Division of Counselling Psychology

Applications sought!

Deputy lead for the conference: please see the advert for further details

DCoP position statement on Doctoral loans scheme

We strongly support the doctorate loan scheme to provide CoPs with student funding. CoPs dedicate a great amount of voluntary hours to the NHS each year [see table below]. CoPs are currently self-funded and many take on the additional debt by paying for supervision and personal therapy. Counselling psychology trainees contribute directly to service delivery during the 3 clinical years of their training.  This is a postgraduate training and the trainees start the training with an undergraduate degree in psychology and relevant work experience in mental health which equips them to work with service users directly while under clinical supervision on placement from the start of their training. 

The Doctoral loan scheme allows counselling psychology’s postgraduate course to be included within the scope of the current reforms to healthcare student funding and this is very welcomed.  There are significant benefits to building the mental health workforce to support current government policy and the Five Year Forward View For Mental Health on improving mental health outcomes for children and young people as well as prenatal care, community and emergency mental health provision, support for adults to sustain employability, mental health promotion and tackling inequalities, and integration of mental health with physical healthcare needs. 

Counselling psychologists are trained to reduce psychological distress and to enhance and promote psychological wellbeing by the systematic application of knowledge derived from psychological theory, practice, and research. A defining feature of the counselling psychologist is the capacity to draw from, and utilise, different models of therapy, evidence-based and practice based interventions, as appropriate to the needs and choices of the service user. Counselling psychologists’ contribution to service delivery encompasses work with individuals, (children, young people, adults and older adults), family and organisational systems, groups, and couples.

They are trained not just to deliver interventions, but to also promote psychological mindedness and skills in other health, educational and social care professionals. Counselling psychologists therefore work across a diversity of health and social care providers including NHS, independent sector and social care; in primary, secondary and tertiary care, in-patient units and community services, as well as organisational, educational, forensic settings, and independent practice.

There are 2,012[1] registered HCPC counselling psychologists who work in a variety of services. The percentages below of qualified counselling psychologists in public and third (voluntary) sector services have been estimated from a member survey by the BPS Division of Counselling Psychology (June 2016).

Table 1[2]:  Employment of counselling psychologists in NHS provided or NHS commissioned services

Adult services73.4 %
Community mental health teams36.4 %
Crisis resolution & home treatment services2.8 %
Assertive outreach teams0.7 %
Liaison psychiatry teams2.8 %
Early intervention for psychosis service4.9 %
Rehabilitation and recovery teams7.7 %
IAPT improving access to psychological therapy25.9 %
Child & adolescent services16.1 %
IAPT for children and young people2.8 %
Perinatal mental health services2.1 %
Forensic services9.1 %
Learning disability services7.0 %
Older adult services6.3 %
Memory services0.7 %
Substance misuse services8.4 %
Physical health psychology services16.1 %
Sexual health4.2 %
Eating disorder services10.5 %

In these services 54.2% work full time and a further 39.6% 0.5wte or more.  31.5% have given 10 years or more of service, with a further 21.7% 6-10 years, so retention is good.

Table 2[3]:  Employment of counselling psychologists in voluntary sector mental health provision

Children and schools24.2%
Couple and family19.4 %
Adult mental health71 %
Forensic settings4.8 %
Services for particular populations, e.g. women's services, LGBT services, BAME services, veterans, older adults, bereavement.37.1 %

In these services 30.8% work full time and more work part time which may reflect both portfolio careers and the nature of funding and employment patterns in this sector, with 53.7% working less than 0.5wte.  Still, 15.4% have given 10 years or more of service, with a further 16.9% 6-10 years. 

The Doctoral loan scheme will help foster diversity in the mental healthcare workforce to meet the needs of the diverse community that services serve.  It will help create equality of access to professional opportunities for Counselling Psychologists. 


4 Standards for the accreditation of Doctoral programmes in counselling psychology, British Psychological Society, 2015

5 Source HCPC as above

6 Source:  BPS division of counselling psychology membership survey June 2016, N=143 respondents.  Note percentages do not add up to 100% due to multiple employments since qualification 

7 Source:  BPS division of counselling psychology membership survey June 2016, N=62 respondents.  Note percentages do not add up to 100% due to multiple employments since qualification