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NHS Education for Scotland

A skilled and sustainable workforce for a healthier Scotland

Applied psychology professional training programmes

  • As a result of our commitment to the ongoing development of the Psychology workforce of NHS Scotland, NES Psychology provides funding in partnership with Health Boards for a variety of training programmes across Scotland.

Trainees are jointly matriculated with education partners and employed by Health Boards in NHS Scotland. Trainees deliver clinical services throughout their training.

All psychology programmes are subject to NES educational governance policies and procedures. We gather data to track our trainees into the workforce. Attrition from clinical psychology training is very low (<5%) and retention in the NHS Scotland workforce is very high (average of 88% since 2003).

Scottish subject benchmark statement: Clinical psychology and applied psychology (clinical associate) Scotland 

A joint initiative between the Scottish Executive Health Department, NHS Education for Scotland and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in Scotland brought together a working group of stakeholders in post-graduate education and training for Clinical Psychologists and Clinical Associates in Applied Psychology, respectively, in NHS Scotland.

The tasks of the group were:

  • To consider the QAA benchmarking statement for clinical psychology (prepared at the instigation of the Department of Health) for its applicability to the Scottish context with a remit to suggest amendments as required by Scottish training arrangements, and;
  • To describe the characteristics and standards expected of the Masters level training in Applied Psychology (Healthcare) in a comparable fashion to allow the similarities and differences between the two levels of award to be clearly articulated.

The working group produced a benchmark document which following a period of consultation has now been published. Currently the document can be accessed via the QAA.

Important to note: In response to the consultation the working group proposed an amendment to the working title for the Masters level training.

Clinical doctoral programmes - University of Glasgow/University of Edinburgh

Currently there are two clinical psychology programmes in Scotland at the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh.

These programmes combine placement experience (as NHS employees) in one of the 14 health boards across NHS Scotland, teaching and research over the course of study to allow trainees develop to core competencies in clinical psychology.

Both of these courses are approved by Health and Care Professions Council and represent the highest level of training in Clinical Psychology. There are currently 200 trainees. Recent developments include the design of aligned training pathways to reflect particular needs in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Older Adult and Forensic services.

NES employs clinical tutors and funds local tutors to work alongside academic staff to support the delivery of the clinical practice elements of training in NHS Boards. Trainees deliver clinical services throughout their training.

Application processes for both clinical programmes are co-ordinated by the UK Clearing House

University of Glasgow Clinical Psychology Programme

University of Edinburgh Clinical Psychology Programme

Trainee health psychologists

NES, in partnership with Health Boards in Scotland, funds Trainee Health Psychologists to apply specific skills and expertise that directly contribute to the Scottish Government's health improvement strategy in which NHS Scotland plays a crucial role. Placements are grounded in the application of scientific and theoretical health psychology knowledge and skills to address complex and behaviourally-driven challenges across a range of different health areas.

These are two-year fixed term posts designed to allow the Trainee Health Psychologists’ successful completion of the British Psychological Society’s Stage 2 Training while employed by the NHS to undertake a programme of approved work.

The application phase for the 2024 intake is now closed.  Please check back in Autumn 2024 for information about the 2025 intake. 


Additional Information


The NES Health Psychology Stage 2 Training Programme

  1. Introduction: Health is all about behaviour

The field of Health Psychology is developing at pace, applying innovative thinking and evidence-based approaches to tackle some of the biggest public health issues faced in Scotland and the UK. This requires an understanding of the broad influences of health including socio-economic, environmental, psychological and biological factors. This understanding is fundamental for enabling behaviour change and allows Health Psychologists to support patients, groups and populations across the life course to target behaviour change across three tiers of prevention and at every level of the stepped care model:

  • Primary prevention – preventing illness and poor health from occurring
  • Secondary prevention – intervening early where health risks are identified
  • Tertiary prevention – intervening once a condition has been diagnosed to support self-management and adjustment to illnesses
  1. What do health psychologists provide?

Health Psychologists are trained to doctoral level in understanding, developing, delivering and evaluating behaviour change and long-term condition interventions, and can be directly positioned to help meet demands relating to the three tiers of prevention. Working in complex systems, they offer skills and knowledge to address challenging issues driven by biopsychosocial factors through research, interventions, training and consultancy. Key areas of the role might include:

  • Providing specialist health psychology services including assessment, formulation, intervention delivery and monitoring of outcomes for a variety of health conditions. For example, Type 2 Diabetes, chronic pain, individuals with overweight and obesity, individuals using substances
  • Providing training to build capacity of services to use psychological skills and approaches. For example, applying psychological skills to self-management of conditions and health behaviour change
  • Conducting research, complex service evaluation and audits relevant to service needs. For example, to increase effective management of health, health conditions and health behaviour
  • Providing consultancy skills. For example, designing, delivering and/or evaluating a bespoke healthcare project for a client that aims to improve service outcomes
  • Engaging service users in planning and delivering services and training which meet the needs of local communities and healthcare professionals. For example, developing surveys to understand training needs prior to delivering training to staff and developing qualitative and quantitative surveys and evaluation mechanisms to understand the views of patients in receipt of a service.

A Health Psychologist has doctoral level competencies in five areas, acquired through Stage 2 training:

  1. Providing high quality trainees: The NES Training Programme.

NES recognises the importance of adding Health Psychology to the NHS skill mix in Scotland by supporting training posts. Since 2007 NES has jointly funded (with NHS Health Boards) 2 year training posts for over 50 trainee health psychologists in NHS Health Boards in Scotland. 

