Qualified psychologists apply psychological knowledge and skills to help individuals and those who support them to have a good quality of life. Psychologists working in the field of learning disability use a wide range of clinical skills, including formal assessment, formulation, therapeutic interventions, teaching, and consultation. Psychologists also use their research and service development skills to make positive changes at a more organisational level.
An 8a psychologist would typically function as an experienced clinician, working with more complex cases and providing support to less experienced psychologists and unqualified staff. An 8b psychology role typically involves offering aspects of leadership alongside undertaking complex clinical work.
Salary, hours and benefits
|Standard hours are usually around 37.5 hours a week.
|You could work
|Career Framework level
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties may include:
- undertaking psychological assessments, formulation, therapeutic interventions, and consultation to support people with specific needs, e.g. challenging behaviour, dementia, autism, mental health issues, and psychological and emotional difficulties, to maintain the skills needed for living an ordinary life,
- acting as an advocate and ensuring that there is proper regard for people’s dignity, choice, self-esteem, and racial, cultural, sexual, and religious needs and preferences,
- being responsible for assessing and managing risk, including in a crisis or safeguarding situation,
- undertaking assessments and developing and implementing plans within the Positive Behaviour Support framework,
- promoting partnership with people in other health and social care settings,
- establishing and maintaining effective relationships with colleagues, other agencies, people who use services, and their families,
- designing and conducting clinical audit and research, maintaining current knowledge of research findings and development within the learning disability field,
- designing and conducting service development activities in line with government priorities,
- offering supervision to less experienced qualified or unqualified psychologists,
- managing operational aspects such as the waiting list.
A large number of clinical psychologists work in the NHS, while forensic psychologists are typically employed by prisons. Learning disability psychologists also work in private hospitals, or charities, or independently.
Characteristics and skills required
- commitment to supporting change,
- to understand and analyse a range of information,
- to manage your own emotions and the emotions of others,
- to be self-motivated,
- to be good listener,
- to be able to work in teams,
- to be able to communicate in a variety of ways.
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to pass enhanced background checks and be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
Career path and progression
Following work as an 8a or 8b psychologist, the next career step is a consultant psychologist position.
|Career Framework level
An assistant psychologist seeks to improve lives and promote health and independence for people with learning disabilities by providing psychological assessment and psychological interventions, and assisting in clinically related administration, the conduct of audits, the collection of outcome statistics, and/or other project work as appropriate under the supervision of a qualified clinical psychologist working within the service.
|Trainee Clinical Psychologist
Trainee clinical psychologists work with people of all ages and in a variety of settings in physical and mental healthcare. The role contributes to the core work of clinical psychologists, and provides a training ground with regular supervision in which to practice and develop skills as a clinician and researcher.
|Specialist Clinical Psychologist
Working as a band 7 clinical psychologist within a learning disability service is a varied role that involves working both with adults diagnosed with learning disabilities (defined as a reduced intellectual ability that impacts the person’s ability to complete everyday activities) and the systems around them. This could include families, carers, and staff teams, in addition to other health professionals.
|Highly Specialist Clinical/Counselling/Forensic Psychologist
Qualified psychologists apply psychological knowledge and skills to help individuals and those who support them to have a good quality of life. Psychologists working in the field of learning disability use a wide range of clinical skills, including formal assessment, formulation, therapeutic interventions, teaching, and consultation.
|Consultant Clinical/Counselling/Forensic Psychologist
As consultant psychologist, you will be a leader, for example lead for learning disability psychology across a whole NHS trust, although in some cases a consultant psychologist may cover one geographical or specialist area.
|8 and 9
|Head / Director of Psychological Therapies
As head/director of psychological therapies, you will be the lead for all the psychological therapies across all care groups within the organisation.
You will work closely with the chief executive/chief operational officer, medical and nursing leads, and the chief finance officer to ensure the delivery of safe and effective psychological therapies in the organisation.
How to become a Highly Specialist Clinical/Counselling/Forensic Psychologist
To become a highly specialist clinical psychologist you will need to have a degree in psychology (usually at 2.1 and above), following relevant work experience, the completion of a doctorate or undertaking work as a band 7 psychologist.
From within health and social care
If you are already working in the health and social care sector and you are looking for a new challenge, then you can change career to become a psychologist within learning disability and autism support and care. To qualify, you will need a degree in psychology (usually at 2.1 and above), which gives you Graduate Basis for Registration with the BPS.
From outside health and social care
If you want to work in health and social care and you are looking for a new challenge, then you can change career to become psychologist within learning disability and autism support and care. To qualify, you will need a degree in psychology (usually at 2.1 and above), which gives you Graduate Basis for Registration with the BPS.
Jobs in the UK
The NHS jobs service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available. Current available jobs can be found at NHS jobs.
Some posts may be in social care settings and available through community care or local authority websites. Other roles can be found through job boards, including the British Psychological Society.