Updated: Nov 4, 2020
It’s that time of the year again when people have started to think about writing their Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy) applications. It can be a tricky time with a lot to juggle and we know that this can be made even more difficult for international aspiring psychologists who may be based in their home countries or for whom it may seem like a less familiar process. We thought we would put together a few pointers that may help in starting to apply to self-funded international places on the DClinPsy programmes in the UK.
Have a read through the Clearing House/ University guide carefully before you start. The application form(s) tend to have a few different sections that you will need to complete, as well as including details of an academic and clinical reference, so the application guide is usually a good place to start to familiarise yourself with the form and process. The website also has templates for the two references you will need to submit, which may be particularly useful to send to referees based outside of the UK. The Clearing House website also has a helpful FAQ section for international applicants.
As an international applicant, you are only able to apply to universities that take on self-funded international trainees, unless you have the right to work in the UK without restrictions. Therefore, you may need to apply either directly to the universities or via the Leeds Clearing House for Postgraduate Courses in Clinical Psychology. The Clearing House website lists out the detailed processes for applying to the different universities. For some universities, you may need to refer to the their individual websites.
Whilst there is no limit to the number of courses international applicants can apply to, choosing a course may seem like a difficult decision. It can be helpful to think about the different courses’ ethos and reflect on how these fit in with your own values, what you might want to get out of the course, and the kind of clinical psychologist you would like to be. Lifestyle factors such as where you would want to live and work can also be a major aspect to carefully think through when choosing which courses to apply to.
NB: Some DClinPsy courses require trainees to hold a valid UK driving license due to placements based in large catchment areas, so do not hesitate to contact the course administrators to check if these rules also apply to international trainees.
As an international applicant, you will need to answer an additional question around your understanding of the role of a clinical psychologist within mental health care systems in the UK. For those with little prior experience of working in mental health care systems in the UK, you may find it helpful to read about the role of a clinical psychologist in the NHS. You may also gain helpful insight into working as a clinical psychologist in the UK on the British Psychological Society and the Association of Clinical Psychologist (ACP-UK) websites. Alternatively, a lot of applicants find it helpful to read through the job description for Trainee Clinical Psychologists prior to filling in their application. Each DClinPsy course should have a different job description document, but an example of it produced by the UCL DClinPsy programme can be found here.
In the application, try to reflect on what you have learned from your experience. You may also want to talk about the unique skills and perspectives you may bring to the role as an international trainee, both in terms of you own lived experience, as well as in terms of the groups of people you have worked with and the healthcare systems you have worked within. However, be mindful of the character limits and try to be as succinct as possible in your answers.
Try to ask a few different people whom you think are in a good position to give you feedback to review your application. It might be worthy of note, however, that feedback from too many reviewers can be confusing, particularly if their feedback comes from very different perspectives and experiences (e.g. where the reviewers were previously trained). So have a think about whom you might want to ask for feedback and when you would ask them. Be prepared to give your reviewers enough time to read through your application, as well as yourself enough time to make changes.
Starting your application may feel like the hardest part of the process. Do not be afraid to put your thoughts onto paper - you can always review and amend it as you go along. It may feel like a long drawn out few months to the deadline but hang in there and don’t forget to take time off to look after yourself!
We will be holding a virtual Q & A webinar session for international aspiring psychologists who may want to know more about the process of applying to the UK DClinPsy. This will be on the 24th of October from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm UK time (GMT +01:00). Please follow this link to register for the session or get in touch with us for more information.