What is a chartered occupational psychologist?
I think it’s fair to say that the title ‘occupational psychologist’ may leave people thinking ‘huh? What on earth is that?’ It’s fairly simple really: Occupational Psychologists apply psychological knowledge, theory and practice to the world of work. Our training is aimed at helping organisations get the best performance from their employees, and to improve employees’ experience of working. We work at different levels, so we might be focused on the whole organisation (for example, around organisational culture), or we might be focusing at the team level (for example, how well a team is performing and working together), or at an individual level (for example: developing leadership capability, managing wellbeing, building confidence, etc)
The training to become an Occupational Psychologist is long and some say arduous! It requires an undergraduate degree in Psychology, a Masters in Occupational Psychology, and then an extensive period of working ‘under supervision’; this work is assessed by The British Psychological Society against a number of key standards and can take up to four years, or even longer. Once Chartership status is achieved and approved by the BPS, and recognised by the HCPC, Occupational Psychologists are required to undertake regular CPD to keep our skills and knowledge up to date.
It’s relevant to stress that in the UK, “Occupational Psychologist” is a protected title in law, which means that anyone who has not been through a certain level of training and met those standards as set by the British Psychological Society and the HCPC cannot use the title. You might also see references to ‘business psychologist’ – this is not a protected title in the UK and as such pretty much anyone can call himself or herself a psychologist, or a business psychologist. It’s a very odd state of affairs.
It's also worth mentioning that pretty much anyone can call themselves a 'coach' in the UK, so do look out for practitioners who have a formal accreditation. This is another way of establishing quality of training, experience, adherence to an ethical code and standards, and of course, continuing professional development.
The professionalism that comes with being a Chartered Occupational Psychologist has the following benefits to our clients:
We follow the British Psychological Society’s Code of Ethics and Conduct and are legally bound by the HCPC’s ethical code
We only use evidence based techniques
We monitor the effectiveness of our work
We only practice in areas where we are qualified to do so
We are continually developing our professional skills.