Counselling Psychology at London Metropolitan University
Notes For Guidance:
Some Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Counselling Psychology?
Counselling Psychology is distinctive in its competence in the psychological therapies, being firmly rooted in the discipline of psychology whilst emphasising the importance of the therapeutic relationship and process. It is a relatively new branch of applied professional psychology, to be distinguished from counselling or psychotherapy by its concern 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 within the therapeutic context.
Counselling Psychology competencies are grounded in values that aim to empower those who use these services and places a high priority on anti-discriminatory practice, social and cultural context and ethical decision-making. Chartered Counselling Psychologists are bound by the Code of Conduct of the British Psychological Society.
2. How do I train as a Counselling Psychologist?
There are two stages in training leading to Chartered Counselling Psychologist status. The first involves the attainment of the Graduate Basis for Registration, which is usually gained by having a first degree in psychology that is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). The second stage requires a three-year full-time post-graduate training and study either at an institution offering a Counselling Psychology Programme accredited by the BPS, or by gaining the BPS Diploma in Counselling Psychology via the ‘Independent Route’, in which an individual candidate follows their own approved programme of training.
The Counselling Psychology training provided at London Metropolitan University is accredited by the BPS, successful completion of which leads to eligibility for chartered status as a Counselling Psychologist.
3. How do I train as a Counselling Psychologist at London Metropolitan
The Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology, (D.Couns.Psych.) meets
the requirements for becoming a Chartered Counselling Psychologist. The D.Couns.Psych. course takes three years full time study to complete It is possible to study the first year part-time over two years with years 2 and 3 taken full time. It is NOT possible to study the whole course part-time.
Students state which pathway they wish to pursue at the point of admission.
4. What are the entry requirements for the courses in Counselling Psychology?
Applicants for the D.Couns.Psych are expected to have an upper second-class Honours degree in Psychology (2:1) and must hold the Graduate Basis for
Registration from the BPS. They will need to demonstrate strong evidence of a high level of academic ability, for example, by having previously completed postgraduate research (e.g. an MSc.). Applicants are also expected to have had some training in counselling skills as well as relevant experience of working face to face with clients (see below question 7). They should have a good rationale for wanting to become a Counselling Psychologist, to show evidence of personal maturity and a capacity for self-reflection and development.
5. What is the Graduate Basis for Registration and why is it important?
All applicants must possess, or be eligible and in the process of applying for, GBR before they can apply for Counselling Psychology training. GBR is conferred by the British Psychological Society to those holding Society-accredited honours degrees in Psychology or a degree that the BPS regards as equivalent.
If you do not possess, or are not yet eligible for, GBR do not apply for this training.
If you are not sure whether you are eligible for GBR, you will need to contact the BPS to establish this AND obtain a letter of confirmation from them, BEFORE you apply to us. We will not consider applications without this, as it is not possible
to train as a Chartered Counselling Psychologist without GBR.
6. How do I obtain GBR?
The easiest way to obtain GBR is to take a BPS-accredited Honours degree in Psychology. If your course is not accredited, or your degree is not in Psychology, you can contact the Psychology Department at London Metropolitan University, which offers a 1-year full-time Conversion Diploma for converting the degree you do have to the equivalent of an Honours degree with Psychology as a main subject. For further information about the Conversion Diploma you can visit the University’s website: www.londonmet.ac.uk or contact the Conversion Diploma Admissions Tutor Dr Julie Evans (Tel: 020 7320 1083, email: email@example.com). You can contact the British Psychological Society to find out how to sit the Society’s
Qualifying Examination, which provides an alternative pathway for obtaining GBR. You can contact the British Psychological Society at their website: www.bps.org.uk. If
you took your degree outside the UK, the BPS will assess your qualifications on an individual basis to determine whether you are eligible for GBR.
7. What sort of counselling experience do I need for entry to the counselling
psychology courses and why is this important?
What constitutes relevant experience is always of interest to prospective students. The best experience is to have worked over a continuous period as an assistant psychologist or counsellor in some capacity where you engaged in face-to-face work with a client. Observing this kind of work or gaining experience in short-term placements (less than 1 year) during your degree is relevant but, on its own, not
normally considered adequate nor a substitute for actually having worked in a therapeutic setting as a counsellor. Working on telephone help-lines where you actively listen to clients is of some value as relevant experience, but is of a qualitatively different nature to face to face work and therefore only goes some way towards satisfying the requirement for previous experience. Although relevant to your application, experience of caring for an individual or family member with a psychological problem is not considered sufficient. At the very least, applicants should be able to demonstrate evidence of experience in an occupational role in which they made use of counselling skills within a helping relationship context.
