Postgraduate study

Doctorate Counselling Psychology

This programme delivers professional academic education combined with experiential training to produce graduates who are competent in delivering evidence-based psychological therapy.

Course information


  • 3 years

More full-time details

  • Enrolment date: September
  • Fee for UK/EU students (from Sept 2016 entry): £19,650
  • £6,550 per 180 credits
  • Fee for non UK/EU students


  • Not available part-time

Contact details

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    Doctorate Counselling Psychology

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The programme emphasises a reflective practitioner approach, allowing the integration of psychological theory, skills and research alongside a highly developed capacity for self reflection and awareness. The core theoretical philosophy of the doctorate is that of an integrative/relational stance - recognising the primacy of the therapeutic relationship. As such, the course is an integrated programme of study, utilising critical appraisal of psychological theory, practice and research.

Student profiles
Follow a week in the life of some of our Doctorate in Counselling Psychology students.
Alexander Hektorsson
Gabriela Jones
Emma Foster

Professional accreditation

British Psychological Society The doctorate is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the statutory regulator for practitioner psychologists in the UK. Graduates of the doctorate are eligible to apply for HCPC registration.

It is a legal requirement that anyone who wishes to practise using a title protected by the Health Professions Order 2001 (for example counselling psychologist) is on the HCPC register. For more information, please see the HCPC website at

This doctorate is accredited by the British Psychological Society. Graduates are eligible to apply for Chartered Counselling Psychologist Status.

Clinical, academic and research training are combined. You gain experience applying therapeutic psychology to a range of clients and develop the skills required to work as an autonomous clinician.

The first year of the full time programme includes Level 7 modules and an introduction to the broad field of counselling psychology, giving a strong grounding in the philosophy and theories of this discipline. You also begin your Advanced Independent Work (AIW) research process.

The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Psychodynamic modules provide the theory and techniques associated with these therapeutic orientations. During the first year, qualitative and quantitative research methods are covered and you begin therapeutic practice. This is when you form your first supervisory contracts with clinical supervisor(s) on placement. This emphasises the development of core therapeutic skills.

You must meet the minimum 450 hours placement requirement, supervised at the correct ratio (one hour supervision to six hours placement for the first 150 hours, and one to ten for the remaining 300 hours). If the placement does not provide qualified supervision (with a clinical or counselling psychologist) you are required to pay for an external supervisor. Fees vary but may be between £35.00 and £70.00 an hour.

You are also required to engage in a minimum of 40 hours of personal therapy which contributes to your ongoing personal development. This is an added financial cost to you and is paid to your therapist. Fees vary but may be between £35.00 and £60.00 an hour.

The second year of the programme (Level 8) contains a stronger, more focused emphasis on the therapeutic relationship through further training in psychodynamic therapy (in particular object relations) and an understanding of psychopathology from a variety of perspectives.

A further research and dissertation preparation module is completed and your therapeutic practice continues. You attend a timetabled series of clinical workshops to build on your skills and enhance your knowledge. Your clinical application of the CBT and psychodynamic approaches is assessed through case study assessments and a portfolio.

The third year of the programme (Level 8) develops further integrative and relational ways of working. This encourages you to integrate the most important models of the therapeutic relationship. At the end of this year, you produce a personal philosophy statement outlining your approach to therapy, psychopathology, human development and change. We believe that this coherent and non-prescriptive approach allows you to develop your own personal philosophy within the framework and guidance of the course.

You are encouraged to develop your knowledge of professional roles and relationships and context issues within the field of counselling psychology throughout the programme. You finalise your AIW and defend the outcome at the end of your course through an oral examination (sometimes known as a viva voce).


Year 1 core modules

Concepts in Counselling Psychology

This module presents an overview of the key theoretical paradigms in counselling psychology, including the philosophical basis, principles for integration and the importance of the therapeutic relationship. This module provides the foundations for clinical practice and gives you an awareness of the concepts central to the professional identity of counselling psychologists.

Fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

This module runs throughout year one and is the first therapy module that you study. It provides a forum for the investigation of theory, practice and research in cognitive behavioural approaches. It also gives you the theoretical knowledge required for using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approaches. The understanding of CBT derived from this module is developed and enhanced in later modules.

Psychodynamic Therapy and Practice

The psychodynamic approach is the second therapy module you are exposed to throughout the programme (the first is Fundamentals of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). The relational elements of the psychodynamic approach form the basis of an integrative-relational philosophy. This module forms the foundations of your psychodynamic understanding which is expanded in later years of the programme.

Research Methods for Counselling Psychologists

This module runs throughout the year. It focuses on quantitative and qualitative approaches to research. The quantitative research component allows you to develop your knowledge and skills in research design, methods and applied statistical methods. The qualitative component provides you with the skills needed to analyse, conduct and assess qualitative research.

You complete a project proposal as part of this module - this prepares you to write a research proposal as a preparation for your Advanced Independent Work (AIW).

Therapeutic Practice 1

This module runs throughout the year and consists of weekly professional practice meetings which include teaching on clinical areas including risk assessment and skills work.

We cover ethics and ethical dilemmas in psychological practice - this allows you to develop a sound model for ethical decision-making. As the module progresses, you present clinical cases from your placements, followed by peer group and staff discussion of the case.


Year 2 core modules

Clinical Workshops

This module involves you attending a series of weekly workshops by course staff and visiting lecturers. The focus of the workshops is the application of psychological therapy to particular client groups as well as the development of specific techniques and approaches.

We particularly emphasise issues presented from the primary and secondary models of psychodynamic/CBT where appropriate. You cover psychometrics, domestic violence, post-traumatic stress disorder, and working with children; as well as therapeutic techniques such as psychodrama and motivational interviewing.

Psychodynamic 2

Building on your psychodynamic study in year one, this module includes an in depth investigation of theory and research in the field of psychodynamic therapy/self-psychology and object relations. You develop your knowledge of this discipline and become more proficient in the practice of brief psychodynamic therapy.


Providing you with a thorough grounding in the principles of psychopathology, this module covers the major diagnostic classificatory systems and alternative perspectives to psychopathology. You also gain an introduction to other professionals’ views on psychopathology and its treatment.

In addition, you study the use of psychotropic medication, physical treatment methods and specialist approaches to psychopathology. You study each diagnostic category from a psychodynamic and cognitive behavioural perspective. This deepens your knowledge of the therapeutic approaches of the course.

Research Progress, Clinical Audit and Evaluation

This module provides further teaching on the clinical methods of research, as well as on audit and evaluation methods. The learning from this module supports you throughout the completion of your individual doctorate research.

Therapeutic Practice 2

This module consists of the professional clinical practice component of this year of the course. You attend weekly professional practice meetings and at these meetings you present clinical cases from your placements to your peer group and module leader. Following presentations and discussion, you are encouraged to develop alternative formulations for your clients using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and psychodynamic models.


Year 3 core modules

Counselling Psychology in Context

This module provides a forum to study the application of counselling psychology to specific contexts and client groups. Visiting lecturers and tutors from the programme facilitate workshops to provide an insight into their areas of clinical work.

Doctorate Advanced Independent Work

From your first year you prepare to produce an original piece of research between 20,000 - 24,000 words. This is submitted in your final year and is followed by an oral exam (sometimes known as a viva voce) in which you defend your work to examiners. You also submit a formatted journal article to the standard of a relevant journal for potential publication.

Integrative and Relational Approaches

This module examines integrative and relational ways of working with a focus on exploring the therapeutic process. You develop a personal, integrated standpoint from which to describe your clinical practice. You draw on your experience of using the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and psychodynamic therapeutic models and assimilate these with models of therapeutic integration.

Professional Roles and Relationships

This module addresses the professional, ethical and legal responsibilities of a psychologist. We also cover issues of professional and clinical accountability. The module provides an overview of the multiple professional roles occupied by a psychologist, including that of a clinician, supervisor, trainer, consultant and educator. The ethical and legal ramifications of these positions are also outlined.

