Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

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Cookie555
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Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by Cookie555 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:28 am

I am considering undertaking the Counselling Psychology training route.

From what I've read and those I've spoken to so far, I understand it is a less clear and established career path than Clinical psych. This includes there being far fewer roles than for clinical psychologists in the NHS (as a quick job search backs up), and those smaller number of roles open to counselling psychologists are also always open to clinical psychologists as well - with the latter generally getting preference (Clinical psychologists I know confirm that many favour clinical psychologists over counselling psychologists). I imagine setting up privately freelance is a real challenge as well, as you are competing against others offering therapy from psychotherapists and counsellors to clinical psychologist (and from experience people in general do not understand the difference so will not necessarily favour a counselling psychologist over a counsellor).

In short, I think I would love the training and really enjoy the role of a counselling psychologist (if of course I was lucky enough to get on a course), but I am concerned that after all the time and cost of training, at the end of it I would struggle to get employment and might find it is not a realistic full-time career. I am a mature student so it is particularly important I make the right choice at this point in my career.

It would be great to know:

1) What percentage counselling psychologist grads go on/ don't go on to work as counselling psychologists?
2) Of those that are successful, how long does it typically take to get established and have stable and sufficient work?
3) Any advice on how to make a successful career as a counselling psychologist

Thanks in advance for information and advice.

randomposter
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by randomposter » Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:03 pm

Hi Cookie555

I am a counselling psychologist who works in the NHS and has done since qualifying in 2011. I cannot give you number or exact 'evidence' but can share my experience. Between 2011 and my current situation, I have changed jobs 4 times and therefore have some insight into applying for jobs etc. I personally have faced little resistance. Interestingly as I reflect on most of the difficulties I did face, much of it was my own insecurity being projected (there was and continues to be a self defeating narrative for many trainee and newly qualified counselling psychologists 'i.e. We are not as good as...' but this does seem to be lessening as our numbers and confidence increases - it has also decreased significantly for me personally as I have personally grown more confident in my own skills). This is not to say that there are not any difficulties you are likely to face, there are still some roles that will not entertain counselling psychology applications but these are rare as far as I know and I would question whether these could be challenged as discriminatory (but I am not sure about this). In terms of private practice, I know many types of therapist and have never known of any issues around particular training route for the public and I think the public would be aware enough to know the difference between a counsellor and psychologist.

Of interest, going forward the times, they are a changin. There are currently around 900 counselling psychology trainees per year, with around 1/2 to 2/3rds of these going on to work in the NHS. I believe there are around 500 - 600 clinical psychology trainees? Therefore it doesn't take a mathematician (and I am obviously not one!) to see that within the next decade or so the 4ooo or so counselling psychologists will soon match the types of numbers that make up clinical psychology. I wonder how this will affect power dynamics, especially as the BPS is now advocating that all psychology trainees should be similarly funded.

*** I haven't researched my numbers but do recall them being roughly correct, please correct me if I am mistaken ***

Cookie555
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by Cookie555 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:45 pm

Many thanks Random Poster, it is really helpful to have your personal insight and experience. And it really helps balance out some of the more negative views on counselling psychology I have heard from some Clinical Psychologists I've met! Interesting that you observe mindset is part of the issue for some counselling psychs - very helpful to keep that in mind.

The growing numbers of Counselling Psychologists is interesting. As you say there can be strength in numbers. However, do you have any concerns that this might increase competition for a limited number of jobs/ work in the public and private sector? I wonder if the increase in course positions reflects an increase in need, or simply a wish for courses to take on more paying students? Not wishing to be cynical but good to think through the issues prior to taking the plunge and applying/ paying :)

Regarding the funding of posts, I thought for the moment that Clinpsych doctorate places were still being funded (with on going reviews to see if that might change) and counselling psych doctorates will continue to be self-funded. Sorry if I've missed something - very likely! :)

Best wishes

randomposter
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by randomposter » Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:16 pm

Of course courses are there to make money, so are the university's offering clinical courses and of course places will be created where there is demand. I cannot say for sure but I don't know anyone that's struggled to gain employment thus far.

In regards the funding issue, I have no idea and would be guessing about the arrangements for both trainings funding. I was referring to the BPS Policy Unit that have stipulated they are arguing for all applied psychological trainings to be equally funded.

bluegoat
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by bluegoat » Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:23 pm

randomposter wrote:
Of interest, going forward the times, they are a changin. There are currently around 900 counselling psychology trainees per year, with around 1/2 to 2/3rds of these going on to work in the NHS. I believe there are around 500 - 600 clinical psychology trainees? Therefore it doesn't take a mathematician (and I am obviously not one!) to see that within the next decade or so the 4ooo or so counselling psychologists will soon match the types of numbers that make up clinical psychology. I wonder how this will affect power dynamics, especially as the BPS is now advocating that all psychology trainees should be similarly funded.