So examples of relevant prior experience in approximate descending order of desirability would include things like a minimum of one year full-time equivalent
; assistant psychologist
; professional counsellor
; trained health care professional (e.g. nurse, social worker)
; voluntary counsellor (face-to-face)
; voluntary counsellor (telephone)
; befriending/support worker
; other occupational capacity involving a helping relationship and/or use of
counselling skills (e.g. HR, management, training and development).
Prior courses or training undertaken in counselling or counselling skills are considered advantageous, though do not provide sufficient relevant experience. Generally speaking the longer and more theoretically based the course the better. Applicants may, for example, have completed a diploma or certificate in counselling skills. The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) is also a useful organisation to contact to find out more about organisations that offer introductory level counselling courses (www.bacp.org.uk). Some organisations and
charities also provide specific in-house training for their employees/counsellors. The World Wide Web, or local business directories, such as the ‘Yellow Pages’, can be useful resources for finding out about and contacting counselling organisations that may be willing to offer you relevant paid or unpaid work experience and/or training.
Prior clinically relevant experience is considered important because trainees will be expected to begin working with vulnerable clients right from the start of the programme and it is essential that they already possess some basic counselling skills and theoretical understanding so that they can do so with an adequate degree of confidence and safety. For this reason, it is also important that trainees have spent adequate time either before or since completing their undergraduate studies developing the necessary qualities skills and capacities to undertake this kind of work. Consequently, applicants who have proceeded straight from A level to undergraduate study, and gained less than 3 years post-graduation experience, are unlikely to be successful.
8. How do I obtain Counselling Psychology practice during training?
A supervised counselling placement that offers a minimum of 100 hours of client contact time during the first year of training – which has been registered and
approved by the course’s Placement Tutor prior to commencement - is undertaken
by all trainees in addition to the taught modules and workshops on the training. A stsuitable 1 year placement will include opportunities for trainees to use a cognitive-behavioural model of therapy. Counselling psychology training is primarily a training in working with adults, so the majority of client hours trainees complete (80% minimum) must reflect this. Given the intensive nature of the training,
students on the full time route should aim to have secured a suitable placement by the time the course commences, so that they have enough time to complete the necessary number of hours within one year. Only client contact hours completed in a fully approved placement once the course has commenced can be counted towards the requirement.
Obtaining practical supervised counselling experience during the course is the responsibility of the trainee. However, once an offer of a place on a course has been made and firmly accepted, candidates are permitted access to the course’s
Placement Tutor, who will be able to assist trainees in finding and securing placements from this point on. In each of years 2 and 3 of the programme, trainees are required to carry out a minimum of 175 hours of client contact time, achieving a total of 450 hours of client work over the 3 years of the programme.
Although there is not a shortage of opportunities and the Counselling Psychology programme has developed links with another of organisations that provide students with placements, there can be considerable competition for placements, particularly within the Greater London area. One of the most stressful aspects of the training for new students can be finding their first placement. This may be particularly, though not exclusively, true for trainees who have less prior relevant experience with which to sell themselves to placement organisations. However, our experience shows that a confident, well planned and self-directing approach to this aspect of the training tends to be the most important factor.
Trainee placements may include counselling in settings such as: NHS services (Primary Care, Community Mental Health Teams, Child and Family services etc), voluntary organisations, social services, student counselling services and Employee Assistance Programmes. In order to explore and maximise placement opportunities, applicants should take advantage of any contacts they already possess, or can develop, within these or other areas, before beginning their training. For
applicants outside the UK, obtaining a suitable supervised placement will entail particularly careful planning and preparation well in advance of application. It is not possible for students to carry out placements outside of the UK. However, students are by not confined to working in placements within the London/South West Area, should they have contacts in other parts of the country.
