School of Psychology

Trainee and Graduate Testimonials

Trainee Testimonials

“Catherine”

Why did you choose QUB to study clinical psychology?

Due to my very positive experience in completing the MSc in Applied Psychology I was compelled to apply to QUB again.

The teaching is delivered by Clinical Psychologists who are practicing which ensures theory-to-practice links are made. It also ensures that teaching is up to date and relevant to clinical settings.

To date, all QUB graduates have successfully gained employment. Given the uncertain job market this was very appealing.

For personal reasons – family and mortgage are in Northern Ireland. I would like to continue working and living in Northern Ireland after graduation.

What did you do to improve your chances of getting on the course?

I definitely took a ‘scenic route’ to gaining a place on the course. Upon graduating from BSc in Psychology I was unable to secure an Assistant Psychologist post. Consequently I trained and worked as a social worker gaining relevant and practical experience for the course. However I was acutely aware that Clinical Psychologists are scientist-practitioners and that I lacked post-graduate research skills and needed to refresh my psychological knowledge base. Consequently I complete the MSc in Applied Psychology (QUB). I cannot recommend this enough! The teaching was first class and provided an opportunity to share classes with 1st year trainees. It definitely provided a good ‘flavour’ of what to expect. After completing the MSc I feel more equipped to tackle the research components of the course.

What was the interview process like?

Good guidance was provided on what to expect from the day which was very much appreciated. Interviewers were appropriately warm, welcoming and encouraging throughout.

1st year trainees were available on the day which was a nice touch. They tried their best to diffuse our anxieties and provided refreshments which was very thoughtful.

Nicola and Caroline (our admin staff) were also very welcoming and were always available to answer any questions before, during and after the interview. Interview day ran to schedule and I was lucky enough to have my three interviews in short succession. The wait for results wasn’t too long.

What is/was your first year of training like?

To date I am thoroughly enjoying my first year. My general impression is that the staff are really invested in our success and there is a family feel to the department. A welcome lunch and party were held where fellow trainees along with staff attended which was so nice.

Business meetings are held frequently to allow us to gain clarity or guidance on issues with staff members. Within our first week we found out where our placement would be. This was a huge relief as we could then start planning for travel arrangements etc.
Although I have not been on it yet, I am aware that there is a trainee residential every year which was a nice surprise. Again this demonstrates the school’s commitment to our wellbeing and a sense of an ‘academic family’.

What are the most positive aspects of the course at QUB?

My class and the close and supportive relationships that we have formed.

What are the most challenging aspects?

Currently trying to find the balance between work/study and family life.

Would you recommend the QUB course?

Absolutely!

“Eva”

Why did you choose QUB to study clinical psychology?

I chose Queen’s to study clinical psychology firstly because of their emphasis on the use of integrative clinical models, which fits with my own interests and also lends itself very well to the changing role of a clinical psychologist in the NHS.

I also chose Queen’s because I had very good experiences of being taught on the Diploma in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism) at Queen’s. The course of course has its challenges but I found the atmosphere very warm which really fits with my learning style. The course feels very inclusive. Staff seem to welcome our feedback and provide us with opportunities to work out how we can best make the course fit with our own lives.

What did you do to improve your chances of getting on the course?

I applied a few times and although it wasn’t always easy, I tried to remain open to thinking about areas that I could improve and gain further experience in, based on interview feedback. I saw gaps in my formulation skills and sought out experience in an assistant psychologist group where we shared our experiences about ways of working in different services, with different types of clients.

I also shared my interview feedback with my supervisor and team, who helped provide me with the opportunities that I needed to develop in areas such as delivering presentations, gaining clinical skills in assessment and intervention and developing my capacity for reflective practice.

I found I really enjoyed the process of developing as a practitioner, independent of applying to the course. I felt it made me feel more confident about the broader range of skills that I could bring to any job, including the clinical interview.

What was the interview process like?

The interview has three parts and the types of questions can be quite challenging so I felt quite tired by the end of the day. I found taking breaks for myself during the day; going for coffee or a bite to eat and resisting the temptation to look over notes helped me pace myself and come across a bit more like me on the day.