*** I haven't researched my numbers but do recall them being roughly correct, please correct me if I am mistaken ***
I think this is almost impossible. There are 13 Counselling Psychology courses (plus the independent route) and 36 Clinical Psychology courses.

According to the Leeds website, there are just under 600 places every year for Clinical Psychology training, and with a completion rate of 99.21%, I would think there are just under 600 people who qualify as Clinical Psychologists every year.

There are no central figures for overall places in Counselling Psychology, but a guesstimate of 15 people per course might not be unreasonable. That gives you 195 trainees every year (assuming courses are always full!). Counselling Psychology often takes longer to complete due to the nature of the course, personal therapy, the fact that people self fund the training and often have to balance academic study with some sort of paid employment, so I'd be very surprised if there are 195 Counselling Psychologists who qualify every year.

As far as I'm concerned, times are changing, but not as quickly as you seem to be suggesting.

randomposter
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by randomposter » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:05 pm

I wasn’t picking numbers totally out of the air, this was part of a recent BPS DCoP statement:

DIVISION OF COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGY (DCoP)
Dispelling the myths about Counselling Psychologists whilst challenging discrimination
Dear DCoP members,
Counselling Psychologists are now well established in clinical roles across the NHS and in the private and third sectors across different services, in positions of seniority and in leadership roles. The research that is being done in counselling psychology is considerably advanced in recent years. The discipline is growing and we have over 900 trainee members who will in due course become registered psychologists and chartered members of the society. As a Division we are working hard in a variety of ways to help our members with employment and employability. More than half of counselling psychologists now have NHS posts, and many have their training placements in the NHS. Counselling psychologists are therefore now well embedded in the provision of NHS services. They are also well represented in third sector services that are providing services commissioned by the NHS.


I also believe at least two new courses have opened in the last two years and many courses are very well subscribed if not overly. In fact I have just checked and there are 17 training courses plus the many people that choose to train independently. I can’t speak for all trainings but when I trained there were 20 of us that started and 19 of us that completed.
Last edited by randomposter on Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

randomposter
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by randomposter » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:23 pm

Having thought this through properly, I wonder if the 900 refers to all trainees at anytime, not 900 starting each year would make more sense. Therefore may well be 350 (ish) + independents is a more realistic number. Sorry for any confusion.

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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by Spatch » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:26 pm

Having thought this through properly, I wonder if the 900 refers to all trainees at anytime, not 900 starting each year would make more sense. Therefore may well be 350 (ish) + independents is a more realistic number. Sorry for any confusion.
I would be inclined to think of it as a cummulative total of 1st/2nd/3rd years, otherwise the 17 counselling pych courses would have to have the sort of numbers you find on undergraduate psychology degree intakes (which they don't). Also, as there is more flexibilty in their training pathway, many do take longer than the 3 years, (but so do clinical trainees with mat leave, illness etc) and these may raise or lower the graduating rates.

However, I would challenge the we have over 900 trainee members who will in due course become chartered members of the DCounPsy. Many qualified clinical, health, counselling or whatever won't join the BPS, and many will just have their HCPC registration as they don't feel chartered status gives them anything else. From the trainees I am most familiar with, some have secondary therapy accreditations like BACP, UKCP or are pursuing these as they are more helpful in their career as therapists.

Anecdotally, I also get the impression that counselling psychologists have greater number of international candidates in their ranks than their clinical counterparts, and many I have known have returned to their home country after finishing (I don't know if this is still the case, but when I was doing my clinical training and was interacting more with my counselling psych counterparts). I don't know the proportions but I wonder if this has any substantive impact on the numbers and visibility in the NHS and outside?
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randomposter
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by randomposter » Sat Mar 24, 2018 9:57 pm

Indeed I agree Spatch, regarding the chartered argument. Of the 19 I qualified with I am sure a great many never joined the BPS. Similarly I know at least 5 of them went into private practice. Two of them were foreign students but both of them stayed in this country and got NHS employment. Though this is just my experience from a while ago now and can’t be generalised. However I do lecture on one of the courses and would say that over the years this course has become more and more competitive in regards application and acceptance rates. The numbers aiming to work in the NHS have also increased and those that won’t be HCPC registered decreased. What I really am impressed by is how articulate and well read even the first years are around why they have chosen this profession, the main narratives underpinning the approach and the ideas and energy about how these could be used to re/design services. Personally for me, exciting and interesting developments.

