Programme Structure: Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

The programme structure, placement experience and curriculum have been revised to take account of the core competency model as described in the BPS accreditation criteria. This has led to a more flexible use of placements and a greater emphasis in the curriculum on the development of competencies and new teaching methods.

The fundamental structure of the Programme is a hybrid of day-release teaching, mini-teaching blocks (usually one or two weeks duration) and clinical placements. During the first year, trainees attend a three-week introductory block consisting of academic teaching and clinical skills training. This is followed by two five-month placements focusing on core skills and individual work, separated by a two-week mini block. In the first year, trainees attend the University for between one and three days per week during term time. In subsequent years, trainees attend the University for one day each week, with the remaining four days being for clinical work (three) and private study (one). The second year consists of two five-month placements, whilst the final year consists of two five-month placements with some choice of specialisms (in conjunction with learning needs and competency development) and which may be combined as one or two year-long placements. Each placement, except the final one, is preceded by a mini block, (of one to three weeks), designed to prepare trainees for the following placement.

Academic

The general structure of the curriculum has been designed around four themes: Psychological Models, Theories and Evidence Base; Research Skills; Clinical Skills; Professional and Ethical Skills. These four themes run through the three years of training. As each theme develops throughout the three years, it reflects a move from direct client work, to working with groups of clients, staff and consultancy, through to organisational interventions. It is intended that most of the ‘core’ teaching will take place in Years One and Two. This will leave Year Three for more specialist teaching, consolidation and preparation for professional practice and learning. Year One intended learning outcomes focus on working with adults across the life-span, primarily in one to one work; Year Two intended learning outcomes extend this to include working at the systems and organisational level, developing this work with children, families and people with a learning disability. Year Three intended learning outcomes include working with more complex issues, and extension and consolidation of learning and skills achieved in Years One and Two.

Clinical Skills teaching is workshop-based and seeks to cover major models of therapeutic interventions. Professional and Ethical Issues teaching is directed at the professional basis of clinical psychology and the wider context of psychological contributions to the organisation and management of health care services. Throughout the three years, trainees are introduced to a wide range of research methods and approaches including both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Issues of diversity are considered throughout the three years and aim to encourage the integration of such issues as race, gender, disability, sexuality, power and class across all the programme subject areas.

In addition to the four themes described above, there are also research presentations, clinical case workshops, departmental seminars etc. In total, approximately 800 hours are devoted to academic-clinical activities, including lectures, seminars, workshops, and presentations etc. over the three years of training.

Clinical

Clinical placements are organised to link with the academic programme wherever possible. The placements in Year One (placements 1 and 2) are directed at obtaining experience in working with individuals; typically these placements involve adult services (adult mental health, older adults, neuropsychology, continuing care or health psychology). Placements in Year Two (placements 3 and 4) are directed towards services for families, groups and wider systems (such as that involved in many learning disabilities and child settings). A range of placements is available in the third year, depending on competency development needs. These may include: Rehabilitation, Primary Care, Psychotherapy, Neuropsychology, Substance Misuse and Forensic Work. Trainees are expected to work within a range of hospital and community settings and with a full range of client groups over the course of training.

Research

A strength of the Sheffield Programme is its close relationship to a productive and research-orientated Department of Psychology, the Centre for Psychological Services Research (CPSR) and the Institute of Work Psychology. Many opportunities exist for high quality research supervision and teaching. A particular emphasis of the research skills teaching is to encourage trainees to adopt approaches and methods, which are suited to the needs of the NHS. Trainees are required to conduct projects both in applied clinical research and also in service evaluation. The choice of large-scale research project may depend on the availability of appropriate supervisory expertise. In order to enhance the quality of the research supervision provided and the quality of the research completed, we aim to link trainee research with existing expertise within the CPU and specific NHS priorities. The ProgrammeTeam has diverse clinical research interests (see website: www.shef.ac.uk/clinicalpsychology/staff).

Personal & Professional Development

The Programme acknowledges the need for personal and professional development incorporating opportunities to reflect on one's practice as a fundamental part of training, and a sound base for reflective practice once qualified. A range of systems exists to facilitate this development. These include the personal and professional development module; a system of personal mentors; personal tutors; a 'buddy system'; specific teaching on resilience, and the opportunity to attend an eight week experiential mindfulness course. The philosophy is to acknowledge the personal and professional demands of clinical training and to provide a range of options for support which allows trainees choice in effectively meeting their needs.

Assessment

The Programme is assessed via Continuous Assessment, which includes the following procedures:

  1. Academic-clinical projects (total three) specifically conducted whilst on placement. These are a literature review, a single case study, and a service evaluation project.
  2. Series of written short-answer questions based on directed readings.
  3. Clinical Practice Reports (total four).
  4. Research thesis.

Clinical competence is assessed at the end of each placement by the trainee's clinical supervisor(s). Each trainee is rated by their supervisor(s) who make an overall recommendation of pass or fail to the Programme examiners, with whom the final decision rests. Clinical skills are also assessed within the University during the first year of the Programme, via an observed clinical skills assessment.

A personal review/appraisal system is also implemented, in addition to the formal assessment system.

Successful completion of training on the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology Programme in Sheffield will provide eligibility to apply to the Health and Care Professions Council for registration as a Practitioner Clinical Psychologist.