Placements are based in a range of settings within the North West, and are generally close to where you live although on some occasions people may have to travel further. The placement settings can vary a lot, e.g. community based, hospital inpatient/outpatient, large MDTs; and involve direct or indirect working with clients and colleague/multi-disciplinary team members in core specialist settings (6 months each: child, adult, older adult, learning disabilities; 9 months: placement of trainee's choice). Placement work varies according to the setting and can include individual work, group work, consultation, small scale service development tasks etc. You will generally hold a caseload of 6-8 clients, and work from the model of psychological assessment, formulation and intervention with clients. Placements are an opportunity to develop competencies, so that when you finish the programme you meet standards that are required by the BPS and HPC, and synthesise 'hands on' based learning with academic learning through regular supervision from a qualified clinical psychologist. Placements allow you to learn a variety of different approaches to therapeutic working and find ways of working that fit you best, and later placements allow for developing skills in consultation.
All trainees have four 6 month placements in the first 2 years of the programme. These are (in order) Child and Family, Adult, Older Adult/Health/Neuropsychology and Learning Disabilities. You will be on placement for 3 days each week. In the third year, you will have a longer placement of 9 months and will be on placement for either 3 or 4 days each week.
Placements are allocated according to a number of variables for each trainee, such as learning needs, trainee preference, previous experience, distance from home base and supervisors' requirements. We try to take these factors into account when deciding on each placement, so as to make an allocation that ideally suits you.
Over the three years we will try to ensure that each trainee has placements that cover a range of settings, therapeutic models and ways of working. This means that trainees' learning needs, and the need to develop necessary competencies, usually take preference above the other factors when making final decisions about placement allocation
Choice of third year placements is usually influenced by trainees' preferences for extending their experience in terms of working in a specialty, with a specific client group or using a therapeutic model. We also take into account each trainee's own learning needs, such as gaps in experience or areas of competency which need attention, and these factors will also influence the choice of placement. We share our placement resources with the Manchester and Liverpool programmes so all placements are arranged by negotiation between programmes. You will be on your third year placement for 3 days per week until your thesis is handed in, after which you will go for 4 days per week.
Being able to drive and owning a car is not essential for completing the programme, but probably makes the necessary travel to and within placements easier. Some placements necessitate frequent travel between bases during the day. Travel expenses are not paid for travel to your placement base unless the distance is greater than the distance from home to base (university), but are paid for travel between locations whilst working on placement.
Placements are spread all across the North West region, from Carlisle to Cheshire, and beyond. We will try our best to make sure that trainees do not have long commutes each day, but sometimes this is unavoidable. The average commuting time to most placements is under an hour.
Try and shadow or at least chat to as many members of the team you are working in. Observing your supervisor is really useful if they allow you this opportunity. Placements will involve extra reading to ensure you know what you're doing with your clients- you need to take responsibility for your understanding as there is no “spoon-feeding” and supervisors may expect you to know the models or be comfortable enough to ask for guidance. Supervisors are usually supportive and will try to focus work around the things you need/want to know, but be prepared to be proactive. Supervision can be a great chance to work with someone who knows a lot about the area but also to bring your own ideas to- the mix of those two will determine the types of therapy you do with people. Make the most of supervision by recording your sessions if possible, and prioritising what you want to discuss within the allocated time.