Supervision of placements is not provided on the course, but is usually provided within the trainee’s own placement setting. Before accepting a placement, it is the
responsibility of the trainee to ensure that their proposed supervisor is approved by the course’s Placement Tutor to check that the student will be receiving supervision in line with current course and BPS requirements. In the first year of training, supervision must be provided at a minimum ratio of 1 hour of supervision ndrdto every 5 hours of client contact. This reduces to 1:10 in the 2 and 3 years.
Where supervision is not provided within the placement, or where what is provided is not adequate, the individual trainee would be responsible for meeting any additional costs. Placements that cannot provide the necessary supervision may be willing to subsidise such costs, and trainees are encouraged to enquire about this possibility if necessary.
9. Do I have to undertake my own therapy?
Yes. The value-base of Counselling Psychology is grounded in the primacy of the therapeutic relationship and emphasises the importance of the therapist’s self-
awareness and personal development in ensuring effective, ethical and reflective practice. This emphasis is one of the ways in which training (and practice) in counselling psychology may differ from clinical psychology. It is important for course applicants to understand that undertaking training in Counselling Psychology is a personally/emotionally, as well as academically, challenging experience that will require the trainee to change and grow as a person, as well as to develop skills
as a practitioner. As part of a commitment to personal development, trainees are required to undergo a minimum of 60 hours of their own therapy during the training with a practitioner who must be approved by the course and accredited with one of the main counselling or psychotherapy organisations (e.g. BPS, UKCP, BACP, BAP, BCP). Beyond this requirement, choice of personal therapists is left to the trainee and there is no contact between the course and the trainee’s therapist. Trainees will have access to available registers of approved therapists to assist them in locating a suitable therapist. Trainees are expected to meet the costs of their personal therapy themselves and will need to budget for this in planning their studies. The cost of personal therapy can vary considerably and some therapists offer reduced rates for trainees. However, you should expect to pay somewhere
between ?25 - ?40 per session. It is not possible for a student to count any
personal therapy completed before beginning the training towards the required 60 hours.
10. What is the attendance requirement and time commitment?
The D.Couns.Psych run as 3-year full-time courses. However, there is an option to complete the first year of these courses in part-time mode over 2 years (Years 1A and 1B), totalling 4 years of training. The full-time and part-time options run concurrently at the university. For full time trainees, attendance in Year 1 is on
Wednesdays and Thursdays, in Year 2 on Wednesdays and in Year 3 on Thursdays.
For trainees undertaking Year 1 in the part-time mode, attendance is on Wednesdays in Year 1A and on Thursdays in Year 1B. Attendance hours on all days
are between 10 am – 4.30pm. Each year of the course is taught over 2 semesters, which run from Sept/October – February (Semester 1) and February – June
Despite attending the university for teaching on only one or two days of the week throughout the programme, trainees should be aware that they will need to spend their remaining time every week fitting in the many other course requirements. These include working in placements, having supervision and personal therapy, completing coursework, dissertation planning and research, individual study and library visits. It is therefore unrealistic and inadvisable for trainees to undertake significant additional paid employment whilst on the programme. For trainees who take Year 1 in part-time mode, there is a little more flexibility for incorporating work/family commitments. However, part time students should also be aware that their course will involve a much greater time commitment that just the one day per week that they attend the university.
11. What will I learn about on the Counselling Psychology programmes?
On the D.Couns.Psych courses you will be introduced to the theory and practice of counselling psychology as well as differing models of psychological therapies and their philosophical and research bases. The main emphasis of the training is on the development of proficiency in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and a working knowledge of the Psychodynamic model. Contextual issues, experiential work, case presentation and discussion are also included. You will also be introduced to a range of research methodologies, both quantitative and qualitative, and their application to counselling psychology research. The course adopts a variety of teaching methods: lectures, seminars, workshops, practicals, tutorials and experiential work. Students are expected to take a mature, active and autonomous role in their learning.
