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What is a Chartered Psychologist?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A Chartered Psychologist is a psychology professional in the United Kingdom who has fulfilled a number of requirements to practice. These requirements are administered by the British Psychological Society (BPS), which holds a Charter from the Crown which authorizes the Society to set and enforce standards for practitioners of psychology in the United Kingdom. Psychologists who become Chartered have many more job opportunities, especially if they want to work in the National Health Service (NHS) or in special fields, such as child psychology or forensic psychology.

The creation of special standards for psychologists was spurred by growing concerns in Britain that people were practicing psychology with minimal or no training. No laws determined who could advertise as a psychologist, and as a result members of the British public were confused about psychologists and the services they offered. There were also concerns that lack of regulation could open the door to unethical or questionable practices, so the Crown authorized the BPS to establish standards and provide certification for psychologists who want to register as a Chartered Psychologist.

In order to become a Chartered Psychologist, someone must hold an honors degree in psychology, in addition to either graduate training or at least three years of supervised work as a psychologist, with a demonstrated capability to practice without supervision. People who want to specialize in particular fields such as criminal psychology must demonstrate that they have undergone additional training in their specialty. Upon presentation of these qualifications, the BPS will ask the candidate to sign a pledge indicating that he or she will adhere to the Code of Ethics.

Once a psychologist is determined fit to practice as a Chartered Psychologist, he or she will be formally registered. In order to maintain Chartered status, the psychologist must demonstrate adherence to the Code of Ethics. A disciplinary board which is primarily composed of non-psychologists oversees inquiries into suspected violations of the Code. Psychologists who have trained outside Britain who want to practice as Chartered Psychologists can also obtain certification by providing proof of their training and ethical conduct.

Members of the public can seek out services from a Chartered Psychologist with the assurance that the psychologist has passed minimum ethical and educational requirements, and that the psychologist is monitored by the BPS. This generally implies a higher standard of care. Organizations which hire psychologists may specifically require that job applicants be Chartered, which is why getting Chartered is important for people who are interested in careers in psychology in the United Kingdom. Psychologists who have not gone through the process may not advertise themselves as Chartered Psychologists.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon1004251 — On Dec 23, 2020

This article is unfortunately not accurate and may add to the confusion of anyone trying to get into the career of a psychologist. In the UK, one has to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) in order to practice as a psychologist, not with the BPS alone.

Some people registering with the HCPC may choose to also register with BPS, however registration with the BPS DOES NOT mean you can register with the HCPC. Chartership is an acknowledgement of the highest standard of training in psychology, which can also be achieved by doing a PhD in psychology, without clinical practice. You probably wouldn't want to be treated by a researcher with no/little clinical skill. One can register with the HCPC after having done a professional doctorate in their field of psychology, or they have gained training via an independent route. A professional doctorate (heavy clinical focus) is not the same as a PhD (heavy research focus).

So the HCPC "protects" the titles of Practitioner Psychologist and Registered Psychologist (including Clinical, Health, Counselling, Educational, Occupational, Sport and Exercise, and Forensic Psychologists). Using any of these titles is illegal unless you are registered with the HCPC.

Please find out what the current regulations are and correct the article to avoid confusion of anyone reading it.


(I am a BPS-only Chartered Psychologist through the PhD route).

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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