7 Commonalities of All Assistant Psychologists

Have you been rejected countless times for an Assistant Psychologist job? Haven’t we all been there! Are you tired of the generic feedback given by employers on how there was someone more suited to the role? PsychAssist is here to help! Within this post we outline the 7 common traits of all Assistant Psychologists to help you obtaining that elusive AP role. Not everyone will have all 7 traits, however hopefully this will give all my Psych Grads an outline of what is expected when you’re an Assistant Psychologist.


The information below was comprised of feedback from Assistant Psychologists (in various fields) along with experienced Clinical/Forensic and Educational Psychologists.


  1. Ability to Work Autonomously

I know so many Assistant Psychologists that struggled with this when they first became Assistant Psychologists. I remember on my first day, sitting at a desk all morning thinking “I should be doing something, but I don’t know what that is!” as nobody was directing my work which I became accustom to during my time as a Support worker. The main message here is that no one will hold your hand and tell you step by step what to do. You may receive a little guidance however; you will be expected to manage your own time and to fill that time with as much productivity as you can, especially with the growing demand placed on services.

Top Tip: Have a daily to-do list that you set every day. In my current role, I have this on my outlook calendar which allows me to plan ahead if needed (and it also feels good to see that I’ve ticked off my goals for the day)

2. Good communication skills

I know what you’re thinking; “this is an obvious one”, when in fact it’s not as straight forward as you may think. Communication doesn’t mean only verbal or written, this also means body language, tone of voice, choice of words, facial expressions etc. Some of my fondest client experiences involved no talking with an occasional smile. The bottom line here is to always be conscious about HOW you communicate with people.

Top Tip: Next time you’re with a client just be conscious of your non-verbal communication. I would also suggest looking up tips on Active Listening which could potentially inform your clinical practice.

3. Ability to think on their feet

Now this has the potential to go amazingly well or horribly wrong. Within the field of Mental Health, literally anything and everything could happen. This could range from the projector failing to work (hate when this happens!) during a psychoeducation session to a client having a complete “meltdown” at the end of a session. It always helps to know your client group just in case you find yourself in the latter situation, as you will have some idea of how to handle this situation (and if not it will be a good topic to reflect on in Supervision).

Top Tip: I tend to have a box of sensory/fiddle toys somewhere in the session just in case things don’t quite go to plan, or allow a movement break in the middle of the session!

4. Thirst for knowledge

I haven’t come across ANY Assistant Psychologist that isn’t hungry to learn and to better their practice. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean reading books or journal articles (even though that is encouraged and recommended by PsychAssist), this could also be in the form of expanding their knowledge base by looking for shadowing opportunities. A lot of Assistant Psychologists will look to shadow lots of different disciplines and professions to help inform their practice and develop an understanding of what other professional’s offer (which is absolutely priceless!).

Top Tip: Shadow as a many different professionals as you can. If possible, try to shadow someone who is not a psychologist to experience a different way of working (Trust me you’ll thank me later!)

5. Handles pressure well

This is part and parcel when working in the NHS. A lot of graduates break their necks trying to get into the NHS as its seen as the gold standard (which it partially is) however don’t realise the great amount of pressure that comes with an NHS post. Many senior members of staff that I have spoken to have said that a big part of the decision making process depends on whether or not an individual can handle the pressures of the ever changing NHS. I advise all Psych Grads to seriously consider this point when applying for NHS posts.

Top Tip: Keep calm and Carry on! Things aren’t going to get better overnight and sometimes you need to experience the hardship to appreciate the good times (sunny days wouldn’t be special if it wasn’t for rain!)

6. Creativity

Now this shouldn’t be confused with Ability to think on their feet. This is the ability to demonstrate ability to develop innovative ways of working. I’ll give you an example: when I started my AP position, there were hardly any processes to make things run as smooth as possible. Nobody directly told me to develop a fully functioning system to help quicken the assessment processes along with monitoring KPI data for the commissioners, this was something I attempted and thankfully the systems are still functioning to this day!

Top Tip: Don’t be afraid or intimidated to change something if it’s clearly not working. Majority of the time people shutdown change as there isn’t an established replacement; therefore why not develop the new and exciting way of working and then present it to the team (the worse thing they could say is NO! however; everyone loves someone who tries).

7. Reflectivity

Do I need to say anymore? I guarantee that, your career will be cut short if you lack in this department. The ability to reflect in this profession IS KEY, to any long term success. This is also primarily where supervision plays a huge role in any Assistant Psychologist role (Don’t know what to do in Supervision? No problem check out How to Best Utilise Supervision, Pre-Qualified!)


Thank you for visiting this post hopefully the tips within will help you in obtaining that all important Assistant Psychologist role.







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