Doctor of Counselling Psychology
Page last updated 11 September 2020
An applied professional training programme accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
This applied professional training course gives you a doctorate-level education leading to a Doctor in Counselling Psychology. It comprises a comprehensive programme of taught modules, 450 hours of counselling psychology practice in a range of placements, and a doctorate-level research project. Experts guide you through integrated theory, personal and professional development, and clinical practice, with focus on the value of research and how it directly informs current practice.
In-depth preparation for practice
You receive rigorous training on personal, professional and academic levels, which requires you to combine personal development with explicit psychological theory as a basis for mindful clinical practice.
The training will equip you to work in a broad range of settings, including the NHS, industry, third sector, private practice, academic and research roles, and many others. Our links with practices and partner providers, such as LIFT, the NHS and the Avon Wiltshire Partnership, make this course highly vocational and popular with employers.
Based on the relational psychodynamic perspective, coupled with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, this course is designed to help you develop an integrative perspective based on these perspectives and any previous experience. For example, you may already have studied client-centred or existential perspectives as part of counselling certificate courses. The programme team is committed to the view that the therapeutic relationship is a key factor in promoting client change. The relational perspective is therefore a key element taught throughout the whole course. In Year 1 the model taught is relational psychodynamic; in Year 2 it is CBT and in Year 3 we integrate the two.
You must engage in personal counselling or therapy for the first two years of the course a minimum of 60 hours over the course. This reflects our central focus on a relational approach to practice. Please note, the cost for this is not included in the fees.
Watch: The learning and teaching experience
In the first year of the course, the therapeutic approach is relational, and we expect you to adopt and practice this approach in your placements. In Year 2 we focus on the CBT approach, and again we expect you to apply this to your placements. In Year 3, you get to explore your own identity as a counselling psychologist through modules on integration, and the modules on advanced theory and practice in counselling psychology, include teaching on supervision, leadership, psychometrics and neuropsychological assessment.
If you don't complete the Professional Doctorate route, you may be eligible for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate in Psychotherapeutic Studies, or a Master's in Psychological Therapy.
- Principles of Counselling Psychology - this module introduces the fundamental values and ethos of counselling psychology, with a strong focus on ethics and diversity.
- Theory and Practice in Counselling Psychology 1 - a look at the relational aspects of therapy.
- Personal and Professional Development 1 - involving practice placements and personal reflection.
- Qualitative and Quantitative Methods - this module covers advanced methods in qualitative and qualitative analysis, ensuring that students have the essential skills for carrying out their research.
- Systemic Thinking and Practice in Counselling Psychology - this module covers issues around working with couples, families and groups. Thus it gives the students the basis for extending their practice beyond the core emphasis on 1:1 work with individuals.
- Research in Counselling Psychology - this module contextualises research with the field of counselling psychology, covering additional advanced methods, It also provides support for students in developing their initial research ideas, and guides them through the various ethical processes.
- Theory and Practice in Counselling Psychology 2 - a look at the CBT approach.
- Personal and Professional Development 2 - further development through practice placements and personal reflection, based on CBT.
- Critical Psychopathology - this module explores key issues which are frequently presented in psychotherapy, for example anxiety, depression and substance use. It also considers mental health issues, such as trauma and psychosis.
- Professional Issues in Counselling Psychology - this module will present a critical oversight of current issues within the profession, such as the current emphasis on empirically supported treatments. It will also consider current work contexts, including multi-disciplinary working and current structures within the National Health Service.
- Personal and Professional Development 3 - here we begin to integrate current relational and CBT approaches in applied practical and personal contexts.
- Advanced Theory and Practice in Counselling Psychology - studies and learning that bring relational and CBT perspectives and practices together.
- Professional doctorate thesis and viva examination
This structure is for full-time students only. Part-time students study the same modules but the delivery pattern will be different.
The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we will inform you.
Learning and Teaching
We use a wide range of teaching and learning methods to give you the best combination of personal, peer and applied learning. These include lectures, group discussion, group work, role-play, skills work, demonstrations, trainee presentations, supervised clinical practice, personal therapy and personal development activities.
For more details see our glossary of teaching and learning terms.
As a full-time student, you attend two days each week in Year 1 (currently Monday and Tuesday) and one day a week in Years 2 and 3 (currently Thursday).
If you study this course part time, you attend one day each week in Years 1-3 (currently Monday in Year 1, Tuesday in Year 2 and Thursday in Year 3). There is a four-year study option where you attend one day each week in Year 4, on a Thursday. The five-year option requires you to attend a half day each week in Years 4 and 5, both on a Thursday.
We assess taught modules through coursework and assessment under controlled conditions. Practice assessment is through direct observation, case studies, process reports, supervision groups and placement reports.
For your research, you submit a 30,000 - 40,000 word doctoral thesis of an original piece of research, examined by viva voce.
