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Becoming a counselling psychologist
What do counselling psychologists do?
What they do
Counselling psychologists are a relatively new breed of professional applied psychologists concerned with the integration of psychological theory and research with therapeutic practice. The practice of counselling psychology requires a high level of self-awareness and competence in relating the skills and knowledge of personal and interpersonal dynamics to the therapeutic context.
Key tasks include:
- Assessment, including assessment of mental health needs, risk assessment and psychological testing
- Formulation (i.e. a psychological explanation of the genesis and maintenance of the psychological problem)
- Planning and implementation of therapy
- Report writing and record keeping
- Evaluation of the outcome of therapy
- Supervision and training of other psychologists
- Multidisciplinary team work and team facilitation
- Service and organisational development
- Audit and evaluation
- Research and development
- Management of services
Where they work
Counselling psychologists work almost anywhere there are people. For instance, counselling psychologists are currently employed in industry, commerce, the prison service and in all layers of education from primary school to university. About half of all counselling psychologists are employed to do clinical work in health and social care settings. Other career paths can be found in teaching and research for academic bodies. Counselling psychologists can also practise privately as organisational consultants.
Who they work with
Counselling psychologists may work directly with individuals, couples, families and groups, or act as consultants.
How do I become a counselling psychologist?
To become a Chartered Member of the Society through the counselling psychology training route, you will need the following qualifications:
- Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC). This is achieved by completing a Society accredited degree or conversion course
- Society accredited Doctorate in Counselling Psychology or the Society’s Qualification in Counselling Psychology
In order to use the title Counselling Psychologist, you will need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). This will involve completing a Doctorate in Counselling Psychology (or equivalent) that has been approved by the HCPC. Contact the HCPC for more information on the entry requirements for their register.
What is relevant experience and how do I get it?
It is often an entry requirement of the counselling psychology courses to have completed a basic counselling skills course. For more information on where to find counselling skills courses, please contact the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
How much will I get paid?
In the NHS, pay scales for Applied Psychologists in Health and Social Care have been agreed nationally by the Department of Health in negotiation with the BPS/Amicus Joint Professional Liaison Committee. The same is true for the Prison Service, where the Home Office has nationally agreed pay scales. Psychologists working in private practice or in commerce and industry should expect to be remunerated at a comparable level to those employed in the public sector.
Where are jobs advertised?
There are good career prospects in the NHS and the Prison Service. There is a high level of demand throughout society for qualified counselling psychologists who can offer psychological therapies. The following shows the range of potential employers:
- NHS services
- Prison and Probationary Services
- Social Services
- Voluntary Organisations
- Employee Assistance Programmes
- Occupational Health Departments and Services
- Student Counselling Services
Assistant psychologist posts and qualified positions at all levels are advertised:
- In Psychologist Appointments, which is part of The Psychologist, the Society's monthly magazine.
- In national newspapers (e.g. The Times, The Guardian, The Independent)
- In specialist publications such as Health Service Journal and on the Department of Health website.
What if I'm a mature student?
Mature students often ask us if their age will prevent them from succeeding in a psychology career. You can find more information in the Change of Career section.
Where do I find out more?
- Accredited Psychology Courses: Contact courses direct for more information about content, entry requirements, application procedure etc.
- The British Psychological Society Division of Counselling Psychology. Access to publications, conferences, and special interest groups and chat rooms with membership.
- Careers resources: Published work covering counselling psychology and other areas of psychology.
- BPS Shop: Find an array of forensic psychology publications through our online shop.
- Contact us: Request form for further specific information.