The projects undertaken can be grouped into several areas:

  • Health Improvement, health inequalities, illness prevention
  • Physical Health including long-term conditions
  • Staff support and wellbeing
  • Smoking, Drugs and alcohol
  • Antenatal, Postnatal care and Early years
  • Healthy Eating, Activity, Weight Management
  • Frailty and Dementia



Child and adolescent psychotherapy training

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has funded a new cohort through the Human Development Scotland Professional Clinical Doctorate programme which commenced in September 2017, with places across the NHS Boards in Scotland. It's a four year, full-time course to clinical qualification with further time needed to complete the doctoral thesis.

MSc psychological therapies in primary care

In January 2005 a new 1-year Master's level programme in Psychology Therapy in Primary Care commenced, jointly run by the Universities of Stirling and Dundee. Trainees are employed in NHS Boards and provide clinical services as part of supervised practice during training. These courses focus on the development of competences relating to a specific area of focus. Graduates can therefore enter the workforce quickly and respond to pressing service demands (e.g. support for NHS Boards to meet the CAMHS and Psychological Therapies Local Delivery Plan Access Standards (LDPAS)).

Further information can be found on the University of Dundee course website.

MSc applied psychology for children and young people

An additional Masters programme in Applied Psychology for Children and Young People was commissioned by NES in 2007 at the University of Edinburgh. Trainees are employed in NHS Boards and provide clinical services as part of supervised practice during training. These courses focus on the development of competences relating to a specific area of focus. Graduates can therefore enter the workforce quickly and respond to pressing service demands (e.g. support for NHS Boards to meet the CAMHS and Psychological Therapies Local Delivery Plan Access Standards (LDPAS)).

Further information can be found on the University of Edinburgh course website.

Enhanced Psychological Practice (EPP) programme

The Enhanced Psychological Practice (EPP) programme is a new post-graduate certificate level education programme that has been developed to enable staff to deliver high-quality, evidence-based psychological interventions for mild to moderate difficulties in a way that can be efficiently brought to scale. This approach aims to make effective use of the large cohorts of graduates in Psychology to deliver and support, under supervision, brief, outcome-focused, evidence-based interventions at the Enhanced level of practice. Within the Enhanced Psychological Practice Programme, there are two courses; one which focuses on practitioners working with Adults (EPP-A), and a course targeted at practitioners working with Children, Young People and their Families (EPP-CYP), with each course having modules related to their specific target population. Both courses are jointly accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and NHS Education for Scotland (NES).

Entry requirements

  • Candidates must have a minimum of a 2:1 Psychology undergraduate degree that confers eligibility for graduate basis for chartered membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS) or Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI)
  • Candidates must have the right to work in the UK without restriction.

EPP Adult Leaflet

EPP CYP Leaflet

Applications for the November 2024 intake are now live. Please see links to the adverts below:

Advert - EPP for Adults

Advert – EPP for Children and Young People

Applications close at 23.59 on Thursday 27th June 2024.

Clinical neuropsychology

Additionally, the University of Glasgow is also running a post-qualification course in Clinical Neuropsychology, offered as a postgraduate diploma or MSc as well as an option for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The programme provides clinical psychologists with specialist knowledge in the area of clinical neuropsychology and covers the underpinning knowledge syllabus of the British Psychological Society Division of Neuropsychology Practitioner Full Membership Qualification (PFMQ). These skills are required for working as part of multidisciplinary teams for people with acquired brain injuries, epilepsy, dementia and other neurological conditions.

Further information can be found on the postgraduate diploma, MSc and CPD sessions/modules at The University of Glasgow website.

Clinical psychology specialist supervision module for new supervisors

Building on the fundamental skills, models and ideas delivered in the Generic Supervision Course (GSC), the Clinical Psychology Supervision Module was developed to support supervisors of Clinical Psychology Trainees to deliver these skills effectively within their professional context. In line with HPC/BPS accreditation of both the University of Glasgow and University of Edinburgh Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and the professional demands on the trainees, additional elements such as evaluation of professional competence, placement development, contracting within the educational placement are covered.

One of the main objectives was to develop an integrated and developmental approach to supervision, which helps move the profession as a whole toward improved (and evidenced) quality training. In partnership with relevant pre and post registration agencies we have developed a curriculum that considers the experiences of the trainees and supervisors, while contributing to the development of both.

In line with NES' partnership approach, development has involved the relevant pre and post registration agencies with a view to creating a product which is cohesive, relevant and fit for purpose (for Boards, HEIs and participants) and ensures equity of access to quality supervision for trainees. Ultimately the aim is to ensure quality of training, service and patient safety through the training period and beyond and this is achieved by supporting high quality, evidence based supervision which creates a positive, open and constructive learning environment.

The module is designed to be delivered in Health Boards jointly by Local Area Tutors and Clinical Tutors, which allows discussion to be firmly anchored in local systems and polices. Over a two day period, new supervisors will discuss:

  • Establishing and maintaining a placement
    • Power and the relationship
    • Placement ILOs
    • Placement experiences and expectations
    • Embedding the placement in the team
  • Observation and evaluation of competence
    • Observing trainees
    • Feeding back within an Experiential Learning Framework
    • Promoting and evaluating professional and ethical development
    • Dealing with difficulties
  • Promoting Reflection
    • Encouraging trainee reflection
    • Reflective supervision
  • Evaluating supervision
  • Supervisor's development

The module is generally experiential and reflective in nature. A number of new multimedia resources have been developed to allow rehearsal of evaluation and feedback and to stimulate discussion around professional and ethical issues.

Last updated: 06/05/2024

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