Programme-level Learning Outcomes & Objectives

In order to meet the HCPC Standards of Proficiency for the relevant part of the register, at the programme level the Lancaster University DClinPsy programme has adopted the learning outcomes required by the British Psychological Society (BPS), which are designed to meet these standards. The following extract outlines the learning outcomes.

Extract from the Standards for Doctoral programmes in Clinical Psychology:

2. Required learning outcomes for accredited doctorates in Clinical Psychology

2.1. Clinical psychology programmes will vary in the emphases they place on work with particular clinical groups, therapeutic modalities, curriculum content, non-therapy skills, training methods etc. This is healthy and promotes diversity and richness within the profession. It ensures programmes can be responsive to regional and national priorities, opens up opportunities for some programmes to coordinate and complement their efforts and offers prospective applicants choice of programmes which best suit their own preferences, learning style and goals. Similarly, trainee clinical psychologists within programmes may follow a range of training pathways depending on practice placement experiences, research undertaken, optional modules chosen etc. Thus whilst all graduates will demonstrate core standards of proficiency, with transferability demonstrated across the range of clients and services as specified below, some variation in individual strengths and competencies will be both inevitable and desirable.

This context means that whilst the BPS will accredit programmes as meeting the standards required for their graduates to be eligible for Chartered status, it will be incumbent on programmes to validate the specific portfolio of skills and competencies of graduates in a way which is transparent to employers and commissioners of services. Whilst programmes are free to develop their own portfolio format, examples of how this might look are contained in Appendix 1. These examples should be seen as indicative, rather than prescriptive.

2.2. Overarching goals, outcomes, ethos and values for all programmes include the following:

By the end of their programme, trainees will have:

  1. A value driven commitment to reducing psychological distress and enhancing and promoting psychological well-being through the systematic application of knowledge derived from psychological theory and evidence. Work should be based on the fundamental acknowledgement that all people have the same human value and the right to be treated as unique individuals.
  2. The skills, knowledge and values to develop working alliances with clients, including individuals, carers and/or services, in order to carry out psychological assessment, develop a formulation based on psychological theories and knowledge, carry out psychological interventions, evaluate their work and communicate effectively with clients, referrers and others, orally, electronically and in writing.
  3. Knowledge and understanding of psychological (and other relevant) theory and evidence, related to specific client groups, presentations, psychological therapies, psychological testing, assessment, intervention and secondary prevention required to underpin clinical practice.
  4. The skills, knowledge and values to work effectively with clients from a diverse range of backgrounds, understanding and respecting the impact of difference and diversity upon their lives. Awareness of the clinical, professional and social contexts within which work is undertaken and impact therein.
  5. Clinical and research skills that demonstrate work with clients and systems based on a reflective scientist-practitioner model that incorporates a cycle of assessment, formulation, intervention and evaluation and that draws from across theory and therapy evidence bases as appropriate.
  6. The skills, knowledge and values to work effectively with systems relevant to clients, including for example statutory and voluntary services, self-help and advocacy groups, userled systems and other elements of the wider community.
  7. The skills, knowledge and values to work in a range of indirect ways to improve psychological aspects of health and healthcare. This includes leadership skills and competencies in consultancy, supervision, teaching and training, working collaboratively and influencing psychological mindedness and practices of teams.
  8. The skills, knowledge and values to conduct research and reflect upon outcomes in a way that enables the profession to develop its knowledge base and to monitor and improve the effectiveness of its work.
  9. A professional and ethical value base, including that set out in the BPS Code of Ethics and Conduct, the DCP statement of the Core Purpose and Philosophy of the profession and the DCP Professional Practice Guidelines.
  10. High level skills in managing a personal learning agenda and self-care, in critical reflection and self-awareness that enable transfer of knowledge and skills to new settings and problems and professional standards of behaviour as might be expected by the public, employers and colleagues.
NINE core competencies are defined as follows:

2.2.1. Generalisable meta-competencies

  1. Drawing on psychological knowledge of developmental, social and neuropsychological processes across the lifespan to facilitate adaptability and change in individuals, groups, families, organisations and communities.
  2. Deciding, using a broad evidence and knowledge base, how to assess, formulate and intervene psychologically, from a range of possible models and modes of intervention with clients, carers and service systems. Ability to work effectively whilst holding in mind alternative, competing explanations.
  3. Generalising and synthesising prior knowledge and experience in order to apply them critically and creatively in different settings and novel situations.
  4. Being familiar with theoretical frameworks, the evidence base and practice guidance frameworks such as NICE and SIGN, and having the capacity to critically utilise these in complex clinical decision making without being formulaic in application.
  5. Complementing evidence based practice with an ethos of practice based evidence where processes, outcomes, progress and needs are critically and reflectively evaluated.
  6. Ability to collaborate with service users and carers, and other relevant stakeholders, in advancing psychological initiatives such as interventions and research.
  7. Making informed judgments on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete information.
  8. Ability to communicate psychologically-informed ideas and conclusions to, and to work effectively with, other stakeholders, (specialist and non-specialist), in order to influence practice, facilitate problem solving and decision making.
  9. Exercising personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations in professional practice. Demonstrating self-awareness and sensitivity, and working as a reflective practitioner within ethical and professional practice frameworks.

