This article aims to identify the most efficient ways to teach and learn the professional competencies required in clinical psychology. There are a wide variety of influences on clinical psychology curricula that leads to a lack of coherence in aims and methods. When clinical psychology trainees come face-to-face with their first client, they are challenged to integrate their existing declarative knowledge and apply nascent procedural skills. How can clinical programmes better prepare students for these challenges? Because problem-based learning has been widely applied in medical education it is the starting point in answering this question. Systematic literature searches and a narrative literature review were undertaken to identify teaching methods. Little published research reports randomised controlled evaluations of teaching methods in health professions. Much literature presented opinions about teaching methods. Whole-of-programme evaluations of problem-based learning in medical education were retrieved and directed learning or direct instruction techniques were examined in teaching more specific knowledge. Little research was of direct relevance to clinical psychology training. More research is needed into both the efficacy of clinical psychology training and into the specific barriers that trainee clinical psychologists face. In the absence of good quality research, suggestions for teaching methods are provided.