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: firstname.lastname@example.org). 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