2.2.2. Psychological assessment

  1. Developing and maintaining effective working alliances with service users, carers, colleagues and other relevant stakeholders.
  2. Ability to choose, use and interpret a broad range of assessment methods appropriate:
    • to the client and service delivery system in which the assessment takes place; and
    • to the type of intervention which is likely to be required.
  3. Assessment procedures in which competence is demonstrated will include:
    • performance based psychometric measures (e.g. of cognition and development);
    • self and other informant reported psychometrics (e.g. of symptoms, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, behaviours);
    • systematic interviewing procedures;
    • other structured methods of assessment (e.g. observation, or gathering information from others); and
    • assessment of social context and organisations.
  4. Understanding of key elements of psychometric theory which have relevance to psychological assessment (e.g. effect sizes, reliable change scores, sources of error and bias, base rates, limitations etc.) and utilising this knowledge to aid assessment practices and interpretations thereof.
  5. Conducting appropriate risk assessment and using this to guide practice.

2.2.3. Psychological formulation

  1. Using assessment to develop formulations which are informed by theory and evidence about relevant individual, systemic, cultural and biological factors.
  2. Constructing formulations of presentations which may be informed by, but which are not premised on, formal diagnostic classification systems; developing formulation in an emergent transdiagnostic context.
  3. Constructing formulations utilising theoretical frameworks with an integrative, multi-model, perspective as appropriate and adapted to circumstance and context.
  4. Developing a formulation through a shared understanding of its personal meaning with the client(s) and / or team in a way which helps the client better understand their experience.
  5. Capacity to develop a formulation collaboratively with service users, carers, teams and services and being respectful of the client or team's feedback about what is accurate and helpful.
  6. Making justifiable choices about the format and complexity of the formulation that is presented or utilised as appropriate to a given situation.
  7. Ensuring that formulations are expressed in accessible language, culturally sensitive, and non-discriminatory in terms of, for example, age, gender, disability and sexuality.
  8. Using formulations to guide appropriate interventions if appropriate.
  9. Reflecting on and revising formulations in the light of on-going feedback and intervention.
  10. Leading on the implementation of formulation in services and utilizing formulation to enhance teamwork, multi-professional communication and psychological mindedness in services.

2.2.4. Psychological intervention

  1. On the basis of a formulation, implementing psychological therapy or other interventions appropriate to the presenting problem and to the psychological and social circumstances of the client(s), and to do this in a collaborative manner with:
    • individuals
    • couples, families or groups
    • services / organisations
  2. Understanding therapeutic techniques and processes as applied when working with a range of different individuals in distress, such as those who experience difficulties related to: anxiety, mood, adjustment to adverse circumstances or life events, eating difficulties, psychosis, misuse of substances, physical health presentations and those with somatoform, psychosexual, developmental, personality, cognitive and neurological presentations.
  3. Ability to implement therapeutic interventions based on knowledge and practice in at least two evidence-based models of formal psychological interventions, of which one must be cognitive-behaviour therapy. Model specific therapeutic skills must be evidenced against a competence framework as described below, though these may be adapted to account for specific ages and presentations etc.
  4. In addition, however, the ability to utilise multi-model interventions, as appropriate to the complexity and / or co-morbidity of the presentation, the clinical and social context and service user opinions, values and goals.
  5. Knowledge of, and capacity to conduct interventions related to, secondary prevention and the promotion of health and well-being.
  6. Conducting interventions in a way which promotes recovery of personal and social functioning as informed by service user values and goals.
  7. Having an awareness of the impact and relevance of psychopharmacological and other multidisciplinary interventions.
  8. Understanding social approaches to intervention; for example, those informed by community, critical, and social constructionist perspectives.
  9. Implementing interventions and care plans through, and with, other professions and/or with individuals who are formal (professional) carers for a client, or who care for a client by virtue of family or partnership arrangements.
  10. Recognising when (further) intervention is inappropriate, or unlikely to be helpful, and communicating this sensitively to clients and carers.

2.2.5. Evaluation

  1. Evaluating practice through the monitoring of processes and outcomes, across multiple dimensions of functioning, in relation to recovery, values and goals and as informed by service user experiences as well as clinical indicators (such as behaviour change and change on standardised psychometric instruments).
  2. Devising innovate evaluative procedures where appropriate.
  3. Capacity to utilise supervision effectively to reflect upon personal effectiveness, shape and change personal and organisational practice including that information offered by outcomes monitoring.
  4. Appreciating outcomes frameworks in wider use within national healthcare systems, the evidence base and theories of outcomes monitoring (e.g. as related to dimensions of accessibility, acceptability, clinical effectiveness and efficacy) and creating synergy with personal evaluative strategies.
  5. Critical appreciation of the strengths and limitations of different evaluative strategies, including psychometric theory and knowledge related to indices of change.
  6. Capacity to evaluate processes and outcomes at the organisational and systemic levels as well as the individual level.

