Enigma, I feel the same way
My personal opinion based on what I know from comparing clinical and counselling psychology training is that the content of training is very similar for the two. This is especially the case when considering established programs in counselling psychology at well known unis. In terms of training content there seems to be some difference and again from a personal perspective this difference seems to be a stronger emphasis on assessmet and testing training in clinical psychology vs. a stronger emphasis on psychotherapy training in counselling psychology. I am not sure if this difference is significant. As you say and as many people in this forum have shared, clinical psychologists seem to consider counselling psychologists as very similar indeed and many jobs are open to both. There seem to be some silos though... the example of neuropsychology is a good one. This seems to be (formally) open only to clinical psychologists even though there may be counselling psychology programs that cover all the prerequisites necessary for this post registration MSc.
Counselling psychology training is also different from clinical because it does not place so much emphasis on AP posts as a prerequisite. Most Counselling psychology programs in the UK require a few months to a year of face to face, supervised counselling experience, a certificate in counselling skills and a psychology degree / coversion diploma granting GBC. These prerequisites are certainly easier to achieve as compared to the endless quest for assistant psychology posts which is the case with clinical psychology doctoral programs. The latter is of course funded and that makes a big difference. Supply of AP posts vs Demand is a defining feature of this path and I am sure lots will agree that supply of AP posts has declined in the last 3-5 years making it even harder for those who dream of gaining access to clin psych training.
Counselling psycholoyg is self funded and that seems to alter the traing path considerably. Even though the content of doctoral programs are similar, a person who graduates with the doctorate has not necessarily worked in the NHS to the extent that a clinical psychologist has. This difference is significant I guess. In my opinion, an employer (NHS in this case) views more favourably an applicant who has already worked for roughly 3 years in the organisation vs an applicant who has experience in charities, etc. I don't like this and I don't think it should be that way but I have a feeling that this is what happens (again i would like to be proven wrong please
My feeling is that as the NHS undergoes cost cutting, AP posts will become less available and that will further increase competition. This is evident already ... if you look at AP post adverts you will notice that prerequisites for applying are more. Most notably the experience required prior to applying. This may make NHS psychology jobs less open to non clinical doctorate graduates.
All in all, I feel the counselling psychologist has a very tough deal. Can counselling psychologists guide their training and experience in such a way that they can become competent to do what a clinical psychologist does? I am not sure but I like to believe that yes. Should the system (NHS) open its doors more to counselling psychologists? Again I believe that yes.
In my opinion, the above is actually not that evident from the outset. In other words, a person who aspires to become a counselling psychologist will not easily find out about those difficulties and career path restrictions as compared to the clinical psychologist. I think this understanding is crucial of course, especially considering that in order to complete counselling psychology training today, one needs about £80.000 (including certificate in counselling skills, 3 year full time doctorate, psychology conversion, 4 years living expenses).
I would again like to emphasise that the above is a personal opinion (based on my own experience and research). I welcome any new information that will show me a different reality.