Compared to other interviews, some of the questions in the Queen’s interview can seem a little unexpected. This meant I had to feel alert enough to remember information but also relaxed enough so that I could be flexible and think on the spot, which was tricky!

Doing the interview more than once helped me appreciate that interviewers aren’t trying to put you on the spot, but that they really want to see you demonstrate your potential.

What is your first year of training like?

The teaching block at the start of first year has time allocated to give you a chance to get to know each other and feel embedded in the school. It can be a little strange coming back to the school after interview, so I really appreciated this time to get to know my classmates and it helped me feel at ease.

The course has changed a little in recent years and we choose our large scale research project in our first semester. This means a few submission dates come along at the same time in the first few months, while you also prepare for and begin placement. It can take a bit of time to adjust to fitting this work in around your work, social and family life.

What are the most positive aspects of the course at QUB?

The course content and the emphasis on integrative ways of working. Northern Ireland is a unique area to work in and the teaching reflects the expertise and range of models required when working in an area where complex trauma is quite common.
The atmosphere in the school and approachability of the staff. Time allocated for reflective practice, mindfulness and regular allocated opportunities to feed back to course staff makes it seem like staff value students’ own need for self-care.

What are the most challenging aspects?

Balancing work around your family and social life can be challenging. A lot of the teaching style requires you to figure things out for yourself. You aren’t given answers but are encouraged instead to develop capacities for independent practice and decision making. This uncertainty can feel a little unnerving, but I think this will help prepare us for the reality of clinical practice.

How would you rate the overall quality of the course?

The atmosphere among staff and students, course content and teaching are really excellent.

Would you recommend the QUB course?

Absolutely. It’s a challenge, but the structure and thought that staff have put into delivering the course have made it easy to remember why I wanted to do it!

“Liz”

Why did you choose QUB to study clinical psychology?

I had already completed my undergraduate studies here and I had really enjoyed the MSc. in Applied Psychology (Clinical Specialism), so it felt like the natural choice.

What did you do to improve your chances of getting on the course?

I completed the MSc in Applied psychology at QUB so that I had relevant teaching and experience of research. I also studied hard in the run up to the interview.

What was the interview process like?

The interview process is built up as a daunting event, but in actual fact the day was much more relaxed than I imagined. The staff were very warm and encouraging.

What is/was your first year of training like?

I am only three months in, but I am really enjoying the course. It is completely full-on, and there are times it is over-whelming but I did expect that.

What are the most positive aspects of the course at QUB?

The level of teaching is superb, and they have high expectations of students so they will push you to your limits and help you achieve your best. My placement is very supportive and interesting. The mix of class-mates is also a highlight. We have all become very close.

What are the most challenging aspects?

Those high expectations can be a bit overwhelming at times. Balancing home /teaching/ assignments and placement is hard but we all seem to be coping.

How would you rate the overall quality of the course?

Excellent.

Would you recommend the QUB course?

Definitely.

"Mike"

Why did you choose QUB to study clinical psychology?

I chose to study clinical psychology at QUB because I had previously completed my undergraduate degree at Queen’s, so I was aware of the high quality of teaching and research within the School of Psychology at QUB.

What did you do to improve your chances of getting on the course?

I completed an MSc in Applied Psychology (Mental Health and Psychological Therapies) and I gained experience in the voluntary sector (with a charity for homeless people), before gaining experience as an Assistant Psychologist.

What was the interview process like?

Whilst the interview process was tiring, it was more relaxed than I had imagined it would be (the kind words and support from administration staff and current DClinPsych students were probably factors in this). It was easy to see how the structure of the interview day mapped on to the competencies being assessed, and it was clear that all interviewers were trying to get the best from each candidate.

What is/was your first year of training like?

The first couple of months of training has been really enjoyable, from the beginnings of new friendships with everyone in our cohort, to being taught by very experienced scientist practitioners who bring a “real world” feel to lectures and seminars, to my first placement where I feel equipped to apply theory to practice, based on the teachings during the teaching block and the support of my supervisors.

