New Certificate Awarded

After an almost two year wait, finally been awarded with the NCFE CACHS Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems, although I completed and received my certificate for the Level 3 course in September 2020.

Read about the course below.

What Does This Qualification Cover?

This qualification aims to raise awareness of mental health and a range of mental health problems.

Who Is It Suitable For?

This qualification is designed for anyone looking to develop their understanding of mental health and the problems that can cause mental ill health.

This qualification is suitable for learners aged 16 and above.

What Are The Entry Requirements?

There are no specific prior qualifications needed to access this qualification, although learners may find it useful to have previously achieved a Level 1 qualification in a health, social care or mental-health related area.

How Is This Qualification Structured?

To be awarded the Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems, learners are required to successfully complete 13 mandatory units.

How Is It Assessed?

To achieve the Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems, learners must successfully demonstrate their achievement of all learning outcomes and assessment criteria of the units as detailed in the qualification specification. Grades are not awarded.

The Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems is internally assessed.

What Related Qualifications Can You Progress To?

Learners who achieve this qualification could progress to:

  • Level 2 and 3 Certificate in Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care.
  • Level 2 Award in Awareness of Dementia.
  • Level 2 and 3 Certificate for Working in the Health Sector.
  • Level 3 Certificate in the Principles of End of Life Care.
  • Level 3 Certificate in Stroke Care Management.
  • Level 3 Certificate in Understanding Mental Health.

What is a Bachelor of Psychology?


The Bachelor of Psychology degree (BPsych, or PsyB; also Bachelor of Arts or Science in Psychology, BAPsy, BScPsy) is a degree awarded to students who have completed a specialised course of study in the field of psychology – i.e. as opposed to a broad major in the subject within a general BA or BSc degree.


Variants include the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Forensic Psychology, Bachelor of Arts in Organisational Psychology. Courses typically last four years, but may be as long as six.

Refer to Master of Psychology and Doctor of Psychology.

What is a Master of Psychology?


The Master of Psychology (abbreviated Psy.M. or M.Psych.) is a master’s degree in the field of Psychology.


In France, the PsyM is a professional and/or a research master’s degree and is offered through a number of different universities. The PsyM is considered as a specialisation in one of the different fields of psychology (neuropsychology, psychopathology, occupational psychology, …).

A professional PsyM is required to access the title of psychologist.

All students entering a professional PsyM programme are required to have a recognised bachelor’s degree in a related field. The PsyM is a two years long diploma, conferring at its term a 5-years university diploma.

Refer to Bachelor of Psychology and Doctor of Psychology.

What is a Mental Health Counsellor?


A mental health counsellor (MHC), or counsellor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health.

Such persons may help individuals deal with issues associated with addiction and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging.

The United States Bureau of Labour Statistics distinguishes “Mental Health Counsellors” from “Social Workers”, “Psychiatrists”, and “Psychologists”.


The legal definition of a counsellor, and hence the legal scope of practice, varies with jurisdiction. For example, in some jurisdictions across the United States, counsellors, marriage and family therapists, and psychologists have virtually identical definitions: evaluating and treating mental and behavioural disorders.

In spite of such definitions, many mental health professionals reject the medical model (which assumes that clients are “disordered”) in favour of broader viewpoints, such as those that emerged from systems psychology.

Service Users

MHCs work with individuals, couples, families, and groups to address and treat emotional and mental disorders and to promote mental health. Most mental health counsellors in the US work in outpatient and residential care centres, individual and family services, and local governments. They are trained in a variety of therapeutic techniques used to address issues, including depression, anxiety, addiction and substance abuse, suicidal impulses, stress, problems with self-esteem, and grief. They also help with job and career concerns, educational decisions, issues related to mental and emotional health, and family, parenting, marital, or other relationship problems. Some career concerns include helping employees who have mental health conditions to manage their health condition whilst adhering to organisational demands to demonstrate performance and commitment to their work.

MHCs also continue to play a growing role in the military mental health crisis, helping military personnel and their families deal with issues such as PTSD.

MHCs often work closely with other mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses, and school counsellors. Many mental health counsellors look to help their clients have a concise whole body treatment plan that addresses all the needs of the client.

In the United States, MHCs diagnose as well as treat mental illness, though the scope of practice for mental health practitioners varies from state to state.


United States

Licensing requirements can vary depending on which state a mental health counsellor practices in. Across the United States, mental health counselling licensure is required to independently practice, but can be practiced without a license if under close supervision of a licensed practitioner. Licensing titles for mental health counsellors vary from state to state:

  • Licensed Mental Health Counsellor (LMHC);
  • Licensed Professional Counsellor (LPC);
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counsellor (LPCC); and
  • Various forms of these titles may list differently per state statues.

The title “Mental Health Counsellor” (or variation thereof) is often a protected title and thus it may be a violation of state law for persons to hold themselves as such without a proper credential.

A licensed mental health counsellor holds a minimum of a master’s degree in counselling or another closely related field in mental health care. After obtaining a master’s degree, mental health counsellors complete two to three years (depending on various state statutes) of clinical work under the supervision of a licensed or certified mental health professional. The qualifications for licensure are similar to those for marriage and family therapists and for clinical social workers. Becoming a counsellor and using it in daily life to help others to learn more about themselves is not a reason for someone to pursue a degree within this field. Ethics within this profession require the counsellor to remain professional to be able to adequately treat patients. Remaining detached as the witness to a client’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions can be a hard thing to do, but will ultimately reassure a patient that there are no judgement to what they will share. Guiding a patient to understand themselves and their choices is also another aspect of this profession.

