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Psychological profession roles

There are over 20,000 psychological professionals working in NHS-commissioned healthcare in England.

About

The NHS Long Term Plan, alongside the growth of Mental Health Support Teams for schools, requires an unprecedented growth in the 12 psychological professions. It is anticipated that this workforce of psychologists, psychotherapists, psychological therapists, counsellors and psychological practitioners needs to grow by over 60% from the 2019 baseline by 2024, contributing a third of the overall growth required in the mental health workforce.

Across NHS mental health services in England, an estimated 27,000 (WTE) new mental health posts will be needed to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan, in addition to increase demand arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the growth that was already being delivered under Stepping Forward to 2020/21. This includes a significant and rapid expansion in the psychological professions workforce, growing not only established professions like clinical psychologists, but also embedding new roles.

As well as the emerging new roles, there are 12 psychological professions:

  1. Clinical Psychologists
  2. Cognitive Behavioural Therapists
  3. Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners
  4. Counsellors
  5. Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists
  6. Counselling Psychologists
  7. Forensic Psychologists
  8. Health Psychologists
  9. Systemic Family Therapists
  10. Adult Psychotherapists
  11. Children's Wellbeing Practitioner
  12. Education Mental Health Practitioner

New psychological professional roles - 2022

The psychological profession workforce has seen significant innovation in the past few years, with the creation of a number of new roles, including education mental health practitioners, children’s wellbeing practitioners and, more recently, Clinical Associates in Psychology, Mental Health and Wellbeing Practitioners and Youth Intensive Psychological Practitioner roles.

These new roles are playing a key role in supporting the development and expansion of important new service pathways and numbers of staff in these roles are set to grow rapidly over the next few years.

Mental health and wellbeing practitioners

Adults with severe mental health problems will benefit from the support of new Mental Health and Wellbeing Practitioners as health and care services across England aspire to train up to 1020 people in the role across two years. Mental Health and Wellbeing Practitioners will work with patients to help them manage their mental health while also offering evidence-based psychological interventions.  

The first intake of trainees started their training in March 2022. The one-year training programme will see them, under supervision, develop knowledge and practice skills to employ wellbeing-focused psychologically informed interventions and care planning for adults with severe mental health problems. They will work alongside other established and new roles in the multi-disciplinary team. 

Adrian Whittington, National Lead for Psychological Professions - Health Education England and NHS England and NHS Improvement, said:    

“We are pleased to launch this new role. MHWPs, as part of a team, will make an important difference to people with severe mental health problems, offering psychologically informed interventions that people may have found hard to access before. Additional support from this specific role is intended to free up capacity for experienced senior healthcare professionals to spend additional time on complex care and treatment, and access further development opportunities themselves.”    

Mental health and wellbeing practitioner resources:

For more information, visit the Health Careers website, psychological therapies for severe mental health problems webpage or contact mentalhealth@hee.nhs.uk. 

Youth intensive psychological practitioners

Health Education England and NHS England and NHS Improvement have launched a new psychological profession's pilot role: youth intensive psychological practitioner (YIPP).  

YIPPs will have a salaried and funded training pathway while working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, under the supervision of a clinical psychologist, supporting young people (aged 13-17 years old) across both inpatient and intensive home treatment team services.  

Supporting the increase in psychological professions staff required, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, a small pilot cohort of 29 trainee YIPPs commenced their training programmes in March 2022.  During the one-year postgraduate certificate with the University of Exeter, YIPPs will develop knowledge and skills to provide young people with psychological assessment and psychologically informed interventions aligned with the competence framework for children and young people's mental health inpatient services.  

YIPPs are an additional role and will give experienced senior healthcare professionals more capacity to access higher-level training and deliver complex care to young people with complex mental health needs. 

Antonio, Young Adviser, said:    

“Being involved in shaping the YIPP role is a tremendous honour. As an individual with lived experience, I know how much impact the new YIPP role withholds in supporting young people in crisis and recovery with severe and complex needs. I wish it had existed before. 

"From another perspective, as a psychology student, the YIPP role remains firmly on my mind as a potential career option in the future." 

For more information, visit the Health Careers website or contact mentalhealth@hee.nhs.uk. 

Psychological profession career resources

Health Careers 

The NHS Health Careers website has a section dedicated to the psychological professions. It informs individuals about the different psychological profession roles, training, latest vacancies, FAQs, pay and benefits amongst other areas.

Psychological Professions Network career map

The Psychological Professions Network in England has developed a career map about the career opportunities in the NHS psychological professions.

HEE Roles Explorer

The HEE Roles Explorer is a collection of resources to support those responsible for planning and delivering workforce redesign. This resource can now be used when introducing new psychological profession roles, or innovative adaptations to existing roles already being deployed within a service or system. For those delivering workforce redesign, the HEE Roles Explorer is designed to:

  • provide inspiration and alternatives when designing the optimum skill mix
  • explore the capabilities, training requirements and career frameworks for different roles
  • support you to choose the best fit for your service model
  • develop new staffing models to fit new ways of delivering care
  • provide a range of resources to support the introduction of new role