Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Elaine MacDonald from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:


Elaine MacDonald

Psychologist - Clinical

St. Michael's House

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  Elaine MacDonald

Make sure you are willing to go the full distance in terms of the time needed to train as a Clinical Psychologist – it’s typically at least six years academic study, and invariably this period is interspersed with work in a relevant field.

Do be as confident as you can that you’re happy being a “listener” and “observer”, as you will spend significant amounts of time in your work life as a Clinical Psychologist being in this role, as well as being in the “do-er” role and being in the limelight.

To have a good ‘fit’ with this career you’ll need to be happy working with people – as individuals on a one to one basis, with groups (e.g. families), and as part of a team in the workplace.

You need to have a good attention to detail as the job needs good observation skills, record keeping, and organisation skills.

Be prepared for learning and self-development to be on-going for the whole of your career because, as a Clinical Psychologist, you’ll be learning and using techniques and intervention approaches that are being constantly developed, and be working in accordance with policies and laws that are also constantly evolving.

The last piece of advice I’d give to someone considering this job is to be as sure as you can that you feel comfortable and even excited at the prospect of your career revolving around people and groups with all the varied, diverse, and unpredictable rewards and challenges that this brings!


Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Back to Work - Self Employed

Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (Self-Employed)

The Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA) scheme encourages people getting certain social welfare payments to become self-employed.

If you take part in the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance scheme you may be able to keep a percentage of your social welfare payment for up to 2 years.

The scheme is often referred to as the Short-Term Enterprise Allowance. You can get immediate access to the allowance if you meet the following qualifying conditions:

  • Setting up as self-employed in a business that has been approved in advance in writing by a Jobs Facilitator or Partnership Company
  • Getting one of the qualifying payments  below for at least 12 months:
    • Jobseeker's Allowance
    • Jobseeker's Benefit
    • One-Parent Family Payment
    • Blind Pension
    • Disability Allowance
    • Carer's Allowance (having stopped caring duties)
    • Farm Assist
    • Invalidity Pension
    • Incapacity Supplement
    • Pre-Retirement Allowance
    • Widow's/Widower's or Surviving Civil Partner's (Non-Contributory) Pension
    • Deserted Wife's Benefit or Allowance
    • Prisoner's Wife's Allowance or
    • Illness Benefit for 3 or more years.
The website has information on the services and entitlements available if you are self-employed and your income is reduced.

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