Peer Support Training Completed

Happy to report that I have completed my Peer Support Training with FVA (Fife Voluntary Action) and LA Co-reflection.

A big thank you to Lisa Archibald (LA) and Trish O’Brien (FVA).


We learned about and discussed the following:

  • Session 01, Introduction:
    • History of peer support and where it came from.
    • Peer support values.
  • Session 02, Relationships:
    • Relational dynamics, and how we might get stuck.
    • What do positive relationships feel like?
  • Session 03, What Do We Fell and Need:
    • Mutuality in relationships.
    • Having intentional conversations.
    • What parts of my life story do I want to share.
  • Session 04, Connections and Endings:
    • Forming connections and commonalities.
    • How do you move forwards from a disconnection?
    • Reconnection.
    • Endings in relationships.


The course was delivered over a total of 10 hours (4 x 2.5 hours sessions on separate days).


The course was delivered via zoom with tutor-led theory and discussions, as well as group-led small group work (2-3 persons).

What Did I Learn

Things I learned during the course include:

  • The importance of building a connection within a peer support relationship, and understanding how commonalities can aid this.
  • Understand and appreciate that some relationships are not meant to be, and how to communicate this.
  • Peer support is a negotiation and two-way process, both the helper and helpee get something out of the relationship.
  • How to reconnect if there is disconnect.
  • Ensuring that the helpee has the opportunity to expression what they hope to achieve from peer support.
  • Periodic review of the peer support relationship – to ensure it is progressing towards its stated aims (see point above).
  • Peer support should be honest and open.
  • Discuss boundaries and limits at the start of the relationship.
  • Negotiate what is comfortable and why (e.g. comfortable with a hand shake but not a hug) (see point above).
  • How to reframe questions or statements, and why we do this.

What is a Doctor of Clinical Psychology?

The degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy/DClinPsych/ClinPsyD) is a professional doctorate in clinical psychology, awarded mainly in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The degree has both clinical and research components, and qualifies the holder to practice as a clinical psychologist in Britain’s National Health Service and other clinical settings.

It bears some similarities to the Doctor of Psychology degree in the United States.


In Denmark the corresponding degree is called “specialpsykolog” (Special Psychologist) or “specialist i **” (Specialist Psychologist in **).

In the Netherlands the corresponding degree is “gezondheidszorgpsycholoog” (Healthcare Psychologist).

In Spain, the postgraduate training in Clinical Psychology is carried out as 4 years intern residence within the National Health System and the title obtained is “Especialista en Psicología Clínica [Specialist in Clinical Psychology]”, usually abbreviated “EPC”.

In Italy, postgraduate training leading to the professional licence to practice as a psychotherapist is carried out as a 5-year programme involving 400 hours of theoretical training and 400 hours of clinical practicum every year. Trainees are attached to clinical units of the Italian national health system and are required to spend part of their training carrying out research and defend their specialization thesis before an academic board, which will consider the conferment of the title of “specialista” in psychotherapy. Four different specialist degrees lead to the license as a psychotherapist: Specialist in Clinical Psychology, Specialist in Health Psychology, Specialist in Lifespan Psychology and Specialist in Neuropsychology.

In Ireland doctoral programmes in Clinical Psychology are accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland. Irish universities offering professional doctoral programmes in Clinical Psychology include Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and University College Cork,

In the United Kingdom, doctoral programmes in Clinical Psychology are accredited by the British Psychological Society and approved by the Health and Care Professions Council, the statutory regulator for practitioner psychologists and courses in the UK. The doctorate in clinical psychology programme normally lasts three years, and funding is provided by the National Health Service. A Doctorate in Clinical Psychology is necessary to register as a practitioner clinical psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council.

British universities offering professional doctoral programmes in Clinical Psychology include the University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, University of Hertfordshire, Lancaster University, University of East London, University of Sheffield, University of Liverpool, University College London, Newcastle University, Queen’s University Belfast, and the University of Oxford. There is a central clearinghouse for applications to Doctor of Clinical Psychology programmes, hosted by the University of Leeds. Information and discussion about the UK system of training in clinical psychology, the typical requirements needed to gain a place on a doctoral training course, and what the doctorate allows graduates to do can be found on the ClinPsy website and forum.

What is a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)?


The Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) is a professional doctoral degree intended to prepare graduates for careers that apply scientific knowledge of psychology and deliver empirically based service to individuals, groups and organisations.

Earning the degree was originally completed through one of two established training models for clinical psychology. However, Psy.D. programmes are no longer limited to Clinical Psychology as several universities and professional schools have begun to award professional doctorates in Business Psychology, Organisational Development, Forensic Psychology, Counselling Psychology, and School Psychology.

It bears some similarities to the Doctor of Clinical Psychology degree in the United Kingdom.

Refer to Bachelor of Psychology and Master of Psychology.


The initial guidelines for the education and training of clinical psychologists were established in 1949 at an American Psychological Association (APA)-sponsored Conference on Training in Clinical Psychology in Boulder, Colorado. Students would be prepared both to conduct experimental research and apply knowledge for clinical practice. This approach became known as the scientist-practitioner model, although it is often referred to as the Boulder model since the conference was held in Boulder, Colorado.

The difficulty integrating the education and training for both research and practice within the same degree has been long recognised. While the scientist-practitioner model ostensibly included clinical training, many argued that preparation for practice was often neglected. Some also argued that in trying to train students in both research and practice, not enough emphasis was placed on either. In regard to research, the most common number of publications by graduates of PhD. programmes was zero. In regard to practice, students were not being trained effectively for the needs of people seeking services.

