Counselling psychologist job profile
Counselling psychologists focus on working with a tailored psychological formulation to improve psychological functioning and well-being, working collaboratively with people across a diverse range of disciplines.
Learn more about this career path
Counselling psychologists deal with a wide range of mental health problems concerning life issues including bereavement, domestic violence, sexual abuse, traumas and relationship issues.
They understand diagnosis and the medical context to mental health problems and work with the individual’s unique subjective psychological experience to empower their recovery and alleviate distress.
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.
Counselling psychologists work in hospitals (acute admissions, psychiatric intensive care, rehabilitation), health centres, Improving Access to Psychological Therapy Services, Community Mental Health Teams and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
They also work within private hospitals, private practice, forensic settings, industry, education, research and corporate institutions.
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 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.
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).
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.
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
Jobs advertisements may be found in the following locations:
- On the NHS Jobs website
- In the National Press
What to do with a 2:2?
Admissions tutors will not normally accept graduates with a 2:2 unless they have achieved some higher qualification too. Any psychology Masters degree would be relevant: the main thing is that the MSc demonstrates applied research ability - a taught MSc would be less relevant unless there is a heavy emphasis on research methods.
Courses are looking for evidence that the person has the required academic and research ability. Usually this means an MSc or MPhil in which the candidate has successfully completed an applied research project. Contact the universities directly for more specific information on their entry criteria.
What funding is available?
Course organisers are usually best placed to give advice on funding. There are a number of websites that offer information about postgraduate funding. A few examples are listed below:
- Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)
- DirectGov - Funding your postgraduate course
- Learn Direct - Postgraduate Funding
- Postgraduate studentships
- Prospects - Funding my further study