I have discovered that by looking at the statistics for this blog that the post that gets the most hits is the article about the applying to the British Psychological Society as an Australian clinical psychologist and the Statement of Equivalence in Clinical Psychology (SoE).
Having completed the Statement in January 2002, and coming into contact with plenty of other foreign-trained clinical psychologists in various stages through the SoE, I thought it might be handy to list some tips to increase your SoE success. [hey, I’m assuming if you are reading this that you are either on the SoE or considering it…]
Some tips that may help you successfully complete the Statement of Equivalence:
- choose a Coordinator of Training carefully: this person can play a key role in the completion of the Statement. Optimally you want a Coordinator who 1) has a senior role in the health service, so that they can open doors for you to access placements, and 2) is familiar with the academic standards required, either by supervising previous candidates or being attached to the clinical psychology doctoral course. Ask prospective Coordinators if they have done this before or if they have access to other Coordinators.
- If you can, join a course that supports the SoE process or go to events organised for SoE candidates. For example, two courses I know of in London are the Salomons SoE course and the UCL SoE course. Aside from networking with other SoE candidates and exchanging tips and information, these courses usually provide examples of successful essays and reports so that you can judge the standard required.
- Share past essays and reports with other SoE candidates – the more you see the better you can judge what the assessors grade for. From past experience it also appears that the essay questions are not changed that often, so you may read a successful example of an essay that you are planning to write.
- For the professional practice essays having access to back issues of Clinical Psychology Forum, the house journal of the Division of Clinical Psychology, is essential. In addition the BPS website is also useful, particularly in terms of pointing to UK governmental policy documents (which you refer to in the essays).
- Acceptance: you may never believe that the Statement was a good experience or valuable in terms of your continuing professional development, despite the BPS’s statements to the contrary. In fact, the BPS claims to mandate the SoE only to protect the consumers of psychologists. It is a hoop to jump through.
- In dealing with prospective employers it is important to negotiate for the time and resources required for you to complete the SoE. Some employers are good at striking the balance between your responsibilities and the SoE process, while others will try to exploit you by offering a pay deal for much less than your post usually is paid (while expecting you to hold the same amount of responsibility) or allow no time for SoE within the post. Shop around and be prepared to travel to less desirable parts of the UK to complete the SoE, if you can.
- You will probably never end up believing that your original training was inferior, despite the suggestion embedded in the scrutiny of your clinical qualifications (well, at least according to the BPS). You may live for awhile in the twilight world of being treated like a trainee while also having skills and experience that are highly valued by your employer. In all likelihood these skills are the ones that your original training provided in that below-par excuse-for-a-training-course that you qualified from (& that you probably worked long and hard to get onto). Again, think of hoops…
- In particular, if you are lured by the bright lights of London… think carefully about how much trouble you are willing to go through in order to finish the SoE. To be honest, consider working outside of London to get your Statement (I did) , for the reasons listed above. For example, it has been fairly difficult for SoE candidates in my locality (south London) to get placements near to their permanent job or even in the Trust they work for, due to there being a limited number of supervisors in specialties such as learning disability. It is also important to consider that you are competing against trainees for spots on placements, and that it has been difficult for enough placements to be open to trainees, let alone folks outside of the system like SoE candidates.