Division of Counselling Psychology - careers information

Find all you need to know about becoming a counselling psychologist and what career options are available.


Addressing concerns in the area of employment and employability of Counselling Psychologists

Advertising of Psychology Posts

The Standing Committee for Psychologists in Health and Social Care produced a letter in September 2010 giving guidance on the advertising of Applied Psychologist posts, signed by representatives from the Division of Counselling Psychology and Division of Clinical Psychology, and the Chair of the Occupation Advisory Committee of Unite, the trade union.

This letter is titled '2010 BPS letter joint advertising of posts'.

Clinical coding

The BPS has put together a helpful leaflet summarising the way that changes to clinical coding may affect members.

Dispelling the myths about Counselling Psychologists and challenging discrimination

The Standing Committee for Psychologists in Health and Social Care produced a letter in September 2011 giving guidance on the advertising of Applied Psychologist posts, signed by representatives from the Division of Counselling Psychology, Division of Clinical Psychology and the Chair of Occupation Advisory Committee of Unite, the trade union. 

Much of the hard work occurs at the policy level but has a direct effect on the employment opportunities of members (eg listing NHS jobs by competency so that all applied psychologists can apply for roles).

Employment support

Psychologists face many challenges in the current economic and political climate.  Expectations have changed and the domain of influence and skills required of psychologists have broadened considerably. Individuals have experienced personal employment challenges as services are re-organised and roles changed.

In the NHS for example, changes to commissioning arrangements from April 2013 and delivery cost pressures have meant significant change to mental health services and the roles of psychologists. On the other hand, opportunities have arisen for groups of psychologists to form consortia and bid for services, and to work in partnership with the third sector (for whom opportunities are also expanding and who are at the same time being expected to work to different demands and pressures). In the forensic sector there is increasing private provision.

Opportunities for independent practice are increasing, as many psychologists are leaving the NHS and setting up businesses successfully, where the challenges have become greater with rising public expectations. In the university sector, the push for internationally recognised research, coupled with the customer focus of today's student body, is raising the bar for academics. 



Doctoral Govermental Loan Scheme- DCoP Position Statement

We strongly support the doctorate loan scheme to provide CoPs with student funding. CoPs dedicate a great amount of voluntary hours to the NHS each year [see table below].

CoPs are currently self-funded and many take on the additional debt by paying for supervision and personal therapy. Counselling psychology trainees contribute directly to service delivery during the 3 clinical years of their training.

This is a postgraduate training and the trainees start the training with an undergraduate degree in psychology and relevant work experience in mental health which equips them to work with service users directly while under clinical supervision on placement from the start of their training. 

The Doctoral loan scheme allows counselling psychology's postgraduate course to be included within the scope of the current reforms to healthcare student funding and this is very welcomed.

There are significant benefits to building the mental health workforce to support current government policy and the Five Year Forward View For Mental Health on improving mental health outcomes for children and young people as well as prenatal care, community and emergency mental health provision, support for adults to sustain employability, mental health promotion and tackling inequalities, and integration of mental health with physical healthcare needs. 

Counselling psychologists are trained to reduce psychological distress and to enhance and promote psychological wellbeing by the systematic application of knowledge derived from psychological theory, practice, and research. A defining feature of the counselling psychologist is the capacity to draw from, and utilise, different models of therapy, evidence-based and practice based interventions, as appropriate to the needs and choices of the service user.

Counselling psychologists' contribution to service delivery encompasses work with individuals, (children, young people, adults and older adults), family and organisational systems, groups, and couples.

They are trained not just to deliver interventions, but to also promote psychological mindedness and skills in other health, educational and social care professionals. Counselling psychologists therefore work across a diversity of health and social care providers including NHS, independent sector and social care; in primary, secondary and tertiary care, in-patient units and community services, as well as organisational, educational, forensic settings, and independent practice.

There are 2,012[1] registered HCPC counselling psychologists who work in a variety of services.

The percentages below of qualified counselling psychologists in public and third (voluntary) sector services have been estimated from a member survey by the BPS Division of Counselling Psychology (June 2016).

Table 1[2]: Employment of counselling psychologists in NHS provided or NHS commissioned services
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Adult services     73.4 %
Assertive outreach teams     0.7 %
Child & adolescent services     16.1 %
Community mental health teams     36.4 %
Crisis resolution & home treatment services     2.8 %
Early intervention for psychosis service   4.9 %
Eating disorder services     10.5%
Forensic services   9.1 %
IAPT for children and young people     2.8 %
IAPT improving access to psychological therapy     25.9 %
Learning disability services     7.0 %
Liaison psychiatry teams     2.8 %
Memory services     0.7 %
Older adult services     6.3 %
Perinatal mental health services     2.1 %
Physical health psychology services     8.4 %
Rehabilitation and recovery teams     7.7 %
Sexual health     4.2 %
Substance misuse services     8.4%
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In these services 54.2% work full time and a further 39.6% 0.5wte or more. 31.5% have given 10 years or more of service, with a further 21.7% 6-10 years, so retention is good.

Table 2[3]: Employment of counselling psychologists in voluntary sector mental health provision
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Adult mental health  71 %
Children and schools     24.2%
Couple and family 19.4 %
Forensic settings  4.8 %
Services for particular populations, e.g. women's services, LGBT services, BAME services, veterans, older adults, bereavement 37.1 %
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In these services 30.8% work full time and more work part time which may reflect both portfolio careers and the nature of funding and employment patterns in this sector, with 53.7% working less than 0.5wte.  Still, 15.4% have given 10 years or more of service, with a further 16.9% 6-10 years. 

The Doctoral loan scheme will help foster diversity in the mental healthcare workforce to meet the needs of the diverse community that services serve.

It will help create equality of access to professional opportunities for Counselling Psychologists. 


[1] Standards for the accreditation of Doctoral programmes in counselling psychology, British Psychological Society, 2015

[2] Source:  BPS division of counselling psychology membership survey June 2016, N=143 respondents.  Note percentages do not add up to 100% due to multiple employments since qualification 

[3] Source:  BPS division of counselling psychology membership survey June 2016, N=62 respondents.  Note percentages do not add up to 100% due to multiple employments since qualification 

Doctorate Teaching route to qualifying as a Counselling Psychologist

The Society accredits undergraduate, postgraduate and conversion courses. 

The following insititutions offer the Counselling Psychology doctorate:  

  • City University
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • London Metropolitan University
  • Metanoia Institute (London)
  • New School of Psychotherapy & Counselling (London)
  • University of East London
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Roehampton
  • University of South Wales
  • University of the West of England
  • University of Wolverhampton
  • York St John University

QCoP- Train independently to be a Counselling Psychologist

The Qualification in Counselling Psychology (QCoP) is the independent route to training as a counselling psychologist for those who choose not to, or are unable to, undertake a professional doctorate.