The course modules and structure D.Couns.Psych are currently as follows:
Wednesday: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Level 1
Thursday: Quantitative & Qualitative Research Methods
Wednesday: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Level 1 – Case Presentations
Therapeutic Skills - Workshops
Thursday: Reflective Practitioner
Professional Skills Level 1
All year Supervised Counselling Placement Level 1
Wednesday: Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
CBT Level 2
Wednesday: Professional Skills Level 2
CBT Level 2 – Case Presentations
All year Supervised Counselling Placement Level 2
Doctoral Research Summer School
Thursday: Counselling Couples & Groups
Professional Skills Level 3
Thursday: Counselling Couples & Groups – Case Presentations
Applied Therapeutic Practice
All year Supervised Counselling Placement Level 3
Advanced Research Seminars
12. How will I be assessed?
A combination of assessment methods are used, including essays, clinical case studies, presentations, process reports, as well as counselling placement supervisor reports and progress reviews. Trainees complete a research project during Year 1 (approximately 15,000 words), which is assessed by submission of a research proposal and written dissertation. During years 2 and 3 trainees on the D complete a further larger piece of research (approximately 40 - 45,000 words) which is assessed by submission of a research proposal, a written thesis and a viva. All research projects are supervised by the members of the Counselling Psychology teaching team.
13. How can I fund my training in Counselling Psychology?
Unlike training in Clinical Psychology, which is funded by the NHS, the cost of training as a Counselling Psychologist is currently borne by individual trainees themselves. Naturally, this requires a strong vocational commitment, as well as careful financial planning and consideration. Counselling Psychologists fund their training in a variety of ways, combining use of career development loans, personal savings, and the support of partners and family members. You may be lucky enough to have an employer who is willing to offer financial support or a ‘secondment’ for your training, provided you can guarantee them some return on their investment when you qualify. For example, this might be the case if you are already working as an Assistant Psychologist within the NHS and your trust would like you undertake further professional training. Assistant Psychologist posts are normally advertised in the ‘Appointments Memorandum’ supplement that comes free with ‘The Psychologist’, which is sent every month to subscribing members of the BPS. However, there is usually considerable competition for such posts, including applicants who already possess significant relevant experience.
14. Will I get paid for my counselling work during training?
Unfortunately, unless you are already employed as an Assistant Psychologist or have substantial experience as a professional counsellor before you commence the training, it is unlikely that you will be able to command a salary in your counselling placement during your first year. In most cases, you will be expected to offer your services for free. However, as you progress through the training and gain experience and confidence, your chances of getting paid for what you do will increase. Commonly, by the second year, some trainees on our programmes will be rdreceiving some pay for their clinical work, and by the end of the 3 year most
trainees will be in salaried post. Please note that private paid work as a counsellor
cannot be counted towards course requirements.
15. What are the application procedures?
To request a prospectus, application pack or information about course fees, housing, etc, applicants should contact the course inquiries office on: firstname.lastname@example.org (City campus) or 020 7320 1616.
Course details and application forms can also be downloaded from the London Metropolitan University web site on: www.londonmet.ac.uk
There is no fixed yearly deadline for the receipt of applications. Applications are considered as they are received and must include proof of GBR (i.e. a letter of
confirmation from the BPS – see above. A degree certificate alone is not sufficient)
AND 2 references. One of these should be an academic reference, the other from an employer. Short listed candidates will be invited for an interview. This enables applicants to have the opportunity to visit the department, and discuss the course and their application with the Counselling Psychology team. It also is essential that the Counselling Psychology team meet with candidates in order to assess personal
suitability and readiness for the training, in addition to academic ability. The counselling psychology programme has one intake per year commencing in September/October. Interviews begin in the spring and continue until places have been filled. It is advisable to apply as early in the academic year preceding your intended year of entry as possible. Due to heavy demand, applications received after May/June are unlikely to be successful.
16. Could you recommend any books I could read about Counselling
Psychology and Counselling Psychology training?
We expect prospective applicants to have done their ‘homework’ about the various psychotherapies and the discipline of Counselling Psychology and to have a clear rationale for choosing this profession before applying. If you would like to find out more about Counselling Psychology you can visit the Division of Counselling Psychology’s pages on the BPS web site: www.bps.org.uk/sub-syst/dcop/index.cfm
Other recommended reading would include:
; Bor, R. & Palmer, S (Eds.) (2002) A beginner’s guide to training in Counselling &
Psychotherapy. London: Sage. nd; Bor, R & Watts, M.H. (Eds.) (2006) (2 Ed.) The Trainee Handbook: A Guide for
Counselling & Psychotherapy Trainees. London: Sage
; Woolfe, R., Dryden, W. & Strawbridge, S. (Eds.) (2003) Handbook of Counselling ndPsychology (2 Ed.) London: Sage.