Varied routes to qualification

A letter from our April edition.

Ella Rhodes’s coverage from the Psychology4Graduates event (‘Diverse and colourful’, February 2016) was gratefully received, as the event was truly inspiring. Both Steph Minchin and I took a great deal away from the event and it was fabulous to get to meet so many aspiring clinical psychologists.

We thought it worthwhile to write in to The Psychologist to continue discussions around the route to clinical psychology. The remit of clinical psychology is multifaceted and, quite simply put, diverse. And in aspiring to share our passion and hopes for the audience’s own path to training, we hope that we conveyed the multiplicity of routes in. Whereas the work of clinical psychology is diverse, we also wanted to acknowledge that the route to clinical training is itself just as diverse.

It is the hope of the Pre-Qualification Group to diversify that route even more so and encourage that breadth of character, innovation and resilience that very often comes from the winding path that takes you through unexpected, novel and challenging stops along the way. It is often these moments that turn into the most rewarding of experiences that we learn the most from. Although many often pine for the transparency of a ‘set-in-stone’ pathway to training, one does not exist, and we wonder whether this is a good thing. Questions about the existence of such a path are often put to trainees, and it is through events like Psychology4Graduates that we can put such a myth to rest. We need more forums in which individual narratives and personal accounts of routes into clinical training can be shared, if only to celebrate that there are many more ways to get there than you may at first think.

When these routes to training are so different, we also need to be mindful of whether everyone has an equal footing or whether the stepping-stones are accessible to all, particularly if it is deemed such a challenge to ‘get your foot in the door’ in the first place. The Pre-Qualification Group has raised these issues in order to address them, and will continue to do so for our members. From addressing the ‘price’ of honorary contracts (Acker et al., 2013), finding a voice as a member of a minority group en route to and during clinical training (Kinouani et al., 2014), and in setting a clear vision for a training body inclusive of those who have changed careers, for personal experience of services and distress, and for diversity to take centre stage; and in our address on the ‘Past, Present and Future of Clinical Psychology’ (Methley et al., 2016). Having said this, clearly we need to do more to raise these issues and address any issues of inequality both outside (e.g. our clinical work) and within the route to our professional qualification.

In addressing the Psychology4Graduates event, Steph and I had hoped that we could really emphasise that, yes, this is not an easy route to pursue, but the journey ahead can be so varied and interesting. At the University of Herts and Pre-Qualification Committee, not one of our stories is the same. Often the most poignant, meaningful and enriching of narratives come from the personal and lived experience; from the stories of travelling, previous careers of tap-dancing and accountancy, those musical passions, spiritual belief systems and values, those valiant attempts at DIY, to becoming a parent for the very first time. Indeed, it is just as much about the persistence to live life outside of clinical psychology, as developing that academic fortitude and clinical foresight, to truly prepare for that winding road ahead.

If individuals wish to remind themselves of some of the talk, please visit for a copy of the slide presentation.

James Randall-James
Co-chair of the Pre-Qualification Group (DCP)
Trainee clinical psychologist, University of Hertfordshire
Stephanie Minchin
Pre-Qualification Group (DCP)
Trainee clinical psychologist, University of Hertfordshire

Acker, L., Gilligan, L. & Cooper, S. (2013). The price of ‘free’ – Thoughts on the role of Honorary Assistant Psychologists. Clinical Psychology Forum, 248, 46–48.
Kinouani, G., Tserpeli, E., Nicholas, J. et al. (2014). Minorities in clinical psychology training: Reflections on the journey to finding a voice. Clinical Psychology Forum, Issue 260, pp.8–11
Methley, A., Sawer, F., Randall-James, J. & Persson, J. (2016). The past, present and future of clinical psychology training. Clinical Psychology Forum, Issue 277, pp.3–7.

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