counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

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latelifechanger
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counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by latelifechanger » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:46 am

Dear all,

I wondered if anyone had thoughts about the counselling psychology doctorate as an alternative route to clinical psychology - either from a clinical or counselling perspective?

Background: I'm 41, and have a background in a completely different career (communications and journalism, academic related). I was a senior manager, but fundamentally, I knew it wasn't right for me. I thought about clinical psychology for years, but life (mortgage to pay on my own, then having children) rushed by me. I then got to the point where I could make wider choices, and I'm now doing a conversion MSc.

I now need to work out what to do next - I will use next year to get further experience. If I was younger, I'd be targetting clinical - for a range of reasons, including its highly professional nature, and an appreciation of the science-practitioner approach. But the humanistic bent if counselling psychology does also have a real resonance for me.

I have a 2.1 (Cambridge modern languages - I think it was a mid-2.1, but they don't appear to have grades on the transcript maybe as I'm so old!) and I'm currently doing a conversion MSc and have really good distinctions so far (hooray). So whereas I'm not going to blow anyone away in this competitive field, I'd imagine that I'd be able to meet a baseline.

My worry about the clinical psychology path is the years that it might take to get the right experience and I wonder if I have that time. Looking at the alternative prospectus, I've got plenty of desirable qualifications (communications, managerial, volunteer and counselling experience) but not many essential ones. I have little children and I need to look for jobs in my area (London), which is another limit on getting AP jobs.

What I do have going for me is me and my husband are financially established, so can fund doctoral training. I suppose what's confusing/worrying me is that compared to the clinical route, I'm finding it very hard to get a feel for the space occupied by counselling psych (with clinical and BACP counselling routes jostling on either side) and whether I will be employable at the end of it.

Very grateful for any thoughts.

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Alex
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by Alex » Wed Mar 07, 2018 11:54 am

The fact is the clinical path is uncertain - it could take a year to get on or it could take 4-5 years or never :shock: It is whether you are willing to take your chances.

You will be employable once qualified as a counselling psychologist - I haven't know them having a problem in getting work. I have worked with loads of counselling psychologists in NHS and other services - sometimes at 8a posts. Mostly everywhere I have worked in adult mental health they have been doing the same jobs as clinical psychologists.

Also, one advantage of CounPsy is that you are paying for the course and often do honorary posts - so are more flexible. I have friends who have taken a year out of counselling doctorate when they needed to. In clinical psychology you are an employee so there is less negotiation around things.

latelifechanger
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by latelifechanger » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:23 pm

Thanks Alex - I really appreciate you replying! Yes, it's a good point about the ability to take a year out if needed. And it's really good to hear that I hopefully won't be unemployable.

As you say, the uncertainty aspect of clinical applications is so hard, and if it's 4 or 5 years - or never! - to get anywhere near - I'd have potentially done a counselling doctorate by then. My previous career was really competitive too and I was often the one shortlisting 100 applications for 1 job, so it is all too easy for me to have a feel for why some applicants might just repeatedly get unlucky despite being high-quality :cry: .

I've read so much about the 'identity' issues of counselling psychology and its need for distinctiveness, but actually it feels as though when you look at the oppositional forces such as critical psychology that hit academic psychology in the 70s, but that have now been absorbed and accepted into the mainstream, that it is sort of unsurprising that there isn't a sharp division in terms of ideology or practice in the professional clinical/counselling sphere (that's just my amateur conjencture). But it's good to hear that there are jobs - from a purely practical perspective.

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maven
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by maven » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:33 pm

You can also self-fund clinical training you know. Some courses take self-funding applicants. I think Salomans might, but I don't know about other London courses.
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

latelifechanger
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by latelifechanger » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:21 pm

Thanks Maven, that's a good point. I will look at that option as well......

Lancelot
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by Lancelot » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:45 pm

I was in a similar situation - I was like I am not waiting around for years to get on clinical (ain't nobody got time for that). So I applied to clinical and counselling doctorate in the same year - got on counselling doctorate then was offer clinical and took that. It took me a year after undergrad so it is possible. Maybe apply to both?

bluegoat
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by bluegoat » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:12 am

maven wrote:You can also self-fund clinical training you know. Some courses take self-funding applicants. I think Salomans might, but I don't know about other London courses.
It comes at a hefty price. £24k* per year, which is £72k for the three years. Unless you have that money to spare, not sure I'd go for it when you can qualify in Counselling Psychology for a third of that...

*(plus an additional fee for placements)

https://www.canterbury.ac.uk/social-and ... nding.aspx

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maven
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by maven » Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:12 pm

Ouch, that is quite a lot. I know Birmingham do doctorates in clinical and forensic psychology, where the candidate can self-fund or some places are industry sponsored (typically with fees covered and a small stipend, in return for a 3 year commitment to the sponsoring organisation after qualifying). But in that case there isn't a charge for placements, and in fact some placements might pay the trainee, or at least cover expenses. I don't know what their fees are though*, and I know your focus was in London.

