Psychology - Becoming an educational psychologist

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Who might an educational psychologist work for?

An educational psychologist (Ed Psych) could work in the UK for:

  • the local authority responsible for state schools in the area
  • an independent (fee-paying) school
  • themselves - self-employed.

Alternatively they could work abroad, for example as a school psychologist in Australia or the USA.

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Skills required

Before thinking about getting qualifications, you need to know you have the right skills to be a good educational psychologist. Communication is the main skill required. You need to be able to listen carefully and able to speak with people comfortably. The Ed Psych training covers communication skills such as empathic listening

Empathic listening is a way of listening to another person so that there is a real understanding. It also involves responding in a way that shows that you have listened. Your training would also include role play to practise communication skills. You have to be able to talk to a range of different people too because you have to communicate with children from a very young age right up to shy 17-year-olds, for example. You would also need to be able to communicate effectively with parents, teachers and other professionals.

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Qualifications required

  • First, you need a degree in Psychology - one that is recognised by the British Psychological Society (BPS), which most psychology degrees are.
  • You need to get some experience that involves education, though you don't need to teach. (Previously you had to train as a teacher and do two years' teaching before doing a Masters degree, which is one level above a degree.)
  • Then you have to do a three-year doctorate in educational psychology (a doctorate is one level above a Masters degree).

The changes that have taken place were designed to bring the training in line with clinical psychology. 

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Chartered status

If an Ed Psych is a chartered psychologist they have to prove their Continuing Professional Development (CPD) in the course of their work.

'Chartered' means you have satisfied the requirements of the BPS (British Psychological Society) and have sufficient qualifications and experience to be called a psychologist. Not all educational psychologists are chartered and not all educational psychologists decide to become members of the BPS, even if they have the appropriate degree. Most psychologists who work on a self-employed basis are chartered, as being in the Directory of Chartered Psychologists is a sign of competence that can help them gain business.

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Key definitions.

empathic listening: a way of listening to another person so that there is real understanding. It also involves responding in a way that shows you have listened

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