Placements are planned so that trainees have the best opportunity to achieve the learning objectives that relate to acquisition of clinical competence, which meet the HCPC's Standards of Proficiency for Practitioner Psychologists and the standards set out in the BPS Accreditation through Partnership Handbook; Guidance for Clinical Psychology Programme (p.27-30).
For each practice placement, the document that articulates this plan to link opportunities on placement to the learning objectives and acquisition of competencies is the Placement Contract (available in the appendix below).
The designated clinical tutors are available to provide guidance to supervisors in the use of the contract in setting out and monitoring learning objectives that demonstrate acquisition of clinical competence for each trainee. This can be done by means of written response from the tutor on receipt of the placement contract (as above, within the first two weeks of the placement), should there be particular needs. For example, it might be that trainees need particular experiences identified as missing from previous placements, which would, therefore, be incorporated into the contract. General 'gaps' in experience (e.g. opportunities to teach, or use psychometric tests, or conduct group work, or work within another therapeutic orientation) are identified for each trainee at the end of each placement to take into the contract planning process of their subsequent placement.
In addition to a Placement Contract, which sets out explanations about clinical work and the practicalities of supervision, trainees and supervisors should consider drawing up a psychological contract (example available in the appendix below). Deriving from the field of Organisational Psychology, the term psychological contract usually refers to an implicit contract, or unwritten set of expectations, between an individual and his/her organisation, which determines what each party expects to give and receive from each other. Even when it remains unwritten, the psychological contract is a powerful determiner of behaviour in organisations; breaches of this contract in the work setting can have deleterious effects, such as lowering of trust and job satisfaction. Making this contract explicit through agreeing it and writing it down should make it easier to address and manage difficulties should they arise
The psychological contract is equally applicable to the training situation. When applied to supervision, the key questions related to the psychological contract are:
- How are supervisor and trainee going to relate to each other?
- What expectations do each have of the other?
- What is the role of each?
The Log Book (available in the appendix below) is in two parts. The first part (a) is a record of the relevant activities and experiences that a trainee accrues over the course of each placement. These constitute a record of the opportunities that a trainee has had, through these activities and experiences, to develop their competencies in the various domains required. The second part (b) is a record of the trainee's own self rating of their competencies. Therefore this document, as a whole, provides a record of the opportunities for a trainee to develop their competencies followed by a record of the trainee's own evaluation of their progress in developing these competencies (and therefore their progress towards proficiency as a clinical psychologist). The Log Book is a cumulative document, which trainees are encouraged to update as they progress through their training, and they are required to hand in at the end of each practice placement. Part (a) must be signed by their placement supervisor(s) to confirm that the experiences and activities entered for that placement have been completed as reported. This document provides an ongoing focus for communication between supervisors, trainees and programme staff about the detail of their progress. It is used for these purposes informally and, more formally, when placement contracts are being drawn up, at mid placement visits and at training progress reviews.
Placement Audit Form (PAF)
The placement audit form (available in the appendix below) is a report completed, at the end of each practice placement, by the trainee assessing their experience of the quality of that practice placement. This includes specific reference to those aspects of placement provision that are mandatory, such as the amount of formal direct supervision received (at least one hour per week, with that being extended to a minimum of 90 minutes per week for trainees on their first practice placement). In addition, trainees are asked to describe their experience of the levels of support, safety, challenge and resources available to them on the placement in question and within the specific supervisory relationship(s). These forms are reviewed by a clinical tutor (who is also a member of the placement policy group) and collated across each cohort. Key information about from this review of documentation is then reported to the Placement Policy group (relating, for example, to quality assurance processes, placement access and development). Any issues requiring action (e.g. specific trainee development issues) are then taken up by designated clinical tutors, with broader issues monitored by the Placement Policy Group. In addition, any information gathered about the quality of provision of placements by a supervisor or placement provider is recorded and made available to the next round of placement selection Information regarding trainee progression is reported to the Exam Board.
Supervisors Assessment of Trainee (SAT)
The SAT form (available in the appendix below) is a report of a trainee's performance on placement in the development of skills and competencies across all domains of clinical psychology practice.
These competencies are split into nine broad areas of competence that are required of a clinical psychologist (and map onto the same areas represented in the log book part (b) and referred to in the placement contract). However, supervisors can only assess performance on the available opportunities and activities on the specific placement, which have been framed from the start by the placement contract and recorded in the log book. The SAT asks supervisors to judge whether, through their supervised practice on the placement, the trainee has demonstrated enough progress across the range of competencies to merit passing the placement (a rating of "satisfactory"), whether they should pass with some recommendation to attend to specific deficiencies ("requires attention"), or whether they should fail the placement ("unsatisfactory"). These ratings are accompanied by qualitative feedback on the nature of their progress. These ratings are given for each of the nine broad areas, as well as an overall rating for performance on the whole placement. During early placements in the programme, it is anticipated that some of the above broad areas will be rated as "requires attention" as a trainee will only acquire a full set of competencies over the whole three years of the programme. However, this also means that a final placement SAT form should have ratings of satisfactory across the whole range of areas. This sensitivity to the developmental nature of training is communicated to all trainees and supervisors, and is discussed at the respective Exam Board where, for example, a final year trainee receives a rating of "requires attention" on at least one area of competence.
The current SAT form has been agreed by all three DClinPsy courses in the North West region. However, the three programmes are currently working together to develop and improve this form.
In terms of submitting the documentation, the programme must receive completed copies of the SAT, Log Book and Placement Audit form in electronic form, emailed from the supervisor's work email address, by the final day of the placement period. If these documents are not received in compliance with this process (which acts in lieu of a system of supervisors 'signing' a form), the trainee will not be able to formally pass the placement.
Outcome of placement assessments are available to trainees at the end of the Exam Board that meets after the completion of the placement. The SAT form constitutes a formal recommendation to that Exam Board regarding the pass or failure of the placement.
The HCPC Standards of Proficiency for practitioner psychologists
BPS Accreditation through partnership handbook
Sample placement contract
Sample psychological contract
Trainee log book
Placement audit form (PAF)
Supervisor's Assessment of Trainee (SAT) form
Supervisor's Assessment of Trainee (SAT) form - final placement version