What is a Counselling Psychologist?
As a counselling psychologist, you will work with a number of clients to mentor them, offer advice and provide professional help to improve their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
You will have learned physiological theory and research in therapeutic work, to be able to assist your clients through difficult periods of their life. The age of your clients will range from young children to adults, families and couples.
It’s important that you work with your client in a holistic and insightful manner in order to help them open up which will incite change and encourage recovery or repair. To practice as a counseling psychologist, extensive training and self-awareness are necessary, the latter of which is typically obtained through personal therapy.
- As a counseling psychologist, you will need to assess your clients’ mental health needs, risk, and psychometric testing.
- You must build a working relationship with your clients based on mutual trust and respect.
- You will formulate a psychological explanation of your clients’ issues by exploring their experiences, thoughts, behaviors, relationships, and daily lives.
- You will need to plan and implement specialized psychological treatments to help your clients understand their feelings and behavior.
- Empowerment of clients to take control and make positive changes to their behavior is a critical aspect of your work.
- You will monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of treatments and work collaboratively with colleagues, multidisciplinary teams, and referrers to plan treatment and provide services that meet clients’ needs.
- You must communicate complex, technical, and clinically sensitive information clearly to clients, their families, and caregivers, both orally and in writing.
- Contributing to research, service evaluation, and audit is necessary, either individually or as part of a team.
- You will receive regular clinical and professional supervision from a senior psychologist to help you continue to improve your skills.
- Continuously engage in personal and professional development to keep up-to-date with the latest knowledge and skills.
Training counselling psychologists will usually train within the NHS and will earn a starting salary between £32,000 to £39,000.
Once qualified, your salary can increase to between £40,000 to £45,000. Senior psychologists can expect to earn between £47,000 and £53,000
Those who are experts in the field and are in a principal or consultant role can earn up to £90,000+. Most counselling psychologists work in private practice, commerce or industry but will earn a similar salary to those working in the public sector. According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a counselling psychologist is £42,267.
You should expect typical working hours of Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm if working in the NHS. However, most counselling psychologists are self-employed therefore you can dictate your own hours – but this will also have to work around your clients which may require you to work evenings or weekends.
What to expect
- As a counseling psychologist, you will typically work as part of a team that includes other healthcare professionals.
- There are employment opportunities available throughout the UK, with larger cities offering more varied options. Some health authorities prioritize psychological therapy, which can result in more job opportunities.
- The work can be challenging as you will be working with people who are often distressed, but the job will also be extremely rewarding.
- Your job may require you to travel to your clients.
There are a number of qualifications you will need to be able to practise as a counselling psychologist in the UK. Firstly, you will need to be registered with the Health and Care Professional Council, which involves training at postgraduate level. To become a counselling psychologist, you will need to have completed an accredited psychology degree or conversion course recognized by The British Psychological Society. Once you have completed your degree or conversion course, you can obtain your Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership, which will allow you to begin your official training as a counselling psychologist.
You’ll then need to complete either a BPS-accredited Doctorate in Counselling Psychology or the BPS Qualification in Counselling Psychology, which is the independent route to training as a counselling psychologist. You will need to have achieved a high degree usually a 2:1 or higher and have relevant work experience under your belt. To be accepted onto an accredited Doctorate course in Counselling Psychology, you will need to demonstrate research skills and have some basic counselling or therapeutic training. After completing your Doctorate in Counselling Psychology, you will qualify as a member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). Upon completion of your Doctorate, you will also be eligible to apply for entry onto the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) register, which allows you to use the title of a counselling psychologist.
must have skills:
- Strong interpersonal and psychotherapeutic skills
- Exceptional communication skills
- Effective counselling abilities
- An open-minded and empathetic approach when dealing with clients
- Proficiency in exploring emotional issues with clients
- A curious and research-oriented mindset towards work
- Analytical skills to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions
- The ability to work collaboratively as part of a team
- Capacity to assess the progress of treatment and adapt accordingly
- Independence and self-motivation to work efficiently
- Self-awareness, self-knowledge, and confidence in oneself
- Ability to work well under pressure
- Time management skills to manage a caseload
- Proficiency in IT skills
- Understanding of cultural and religious diversity in clients.
You will usually need one year of industry experience in mental health or counselling role in order to find employment. Possible job roles at the beginning of your career could include psychological wellbeing practitioner, assistant psychologist, counsellor or health or social care support worker. These need to be face-to-face roles to show that you can deal with these different situations and people from all walks of life. You should also consider networking and building up your list of contacts within the industry.
Counselling psychologists often work in health and social care settings, and there are a range of employers that may offer employment opportunities for them. Some of these include the NHS in areas such as rehabilitation, acute admissions and psychiatric care, as well as in private hospitals, health centres, GP surgeries, and Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) services.
You can choose to be self-employed or in a group practice. You may also find employment as an organisational consultant in the public or private sector – these roles will often involve training, development or conflict resolution.
Continuous development will be crucial to your career. It will also be necessary to retain your HCPC registration and membership of the BPS. You will often have a supervisor or mentor who will assist you with your professional development and guide you along the right path. They will be there for advice when you need it. Continued learning and professional growth are highly recommended, and you may undertake the following activities:
- Enrolling in post-qualification courses to expand your knowledge of various theoretical models.
- Participating in professional supervision to improve your practice.
- Teaching or presenting at conferences and lectures.
- Attending workshops or conferences to keep up with industry trends and advances.
- Conducting research on relevant topics, writing articles or papers.
- Mentoring, supervising or assessing trainees.
- Developing your expertise in a specific client group.
Clearly defined career paths are available with certain employers including the: Civil Service. Her Majesty's Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS)Local authorities NHS.
If you are committed to gaining the right combination of skills and experience, you can progress fairly quickly taking on more responsibility as your work through the grades. You may also want to consider specialising in a certain area or certain demographic.
If you fancy learning about the inner workings of the mind and human behaviour, the UWS’s BSc Psychology degree is for you. You’ll study the human mind and associated behaviour and develop key skills in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data – which will allow you to apply your knowledge in research and investigation processes to solve problems in real-world settings. UWS’s BSc Psychology programme is accredited by the British Psychological Society, which provides the basis for Graduate Registration.
Study the human mind and behaviour in this professionally accredited Masters’s programme – your first step toward becoming a chartered psychologist. This programme is designed for graduates with an Honours degree in a discipline other than psychology – or a non-accredited psychology Honours degree who wish to specialise in psychology.