While the scientist-practitioner model “stood intransigent and impervious through the 1950s and 60s”, the APA attempted to respond to pressure for more and better clinical training by forming the Committee on the Scientific and Professional Aims of Psychology in 1963. The Committee concluded that the scientist-practitioner model failed to do either of the jobs for which it was designed and recommended several important changes, including: establishing separate practice-oriented programmes, potentially in locations other than university psychology departments; developing a practice-oriented training model; and using the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) degree to designate preparation for clinical practice. The Committee’s conclusions and recommendations met with controversy. In particular, opponents said a different degree would impact the field’s prestige and ignore science. Proponents, however, argued it would be informed by science and that other practice-oriented healthcare disciplines, such as medicine, had well-respected professional degrees.

In 1973, the APA sponsored the Conference on Levels and Patterns of Training in Vail, Colorado. Conference members concluded that psychological knowledge had matured sufficiently to warrant creating distinct practice-oriented programmes. Members also concluded that if the education and training for practice differs from research, then different degrees should reflect that: when emphasis is on preparing students for providing clinical services, the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) degree should be awarded; when the focus is on preparing students for conducting experimental research, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree should be awarded. This approach became known as the practitioner-scholar model, also known as the Vail model. Graduates of both training models would be eligible for licensure in all jurisdictions in the United States, and the licensing exams and renewal requirements would be the same for both degrees.

With the creation of the Doctor of Psychology degree, the APA confirmed that the Psy.D. is a credential that certifies attainment of the knowledge and skill required to establish clinical psychology as a profession. Furthermore, it follows the policies of both the Association of American Universities, and the Council of Graduate Schools: a professional doctorate (e.g., M.D., DDS, DVM) is awarded in recognition of preparation for professional practice, whereas the PhD. is awarded in recognition of preparation for research.

Education and Clinical Training

The practice of clinical psychology is based on an understanding of the scientific method and behavioural science. The focus of the Doctor of Psychology training model is on the application of this knowledge for direct clinical intervention. This includes the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, as well as cognitive and emotional impairments in which psychological approaches may be of use. Compared to PhD., the doctor of psychology is focused toward more clinical work as opposed to the research focus of a doctor of philosophy in psychology.

Doctor of Psychology programmes take four to seven years to complete. Students in these programmes receive a broad and general education in scientific psychology and evidence-based treatment. Course work includes: Biological bases of behaviour; cognitive-affective bases of behaviour; social-cultural bases of behaviour; lifespan development; assessment and diagnosis; treatment and intervention; research methods and statistics; and ethical and professional standards. Specialised training (e.g. neuropsychology, forensic psychology, psychodynamic psychology) is also available in some programmes.

Students in doctoral psychology programmes receive extensive clinical training through placements in various settings (e.g. community mental health centres, hospitals, juvenile hall, college counselling centres). These placements provide direct patient contact that is supervised by a licensed psychologist. Clinical training culminates in a 1,750-2,000 hour (1-year full-time or 2-year half-time) supervised internship.

In order to complete the Psy.D. degree, students typically must demonstrate several competencies:

  • Knowledge mastery through passing comprehensive exams;
  • Clinical skill through successful completion of a pre-doctoral internship; and
  • Scholarship through a doctoral research project.

Regional accreditation is available to doctoral programmes in clinical psychology.

The doctoral degree allows for a broader range of career options in schools, private or independent practice, clinics, hospitals, or research/academia. Individuals with doctoral degrees may experience greater eligibility for various credentials.

As stated above, there are three different doctoral degrees for school psychology, PhD., Psy.D., and Ed.D. Career options for those with a PhD. may include being a school psychologist with a license at any level (preschool, primary, secondary or after), a professor for school psychology graduate students and/or screening for possible recruits for a school psychology programme or a postdoctoral resident. Overall, those with a PhD. have more opportunities for leadership positions. Those with this degree can work in settings other than schools. Those with a PhD. are more likely to create student development workgroups and review proposals for conventions. They have been known to become editors for Best Practices, work with the editors in chief of journals, members of the NASP Communique Editorial Board, reviewers for the National School Psychology Certification Board and part of NASP’s Social Justice Committee. Some school psychologists choose to continue practicing in a K-12 setting but encourage more trained school staff for professional development, i.e. for functional behavioural assessments and behaviour intervention plans. Those who have obtained a PhD. have a greater opportunity to conduct comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations for educational and forensic purposes, review medical/legal records for forensic evaluations, and see clients for therapy. These individuals may even develop new rating scales to the field. Those with this degree have the opportunity to be recognised as a member of the American Psychological Association.

Career options for those who attain an Ed.D. may include becoming a university professor, creating school policy, focusing on administration, educational technology and district-wide leadership, and assisting in adult education, curriculum and instruction. Overall these areas can be broken up into three subgroups; research and academia, management and influence. If the individual chose to be involved in research and academia they could teach at public/private universities and conduct/publish research. The knowledge and experience gained through the doctorate program is imperative in having a successful career in academia. A doctorate is not required for management in some school districts; however, the degree, experience, and education can help in competitive positions. All of the experience and knowledge acquired helps with understanding education from a different perspective.

