Medical psychotherapists are psychiatrists who specialise in areas such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, and systemic therapy. Psychotherapy training includes multiple placements in various areas of psychotherapy.
Applicants must have completed the two-year Foundation Programme before they are eligible to apply for training in Medical Psychotherapy. The training programme involves two stages:
- Core Psychiatry Training (CT1-3) over three years, and
- Specialist higher training in psychiatry (ST4-6), also three years in duration.
During specialist higher training it is possible to train for a specialist qualification in psychotherapy – for example, obtaining accreditation as a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist with the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). Trainees also need to complete the examinations for Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Job Progression as a Medical Psychotherapist
During core training, trainees complete multiple four- to six-month placements in different areas of psychiatry.
During specialist training, trainees complete three 12-month placements in areas relevant to Medical Psychotherapy. In order to be eligible to apply for ST4 posts, trainees must demonstrate at least 36 months of full time experience in psychiatry, excluding foundation modules.
Dual training programmes may be available in General Adult Psychiatry and Medical Psychotherapy, or in Forensic Psychiatry and Medical Psychotherapy. Forensic Psychotherapy is also a subspeciality within Medical Psychotherapy.
Trainees can apply for consultant positions six months before obtaining their CCT, and there are opportunities to work in management as a clinical lead, or a clinical or medical director. There are also formal opportunities to become involved in the education and training of junior doctors by working as
- a director of medical education overseeing postgraduate medical training,
- a training programme director responsible for the education of trainee doctors in the local region, or
- an associate dean responsible for managing the training programme.
Trainees interested in an academic career can apply for an Academic Clinical Fellowship. Alternatively, trainees can continue the ST clinical training programme after ST4 level.
Competition for Psychotherapy Training Posts
In 2017, the competition ratio at ST3 was 4.0 in the first round, with 16 applications for 4 posts. The competition ratio at CT1/ST1 was 1.26, with 623 applications for 495 posts.
In December 2017, there were
- 46 consultants,
- 1 associate specialist,
- 2 speciality doctors,
- 13 speciality registrars, and
- 23 core trainees.
The salary for NHS consultants ranges from £76,000 to £102, 500, and for speciality doctors from £37,500 to £70,000. The salary for doctors in training ranges from £26,350 to £45,750.
A Day in the Life of a Medical Psychotherapist
Medical Psychotherapists work in community settings or hospitals, with some running units that specialise in treating patients with eating disorders, personality disorders, trauma, or deliberate self-harm. Much of the work involves assessing people with complex psychiatric problems, formulating a treatment plan, and giving advice about management – either individually, or in groups. A significant amount of time is also spent teaching and supervising junior colleagues. There is little on-call work, although Medical Psychotherapists may participate in the General Psychiatry on-call rota.