For more details see our full glossary of assessment terms.
Clinical work in placement settings is a central part of the training, and you must be in clinical practice placements throughout the course. You should arrange and complete at least 450 hours of counselling psychology practice on approved placements, covering a range of approaches, modalities and settings.
Please note, all placements must be approved before you start to ensure they meet all course requirements for clinical work and supervision arrangements.
You'll have access to a range of on-campus and online facilities to support your learning. The department for Health and Applied Sciences has an excellent reputation for the quality of its teaching and the facilities it provides.
Our lecturers incorporate their research into their teaching. Participate in student and staff research projects through our faculty research centres such as the Psychological Sciences Research Group and the internationally-renowned Centre for Appearance Research.
Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE has to offer.
You'll be expected to have clinical supervision on placement throughout your training, at a ratio of one hour of supervision for each eight client hours.
You must accrue 60 hours of personal therapy during the course, at your own expense. Therapists must be accredited, and approved by the course.
The model taught in Year 1 is relational psychodynamic, so it would be good if the therapist was consistent with this, but the overall course approach is integrative, including CBT. So an integrative therapist could also be useful.
Contact the course leader to find out more.
Careers / Further study
Students completing this course successfully are in a great position to become counselling psychologists and therapists in a wide range of roles in the private, public and third sectors. In fact, the vast majority of recent graduates have secured positions before they complete the qualification, based on their four to five years of placement experience.
There are also wide-ranging opportunities for research roles and academic posts.
Our award-winning careers service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity, and access to employer events.
There is currently no published fee data for this course.
Supplementary fee information
More information can be found on the Graduate School fees and funding pages.
Students also need to be aware of additional costs in completing the course which are not included in the fees. Students will need to meet the cost of personal therapy (60 hours minimum). In addition, as part of their professional development, students will be expected to accrue 40 hours of CPD across the duration of the course. There may be additional travel costs in meeting placement requirements and at times be necessary to pay for appropriate supervision if this in not met within the placement.
See our information on UK Government Postgraduate Doctoral Loans.
Applicants should have the following:
- Graduate Basis for Chartership with the British Psychological Society
- upper second class or first class degree in psychology
- Certificate in Counselling Skills (comprising a minimum of 75 class hours)
- one year's experience of working in a one to one helping role
- the standard University levels of proficiency for English Language.
You should state the grade achieved for your undergraduate research project on your application.
In addition, applicants should:
- be academically able to succeed at doctoral level and able to develop professional practice to doctoral level
- have reached a level of maturity, which is not to do with age, to enable them to work with the emotional demands of vulnerable clients and the personal development aspects of the course
- be open-minded and respectful of diverse views and perspectives
- have the capacity for self reflection and be open to feedback from others
- demonstrate a good level of interpersonal skills and sensitivity to others
- have the ability to synthesise and communicate complex ideas both verbally and in writing.
Health assessment/declaration - applicants must be in good health. Those offered a place are required to complete a questionnaire and be prepared to undergo a medical examination if necessary.
Disclosure of Criminal Background - the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 does not apply and all convictions, including those which are spent, must be disclosed. This is in accordance with the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975. Applicants who are offered a place must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and will be required to complete a Disclosure Application Form. All information will be treated in confidence and only taken into account when absolutely necessary.
Occasionally applicants are eligible for entry under an Accredited Prior Learning scheme. We review these applications on an individual basis. Our policy is based on HCPC Standards of Proficiency for Counselling Psychologists and applicants must be able to demonstrate that they meet relevant Standards of Proficiency.
How to apply
Our final date for applications is 26 February 2021, but we may close early due to high demand.
Interviews for this course are held at the end of March.
Please be aware that deferred entry for this course is considered on an individual basis by the programme leader.
Stages of your application:
- Submit your application online, complete with contact details for your referees by the application deadline (one of your referees must be an educational referee that is able to comment on your ability to work at doctoral level and complete a doctoral research project).
- If you are shortlisted for interview you will need to provide two pieces of work no later than one week before the interview date. Please be aware the turnaround times between the closing date and interviews can be very short so you are strongly advised to prepare these pieces of work in advance:
- You will be given the opportunity to ask about the course and meet the programme team. This will be followed by an individual interview which will be in two parts with two members of academic staff. One part is a clinical interview, the other is a research interview.
- If you are offered a place on the course you will be asked to complete DBS and Occupational Health checks.
- You will also be expected to begin arranging your placement and you will be able to access our programme database of placement providers to support you in this process. You will need to be in a position to start your placement by the beginning of the course.
- You will also be expected to arrange your personal therapy by the beginning of the course.
Please note that both your placement and your personal therapist will need to be approved by the course.
For further information
- Email: Admissions@uwe.ac.uk
- Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 83333