Psy.D. training has a clinical emphasis compared to PhD., and focusing on delivering psychological services directly to individuals or groups. This allows school psychologists to learn more about mental health. This degree usually takes four to six years to attain. Once the Psy.D. is earned the school psychologist becomes eligible for licensure as a psychologist from an APA approved programme. Psy.D. career options may include private practice, working in university based settings (undergraduate teaching or other practitioner scholar Psy.D programmes), working in community based mental health centres (i.e. behavioural health, disorders), working in outpatient settings- clinics for individual or group therapy, or working for juvenile justice programmes (work with incarcerated youth). It is recommended to work in the field before pursuing a school psychology doctoral degree.

Doctoral training programmes may be approved by NASP and/or accredited by the American Psychological Association. In 2007, approximately 125 programmes were approved by NASP, and 58 programmes were accredited by APA. Another 11 APA-accredited programmes were combined (clinical/counselling/school, clinical/school, or counselling/school).


A license to practice as a clinical psychologist is required in the United States. While specific requirements vary by jurisdiction, every state mandates:

  • Successful completion of either a 1-year full-time or 2-year half-time supervised clinical internship totalling 1,750-2,000 hours; and
  • Passing the national and state licensing exams.

Most states also require an additional postdoctoral year of supervised training after earning the doctorate, in order to become eligible to take the national and state licensing exams.

Maryland and Washington have removed the one year postdoctoral experience in place of requiring two years of supervised experience, both of which can be completed prior to graduation. In February 2006, the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives adopted a statement recommending that this change also be made to the licensing requirements of other states since the nature of training has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. Previously, doctoral-level students accrued most of their clinical hours during internship and postdoctoral fellowships. Now, students accrue most of their clinical hours in the course of their training and internship. Thus, they are ready to begin practice upon graduation. Next, there are considerably fewer positions available for recent graduates and providing the training before graduation facilitates early career psychologists.

Licensing Exam

In the United States, a doctoral degree from a programme acceptable to the licensing board is required, including the PhD., Psy.D., and Ed.D. are among the doctorate degrees that make individuals eligible to sit for the Examination for Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP; CA Board of Psychology). The EPPP is the national licensing examination and its completion is required in order for one to obtain a license to practice psychology.

While there is an increasing number of university-based Psy.D. programmes, many Psy.D. programmes are at newer professional schools of psychology.

What is a Psychologist?


A psychologist is a person who studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behaviour by experimenting with, and observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments.

Applied Psychology in the United States

Applied psychology applies theory to solve problems in human and animal behaviour. Clinical psychology is a field of applied psychology that focus on therapeutic methods. Other applied fields include counselling psychology and school psychology. Licensing and regulations can vary by country, state, and profession.

Clinical Psychology

Education and Training

In the United States and Canada, full membership in the American Psychological Association requires doctoral training (except in some Canadian provinces, such as Alberta, where a master’s degree is sufficient). The minimal requirement for full membership can be waived in circumstances where there is evidence that significant contribution or performance in the field of psychology has been made. Associate membership requires at least two years of postgraduate studies in psychology or an approved related discipline.

Some US schools offer accredited programmes in clinical psychology resulting in a master’s degree. Such programmes can range from forty-eight to eighty-four units, most often taking two to three years to complete after the undergraduate degree. Training usually emphasizes theory and treatment over research, quite often with a focus on school, or couples and family counselling. Similar to doctoral programs, master’s level students usually must fulfil time in a clinical practicum under supervision; some programmes also require a minimum amount of personal psychotherapy. While many graduates from master’s level training go on to doctoral psychology programmes, a large number also go directly into practice – often as a licensed professional counsellor (LPC), marriage and family therapist (MFT), or other similar licensed practice (see below).

There is stiff competition to gain acceptance into clinical psychology doctoral programs (acceptance rates of 2-5% are not uncommon). Clinical psychologists in the US undergo many years of graduate training – usually five to seven years after the bachelor’s degree – to gain demonstrable competence and experience. Licensure as a psychologist takes an additional one to two years post Ph.D./Psy.D. (licensure requires 3,000 hours of supervised training), depending on the state. Today in America, about half of all clinical psychology graduate students are being trained in Ph.D. programmes that emphasize research and are conducted by universities – with the other half in Psy.D. programmes, which have more focus on practice (similar to professional degrees for medicine and law). Both types of doctoral programmes (Ph.D. and Psy.D.) envision practicing clinical psychology in a research-based, scientifically valid manner, and most are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

APA accreditation is very important for US clinical, counselling, and school psychology programmes because graduating from a non-accredited doctoral programme may adversely affect employment prospects and present a hurdle for becoming licensed in some jurisdictions.

It should be noted that APA membership is not a requirement for licensure in any of the 50 states. This fact should not be confused with APA accreditation of graduate psychology programmes and clinical internships.

Doctorate (Ph.D. and Psy.D.) programmes usually involve some variation on the following 5 to 7 year, 90-120 unit curriculum:

  • Bases of behaviour: biological, cognitive-affective and cultural-social.
  • Individual differences: personality, lifespan development, psychopathology.
  • History and systems: development of psychological theories, practices and scientific knowledge.
  • Clinical practice: diagnostics, psychological assessment, psychotherapeutic interventions, psychopharmacology, ethical and legal issues.
  • Coursework in statistics and research design.
  • Clinical experience:
    • Practicum: usually three or four years of working with clients under supervision in a clinical setting. Most practicum placements begin in either the first or second year of doctoral training.
    • Doctoral internship: usually an intensive one or two-year placement in a clinical setting.
  • Dissertation: Ph.D. programmes usually require original quantitative empirical research, while Psy.D. dissertations involve original quantitative or qualitative research, theoretical scholarship, program evaluation or development, critical literature analysis or clinical application and analysis. The dissertation typically takes 2-3 years to complete.
  • Specialized electives: many programmes offer sets of elective courses for specialisations, such as health, child, family, community or neuropsychology.
  • Personal psychotherapy: many programmes require students to undertake a certain number of hours of personal psychotherapy (with a non-faculty therapist) although in recent years this requirement has become less frequent.
  • Comprehensive exams or master’s thesis: A thesis can involve original data collection and is distinct from a dissertation.

