Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)
Department of Psychology and Sport Sciences
University of Hertfordshire
Programme Director: Dr Pieter W Nel
Admissions Tutor: Dr Jade Weston
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, West Essex and South Essex.
Our programme is actively striving towards embedding social justice and anti-racist principles into practice, and we welcome 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 competencies, 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 follow a core competency model of training which means that all of our placements are used across the three years of training to enable the development of a wide range of competencies.
We provide high quality teaching in terms of our content and methods, integrating feedback from trainees, professional stakeholders and people who are expert by experience. Trainees can participate in committees to shape and continually improve all aspects of the programme. We have developed innovative teaching methods to ensure learning is as stimulating, interactive and progressive as possible, including problem-based learning (PBL), small group work, peer-led and cross-cohort learning, and using the university's high-tech simulation suites for simulation training. 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 and 2021. The quality of our teaching was rated as "excellent" or "good" by 91% of respondents in 2020 and 87% of respondents in 2021.
A quote from one of our trainees:
"Herts supports trainees to be activists in every sense of the word, they inspire and encourage individuality and support trainees to develop their own sense of personal and professional identity to address injustice and support change. I feel very fortunate to be training on such an amazing course!"
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 programme including teaching, research, staff recruitment and admissions and are working towards more co-production on the DClinPsy. We have an Experts by Experience subcommittee which meets regularly, consults to the programme team on these issues and thinks about how we can improve and ensure meaningful involvement.
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 programme, 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 13 Clinical Psychologists and one Senior Research Fellow who all contribute to the programme 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 Lizette Nolte is our Research Lead 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 health inequality, stigma and social inclusion. Dr Emma Karwatzki leads on the clinical aspects of the programme. She has a particular interest in children, young people’s and family mental health. Dr Wendy Solomons is the Academic lead for the programme and has added to her Clinical Psychology training with a PhD in the social construction of health and illness across the life-span. She is interested in ethical issues within healthcare, in narratives of transition, and in qualitative research methods.
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 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 (e.g. community psychology, liberation psychology and narrative therapy). She has a particular interest in children, young people’s and family mental health.
Dr Natalie Kemp is a clinical psychologist who is passionate about anti-stigma work around provider mental health difficulties. She is keen on exploring Us/Them schisms in the mental health scene, fostering co-design of services and the valuing and representation of experiential knowledge at all levels. She is a Founder CEO of her own company interested in leadership, alternative roles for clinical psychologists, and whole systems working for change. Dr Rachel McKail has a special interest in community psychology, social justice and narrative approaches, all of which locate the issues people experience, such as psychological distress, in wider social, cultural, political and economic structures and discourses, and which advocate for community empowerment, policy and systems change, and reduction of social inequality as the solutions to supporting psychological wellbeing.
Dr Jacqui Gratton has a strong interest in human rights, culture and the impact of traumatic events such as war, persecution and domestic violence. Dr Megan Maidment’s key area of experience and interest is paediatric psychology and supporting children, young people and families affected by illness, injury, or chronic symptoms. Dr Jade Weston has both lived and professional experience of Children’s Social Care and is interested in those that are impacted by Children’s Social Care, such as children in care / care leavers, adoptive families, birth families and social care professionals. She is also interested in improving selection processes to address the discrepancy in outcomes for applicants from marginalised backgrounds.
Dr Jennifer Heath has a keen interest in supporting patient-engagement in their physical and mental healthcare and conducting research for patient-benefit in the area of health psychology and wellbeing. Jen has added to her Clinical Psychology training with a PhD in Applied Psychology. Dr Jacqui Scott is committed to the work being done towards decolonising the research programme. She is interested in research that challenges historical and ongoing oppressive practices within psychology and mental health research, inclusivity in research practices, and research that is relevant to marginalised groups. Dr Keith Sullivan supplements the Clinical Psychology staff team with his expertise in quantitative research methods.
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 programme for our trainees and staff team.
The programme itself is located in the new purpose-built Health Research Building on the College Lane Campus and uses teaching spaces across the College Lane Campus. The programme is based within the University's Department of Psychology, Sport Sciences and Geography, 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 provides the programme with a pleasant and easily accessible campus, with good social spaces, state-of-the-art recreational facilities and campus accommodation. Trainees also benefit from the excellent and modern Learning Resource Centre (including student-bookable hubs for group working) and university-wide "e-learning" facilities, as well as access to purpose-built simulation training centres which provide 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 52 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.
Our programme is in the process of developing contextual recruitment processes. This is based on evidence that contextualising individuals’ achievements using additional information about their educational, social and economic background can lead to fairer and more inclusive selection processes. In particular, this information could help us to recognise individuals with strong potential for success at doctoral level and within the profession, who otherwise might not have been identified.
