Doctor of Clinical Psychology
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The Doctor of Clinical Psychology is a full-time, three year postgraduate professional course in clinical psychology, designed to train psychologists to be eligible for appointment as Clinical Psychologists in the health services. The clinical psychology programme at University College Cork is the newest in Ireland. Whilst embracing the core training standards for the profession evident across all programmes, the Cork programme will grow a unique identity as outlined in Course Details.
The programme is delivered in partnership between the University and Health Services Executive (HSE), the University responsible for student education and the HSE responsible for provision and supervision of clinical placements. Students spend about 45% of their time in class learning, studying, and carrying out supervised research and about 55% on clinical placements. Each student is offered a specified purpose contract of employment for 3 years as a Trainee Clinical Psychologist with the HSE or other healthcare organisations.
As placements can be located anywhere in Ireland, trainees must be available to travel to, and as required for, placement activities. Application to the programme is considered acceptance by candidates that they are prepared to travel the required distances.
Please note: these arrangements are all subject to agreement with the HSE and to review in light of current and future national developments in the funding of clinical psychology training.
As well as completing placements and study in Adult Mental Health, Intellectual Disability and Autism, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, and Elective areas, trainees also receive support for Personal and Professional Development, and an advanced training in clinical research leading to a thesis research portfolio.
The selection process for the D.Clin.Psych. is composed of two stages:
Stage 1: Minimum eligibility criteria
- Applicants must have a first or upper second class honours degree. This can be either:
- a) An honours degree in Psychology which confers eligibility for graduate membership of the Psychological Society of Ireland.
- b) An honours degree in another subject (2H1 or higher) together an accredited conversion qualification (2H1 or higher) which confers eligibility for graduate membership of the Psychological Society of Ireland.
- Applicants with a 2:2 degree may apply IF they have an additional postgraduate qualification related to Clinical Psychology (e.g. a masters or a PhD).
- Applicants who are not resident in the EU must have proof of eligibility to work in the EU and a statement of equivalence in psychology.
- Applicants must have postgraduate experience within mental health, disability or related settings (includes voluntary experience). Applicants must submit short personal statements (two supplementary questions on the PAC application portal) that clearly indicates how their postgraduate education and/or work experience has prepared them to undertake clinical psychology training.
- Applicants must name two referees, normally one academic and one clinical on their PAC application form. Referees will only be contacted directly by the school for a reference for those shortlisted.
- Minimum English language qualification requirements and options, for those whose first language is not English, are outlined on www.ucc.ie/en/study/comparison.english
Stage 2: Selection process
As there are likely to be far more suitable applicants than places available, an interview shortlist will be prepared by university and HSE selection panel members. The shortlist will be based on ratings of the relevant competencies derived from evidence presented in applicants’ transcripts, application form and supplementary questions. The competencies include: academic ability; psychological knowledge and skills; research competencies; personal development in areas relevant to clinical psychology training; clinically relevant abilities and experience..
Shortlisted applicants will be invited to a day-long assessment. This will involve two individual interviews related to academic – research and clinical – personal competencies and a group interview related to personal and interpersonal competencies.
Please note that the names of students who are selected for this programme will be submitted for Garda Vetting.
The programme embraces the reflective scientist-practitioner approach that characterises contemporary clinical psychology. Students are taught to rigorously evaluate, synthesise and apply existing clinical research in professional practice and to generate new research knowledge from their practice. The interplay between practice and reflection is embedded in the course structure and content. The UCC programme will include opportunities to train in new, third wave, therapies, an emphasis on developing the non-therapy competencies of leadership and organisational influence and opportunities to join research programmes with impact.
Over the three years, students spend about 45% of their time studying and carrying out supervised research. They learn about the key processes that a clinical psychologist engages in, e.g. assessment, formulation and intervention, which they apply in core areas Adult Mental Health, Intellectual Disability and Autism, Child and Adolescent Mental Health and in elective or specialist areas. They also learn advanced research methods and data analysis to support their clinical research which leads to a thesis research portfolio. This time studying is interwoven with the approximately 55% of time spent on clinical placements under the supervision of a registered Clinical Psychologist working in one of the clinical specialisms above.
Personal and professional development is promoted through all aspects of the programme and supported in supervision, tutoring and in specific teaching blocks.
Trainees must pass all modules to progress through the programme and, because of the structure of the programme and the reliance of practices in the health service for specific placements, opportunities for repeating failed placements are strictly limited.