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hs577
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by hs577 » Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:27 am

I didn't personally find any difficult finding a post qualified sept 2017 and was physically in post Oct 2017. (I had the interview towards the end of the summer and had 2 months notice to serve in my band 6 post). My post is in the NHS, in secondary adult mental health.

It also depends what the post is in terms of favouring. Counselling psychologists typically have 450 (plus) hours of therapy provision over their 3 years in the course. Whereas clinical do, of course do therapy provision hours but their hours of this are lower.

Clinical psychologists (from my understanding) will typically have a broader experience with 5-6 placements (ie 4 x 6 months placements and 1 specialist of 6x6 months placements). However, counselling psychologists have more flexibility to have one of their placements spanning 3 years with the same client group if they wish.

Of course a counselling psychologist if they wished could follow a similar pattern to clinical if they wanted more breadth but when the hours of therapy provision are borne in mind most will have anywhere between 2 placements minimum to about 4 separate placements at the upper end. (You tend to stick with where you get the most therapy hours).

I've found counselling psychologists are also more likely (this is just my own experience and can't be generalised) to follow a supervision model when providing this.

In terms of research again you orchestrate this to what you need eg you need to understand quantitative methods in order to perform basic audits etc. I was fine with quantitative methods prior to this but wanted more experience of qualitative so my study for the first phase which was qualitative written up for my viva. I did take a year out and as well for mainly personal reasons. This year out was also partially going through being a multi centre nhs study but I could have completed this all in three years if I really had tried harder and there weren't some obstacles such as supervising staff leaving and needing an assigned name for iras etc. I'm now in the process of submitting two papers from phase one to the relevant journal and undertaking phase two which is quantitative. I am told by the relevant academics once this project is completed it could have UK wide use/interest. I've also published before and had a research assistant post and did some volunteer research at uni undergrad days so some of this process was easier for me.

Although counselling psychologists do, do leadership etc on their course this is where I think in my personal experience the course could do more and incorporate more opportunities for leadership on placement. Again a trainee could do this but it's quite a tight, time frame in terms of the focus being on therapy hours.

All, I completed on the course outside of therapy, assessment, formulation, research, MDT (including sharing MDT formulations where appropriate) and receiving supervision was as follows: providing some peer supervision (supervised and with the relevant provisions), an audit and some teaching. This is my own personal experience.

bluegoat
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by bluegoat » Sun Mar 25, 2018 8:37 pm

randomposter wrote:In fact I have just checked and there are 17 training courses plus the many people that choose to train independently.
There are 13 courses (see below) that you can qualify as a Counselling Psychologist from, plus the independent route. I'd be very interested to find out the additional 4 you are referring to.

LondonMet
City
Metanoia
UEL
Manchester
UWE
NSPC
Roehampton
Teeside
Wolverhampton
Glasgow Caledonian
Regents
Surrey

randomposter
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by randomposter » Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:50 am

Doctorate in Counselling Psychology (BPS Accredited and eligibility to apply for HCPC):

Teesside University (Accredited since 2002)
University of Wolverhampton (Accredited since 2004)
University of East London (Accredited since 2004)
London Metropolitan University (Accredited since 2004)
City University London (Accredited since 2005)
University of the West of England (Accredited since 2006) - part-time course only
Glasgow Caledonian University (Accredited since 2007)
University of Strathclyde (Accredited since 2007) - ***
University of Manchester (Accredited since 2010) - currently pending HCPC approval
Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust - Child and Educational Psychology (Accredited since 2005) - ***
Additional Universities and Institutes that offer combined Counselling Psychology courses (BPS Accredited)

University of Surrey - (PsychD Psychotherapeutic and Counselling Psychology) (Accredited since 1994)
Metanoia Institute - (Counselling Psychology & Psychotherapy by Prof Studies) (Accredited since 2001)
New School of Psychotherapy & Counselling - (Existential Counselling Psychology & Psychotherapy) (Accredited since 2006)
Regent's College (Existential Phenomenological Counselling Psychology)
Roehampton University (PsychD in Counselling Psychology)
Summary of the doctorate course programmes:

* Teesside University - (University of the Year for the Times Higher Education awards in 2009)
Clinical, academic and research training are combined. You gain experience of applying therapeutic psychology to a range of clients and develop the skills required to work as an autonomous clinician.

