CPsychol, DPsych, PG Dip, MPhil, BA

7 Things Counselling Psychologists should know before starting the PGDip in Clinical Neuropsychology

It’s an exciting moment for Counselling Psychologists in the UK because we are now able to train in Neuropsychology. This blog post series is intended to offer sign-posting to those beginning the knowledge component. I completed the Applied Neuropsychology Diploma at Bristol University in the Summer of 2020. This course has the same content as the Clinical Neuropsychology Diploma. I’d love to hear from you if you are considering this path – don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  1. Take the plunge. Intellectually, it’s more than likely that you are up to the task. Counselling Psychology training can leave you feeling raw – as if you’ve been taken apart but somehow not quite put back together again. We are – rightly – taught to question everything. But don’t be held back by questioning your ability to pursue this career path. That is not to say the content is not demanding. It is.
  2. Go in with your eyes open. The biggest challenge is volume. There is a lot of material to be covered. There is both breath and depth. It’s a beast.
  3. Develop your knowledge management strategies. To manage this volume, you need tools. At a minimum an effective note-taking system to capture your lectures (approximately 70 of them!) and an online reference manager for your journal articles. I recorded my written notes as shorter voice notes, for example, to rehearse/repeat key material.
  4. Pace yourself. You need stamina. Consistency is your friend: you show up, every day. You learn something new and repeat old material. Rinse and repeat. I’m still doing this now, months since I completed the course. Constant engagement with the material is important in order to avoid attrition.
  5. Be prepared to be surprised. Neuropsychological assessment is not necessarily at odds with the humanistic values of counselling psychology, which emphasize the whole person rather than test outcomes. Neuropsychological assessment is about so much more than testing. But I came to appreciate that insight from neuropsychological tests – carefully chosen, properly administered and interpreted – can save the client from pointless, potentially harmful, interventions. And it can provide the client with insight into their own experiences, for which they often yearn deeply. If you believe that neuropsychology and counselling psychology are fundamentally at odds with one another, I’d encourage you to take another look: the biopsychosocial model is very much in evidence in contemporary neuropsychology.
  6. It’s an ongoing commitment. The field of neuropsychology is advancing rapidly. Being an evidence-based practitioner requires that you keep reading the evidence. The learning doesn’t stop when the course ends.
  7. Remember why you’re doing it. Time seems to disappear! But in a good way. The material is fascinating. There is always a push-pull. You feel an urge to go down the rabbit hole because you’re having this great adventure. But you must stay focused on what matters most: to pass those exams and put all this learning in service of the client.