Psychologist, clinical

Applies psychological theories, therapies and procedures in the assessment and treatment of mental and physical illness in clients of all ages.

Job description

Clinical psychologists apply psychological theories, models and research to a range of psychological, psychiatric, mental health and developmental problems. They provide a variety of services including assessment, therapy, and consultancy services, working primarily, though not exclusively, in child and/or adult and learning disability services where emotional, behavioural, psychiatric or developmental difficulties are addressed.

Work activities

  • Diagnosing and clarifying problems by discussion, interview and questionnaire
  • Offering therapy for difficulties relating to anxiety, depression, addictions, etc
  • Assessing and working with a wide range of clients, both children and adults, such as people with head injuries
  • Rehabilitating long-stay patients into the community
  • Training others and carrying out research.

Work conditions

Travel: may be required occasionally.
Working hours: mainly 9.00am–5.00pm, possibly with some extra hours. Some evening or weekend work may be required and occasionally an 'on call' system covering emergency situations.
Location: opportunities exist mainly in towns or cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: opportunities for private or clinical practice and for industrial or commercial consultancy are growing.

Typical employers

Public and private hospitals, psychiatric services for both children and adults, community care, services for people with intellectual disabilities and private practice.

Career development

Experienced clinical psychologists may specialise, or progress to managing a department or large section. Opportunities also exist in training, lecturing and in research.


Republic of Ireland: Trainee clinical psychologists earn €35,761–€39,525. Basic grade clinical psychologists earn approximately €54,000–€84,000. Senior clinical psychologists can earn in excess of €90,000 with long service increments (LSIs) included.

Northern Ireland: Assistant psychologists are normally paid on the NHS Agenda for Change bands 4 to 6. Band 4 starts at around £15,000. Qualified clinical psychologists start from around £25,000 (band 7), with pay scales going to £80,000+ for very senior positions. Details of the most recent salary scales can be found on the NHS website.

Entry requirements

An honours undergraduate degree or a postgraduate conversion course accredited by the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) where psychology is the major subject is required. Completion of a recognised postgraduate training programme in clinical psychology is then necessary.

Specific degree subjects required


Postgraduate study

Completion of a recognised postgraduate training programme in clinical psychology at doctorate level is essential.

Specific entry requirements

An excellent academic record, and appropriate personal qualities (maturity, emotional stability etc) are required. Relevant experience is normally essential.


Training normally takes three years and is full-time, inclusive of academic holidays. It consists of an integrated programme of research, academic study and supervised clinical practice in a variety of clinical settings.

Tips for applications

You can enhance your chances of achieving a place on a postgraduate programme by achieving a high grade at undergraduate level (minimum 2.1) and obtaining further research or academic experience relevant to the field of clinical psychology. This can be by way of voluntary or paid work. Work as a psychological assistant, a care assistant, a nursing assistant, a research assistant on a clinical research project, or a post-graduate research degree where the project was conducted in a clinical area are typical examples of the types of experience that are considered to be relevant in this context. Completion of short courses and workshops which have contributed to the development of clinical skills are also taken into account in judging clinical skill and potential.

Skills and qualities

  • Excellent listening and communication skills
  • Excellent motivational skills
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Great patience and the ability to empathise
  • Ability to inspire trust and confidence in people from a wide range of backgrounds
  • Ability to explain complex issues to people with little or no specialist knowledge
  • Excellent observational skills coupled with the ability to interpret people's body language as well as what they say
  • Ability to produce clear, concise written reports.