Psychologists can be seen as practicing within two general categories of psychology: applied psychology which includes “practitioners” or “professionals”, and research-orientated psychology which includes “scientists”, or “scholars”. The training models endorsed by the American Psychological Association (APA) require that applied psychologists be trained as both researchers and practitioners, and that they possess advanced degrees.

Psychologists typically have one of two degrees: PsyD or PhD. The PsyD programme prepares the student only for clinical practice (e.g., testing, psychotherapy). Depending on the specialty (industrial/organisational, social, clinical, school, etc.), a PhD may be trained in clinical practice as well as in scientific methodology, to prepare for a career in academia or research. Both the PsyD and PhD programmes prepare students to take state licensing exams.

Within the two main categories are many further types of psychologists as reflected by the 56 professional classifications recognised by the APA, including clinical, counselling, and school psychologists. Such professionals work with persons in a variety of therapeutic contexts. People often think of the discipline as involving only such clinical or counselling psychologists. While counselling and psychotherapy are common activities for psychologists, these applied fields are just two branches in the larger domain of psychology. There are other classifications such as industrial, organisational and community psychologists, whose professionals mainly apply psychological research, theories, and techniques to “real-world” problems of business, industry, social benefit organisations, government, and academia.


  • Specific disorders (e.g. trauma, addiction, eating and sleep disorders, sexual dysfunction, depression, anxiety, or phobias).
  • Neuropsychological disorders.
  • Child and adolescent psychology.
  • Family and relationship counselling.
  • Health psychology.
  • Medical Psychology.
  • Sport psychology.
  • Forensic psychology.
  • Industrial and organisational psychology.
  • Educational psychology.

Clinical psychologists receive training in a number of psychological therapies, including behavioural, cognitive, humanistic, existential, psychodynamic, and systemic approaches, as well as in-depth training in psychological testing, and to some extent, neuropsychological testing.


Clinical psychologists can offer a range of professional services, including:

  • Psychological treatment (therapy).
  • Administering and interpreting psychological assessment and testing.
  • Conducting psychological research.
  • Teaching.
  • Developing prevention programmes.
  • Consulting.
  • Programme administration.
  • Expert testimony.

In practice, clinical psychologists might work with individuals, couples, families, or groups in a variety of settings, including private practices, hospitals, mental health organisations, schools, businesses, and non-profit agencies.

Most clinical who engage in research and teaching do so within a college or university setting. Clinical psychologists may also choose to specialise in a particular field.

Prescription Privileges

Psychologists in the United States campaigned for legislative changes to enable specially trained psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications. Legislation in Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Illinois has granted those who complete an additional master’s degree program in psychopharmacology permission to prescribe medications for mental and emotional disorders. As of 2019, Louisiana is the only state where the licensing and regulation of the practice of psychology by medical psychologists (MPs) is regulated by a medical board (the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners) rather than a board of psychologists. While other states have pursued prescriptive privileges, they have not succeeded. Similar legislation in the states of Hawaii and Oregon passed through their respective legislative bodies, but in each case the legislation was vetoed by the state’s governor.

In 1989, the US Department of Defence was directed to create the Psychopharmacology Demonstration Project (PDP). By 1997, ten psychologists were trained in psychopharmacology and granted the ability to prescribe psychiatric medications.


The practice of clinical psychology requires a license in the United States and Canada. Although each of the US states is different in terms of requirements and licenses, there are three common requirements:

  • Graduation from an accredited school with the appropriate degree.
  • Completion of supervised clinical experience.
  • Passing a written and/or oral examination.

All US state, and Canada provincial, licensing boards are members of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) which created and maintains the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). Many states require other examinations in addition to the EPPP, such as a jurisprudence (i.e. mental health law) examination or an oral examination. Most states also require a certain number of continuing education credits per year in order to renew a license. Licensees can obtain this through various means, such as taking audited classes and attending approved workshops.

There are professions whose scope of practice overlaps with the practice of psychology (particularly with respect to providing psychotherapy) and for which a license is required.

It should be noted that APA membership is not a requirement for licensure in any of the 50 states. This fact should not be confused with APA accreditation of graduate psychology programmes and clinical internships.

Ambiguity of Title

To practice with the title of “psychologist”, in almost all cases a doctorate degree is required (a PhD or PsyD in the US). Normally, after the degree, the practitioner must fulfil a certain number of supervised postdoctoral hours ranging from 1,500-3,000 (usually taking one to two years), and passing the EPPP and any other state or provincial exams. A professional in the US must hold a graduate degree in psychology (MA, Psy.D., Ed.D., or Ph.D.), or have a state license to use the title psychologist. Additional regulations vary from state to state.

Differences with Psychiatrists

Although clinical psychologists and psychiatrists share the same fundamental aim – the alleviation of mental distress – their training, outlook, and methodologies are often different. Perhaps the most significant difference is that psychiatrists are licensed physicians, and, as such, psychiatrists are apt to use the medical model to assess mental health problems and to also employ psychotropic medications as a method of addressing mental health problems.