How would you rate the overall quality of the course?

I would rate the overall quality of the course as excellent.

Would you recommend the QUB course?

Yes, I would highly recommend the QUB clinical psychology course.

“Margaret”

Why did you choose QUB to study clinical psychology?

I read and heard that the QUB course had an excellent reputation, and that it had a good balance between a research and clinical focus. I am also very interested in trauma research, and I knew that the course offers research and placement opportunities in this area.

What did you do to improve your chances of getting on the course?

In terms of my background I had relevant research and clinical experiences, as well as high grades in the degrees I obtained. For the preparation for the interview I found it helpful to speak to trainees, as well as getting acquainted with the research areas of the course staff. In that regard you also get a better understanding of whether this specific doctorate would be a good fit for your interests.

What was the interview process like?

The interview day was tough, but also very enjoyable. There were trainees in the waiting area who helped us feel more at ease, and the course coordinator was very helpful. I liked that the interview was divided into three parts (group, personal and clinical/academic) which I believe gives a fair assessment of the skills that are relevant for working as a trainee.

Would you recommend the QUB course?

Yes, I would definitely recommend the QUB course.

“Alex”

What is your first year of training like?

So far, first year training has been challenging but really exciting. QUB foster a gentle lead into the course which gave us a chance to get to know each other (classmates) as well as the course team. Lectures are delivered to an excellent standard and have prepared me well for starting placement. First year placements are in adult mental health with a core focus on cognitive behavioural theory in practice. The real challenge to date has been juggling the various demands of the course and of placement but having supportive classmates, supervisors and core staff members has helped me to manage these demands so far.

What did you do to improve your chances of getting on the course?

As much as possible, work towards gaining experience in psychology settings that is under the supervision of a clinical psychologist. Through the use of reflective practice, it is important that you not only foster your professional development but also your personal development. Your experience should also lead you to be fully knowledgeable of the differing roles and responsibilities of a clinical psychologist. Aim to gain experience with various client groups where possible, but importantly, ensure these roles allow you to apply theory to practice. Work to gain experience in research be it in a research specific role or research as part of an assistant psychologist post as this will increase and develop your competencies in research design and analysis, which is useful preparatory work not only for the D.Clin course but also for your career as a scientist-practitioner

Finally, talk to as many people as possible. Consult with professionals in the field and friends/colleagues that have gained places on the course. This will help you to develop a clearer vision of how best to increase your chances of gaining a place on the course.

“Jane”

Why did you choose QUB to study clinical psychology?

Having completed my undergraduate psychology degree at QUB I had no doubt I wanted to apply to do my clinical training at QUB. The course has a great reputation for its teaching and preparing you for work as a clinical psychologist.

What did you do to improve your chances of getting on the course?

I felt it was important to try and gain clinical and research experience before applying to the course. I worked in a range of different roles from support worker and research assistant to assistant psychologist and associate psychologist. I also gained experience in different areas, including adult mental health, CAMHS and health psychology.

What was the interview process like?

The interview process was conducted over one day with 3 components, personal interview, group interview and research/clinical interview. It was a tough day but I liked how there were current trainees there to calm any nerves and there was sufficient time between each interview.

What was your first year of training like?

My first year of training went by in a flash. Coming up to deadlines and presentations it was sometimes challenging but finding out our timetable and the deadlines at the start of the year allowed me to be prepared. I really enjoyed my first placement in adult mental health and felt the year there allowed me to gain great experience which was supported by the academic teaching.

What were the most positive aspects of the course at QUB?

For me, one of the most positive aspects of the course at QUB is the staff. Not only are they supportive and give you the time you need but their individual and collective experience makes them a great team to learn from.

Would you recommend the QUB course?

Yes I would. It is a structured course which allows you to gain experience in a range of areas with brilliant staff.

“Caroline”

Why did you choose QUB to study clinical psychology?

For a number of reasons; the quality of the University and the School of Psychology, because I studied here before, because I live in Northern Ireland and because I have known many who have come through the course and spoke very highly of it.

What did you do to improve your chances of getting on the course?