* their website suggests £12k per year, which is half the clinical course charge per year, although it is a four year course as it confers dual registration.
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

latelifechanger
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by latelifechanger » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:14 pm

Ouch, £24k is loads. Sadly, when I mentioned being financially established, I am not quite in that category without some serious white-collar crime, which I'm guessing would look quite poor on my application forms :D But thank you for thinking of it.

The Birmingham course looks much more doable and really interesting. The tricky thing for me is uprooting my family from school and esp husband's job. I really should have done this when I was young and flexible. It would be great if there were more varied options of this nature - maybe there will one day. Really, I am lucky to have the choice I do being in London though.

I suspect that in terms of what I apply for, it may even come down to the placements I am able to get after my course, and the extent to which I struggle to get relevant experience.

ps Lancelot's solution sounds good - very well done to you, Lancelot! It must have been easier going to interviews knowing that you had a plan B.....

RLDW
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by RLDW » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:07 pm

I read on BHam's website that this year they are only accepting applications for the Foren/ Clin dual Doctorate from people sponsored by the NHS Trust local to the course. It could change back for 2019 entry though?

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maven
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by maven » Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:54 pm

RLDW wrote:I read on BHam's website that this year they are only accepting applications for the Foren/ Clin dual Doctorate from people sponsored by the NHS Trust local to the course. It could change back for 2019 entry though?
It alternated sponsored and self-funded intakes when I used to take trainees from there, though they had cohorts sponsored by private providers like St Andrews and Partnerships in Care, rather than the NHS.
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

bluegoat
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by bluegoat » Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:57 am

If I was you, I'd shop around. Apply to a few places that do Counselling and Clinical Psych in London (you are spoilt for choice really!), go to any open days, attend any interviews they offer you, and then make your decision.

RLDW
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by RLDW » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:45 am

Just checked and it looks Birmingham are accepting self funders as well as sponsored places for 2018 :D it's £12,000 per year

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hs577
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by hs577 » Sun Mar 11, 2018 5:03 pm

Hi,

I just qualified Sept 2017 from a counselling psychology course. I was in post in October 2017 in a qualified psychology role in a secondary mental health care setting. I wanted 3 weeks off as I was interviewed in August and could've taken up the post sooner. However, I wanted to leave some room for HCPC registration etc plus have some time off. (I applied for 4 jobs after qualification got an interview for all 4 [3 were specifically psychology]). I was declined for the post after the first interview I had, accepted for the post after the second interview and I cancelled the third one for psychologist roles (the one I cancelled was part time but nearer). I attended a high intensity trainee interview as it was very near home but there was no guarantee of a qualified post. I was offered this but ultimately declined it even though it was a difficult decision as high intensity posts are very much in demand.

I was tied down by a mortgage plus I have some caring responsibilities so couldn't go too far afield. I took a year out as well on the course due to personal reasons. I was employed as a part-time NHS band 5 in my first and second year and then took on a 30 hour band 6 nhs role towards the end of third year. A lot of my placement hours were done outside of work as we had a therapy service around the corner from the university so it was easy to see 3-4 x 1 hour contacts on each of those two evenings. My 2nd employer in second year allowed me to take on extra cases on top of my caseload.

It does follow the scientist practitioner model as well as the reflective practitioner model. The reflective practitioner model understandably in this field is more dominant. The two key approaches were Psychodynamic (specifically object relations) and CBT. We later learnt to integrate these in third year using theoretical, pluralistic or assimilation integration.

So in summary yes you're employable in the NHS and other settings. You can also work alongside clinical, health, educational, occupational or forensic psychologists. You can also go into private practice without thinking that you ought to stay as you've been funded to do a course. If you want more flexibility try and complete a child placement as well as adult. The only reason I didn't was because it was logistically difficult with my working pattern. I'd also worked as a teacher which has some cross over in terms of applying learning, attachment and psychodynamic theories so didn't feel I'd missed out too much majorly. I'd also worked as a research assistant with children and wanted to work in adult primary or secondary mental health anyway. Should I wish to work with children in the future (unlikely as my heart isn't in it) then I'd have to do a relevant placement.

Hope that helps. In terms of finances our course was for 2 days per week and ran Oct- May. Therefore you had the summer to catch up on research, client hours etc, take a summer job etc and wouldn't have to pay the petrol of going into uni/the uni area for placement for 4-5 days per week for essentially a full time job. Essentially you can orchestrate it so your placements are nearer where you live although as with anything else depends if you want/need a specialist placement.

latelifechanger
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Re: counselling doctorate as alternative for mature student

Post by latelifechanger » Mon Mar 12, 2018 12:48 pm

Thanks hs577 - that is very useful indeed.

Everything you say about closeness/the ability to get placements relatively close to home chimes with me. The difference in placements on the other side of London and in a more accessible location is the difference between our children seeing a parent in the week.

I think that structurally, being able to potentially slow things down works well for me, in terms of summer holidays etc, and the portfolio possibilities of counselling psych likewise do make a lot of sense.

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