Psychologists generally do not prescribe medication, although in some jurisdictions they do have prescription privileges. In five US states (New Mexico, Louisiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Idaho), psychologists with post-doctoral clinical psychopharmacology training have been granted prescriptive authority for mental health disorders.

Clinical psychologists receive extensive training in psychological test administration, scoring, interpretation, and reporting, while psychiatrists are not trained in psychological testing. In addition, psychologists (particularly those from Ph.D. programmes) spend several years in graduate school being trained to conduct behavioural research; their training includes research design and advanced statistical analysis. While this training is available for physicians via dual MD/Ph.D. programmes, it is not typically included in standard medical education, although psychiatrists may develop research skills during their residency or a psychiatry fellowship (post-residency). Psychologists from Psy.D. programs tend to have more training and experience in clinical practice (e.g. psychotherapy, testing) than those from Ph.D. programmes.

Psychiatrists, as licensed physicians, have been trained more intensively in other areas, such as internal medicine and neurology, and may bring this knowledge to bear in identifying and treating medical or neurological conditions that present with primarily psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or paranoia, e.g., hypothyroidism presenting with depressive symptoms, or pulmonary embolism with significant apprehension and anxiety.

Mental Health Professions (US)

OccupationDegreeCommon LicensesPrescription Privilege
Clinical PsychologistPhD/PsyDPsychologistMostly No
Counselling Psychologist (Doctorate)PhD/PsyDPsychologistNo
Counselling Psychologist (Master’s)Ma/MS/MCMFT/LPC/LPANo
School PsychologistPhD/EdDPsychologistNo
Clinical Social WorkerPhd/MSWLCSWNo
Psychiatric NursePhD/MSN/BSNAPRN/PMHNNo
Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse PractitionerDNP/MSNMHNPYes (Varies by State)
Expressive/Art TherapistMAATRNo
  • Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT):
    • An MFT license requires a doctorate or master’s degree.
    • In addition, it usually involves two years of post-degree clinical experience under supervision, and licensure requires passing a written exam, commonly the National Examination for Marriage and Family Therapists, which is maintained by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
    • Further, most states require an oral exam. MFTs, as the title implies, work mostly with families and couples, addressing a wide range of common psychological problems.
    • Some jurisdictions have exemptions that let someone practice marriage and family therapy without meeting the requirements for a license.
    • That is, they offer a license but do not require that marriage and family therapists obtain one.
  • Licensed Professional Counse;lor (LPC):
    • Similar to the MFT, the LPC license requires a master’s or doctorate degree, a minimum number of hours of supervised clinical experience in a pre-doc practicum, and the passing of the National Counsellor Exam.
    • Similar licenses are the Licensed Mental Health Counsellor (LMHC), Licensed Clinical Professional Counsellor (LCPC), and Clinical Counsellor in Mental Health (CCMH).
    • In some states, after passing the exam, a temporary LPC license is awarded and the clinician may begin the normal 3000-hour supervised internship leading to the full license allowing to practice as a counsellor or psychotherapist, usually under the supervision of a licensed psychologist.
    • Some jurisdictions have exemptions that allow counselling to practice without meeting the requirements for a license – That is, they offer a license but do not require that counsellors obtain one.
  • Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA):
    • Twenty-six states offer a master’s-only license, a common one being the LPA, which allows for the therapist to either practice independently, or, more commonly, under the supervision of a licensed psychologist, depending on the state.
    • Common requirements are two to four years of post-master’s supervised clinical experience and passing a Psychological Associates Examination.
    • Other titles for this level of licensing include psychological technician (Alabama), psychological assistant (California), licensed clinical psychotherapist (Kansas), licensed psychological practitioner (Minnesota), licensed behavioural practitioner (Oklahoma), licensed psychological associate (North Carolina) or psychological examiner (Tennessee).
  • Licensed Behaviour Analysts:
    • Licensed behaviour analysts are licensed in five states to provide services for clients with substance abuse, developmental disabilities, and mental illness.
    • This profession draws on the evidence base of applied behaviour analysis and the philosophy of behaviourism.
    • Behaviour analysts have at least a master’s degree in behaviour analysis or in a mental health related discipline, as well as having taken at least five core courses in applied behaviour analysis.
    • Many behaviour analysts have a doctorate.
    • Most programmes have a formalised internship programme, and several programmes are offered online.
    • Most practitioners have passed the examination offered by the Behaviour Analysis Certification Board.
    • The model licensing act for behaviour analysts can be found at the Association for Behaviour Analysis International’s website.


In the United States, of 170,200 jobs for psychologists, 152,000 are employed in clinical, counselling, and school positions; 2,300 are employed in industrial-organisational positions, and 15,900 are in “all other” positions.

The median salary in the US, in 2012, for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists was US$69,280 and the median salary for organisational psychologists was US$83,580.

Psychologists can work in applied or academic settings. Academic psychologists educate higher education students as well as conduct research, with graduate-level research being an important part of academic psychology. Academic positions can be tenured or non-tenured, with tenured positions being highly desirable.


To become a psychologist, a person often completes a degree in psychology, but in other jurisdictions the course of study may be different and the activities performed may be similar to those of other professionals.


