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Qualification in Counselling Psychology

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 at university.

This is an integrated, doctoral level qualification which leads to eligibility for Chartered membership of the society and full membership of the Division of Counselling Psychology.

If you have any questions you can contact us by phone at 0116 252 9505 or email us at [email protected]



What sort of courses can I do for my core therapy and secondary model training?

Both courses need to be at postgraduate level, with your core therapy course needing to be a minimum of 350 hours and your secondary model course being at least 150 hours. Most trainees will undertake a Masters course for their core therapy as this will also usually include a piece of research relevant to the research portfolio as well as some supervised practice. Candidate Handbook reference 1.6.3

Can these be the same course?

No, they must be different courses to ensure you cover each model to the appropriate depth. Candidate Handbook reference 1.6.3

Can they be short courses?

No, they must be single courses to ensure you cover each model to the appropriate depth. In addition, a series of short courses in a particular model lacks the necessary coherence for the QCoP. Candidate Handbook reference 1.6.3

What level do these courses need to be?

Postgraduate i.e. minimum level 7 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or level 11 (Scotland) Candidate Handbook reference 1.6.3

Can I use a course or other work that I have previously completed?

Yes, you can use a previously completed course to apply for accreditation of existing competence (AEC). You will need to include your AEC application with your enrolment application and all necessary supporting evidence including a verified copy of your certificate. Your Co-ordinating Supervisor can verify your certificate by signing the photocopy to confirm that they have had sight of the original. AEC is also available for other components of the QCoP, with all requests needing to be supported by appropriate evidence as indicated on the AEC form. All AEC applications are considered on an individual basis by the Registrar and you will be informed of the outcome in your enrolment letter. Candidate Handbook reference 3.6

Can I use a course that I am currently completing?

You can include this in your plan of training at enrolment, and the Registrar will consider whether it is a suitable course and whether it fits into your overall plans. For example, you may be completing a MSc in CBT which meets the requirements for core therapy training in terms of academic level and number of teaching hours, but if you are also proposing to do a CBT course for your secondary model then your plan would not be approved. Formal approval of any component of your plan of training cannot be granted until you have submitted a full enrolment application. Prior to this, the Registrar is able to give tentative advice on the suitability of courses and placements if you can provide details via the Course Suitability Review Form, listed on the website. If you have further questions after completion of the Course Suitability Review Form, the Registrar holds a monthly telephone clinic where you can book a 20 minute slot to discuss your enrolment application. If you wish to book a slot, please contact the Qualifications Team on [email protected]

Where can I do my supervised practice?

You will need to complete at least 2 placements during the course of the qualification. These placements must involve you working therapeutically with clients under appropriate supervision. Suitable placement settings vary across the country but could include NHS trusts, local organisations, charities and services such as Relate. Your Co-ordinating Supervisor may be able to suggest places for you to contact if they have knowledge of your local area. It is your responsibility to secure placements. Candidate Handbook reference 5.4.4

Who can be my practice supervisor?

Your practice supervisor will usually be a counselling psychologist registered with the HCPC and a Chartered member of the Society with Full membership of the Division of Counselling Psychology, with appropriate training or expertise in supervision. Practice Supervisors who are not counselling psychologists should be therapeutic practitioners who are accredited with a relevant professional body which has a code of ethics, current accreditation and disciplinary/complaints procedures. They will also need to be entered on the professional body’s list of supervisors. The internal supervisor provided by your placement setting may meet these criteria in which case you can propose them as your practice supervisor on your plan of training. If they do not meet the criteria above, you will need to seek an external practice supervisor, for instance using the Register of Applied Psychology Practice Supervisors. You are required to have supervision with a counselling psychologist for the majority of your training. This supports the development of your professional identity as a counselling psychologist which is a crucial component of the QCoP. Candidate Handbook reference 4.2.1

Can my Co-ordinating Supervisor also be my practice supervisor?

No, as this is considered a conflict of interest. Your Co-ordinating Supervisor is your guide and mentor through the qualification and they oversee your overall progress. The role of your practice supervisor is to focus on supervising your client work without being drawn into other elements of your training. These roles must therefore be fulfilled by different people.

How many placements do I need?

You need experience of at least two placements during the course of your training. Across your placements, you will need experience of working in more than one model, more than one modality (e.g. adult individuals, groups etc) and with supervision from more than one practice supervisor. Candidate Handbook reference 5.4.4

What is the difference between the QCoP and a HCPC approved, BPS accredited professional doctorate?

Both routes are underpinned by the same competencies and lead to the same end point in terms of eligibility for HCPC registration (which enables use of the legally protected title of counselling psychologist) and BPS Chartered Membership. The way in which the two routes enable a trainee to reach this point varies considerably. The professional doctorates are based at a university and follow a more traditional approach to training. You will attend lectures, study the models of therapy as dictated by the course and have support from tutors and peers. Upon successfully completing the course, you are awarded a doctorate and can use the title of Doctor.

