Critical skills and qualities for your career as a clinical psychologist

The role of a clinical psychologist is multifaceted and requires you to have a broad set of skills and qualities. If you’re looking to grow your career in the field, it can be helpful to familiarise yourself with what employers are often looking for in candidates.

Here at Pulse, we look for clinical psychologists who have a certain set of skills and qualities, which include:

  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Patience
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Motivation

In this article, we’ve expanded further on the key skills and qualities that we look for in the clinical psychologists that we work with.

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Interpersonal skills

Good interpersonal skills are important for a clinical psychologist to possess and are hugely beneficial when working with a variety of people, from a range of backgrounds. They mean that you’re great with people and will be well-placed to make the best decisions for your patients, for several reasons:

  • Your emotional intelligence will help you to accurately read situations, interpreting what different people need through active listening
  • Your strong social skills will help you to gauge the appropriate responses required in any interaction, with people from all walks of life
  • You’ll be open-minded to different ideas from different professionals and take on diverse points of view


Patience is also high on the list of key clinical psychologist skills. Patients can take time to respond to treatment. Within a role, you may also face problems beyond your control, such as delays in results.

During these times, it’s paramount that you are able to work with patience and an optimistic outlook. This will benefit the patients and healthcare professionals you work with.

Analytical skills

Strong analytical skills are essential for clinical psychologists to possess too, with analysis and evaluations forming a large part of the role.

During your career, you’ll spend a lot of time examining people’s situations and needs, by observing them directly, evaluating the information they pass on to you or interpreting case notes. You will also use evidence-based approaches to make sound judgements on your patients, forming conclusions on the most suitable course of action for each person.

In both permanent and temporary roles, you’ll need to keep up with the latest research so that the way you analyse guidance, assessments and other data always remains up to date.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail is another important skill for clinical psychologists to possess. Being thorough throughout your practice will ensure you accurately perform duties such as note-taking, maintaining case files and creating regular reports throughout treatment.

The details are so important in clinical psychology, as they help you to form a comprehensive picture of a patient’s health and needs. As you’re responsible for carefully reflecting patient characteristics in their records, precision is necessary and will help you to reach the best solutions so that patients can take the right steps forward.

As a clinical psychologist, it is also important that you are able to notice any changes in a patient’s wellbeing so that interventions can be put in place and treatment can be adapted where necessary.

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Communication skills

The role of a clinical psychologist involves having to pass on sensitive information about care plans, patients’ evolving needs and other key developments.

During your career, you will work with many different people in many different situations, where a wide range of communication styles are needed. It is important for you to be able to understand how to best communicate with people, from the patients you support to the colleagues you work with, in order to achieve the best results.


A caring, empathetic nature is a prerequisite for clinical psychologists. To build strong relationships with patients, you need to be able to understand their situations completely along with what will benefit their health, life satisfaction and happiness.

Having a strong sense of empathy will help you to establish trust and genuine connections with the patients that you work with. A deep understanding of what they are going through will allow you to recognise the best ways to help them take ownership of their mental health, building their confidence for moving forward in life.


A high sense of motivation is another essential skill for a clinical psychologist to possess. It will help you to remain positive for your patients and be the pillar of support they require.

For many people facing mental health challenges, a clinical psychologist is a lifeline. Through your optimism, you can help the people you support to believe that there are brighter days ahead, which can make all the difference in how they progress during treatment.

Discover clinical psychologist jobs with Pulse

At Pulse, we have over 30 years of experience supporting healthcare professionals. Our passionate and talented consultants are committed to helping you develop a career in the profession that you love.

We will provide you with first-class support, with a candidate care team whose priority is your happiness and job satisfaction. Whether you’re looking for permanent or temporary work, we have vacancies with some of the biggest healthcare organisations in the UK, so will be able to find you your perfect new role.

Register with Pulse today to discuss the wide range of psychology roles we currently have open. 

Register with us

Register your interest and we will be in touch to discuss your work preferences.

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