In Australia, the psychology profession, and the use of the title “psychologist”, is regulated by an Act of Parliament, the Health Practitioner Regulation (Administrative Arrangements) National Law Act 2008, following an agreement between state and territorial governments. Under this national law, registration of psychologists is administered by the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA). Before July 2010, the professional registration of psychologists was governed by various state and territorial Psychology Registration Boards. The Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) oversees education standards for the profession.

The minimum requirements for general registration in psychology, including the right to use the title “psychologist”, are an APAC approved four-year degree in psychology followed by either a two-year master’s program or two years of practice supervised by a registered psychologist. However, AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) is currently in the process of phasing out the 4 + 2 internship pathway. Once the 4 + 2 pathway is phased out, a master’s degree or PhD will be required to become a psychologist in Australia. This is because of concerns about public safety, and to reduce the burden of training on employers. There is also a ‘5 + 1’ registration pathway, including a four-year APAC approved degree followed by one year of postgraduate study and one year of supervised practice. Endorsement within a specific area of practice (e.g. clinical neuropsychology, clinical, community, counselling, educational and developmental, forensic, health, organisational or sport and exercise) requires additional qualifications. These notations are not “specialist” titles (Western Australian psychologists could use “specialist” in their titles during a three-year transitional period from 17 October 2010 to 17 October 2013).

Membership with Australian Psychological Society (APS) differs from registration as a psychologist. The standard route to full membership (MAPS) of the APS usually requires four years of APAC-accredited undergraduate study, plus a master’s or doctorate in psychology from an accredited institution. An alternate route is available for academics and practitioners who have gained appropriate experience and made a substantial contribution to the field of psychology.

Restrictions apply to all individuals using the title “psychologist” in all states and territories of Australia. However, the terms “psychotherapist”, “social worker”, and “counsellor” are currently self-regulated, with several organisations campaigning for government regulation.


Since 1933, the title “psychologist” has been protected by law in Belgium. It can only be used by people who are on the National Government Commission list. The minimum requirement is the completion of five years of university training in psychology (master’s degree or equivalent). The title of “psychotherapist” is not legally protected. As of 2016, Belgian law recognises the clinical psychologist as an autonomous health profession. It reserves the practice of psychotherapy to medical doctors, clinical psychologists and clinical orthopedagogists.


A professional in the US or Canada must hold a graduate degree in psychology (MA, Psy.D., Ed.D., or Ph.D.), or have a state license to use the title psychologist.


In Finland, the title “psychologist” is protected by law. The restriction for psychologists (licensed professionals) is governed by National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Finland) (Valvira). It takes 330 ECTS-credits (about six years) to complete the university studies (master’s degree). There are about 6,200 licensed psychologists in Finland.


In Germany, the use of the title Diplom-Psychologe (Dipl.-Psych.) is restricted by law, and a practitioner is legally required to hold the corresponding academic title, which is comparable to a M.Sc. degree and requires at least five years of training at a university. Originally, a diploma degree in psychology awarded in Germany included the subject of clinical psychology. With the Bologna-reform, this degree was replaced by a master’s degree. The academic degree of Diplom-Psychologe or M.Sc. (Psychologie) does not include a psychotherapeutic qualification, which requires three to five years of additional training. The psychotherapeutic training combines in-depth theoretical knowledge with supervised patient care and self-reflection units. After having completed the training requirements, psychologists take a state-run exam, which, upon successful completion (Approbation), confers the official title of “psychological psychotherapist” (Psychologischer Psychotherapeut). After many years of inter-professional political controversy, non-physician psychotherapy was given an adequate legal foundation through the creation of two new academic healthcare professions.


Since 1979, the title “psychologist” has been protected by law in Greece. It can only be used by people who hold a relevant license or certificate, which is issued by the Greek authorities, to practice as a psychologist. The minimum requirement is the completion of university training in psychology at a Greek university, or at a university recognised by the Greek authorities. Psychologists in Greece are legally required to abide by the Code of Conduct of Psychologists (2019). Psychologists in Greece are not required to register with any psychology body in the country in order to legally practice the profession.


In India, “clinical psychologist” is specifically defined in the Mental Health Act, 2017. An MPhil degree of two years duration recognized by the Rehabilitation Council of India is required to apply for registration as a clinical psychologist. This procedure has been criticised by some stakeholders since clinical psychology is not limited to the area of rehabilitation. Titles such as “counsellor” or “psychotherapist” are not protected at present. In other words, an individual may call themselves a “psychotherapist” or “counsellor” without having earned a graduate degree in clinical psychology or another mental health field, and without having to register with the Rehabilitation Council of India.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, the use of the title “psychologist” is restricted by law. Prior to 2004, only the title “registered psychologist” was restricted to people qualified and registered as such. However, with the proclamation of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act, in 2003, the use of the title “psychologist” was limited to practitioners registered with the New Zealand Psychologists Board. The titles “clinical psychologist”, “counselling psychologist”, “educational psychologist”, “intern psychologist”, and “trainee psychologist” are similarly protected. This is to protect the public by providing assurance that the title-holder is registered and therefore qualified and competent to practice, and can be held accountable. The legislation does not include an exemption clause for any class of practitioner (e.g., academics, or government employees).


In Norway, the title “psychologist” is restricted by law and can only be obtained by completing a 6 year integrated programme, leading to the Candidate of Psychology degree. Psychologists are considered health personnel, and their work is regulated through the “health personnel act”.