The Clearing House will circulate a survey to collect Contextual Admissions data separately from the application form. The Group of Trainers in Clinical Psychology have agreed the questions in this survey, which have evidence for improving the inclusivity and equity of recruitment processes. Completion of this survey is optional, however if you are able to answer any of the questions which provide some additional background about you, and you are happy to provide this to us via the Clearing House, then we would encourage you to do so.
We will in due course provide further details on our website about how we will use the data collected in the survey e.g. as part of our selection processes; for audit/research purposes to consider developments to selection processes in future years; to create reports for external agencies such as Health Education England (which commissions many of the training programmes); etc. We are in the process of conducting research on the use of contextual admissions information using a survey completed by applicants to the programme for 2021 entry. The outcomes of the research will inform of use of the data in selection processes for 2022 entry.
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 programmes, we are hoping to include contextual recruitment in our selection process this year.
Applications 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 Programme 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 6 of May 2022. Interviews for NHS places will be held from 9 to 13 May 2022 inclusive.
The interviewing process consist of four parts, which we would aim to all take place on the same day: an individual panel interview addressing academic competency and professional and personal suitability; a group task and role-play which both assess interpersonal and clinical 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 programme). 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 Natalie Kemp 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 52 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 2022. 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-£1,900, 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 programme. Travel expenses and living costs would need to be financed by the applicant. The full three-year programme 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 programme is identical for NHS funded and self-funded trainees, we recognise that being self-funded can involve additional complexities. We therefore have Dr Natalie Kemp 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 ongoing 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. Attention to ethical practice, reflective learning, equality and cultural humility is highlighted across 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.
The main models of psychological therapy currently taught on the programme are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and systemic. We are working on bringing the systemic elements in line with AFT foundation 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 critically understand and apply a range of psychological theories and approaches to both clinical practice and research, including those from beyond Western knowledges. 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 (e.g. 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 programme 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 used in some settings. 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. We work closely with placement providers to consider how our placement pool is best utilised to provide a meaningful and quality placement experience.
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 also a wide range of clinical psychology fields, e.g., 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. We are actively developing community psychology placements to enable practice of social justice principles embedded across the programme.
Each trainee is allocated a Programme Tutor from the staff team for the duration of their training. The Programme 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 Programme Tutor is also responsible for completing annual appraisals and for providing pastoral support.
We view research as a key aspect of the identity and skill set of a Clinical Psychologist and aim to embed a passion for research in all our trainees. 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, foundational research skills, qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis, guidance in the use of statistics, and the process of planning and organising research projects. There is a particular focus on considering meaningful participation and public involvement in research and a commitment to decolonising research approaches. Dissemination is considered an ethical responsibility, and support towards this is offered through writing and dissemination workshops. A wide range of statistical and computing facilities is available, with excellent support from departmental technical staff.
At the beginning of the first year, our trainees conduct a Small-Scale Service-Related Project while on placement (typically an audit, service evaluation, or Quality Improvement project). 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 programme team. As a programme team, we have both qualitative and quantitative research expertise. Clear research expertise and networks have been developed in relation to a number of programme research streams, including Children, young people and families; Health psychology and wellbeing; Food and eating health equality, inclusion and communities; and Clinical Psychology training and professional issues. These align with the wider research themes of the University of Hertfordshire and the wider university research strategy. 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 programme.
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 Clinical Practice Reports based on clinical work conducted on placements.
In addition to these formal evaluations, trainees are monitored throughout training by their Programme Tutors, in order to provide them with qualitative feedback, and opportunities for development of competencies. Trainees are also required to undertake presentations regarding their clinical practice and a videotaped clinical skills exercise, for which they receive qualitative feedback.
As a Programme Team, we recognise that the programme 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 are provided to trainees from the Programme 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 programme team can advise trainees regarding accessing personal therapy and access to disability support.
Dr Pieter W Nel - Programme Director
Dr Wendy Solomons - Academic Lead
Dr Lizette Nolte - Research Lead
Dr Emma Karwatzki - Clinical Lead
Dr Jade Weston - Admissions Tutor & Senior Lecturer
Dr Barbara Rishworth - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Jacqui Gratton - Principal Lecturer
Dr Megan Maidment - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Rachel McKail - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Rebecca Adlington - Clinical Lecturer
Dr Natalie Kemp - Clinical Lecturer & Tutor for Self-Funders
Dr Jennifer Heath - Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow
Dr Keith Sullivan - Senior Research Fellow
Dr Jacqui Scott - Post Doctoral Research Fellow
Katie Simmans - Programme Administrator
Catriona Roy - Deputy Programme Administrator