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. Working within learning disability services usually means working as part of a multidisciplinary team and taking a person-centred approach, with the aim of improving the quality of life of service users. This may include promoting outcomes such as improved emotional wellbeing or physical health, or a reduction in behaviours that are challenging. Liaison and consultation form a key part of the role, and there are opportunities for involvement in additional tasks, such as providing supervision, teaching, and training.
There is some variation across different learning disability services; depending on the service, you may work with people across the entire spectrum of learning disabilities, or only with those diagnosed with a moderate-to-severe learning disability. Either way, no two days are the same and the role involves many opportunities to develop a diverse set of skills.
Salary, hours and benefits
|£38,890 to £44,503
|Standard hours are usually around 37.5 hours a week.
Part-time roles may also be available depending on the needs of the service.
|You could work
|Career Framework level
What you’ll do
This is a varied role, with day-to-day tasks including a mixture of clinical work, multidisciplinary team meetings, and some administration. Clinical work is typically a combination of direct work (e.g. individual therapeutic interventions such as adapted cognitive behavioural therapy and indirect work. This includes consultation, liaison, and providing training, as well as interventions such as positive behaviour support. You may also complete diagnostic assessments to confirm the presence of a learning disability, or baseline dementia assessments for clients with a diagnosis of down’s syndrome.
Additional aspects of the role could include providing supervision to assistant and trainee clinical psychologists, supporting staff wellbeing, and opportunities for involvement in service development and research.
You would typically be based within a multidisciplinary team office, with space for clinical appointments. You would also work across the community, completing visits to homes, day centres, supported living and residential accommodation, or education facilities.
Characteristics and skills required
- a commitment to improving the quality of life and health outcomes for people with learning disabilities,
- excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to adapt your communication style to the needs of the individual,
- the desire to work as a team and support colleagues,
- the ability to work alongside other professionals, family members, and carers to support positive change and enhanced quality of life for service users,
- an awareness and knowledge of psychological theory and its application to the treatment of mental health conditions in people with learning disabilities,
- a critical understanding of the evidence base for the assessment and treatment of mental health conditions in people with learning disabilities,
- the ability to use formulations to develop case conceptualisations and treatment plans for individual clients and within staff consultation sessions,
- excellent research skills to contribute to service-related research projects and audits,
- leadership skills to contribute to service development and quality-improvement projects.
Restrictions and requirements
To practice as a clinical psychologist, you need to demonstrate that you have maintained continued learning and development. You would also need an enhanced DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service) to work as a clinical psychologist with people with learning disabilities.
Career path and progression
A newly qualified clinical psychologist typically starts at band 7 but could then progress into more specialist and leadership roles at band 8.
|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/Counsellinorensic 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 Specialist Clinical Psychologist
To become a specialist clinical psychologist, you will need to complete a doctorate or an accredited clinical psychology programme.
In order to work as a band 7 clinical psychologist in learning disabilities services, you will need to have completed a doctorate on an accredited clinical psychology program.
Completing a placement within a learning disability setting during this time could be advantageous in order to gain experience of working with this clinical group area prior to qualifying for positions.
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 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.
Jobs in the UK
Specialist learning disability services can be found across the UK, with psychologists forming one part of multidisciplinary teams. Currently available jobs can be found at NHS jobs.
Opportunities to work as a band 7 clinical psychologist within learning disability services may also be available within third sector organisations.
Real-life story: Nicola and Alisa
When they qualified as clinical psychologists,Nicola and Ailsa were both seeking jobs in roles that offered variety, work with different professionals, and opportunities for working systemically. They found what they were looking for in their roles as band 7 clinical psychologists within East London Foundation Trust. The below is a combination of their stories.