The clinical psychologists’ potential roles in clinical/neuropsychological assessment, and as an individual or group therapist, are familiar to most working within the psychiatric ward setting. However, it is suggested there are a number of additional potentially valuable systemic contributions the clinical psychologist can make to the effective clinical functioning of an inpatient service. In this way, the therapeutic potential to the client may extend beyond the confines of the consulting room.

These additional roles include the facilitation of a psychologically minded team (one that is able to adopt a stance of therapeutic curiosity); as a ‘culture carrier’ to new colleagues within the ward; as a researcher and scientist-practitioner (to evaluate and disseminate clinical outcomes); as a teacher and trainer of the team; and a provider of leadership and emotional containment (a prerequisite for a ‘thinking’ environment).

Each role is further elaborated, with clinical and service examples drawn from the author’s experience, previous learning opportunities and unfortunate mistakes.