I got clinical experience in lots of different areas, firstly in lower banded non-psychology jobs and then at assistant and associate level. I also undertook further study – an MSc and the Applied Diploma in Queens.

What was the interview process like?

Nerve racking obviously but the interview day is very well organised and candidates are made feel welcome and at ease. Current trainees are there to help contain anxiety about the interviews. For me, I found it helpful to spend less time with the other candidates between interviews and instead went for a walk/coffee during the breaks – as a way to manage my anxiety on the day.

What was your first year of training like?

I really enjoyed it, in fact I was a little surprised at how much. I think I had thought about the amount of work that was going to be involved, and found that being organised and staying on top of the workload meant that I didn’t really become overwhelmed with it at any point in first year. The course staff and structures are very supportive and it is very clear what is expected of you; this helped. I did two placements in first year within the one service, and this was really good as it helped me settle for a year in one place, this was important for me, as there is so much change in the course. My clinical supervisors were knowledgeable, reflective and interested in my learning.

How about your second year of training?

I found second year stressful, but much of that was down to having to revise my large scale proposal. I also had a very busy neuro placement which was tough as it came with a lot of new learning. I planned my time and workload so that I could take a much needed break over the summer. This helped me maintain enthusiasm and energy for going into third year.

And your third year?

In third year now, the anxieties have changed – it’s less about ‘will I be able to do this?’ because by this point you have learned that you can. It is more about juggling the different aspects of the research projects. The next six months are going to be very busy but at this point in training that feels ok because the end is in sight. For some people they talk about the anxiety of finishing, for me, I feel the course has helped me to vastly expand my knowledge and skills as a clinician and I look forward to becoming qualified.

What were the most positive aspects of the course at QUB?

The focus on reflective practice and self-care, for example, the personal awareness groups, the reflective practice group and the mindfulness group. I’ve developed an appreciation for the fact that in order to be a good and effective clinician I need to know myself as fully as possible, and look after myself.

What were the most challenging aspects?

Balancing being a parent, a wife and a trainee. This inevitably came into conflict at times during training, but being organised and working hard during my allotted study/placement time meant that training didn’t interfere with family life too much. In some ways I think being a parent is an advantage because it made it all the more important to keep training contained to work time, and has given me perspective and balance throughout.

How would you rate the overall quality of the course?

Excellent!

Would you recommend the QUB course?

Absolutely!

Graduate Testimonial

“James”

Why did you choose QUB to study clinical psychology?

I chose Queen’s Clinical Psychology because of the reputation the course has and the broad range of areas of expertise of the course staff. Queen’s University also has a good international reputation and I had heard the facilities for students are second to none.

What did you do to improve your chances of getting on the course?

I worked as a research assistant and assistant psychologist in Ireland and the NHS in England.

What was your first year of training like?

The first half of the year was an opportunity to find my feet, get to know my class and staff. I really enjoyed the teaching blocks as it gave my class and I the opportunity to get to know each other and was a good grounding before and during my first year long placement.

How about your second year of training?

Second year was a bit more challenging as it involved two placements, juggling this with thinking about my research project and going through ethics approval.

What were the most positive aspects of the course at QUB?

There was a very friendly and supportive atmosphere from course staff and support staff. I really enjoyed coming in for teaching days. I felt able to approach staff at any stage and air any concerns or questions I had. I think this was the most positive aspect. Regular personal awareness groups and personal development lectures were a really positive aspect I will take forward with me in my career. I really enjoyed the regular formulation clinics which allowed students to present formulations to class members and staff, I learned so much from watching other people and getting feedback on my own formulations.

What were the most challenging aspects?

The most challenging aspect for me was juggling placement with course work and research. I needed to ensure that I started tasks early to avoid stress towards deadlines. Although trainees caseloads are protected, I found some placements expectations for client load differed from others and there were times where expectations exceeded time and resources especially during busy deadlines.

How would you rate the overall quality of the course?

I would rate the course quality as very high, I feel training focuses on creating critical, reflective and flexible practitioners.

Would you recommend the QUB course?

Yes, absolutely.

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