meetings.
There is no accreditation of prior learning or experience: all trainees must complete the full programme of training to qualify. Attendance throughout the course is mandatory, including the induction period. Trainees are not permitted to take annual leave on teaching days.
In accordance with the regional arrangements described earlier, there are six clinical placements in the programme. The sequence of placements for trainees usually follows the order shown in the following table, although there may be occasional changes to this for a small number of trainees.
|Adult Mental Health|
|Older Adult or Neuropsychology or Clinical Health Psychology|
|Child/Adolescent and Family|
|Year 3||Specialist 1||Specialist placement|
NHS clinical psychology services in the North West region offer a particularly rich variety of specialist placements. Trainees may also gain experience within the various regional specialist facilities on Merseyside, such as Ashworth High Secure Hospital, or the Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, as well as develop expertise in other areas, for example family therapy, consultation, adult mental health complex cases, paediatric liaison, brain injury rehabilitation, early intervention for psychosis, clinical health, and eating disorders. Trainees have the option to undertake two 6-month or one 12-month specialist placement in Year 3. Novel and innovative third year specialist placements, mainly in community settings with no history of clinical psychology provision, are being increasingly developed (for instance, a specialist homeless team placement based within a homeless hostel).
The Research Training Curriculum in Year 1 introduces trainees to a range of methods and issues arising in the conduct of clinical research. There is in-depth coverage of research design, both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis, guidance on the use of statistics, the process of planning research projects, and on preparing ethical applications.
In Year 2 the Research Training Curriculum aims to develop research skills and knowledge in conducting empirical studies and literature reviews, critiquing research, and understanding recruitment and ethical issues in the conduct of clinical research applications.
In Year 3 the Research Training Curriculum supports the ongoing development of research knowledge and critical appraisal skills, and the development of appropriate skills to effectively disseminate research in various contexts (eg publications, reports, conference presentations). Throughout the three years of research training, several specialist workshops and seminars are regularly offered in response to the expressed needs of the trainees, and to further support the development of research skills, knowledge and competencies.
Trainees undertake a major research dissertation and this work commences in Year 1. A full research proposal is submitted in Year 1. Each trainee proposal is independently reviewed and must be approved (firstly) by the programme's Research Review Committee and (subsequently) by the appropriate NHS or University ethical committee. In Year 2, the trainees commence work on their ethics application and literature review. The completed dissertation is submitted in Year 3 and this is followed by a viva voce examination. In Year 3, trainees showcase their research at an Annual Research Conference.
In Year 1, one 5,000-word case-based clinical formulation assignment is submitted in the second term, with a further 5,000-word systemic competencies assignment at the start of third term in the second year. Trainees are also required to submit one 5,000-word professional issues assignment on a topic of their choice in the third term of their third year.
In addition, all trainees are required to submit a CBT Clinical Case-Related Investigation (CCRI) which must include a video of a session with a current client, and a linked 3,000-word essay. Trainees are also required to submit two 5,000-word Clinical Case-Related Investigations (CCRI) linked to two different core placements (and possibly their chosen "plus one" competencies) in the first and second year; these can be based on intervention/therapy, extended assessment, or consultation-based case work. In the first year, a summative presentation assignment with group and individual components is linked to the Clinical Health Psychology teaching unit. Finally, all trainees must submit a 5,000-word Clinical Service-Related Investigation (CSRI), constituting a small-scale piece of service-related research undertaken usually on a core placement.
A marked assignment that has failed can be re-submitted on one occasion. Failing the same assignment twice constitutes programme failure, unless there are exceptional circumstances and the trainee has extenuating circumstances which are upheld in accordance with the University’s Code of Practice on Assessment. Assessed work is usually double-marked by internal programme staff and external NHS-based practitioners, and a robust system of moderation is in place to ensure consistency in the quality of marking and feedback.
The research dissertation must be submitted in the third term of the third year, for examination by one internal examiner and by one of the programme's External Examiners in a viva voce examination in the summer of the third year. Failure to do so will delay successful completion of the programme, award of the academic degree and professional qualification, and HCPC registration.
All documentation related to the programme as a whole, including an outline of the programme philosophy, information concerning the wider university context, details of syllabus teaching units, assessment and marking systems, and copies of relevant programme policy documents, are contained in the Programme Handbook, made available to trainees within their introductory five-week teaching block, and updated on an annual basis.