Therapeutic Practice 3

This module consists of the professional clinical practice component of this year of the course. You attend weekly professional practice meetings to present your clinical work from placement. You formulate different theoretical perspectives, using various supervision models to continue developing your skills and to deepen your understanding of the case.


Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

Teaching and learning includes lectures, seminars, interactive workshops, case discussion groups, skills coaching sessions, supervised practice and personal development sessions.

The combination of learning and teaching methods encourages self-directed, trainee-led enquiry. The emphasis is on integrating theoretical knowledge and research with clinically relevant practice experiences on placement. Placements are offered in the third sector and in regional NHS services. You are supported to obtain suitable placements.

In addition to the standard forms of learning, you are expected to learn through experiential models as a result of receiving clinical and research-based supervision.

How you are assessed

A variety of assessment methods is utilised throughout the programme to emphasise the broad range of skills being assessed. Assessment methods include an unseen ethics examination, critical review essays, case studies, process reports, research proposals, a thesis, oral presentation, written evaluations, supervisory reports, case work, client logs, evidence files and practical workbooks. It is expected that by using a variety of methods aimed at assessing academic and research skills alongside practical clinical skills, you are given every opportunity to demonstrate your skills.

Career opportunities

The programme provides the relevant qualification for graduates to practise as counselling psychologists. Counselling psychologists work in a wide number of settings and this course prepares graduates for careers in the NHS, the private sector and the public sector.

Results from our most recent employability survey of 11 out of a possible 12 graduates were excellent. 100% identified being in professional employment plus 9.1% in further study, nine were in full-time work, one was in part-time work and one was working and studying. One graduate commented: ‘I think the teaching and content of the course provides a realistic expectation of 'the role of the counselling psychologist' which is also enhanced by clinical placements. The focus on ethics also promotes good practice.’

The programme team regularly receives feedback from employers including the local NHS Trusts. We have increased NHS placements for our trainees, and some trainees conduct their research within NHS settings.

Placement providers commented that our students are ‘enthusiasm, bring fresh ideas, are an additional resource and well prepared; they encourage reflection, undertake research and help us push our own practice’, which are all indicative of the transferable skills that you can take into your professional working life when you graduate.

Other placement comments:
• ‘The last person we had on placement was very well prepared, organised, keen to learn and had experience working in the voluntary sector.’
• ‘Trainees we have had seem to have good clinical skills and a good understanding around professionalism.’
• ‘We interview all of our trainees for placement and have always chosen those who are warm and open at interview. As a team we feel that the trainees all seem to have; sound principles of contracting, a good understanding of confidentiality, an open and reflective stance towards clients in sessions and in placement supervision, professional attitude, willingness to and appreciation of working in a team.’
• ‘We are very fortunate to have [trainee] as her work with our clients is excellent as is her interaction with our team.’

Entry requirements

All applicants should have:

  • a good honours degree in psychology (this should normally be a 2.1 or above, although applicants with a lower degree classification and other postgraduate qualifications/experience are also considered)
  • Graduate Basis for Chartership with the British Psychological Society
  • relevant therapeutic/counselling training to at least certificate level or equivalent
  • some relevant counselling-related experience is also essential, e.g. as an NHS psychology assistant, an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies face to face worker, a support worker, a volunteer in a non-government agency or paid employment as a counsellor
  • an enhanced check for regulated activity (formerly an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check).

You will be required to attend an interview for this course.

Meet the team

Dr Daisy Best

Dr Alex Kyriakopoulos

Dr Lesley Pilkington

Dr Jessica McCarrick

Dr Lis Hammond

Dr Sue Becker

Dr Chris Wilson

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country

Course information


  • 3 years

More full-time details

  • Enrolment date: September
  • Fee for UK/EU students (from Sept 2016 entry): £19,650
  • £6,550 per 180 credits
  • Fee for non UK/EU students


  • Not available part-time

Contact details

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