Counselling Psychologists use the science of psychology to help people who are suffering from mental health problems. This could be helping someone cope after a bereavement or other emotional trauma or as part of the ongoing treatment of someone diagnosed with a mental illness. Usually working in general or psychiatric hospitals or local surgeries they take a holistic approach to treatment and examine the underlying problems a person may be suffering from. They may be working with individuals, couples or groups.
In order to become a counselling psychologist you will need to gain a university bachelor degree in psychology or psychology and counselling from an institution accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). This will then lead to Graduate Basis for Registration (GBR) where upon completing a postgraduate degree you can become registered as a chartered psychologist.
The usual route towards becoming a counselling psychologist is to first complete your GCSEs gaining at least five graded A*-C; including those in maths, English and science. This will then lead to A levels where you will be required to gain at least 280 UCAS points in total. There are a number of degrees available in either general psychology or in counselling psychology specifically. Before becoming a chartered counselling psychologist you must first complete a special training programme in counselling so choosing an institution that will help you complete this may be an advantage. Upon gaining at least a 2:1 degree you can then continue to postgraduate study and gaining important practical experience.
In order to gain experience in counselling you approach your local NHS trust to see if there is a way seeing first-hand the work of a counsellor. During your university course you may be offered a placement where you will able to see how your academic training is used in real life, you should research each institution’s course to see what practical experience you will gain during your time there before applying.
Career pathway after graduation
After graduating from you bachelor degree you should then continue to postgraduate research and try and gain practical experience. This will last one or two years after which you can apply to become a chartered psychologist. As a chartered psychologist you can find employment in an NHS trust as a counsellor where you may have to move to another part of the country depending on which jobs are available.