The programme is open and supportive with a number of formal and informal systems available. A "buddy" scheme operates whereby current trainees offer support before new trainees start and maintain links throughout the programme. Year tutor groups comprise Academic, Clinical and Research staff with responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the programme. Liaison meetings take place, usually once per term, when trainees have the opportunity to provide feedback on all aspects of the programme.
Each trainee has an Academic Advisor/Personal Tutor from the programme team who acts as a personal tutor to support their learning and development during the three years of the programme. The academic advisor and trainee meet twice a year formally to review the trainee's progress; however, trainees are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor at other times.
An NHS clinician is allocated for each trainee as a mentor to provide confidential and personal support independent of the programme team.
When required, trainees can access Staff Support Counselling Services (through Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust) or self-refer to Student Support Counselling Services (through the University). In certain circumstances, the programme will also consider paying for personal therapy for trainees, when this is considered essential in the context of the trainee's ability to progress with their training.
The core staff with day-to-day involvement with the programme are:
Dr Laura Golding - Programme Director/Senior Lecturer
Dr Jenny Bowe - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Sarah Butchard - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Luna Centifanti - Research Tutor/Senior Lecturer
Dr Andrea Flood - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Stephen Gillespie - Research Tutor/Lecturer
Dr Beth Greenhill - Joint Clinical Director/Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Gundi Kiemle - Academic Director/Senior University Clinical Teacher and Admissions Tutor
Dr Charlotte Krahé - Research Tutor/Lecturer
Dr Katy Lobley - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr James Reilly - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Julie Van Vuuren - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Ste Weatherhead - Senior University Clinical Teacher
Dr Ross White - Research Director/Reader
Dr Jim Williams - Joint Clinical Director/Senior University Clinical Teacher and Trainee NHS Line Manager
Vacant post - Research Tutor/Lecturer
Mrs Amanda Harrison - Programme Co-ordinator
Mrs Sue Knight - Programme Administrator
Ms Kate Hawke - Academic Administrator
Mrs Emily Joseph - Academic Administrator
Mr Thomas Murphy - Research Administrator
Ms Lyndsey Murphy - Administrative Assistant
Other university staff contributing to the programme include:
Professor Kate Bennett - Head of School of Psychology and Chartered Health Psychologist
Dr Helen Brooks - Lecturer in Psychological Sciences
Dr Gemma Cherry - Lecturer in Clinical Health Psychology
Dr Paul Christiansen - Lecturer in Psychology
Professor Chris Dowrick - Professor of Primary Medical Care
Professor Rhiannon Corcoran - Professor of Psychology
Dr Leonardo De Pascalis - Lecturer in Psychological Sciences
Dr Warren Donnellan - Lecturer in the School of Psychology
Dr Vicky Fallon - Lecturer in the School of Psychology
Dr Peter Fisher - Senior Lecturer, Communications Skills
Dr Lucy Frith - Reader in Bioethics and Social Science
Dr Laura Goodwin - Lecturer in Epidemiology for Psychological Sciences
Dr Charlotte Hardman - Senior Lecturer in Psychological Sciences
Professor Jason Halford - Chair in Biological Psychology and Health Behaviour
Dr Jo Harrold - Reader and Interim Head of Department of Psychological Sciences
Professor Andy Jones - Professor of Bioinformatics in Functional and Comparative Genomics
Professor Peter Kinderman - Professor of Clinical Psychology
Dr Minna Lyons - Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology
Dr Adam Noble - Senior Lecturer in Psychological Sciences
Dr Freya O’Brien - Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology
Dr Eric Robinson - Senior Lecturer in Psychological Sciences
Professor Helen Sharp - Professor of Child Clinical Psychology
Professor Pauline Slade - Professor of Clinical Psychology
Dr Laura Soulsby - Senior Lecturer in the School of Psychology
Dr Linda Steadman - Senior Clinical Psychologist, Psychological Support Service for Student Practitioners (PSSSP)
Dr Angela Williams - Senior Clinical Psychologist, Psychological Support Service for Student Practitioners (PSSSP)
Dr Kerry Woolfall - Senior Lecturer in Psychological Sciences
Approximately 50% of the direct teaching on the programme is provided by the programme team and a contribution from members of the Department of Psychological Sciences and the School of Psychology. The remaining 50% of the teaching is provided by a large number of NHS clinical psychologists or allied professionals in Merseyside and across the North West of England.