In first year students undertake the following modules: Clinical Psychology Applied to Adults and Clinical Psychology Applied to Intellectual Disability and Autism I, both of which include taught elements and a placement; a taught module on Clinical Research Methods, Measurement and Data Analysis. They also start working on their research project and identifying, with support from an academic supervisor, a suitable topic for the major research project. In the first year trainees will also undertake and report on a service related research project. In line with the UCC Progress Review Policy for Research Students Policy, students will undergo a formal review of progress of research progress and other course components. Where progress is deemed unsatisfactory, students will have a follow-up review within three months of receiving a panel report. A second unsatisfactory report will result in Programme Board considering the advisability of the student continuing on the programme.
In second year students undertake the Clinical Psychology Applied to Intellectual Disability and Autism II and Clinical Psychology Applied to Child and Adolescent, both taught and placement; a taught module on Clinical Research Methods, Measurement and Data Analysis 2. Students will continue working on their research project and would be expected to have obtained ethical approval and relevant agency agreement to begin the process of data collection, and have made significant progress in data collection and analysis. A formal research proposal and a systematic literature review proposal are also conducted in this year. As above, a formal Progress Review will also be undertaken at end of year 2.
In third year, students undertake two final modules, Elective Topic in Clinical Psychology and Advanced Placement in Clinical Psychology both of which include a taught element and placement. They also complete and submit their research thesis which is examined by a viva voce.
Over the three years, students spend about 45% of their time studying and carrying out supervised research and about 55% of their time on supervised clinical placements. As placements can be located anywhere in Ireland, trainees must be available to travel to, and as required for, placement activities. Application to the programme is considered acceptance by candidates that they are prepared to travel the required distances. . The course is organised in specific blocks of lectures and study, followed by placements in that area of specialization. While on placement students have study time, and occasional academic days back at the university.
Modules are assessed in a number of ways including a critical literature review, clinical reports with varying foci, reflective practice assignments and placement evaluations of competence reports. All work is assessed on a Pass/Fail basis. Progress on the major research project is an ongoing matter of discussion between students and supervisors and is formally assessed annually by means of a written submission documenting progress and a presentation of the research project.
Trainees complete placement in each of the following core clinical areas:
- Adult Mental Health Services
- Child, Adolescent and Family Psychology and Mental Health Services
- Intellectual Disability and Autism Services
The placement contexts vary, including hospital, community and tertiary care settings. However all provide the opportunity to develop the core competencies to work as a clinical psychologist. In final year, trainees complete one or two advanced placement in a specialist area. These can focus on a specific population such as Adult Primary Care, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Older Adults, Infant Mental Health, Prison/Forensic services, Neuropsychology, Health Psychology, Mental Health in Intellectual Disability, Early Intervention Psychology or the specialty can be focused on a particular method of working, such as DBT, Schema Focused Therapy etc.
Whilst placements can be anywhere in Ireland (and indeed beyond), most placements (especially in the first two years) will take place in Cork and Kerry. Many placements are in the Cork City and most trainees have found it advantageous to relocate here if coming from elsewhere. However, most trainees will have to travel from this academic base at some stage during training.
Why Study this Course?
This course has been developed to meet the high demand for Clinical Psychologists in the Munster area and beyond. Successful applicants are employed by the Health Services and Voluntary Organisations delivering health services as Trainee Clinical Psychologists for the three years of the course and will start on the first point of the scale (currently €33,185 - €35,729 - €40,525).
In addition to the salary, the HSE will pay 60% towards the trainee’s annual doctoral fee (currently €8,700 in 2019/2020). Trainees are liable to pay the remaining 40% (currently €5,800). Fee Schedule is available here: https://www.ucc.ie/en/media/support/financeoffice/fees/PostgraduateFees,CollegeofArts,CelticStudiesandSocialSciences2019-2020V2.pdf
Who to Contact
Dr. Chris McCusker
School of Applied Psychology, UCC
+ 353 (0)21 490 4602
Clinical psychologists provide a variety of services including assessment, therapy, and consultancy. They work primarily, but not exclusively in child and/or adult and learning disability services where emotional, behavioural, psychiatric or developmental difficulties are addressed.
Career opportunities exist for professionally qualified clinical psychologists in a variety of health, forensic and social care settings as well as in independent practice. Opportunities may also be found in educational services and institutions. Most D.Clin.Psych. graduates take up employment in the HSE but some are also employed within other agencies such as the charity sector and prison service.
FAQs (Please Read)
FAQs (Please Read)
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should I address my queries to?
Firstly, please read all information on this website and this section (FAQ). This will generally cover most queries.
If you cannot find an answer to your query, please contact our administrator, Nora Hennessy, in the first instance: firstname.lastname@example.org
What sort of experience do I need to apply for the course?
We do not rate experiences per se at the shortlisting or interview stage of selection. Rather, we rate competencies (see our entry requirements for details of competencies).