The QCoP is an independent approach to training. You would put together your own plan of training in conjunction with your Co-ordinating Supervisor. You can choose your own models of therapy via two postgraduate courses, providing that they fit the definition in the Candidate Handbook and sit within a coherent and suitable plan of training. You also have choice around your placement settings and supervision arrangements, again so long as they meet the requirements in the Candidate Handbook, which are broad to encompass as many different circumstances as possible. As the BPS is not an awarding body, we are not currently in a position to award a doctorate to candidates who complete the QCoP, but this should not negatively affect your eligibility for jobs as these will be advertised for Counselling Psychologists. The advantage of the QCoP is that you may be able to fit it around your existing commitments more easily than a taught programme. Some taught programmes (i.e. professional doctorates) do offer part time options, and it is important to fully explore both routes before making a decision so that you choose the route that is most appropriate for your circumstances and your preferred way of training.

I am currently enrolled for a professional doctorate but want to transfer to the QCoP. How do I do this? Can I use the work that I have already completed on the doctorate?

Although both routes are underpinned by the same competencies, there is no direct transfer process from a BPS accredited professional doctorate to the QCoP due to the differences in structure. If you are planning to leave a professional doctorate and wish to complete your training on the QCoP, you would first need to confirm with your course leader the exact name of the award with which you would exit (e.g. PgDip, MSc) and which modules would appear on your transcript. These components of the professional doctorate can be used as the basis for an AEC application when you apply to enrol for the QCoP. No other components of the doctorate can be used towards the QCoP as there do not form part of an awarded qualification. You would also need to include a plan of training with your enrolment application detailing your plans for completing the remaining components of the QCoP. Please note the restrictions on AEC in the Candidate Handbook. Candidate Handbook reference 3.6

How do I pay the qualification fee? Is any funding available?

With your enrolment application you will need to include the enrolment fee. This is fee is non-refundable and covers the processing of your enrolment application. If you are applying for accreditation of existing competence then you will also need to include the non-refundable AEC fee with your application. Once your enrolment is confirmed the qualification fee will become due. This fee can be paid in full or via interest free monthly directly debit. For the direct debit option, you can choose terms of 12, 24, 36 or 48 months. Please note that the qualification fee must be paid in full before your final results will be released. For example, if you choose to pay over 48 months but complete more quickly, you will need to pay the balance before being awarded the qualification.

As the Society is not a traditional higher education institution you would not be eligible for government funding for this qualification. You may however, be able to negotiate funding through your employer.


How do I submit work for assessment?

All submissions for assessment must be sent electronically. When you register for assessment you will be sent instructions on how to submit your work securely via Hightail.

How long does it take for my work to be assessed?

You work will take around 12 weeks to be assessed.

When do I submit my portfolios?

You will need to submit Portfolio 1 before Portfolio 2. You can choose at which assessment session you submit your research portfolio, but the latest point at which it can be submitted is at the same time as Portfolio 2.

What are the Documentary Evidence Units (DEUs)?

DEUs are submitted in both Portfolio 1 and Portfolio 2. They monitor whether you are undertaking appropriate evidence to develop effectively on the Qualification and as a Practitioner. Experiences will include supervised practice, undergoing personal therapy and teaching.

Examples of DEUs:

  • Practice Log (Portfolio 1 and 2)
  • Practice Report (Portfolio 1 and 2)
  • Supervision Log (Portfolio 1 and 2)
  • Personal Therapy (Portfolio 1 and 2)
  • Core Therapy Training (Portfolio 2)
  • Secondary Model Training (Portfolio 2)

Candidate Handbook reference 1.6

What is an Assessment Unit (AU)?

Assessment Units (AUs) allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and skills acquired on the Qualification. They are marked at either a Master’s level (M-level) or Doctoral level (D-level).

Examples of AU’s required include:

  • Essay (Portfolio 1)
  • Case Study (Portfolio 1)
  • Anti-Discriminatory Academic Paper (Portfolio 1)
  • Process Report, within a Case Study (Portfolio 2)
  • Context Academic Paper (Portfolio 2)
  • Philosophical Academic Paper (Portfolio 2)
  • Reflective Essay (Portfolio 2)
  • Development Logbook (Portfolio 2)

Candidate Handbook reference 1.6

What are the Quarterly Review Forms?

In your quarterly meetings with your Co-ordinating Supervisor, you will need to complete your Quarterly Review Form (QFR). This enables you to review your progress and identify any resources you may need to help with your development of the competencies. The form also has a section for you to note any concerns, which you wish to present to the Qualifications Board. Candidate Handbook reference 4.7

How do I appeal a result?

Appeals against any decision of the Qualifications Board must be lodged with the Appeals Manager within two calendar months of you receiving notification of the decision. For further details please refer to the appeals booklet available on the Qualifications webpage.

How do I submit a complaint?

Candidate concerns and minor complaints should, in the first instance, go to the Qualifications Team, who will endeavour to resolve them swiftly and informally. If you wish to raise a complaint beyond this level please consult our complaints policy.

If I am re-submitting work for assessment will my work be sent to the same assessors? Where possible your work will be sent to the same assessors. In all instances the previous feedback will be included with the re-submission so assessors will be aware of the feedback for the previous assessment.

What will happen at my viva?

Once you have passed all other components of the QCoP, you will be invited to a viva. This will be benchmarked at D-level and will last a maximum of one hour. It will be conducted by two assessors who will review with you your overall competencies, your perceived strengths and weaknesses, your developmental needs and your professional identity as a Counselling psychologist. When taking the viva, you will be required to provide photographic identification in the form of a valid passport or photocard driving licence. The viva will usually take place at the Society’s Leicester office.

If you have any further questions, please contact [email protected]

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