South Africa

In South Africa, psychologists are qualified in either clinical, counselling, educational, organisational, or research psychology. To become qualified, one must complete a recognised master’s degree in Psychology, an appropriate practicum at a recognised training institution, and take an examination set by the Professional Board for Psychology. Registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) is required and includes a Continuing Professional Development component. The practicum usually involves a full year internship, and in some specialisations, the HPCSA requires completion of an additional year of community service. The master’s programme consists of a seminar, coursework-based theoretical and practical training, a dissertation of limited scope, and is (in most cases) two years in duration. Prior to enrolling in the master’s programme, the student studies psychology for three years as an undergraduate (B.A. or B.Sc., and, for organisational psychology, also B.Com.), followed by an additional postgraduate honours degree in psychology. Qualification thus requires at least five years of study and at least one internship. The undergraduate B.Psyc. is a four-year programme integrating theory and practical training, and – with the required examination set by the Professional Board for Psychology – is sufficient for practice as a psychometrist or counsellor.

United Kingdom

In the UK, “registered psychologist” and “practitioner psychologist” are protected titles. The title of “neuropsychologist” is not protected. In addition, the following specialist titles are also protected by law: “clinical psychologist”, “counselling psychologist”, “educational psychologist”, “forensic psychologist”, “health psychologist”, “occupational psychologist” and “sport and exercise psychologist”. The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) is the statutory regulator for practitioner psychologists in the UK. In the UK, the use of the title “chartered psychologist” is also protected by statutory regulation, but that title simply means that the psychologist is a chartered member of the British Psychological Society, but is not necessarily registered with the HCPC. However, it is an offense for someone who is not in the appropriate section of the HCPC register to provide psychological services. The requirement to register as a clinical, counselling, or educational psychologist is a professional doctorate (and in the case of the latter two the British Psychological Society’s Professional Qualification, which meets the standards of a professional doctorate). The title of “psychologist”, by itself, is not protected. The British Psychological Society is working with the HCPC to ensure that the title of “neuropsychologist” is regulated as a specialist title for practitioner psychologists.

Employment (UK)

As of December 2012, in the United Kingdom, there are 19,000 practitioner psychologists registered across seven categories: clinical psychologist, counselling psychologist, educational psychologist, forensic psychologist, health psychologist, occupational psychologist, sport and exercise psychologist. At least 9,500 of these are clinical psychologists, which is the largest group of psychologists in clinical settings such as the NHS. Around 2,000 are educational psychologists.

Certificate: Level 3 in Understanding Mental Health

This qualification will:

  • Focus on the study of mental health and mental well-being to support different occupational areas; and
  • Offer breadth and depth of study, incorporating a key core of knowledge and understanding.

The objectives of this qualification are to help learners to understand:

  • Mental health legislation, services and public attitudes and how these have evolved;
  • How to support mental well-being through various stages of life;
  • Mental ill health, treatment options available and the potential consequences of mental ill health; and
  • The skills required to work in a mental health service.

I actually completed the course in November 2019 but coronavirus delayed external moderation!

You read more about the qualification here.

Completed my Level 2 Certificate in Information, Advice or Guidance


The Level 2 Information, Advice or Guidance (IAG) qualification has been developed for learners working in this field to share good practice and build confidence in their ability to effectively fulfil their role as providers of advice and guidance.

What is the Level 2 Certificate in Information Advice or Guidance?

UK employers are often interested in candidates who can demonstrate an understanding of the importance of interacting appropriately with customers, clients and colleagues.

By studying the level 2 Information, Advice or Guidance (IAG) course, individuals will gain an in-depth understanding of the key areas associated with providing effective IAG, including signposting, referrals, record keeping, confidentiality and communication/listening techniques.


The IAG qualification will help learners to develop an understanding of the requirements of the IAG practice and aid them in guiding those that they are supporting to make informed choices.

  • Unit 1: IAG in Practice:
    • In this unit, individuals will learn about the various differences between IAG and the requirements of different clients and how these are best met.
    • It will also help individuals to gain in-depth knowledge of the boundaries and responsibilities present when offering IAG, including signposting, referrals and record keeping.
  • Unit 2: Developing Interaction Skills for IAG:
    • Within this unit, individuals will discover how to interact with clients, executing appropriate and effective questioning techniques, listening skills and non-verbal communication.
    • They will also gain knowledge of the impact of values, beliefs and attitudes on any interactions individuals may encounter, as well as the importance of confidentiality and impartiality.
  • Unit 3: Signposting and Referral in IAG:
    • In this unit, individuals will gain an understanding of the difference between signposting and referrals – when it is appropriate to refer or signpost an individual organisation’s procedures.
    • Employees will also gain knowledge of good practice when signposting and referring, including recording, monitoring and evaluating.
  • Unit 4: IAG in Context:
    • Within this unit, individuals will gain an understanding of IAG in the context of their own practice and a specific group of clients – exploring different ways of assisting clients to explore and make choices.
    • Knowledge on discriminatory practices and behaviours affecting specific client groups, as well as potential barriers and how to overcome them, are explored within this unit.
  • Unit 5: Skills for Advice Providers:
    • This unit provides individuals with an understanding of the purpose and process of an advice interview, examining the relationship between client and advisor, the advisor’s role, stages of the advice interview and how to ensure client confidentiality.
    • A key part of this section is gaining knowledge of social policy in advice work, negotiating effectively on a client’s behalf and support and action planning.

Learning Methods

This course will take approximately twenty (20) weeks to complete and consists of five (5) written assessments.

Each individual is required to give written responses to an assessment booklet. This can be either handwritten in the booklet itself or completed using an electronic template of the booklet.

Individuals will be required to submit five (5) assessments each taking approximately four (4) weeks to complete.