It would be difficult, however, for you to evidence these competencies without some clinically-related experience before starting training. Thus, some clinically relevant experience is a requirement, although we do not prescribe the amount of time etc. Most successful applicants will have at least one year’s relevant experience but quality is as important quantity and we do not prescribe this as essential. Experience helps to establish that you have some appreciation of the programme and career you are applying for and experience should promote the competencies we assess.
Ideally this experience should be with populations that you will encounter in training and practice – e.g. adults and children in psychological distress and / or with a disability. Clinical experience which is supervised by a clinical or other applied psychologist can be particularly valuable. Given variability in experience settings and contexts we cannot advise you what job / position would be preferable over another. It is up to you to decide how such experiences will afford you the opportunities to develop the competencies we assess through selection (see entry requirements).
Research experience (in addition to the undergraduate project) is also relevant and helpful, especially if the research is clinically relevant e.g. where it involves direct contact with users of clinical psychology services, or where the results of the research are clinically applicable.
Please bear in mind that the competencies rated vary across academic, clinical, research, personal and interpersonal domains. It would be difficult for anyone to gain experiences which promote all competencies. Thus, (a) bear in mind that successful applicants always have strengths as well as gaps / limitations and (b) you need to decide for yourself what strengths or emphases you want to prioritise through experience.
I have experience working within a health / disability / other such setting but not directly with clinical or other applied psychologists. Is this relevant?
Experience of working within a clinical psychology context, or receiving such supervision, often allows applicants to gain competencies that we are interested in and also allows candidates to evidence these competencies. However, any experience that allows you to develop competencies in psychological knowledge and skills, research competencies and personal qualities is relevant. Throughout all your experience it is important for you to engage in reflective practice and make theory – practice links where possible. Supervision can help with this, but there is much you can do yourself through reading, continued professional development (CPD) and keeping your own reflective practice log.
Are some masters / postgraduate courses better than other?
We will not recommend one particular programme over another. Again, look at the competencies we assess and decide which programmes are most likely to help you develop such. These could be related to research skills or a critical appreciation of knowledge bases related to clinical psychology. Programmes which promote the application of knowledge to practice settings may be helpful here.
I do not hold a degree in Psychology. Can I still apply?
You need the Graduate Basis for Membership of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) to apply for this course (see below). Typically, this means that your degree should be in Psychology (2:1 level or above – though see exception below) from an Irish or UK university. The degree must be accredited as conferring the Graduate Basis for Membership (GBM) by the PSI or British Psychological Society for UK courses.
If your qualifications do not meet the requirements for GBM you will need to take a higher diploma / conversion course.
Where do I find out about Graduate Basis for Membership?
If your qualifications are not from the Republic of Ireland or the UK you need to have them checked by the PSI to see if they give you GBM.
Please contact the PSI for information on how to establish this.
I have a 2.2 degree. Can I apply?
We only consider applicants with a 2.2 degree if they have also completed a relevant post-graduate degree. If not a 2.1 degree or above is required.
Is the D.Clin.Psych. at UCC accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland?
The D. Clin. Psych. at UCC is the newest of the 5 programmes in the ROI. We are fully accredited by the PSI.
I have a disability. Can I apply for the course?
The course has an equal opportunity policy and is keen to increase diversity within the profession of clinical psychology. We do not discriminate on any basis and welcome applications from all sections of our community. The course will make reasonable adjustments to accommodate people with a disability.
Am I too old to apply for the course?
Again, the course has an equal opportunity policy and welcome applicants of any age. Older candidates frequently have considerable expertise and experience and can be an asset to the course and the profession.
What’s the profile of successful applicants?
Diversity in clinical training and practice is important to us so there is no stereotype or template. We engage a range of academic and clinical practitioners in the selection process to incorporate different perspectives. In addition, applicants with little experience can show huge training potential and impress, and people with a lot of experience and qualifications may not show the required competencies on the application form or through the selection process. Thus, we would encourage considered applications if you think you meet the essential requirements and think you are ready for training. The application process can be good experience in itself.
Data from our first two years of selection would suggest that successful applicants tend to have undertaken postgraduate study and certainly have some relevant experience (whether paid or unpaid).
Any tips on the application form?
The application form is essentially your opportunity to showcase that you have developed the competencies required, and are right, for clinical psychology training. Please consider this very carefully as the application form can either undersell or augment all of your hard earned qualifications and experience in preparation for training. Some tips from the selection sub-committee:
- Do NOT exceed word limits specified.
- Only upload information required.
- Be very clear about your dates of relevant experience.
- Make links between qualifications and experience and competencies attained. Equally, evidence competencies with reference to academic, clinical, research and personal experiences.
- Show reflective capacity. You as a person are as important as the experiences you have attained. Show something of this personal reflective capacity, but please bear in mind that you do not have to “bear your soul” to get into clinical psychology training.
- Be mindful of confidentiality / anonymity issues related to clients / others you may have worked with.