* University of WolverhamptonHalf of the course is university-based, and half is work-based in a variety of placement settings. Training makes competent individuals and good employability into the NHS and privately.

* University of East London
This programme seeks to produce professional practitioners who can utilise and integrate a range of mainstream psychological theories, scientific research and clinical enquiry into counselling psychology theory, practice and research.

* City University London
They aim to equip you with rigorous practical and theoretical principles, as well as sound ethical, professional and research skills, to enable you to become a qualified counselling psychologist.

* University of the West of England
This is a five-year, part-time course. The part-time route allows you to combine your training with part-time employment, possibly within a psychology post.

* Glasgow Caledonian University
The programme can lead to four levels of qualification: D.Psych, Master of Science, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate and allows a curriculum of modules that are relevant to psychology graduates looking to qualify as Chartered counselling psychologists.

* University of Strathclyde
It is the first counselling psychology programme to be orientated around a person-centred/experiential core, and the only course of its kind in Scotland.

* University of Manchester (It is presently pending approval from the Health and Care Professions Council)
Trainees will be introduced in detail to the Skilled Helper Integrative Model of therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

* Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust (Educational Psychologist)
A child and educational psychology Doctorate course in the UK that includes opportunities for developing multidisciplinary perspectives in an NHS setting.

To conclude:

Although an incredibly competitive field to train in with many years of study required, becoming a counselling psychologist is an extremely rewarding career path to take.



Taken from this website (but apologies if not accurate, it’s as far as I have gone as far as checking, Bluegoat I am sure you will for me ;-)
https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counsel ... -training-

There is also a new course starting this year in York (St John’s) and I am sure one starting in Scotland (but not sure of details of the Scottish one).


*** - don’t worry bluegoat, my lack of being able to sleep means I can save you a job. Both these I have checked and are inaccurate. Meaning you were correct, :salut: 13 + definitely the new York course and maybe another which we’re not certain on = 14 definitely.

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mungle
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by mungle » Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:20 am

Also - York St John are due to start one in Autumn
https://www.yorksj.ac.uk/study/postgrad ... ychology-/

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maven
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by maven » Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:12 pm

With regard to the figures, if 900 counselling psychs are in training, I'd guess that about 200 qualify per year, because of the higher drop-out rate, and tendency to spread the training over a longer period. I suspect there will also be a higher proportion of people who qualify, but don't go on to practice in the UK, and there is definitely a higher proportion who choose a self-employment route or land in the private sector. It seems likely that the length of career post-qualification will be a little shorter too, because of the older age of many CoP trainees and the proportion of career changers.

There are also self-funding places to train in clinical psychology that might not be included in those clearing house figures, as well as the non-NHS sponsored clinical and forensic doctorate course at Birmingham.

So overall I suspect we are gaining counselling psychologists in the UK at about one third the rate of clinical psychologists, and that the rate of CoPs taking up employment in the NHS is less than one sixth of that of CPs. My best estimate is that about 500-550 CPs join the NHS each year, whilst 50-100 CoPs do so. With the much larger embedded workforce of 12,000 HCPC registered clinical psychologists (compared to just over 2000 HCPC registered CoPs) it is very much the larger profession and set to stay that way, especially in terms of the NHS workforce.

But the numbers of CoPs are growing, and if the funding for clinical courses changes, the balance might change even more.
Maven.

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

randomposter
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Re: Counselling psychologist - is it a realistic career?

Post by randomposter » Wed Mar 28, 2018 8:40 pm

I’d be surprised if it were as low as 200, I’d think at least 300 as 14 courses x 20 = 280 + the many independents. Though to be honest I am guessing, as I think we all are. I think the fact is though we’re growing. Also, your estimate of 50-100 CoP’s taking up NHS employment can’t be close. In 2011 at least 14 of my peers went on to work in the nhs. At a conservative estimate of the same being right for even 12 courses that’s 180 (times that by 15 and we’re looking at 225). Plus I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount starting CoP training with the sole aim of working in the NHS is far higher now. I also think your over estimating the amount that go into private practice and the same goes for your estimate about those that don’t register with the HCPC. All these assumptions were much more founded in the past but much less likely these days.

Just found inforrmation on the course I wasn’t sure of in Wales. Bringing the total to 15 now.

https://www.southwales.ac.uk/courses/dp ... sychology/



Personally I can’t wait for the future in which Counselling Psychology and its Pluralistuc stance is a dominant narrative. It may be a while way away but it’s going to happen.

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