2.2.6. Research

  1. Being a critical and effective consumer, interpreter and disseminator of the research evidence base relevant to clinical psychology practice and that of psychological services and interventions more widely. Utilising such research to influence and inform the practice of self and others.
  2. Conceptualising, designing and conducting independent, original and translational research of a quality to satisfy peer review, contribute to the knowledge base of the discipline, and merit publication including: identifying research questions, demonstrating an understanding of ethical issues, choosing appropriate research methods and analysis (both quantitative and qualitative), reporting outcomes and identifying appropriate pathways for dissemination.
  3. Understanding the need and value of undertaking translational (applied and applicable) clinical research post-qualification, contributing substantially to the development of theory and practice in clinical psychology.
  4. The capacity to conduct service evaluation, small N, pilot and feasibility studies and other research which is consistent with the values of both evidence based practice and practice based evidence.
  5. Conducting research in respectful collaboration with others (e.g. service users, supervisors, other disciplines and collaborators, funders, community groups etc.) and within the ethical and governance frameworks of the Society, the Division, HCPC, universities and other statutory regulators as appropriate.

2.2.7. Personal and professional skills and values

  1. Understanding of ethical issues and applying these in complex clinical contexts, ensuring that informed consent underpins all contact with clients and research participants.
  2. Appreciating the inherent power imbalance between practitioners and clients and how abuse of this can be minimised.
  3. Understanding the impact of differences, diversity and social inequalities on people's lives, and their implications for working practices.
  4. Understanding the impact of one's own value base upon clinical practice.
  5. Working effectively at an appropriate level of autonomy, with awareness of the limits of own competence and accepting accountability to relevant professional and service managers.
  6. Capacity to adapt to, and comply with, the policies and practices of a host organisation with respect to time-keeping, record keeping, meeting deadlines, managing leave, health and safety and good working relations.
  7. Managing own personal learning needs and developing strategies for meeting these. Using supervision to reflect on practice, and making appropriate use of feedback received.
  8. Developing strategies to handle the emotional and physical impact of practice and seeking appropriate support when necessary, with good awareness of boundary issues.
  9. Developing resilience but also the capacity to recognize when own fitness to practice is compromised and take steps to manage this risk as appropriate.
  10. Working collaboratively and constructively with fellow psychologists and other colleagues and users of services, respecting diverse viewpoints.

2.2.8. Communication and teaching

  1. Communicating effectively clinical and non-clinical information from a psychological perspective in a style appropriate to a variety of different audiences (for example, to professional colleagues, and to users and their carers).
  2. Adapting style of communication to people with a wide range of levels of cognitive ability, sensory acuity and modes of communication.
  3. Preparing and delivering teaching and training which takes into account the needs and goals of the participants (for example, by appropriate adaptations to methods and content).
  4. Understanding of the supervision process for both supervisee and supervisor roles.
  5. Understanding the process of providing expert psychological opinion and advice, including the preparation and presentation of evidence in formal settings.
  6. Understanding the process of communicating effectively through interpreters and having an awareness of the limitations thereof.
  7. Supporting others' learning in the application of psychological skills, knowledge, practices and procedures.

2.2.9. Organisational and systemic influence and leadership

  1. Awareness of the legislative and national planning contexts for service delivery and clinical practice.
  2. Capacity to adapt practice to different organisational contexts for service delivery. This should include a variety of settings such as in-patient and community, primary, secondary and tertiary care and may include work with providers outside of the NHS.
  3. Providing supervision at an appropriate level within own sphere of competence.
  4. Indirect influence of service delivery including through consultancy, training and working effectively in multidisciplinary and cross-professional teams. Bringing psychological influence to bear in the service delivery of others.
  5. Understanding of leadership theories and models, and their application to service development and delivery. Demonstrating leadership qualities such as being aware of and working with interpersonal processes, proactivity, influencing the psychological mindedness of teams and organisations, contributing to and fostering collaborative working practices within teams.
  6. Working with users and carers to facilitate their involvement in service planning and delivery.
  7. Understanding of change processes in service delivery systems.
  8. Understanding and working with quality assurance principles and processes including informatics systems which may determine the relevance of clinical psychology work within healthcare systems.
  9. Being able to recognise malpractice or unethical practice in systems and organisations and knowing how to respond to this, and being familiar with 'whistleblowing' policies and issues.
[End of extract]

BPS DClinPsy Standards Document (BPS membership required to access)