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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, is funding 4 Trainee Health Psychologists to explore the contribution health psychology can make in supporting NHS Scotland to meet its health improvement targets.

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 2023 intake is now OPEN and will close on Wednesday 19th October 2022 at 12 noon.

Please read all documentation before continuing to the application form (e-form).

Additional Information

The NES Health Psychology Stage 2 Training Programme

1. Introduction: Health is all about behaviour

To radically improve the health of people in Scotland we need to understand and change the environmental, socio-economic and individual causes of poor health. Promoting effective, evidence based delivery of health care, and supporting people to adopt healthy behaviours is a crucial part of the Scottish Government's health improvement strategy.

2. What can health psychologists contribute?

A Health Psychologist has high level competencies in research, delivery of interventions,
consultancy, teaching and training, and generic professional skills.

These competencies are acquired during Stage 2 training, including:

• Practice: Developing professional practice, designing healthcare policy and practice.

• Implement interventions for behaviour change and maintenance; for example,
improve self-efficacy, set realistic goals, cope with barriers to change.

• Research: designing, implementing and evaluating research on issues relevant to
managing health and health behaviour.

• Consultancy: planning, implementing, evaluating, healthcare projects for clients.

• Teaching and training: providing theory-driven, evidence-based training for health
professionals, others delivering health care and patients.

Presenting accessible and meaningful health related information so that people can
make better informed choices.

3. 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 46 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
  • Covid-19 recovery
  • 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 provides comprehensive training in evidence-based interventions for public and third sector staff based in primary care working with people presenting with common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. It equips staff with the competences to deliver a set of Enhanced Psychological Interventions (EPI). EPIs are CBT-informed, high volume approaches suitable for people presenting in primary care settings. They enable staff to help more people, who are seen for a shorter duration and time (generally 6-8 30min sessions). The Enhanced Psychological Practice Programme is jointly accredited by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) and NHS Education for Scotland (NES).

The programme is aimed at staff working in primary care mental health roles, or working alongside Psychological Therapists & Practitioners, with no previous training in psychological interventions or therapies:

Post-graduate entry - have an Honours psychology degree (or other relevant degree at level 10)
Graduate – have a relevant diploma (or equivalent successful study at level 9) or successfully complete an entry level essay or equivalent assessment that is marked at level 10
It is recognised that staff in primary care mental health roles have a diverse range of background knowledge and skills. Therefore, this education programme aims to provide a flexible learning opportunity that meets the education and training needs of a wide range of staff.

Applications for the November 2022 cohort are now closed. Planning is underway for the next cohort due to commence in Spring 2023. Further information on the application process will be available on this page in due course. 

You can read more about the EPP Programme on our Turas Learn page.

All the digital e-learning resources to support the delivery of the EPP Programme are available to all staff with a Turas Learn account. The resources are made available for Clinical Supervisors and any staff that are interested in undertaking the EPP programme in the future.

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: 26/09/2020

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