DPsych Counselling Psychology

The HCPC approved and BPS-accredited Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology is the first of its kind in Wales, offering training in three therapeutic modalities, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy, Integrative Psychotherapy and Systemic practice.

The programme is underpinned by a Relational and Pluralist philosophy and value base, with a strong focus on social justice. In addition to your training as a counselling psychology practitioner, you will undertake a doctoral level research thesis on a relevant subject.

As part of the Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology you will complete 450 hours supervised clinical hours. On graduating, you will be eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC and Chartered status with the BPS. The USW School of Psychology and Therapeutic Studies is ideally placed to offer this new course because of its expertise in both counselling and psychology teaching and research.

The vibrant, well-established psychology subject area has particular strengths in developmental disorders, health psychology and addictions, whilst the Newport campus acts as a regional hub for counselling and psychotherapy training. 

The programme offers both full-time (three years) and part-time (five years). The Doctorate course focuses on four key areas, which underpin the professional practice of counselling psychology:

  1. Theoretical knowledge and critical thinking skills, which value the therapeutic relationship and the diversity and plurality of practice
  2. Training in three therapeutic approaches, shaped by a relational and pluralistic ethos.
  3. A strong focus on personal and professional development and self-awareness through the development of critical reflective skills to self and practice.
  4. The undertaking of a comprehensive piece of research, which aims to make an original contribution to practice.

Year One

In the first year, your taught modules are assessed at Level 7 (Masters). You will take the first core module in Counselling Psychology Theory and Practice 1 (20 credits), which will focus on the underpinning philosophy and values of ethical, reflective therapeutic practice. It will prepare you to develop your skills and knowledge in working with difference, diversity and social justice. You will begin your primary modality in year one, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy (60 credits). This will equip you with key clinical skills, knowledge and competencies to enable you to begin supervised clinical placements as a trainee-counselling psychologist. You will also take the Research Methods in Counselling Psychology (20 credits), which will develop your knowledge, skills and competence in research and research ethics, to prepare you for the first stage of your doctoral research.

Year Two

In the second year, your taught modules are assessed at Level 8 (Doctoral). You will take the second core module in Counselling Psychology Theory and Practice 2 (20 credits), which will focus on counselling psychology across the life span. It will develop your skills in assessment and formulation, enabling you to engage critically with the different frameworks used to conceptualise psychological health and well-being. You will also take modules in two different therapeutic modalities, Integrative Psychotherapy (40 credits) and an introductory module in Systemic Theory and Practice (20 credits). The second placement is usually undertaken in this year. The remainder of the year is devoted to you developing your research thesis under supervision.

Year Three

Your taught modules in the third year are assessed at Level 8 (Doctoral). You will take the third core module in Counselling Psychology Theory and Practice 3 (20 credits), which has a strong focus on integration and developing a counselling psychology professional identity. You will also take a module in Clinical Supervision and Leadership in Counselling Psychology (20 credits). You will take the second module in Systemic Practice (20 credits), which focuses on working systemically with children, couples, families and groups in Counselling Psychology. A third placement is usually undertaken in this year. The remainder of the year is devoted to you completing and writing up your research thesis under supervision. Part-time students will complete all the taught modules between years one to three, with years four to five focused on the research thesis under supervision. Ongoing personal development is a significant part of the Doctorate programme and you will be offered opportunities to develop reflective skills to develop your self-awareness throughout the course.


Teaching will usually take place over two days a week, with one or two days a week for placement.

The Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology course will be delivered using a wide range of teaching and learning methods, which will include lectures, group discussions and experiential exercises, personal development groups, skills practice, group work and case discussion groups.

You will also be required to undertake supervised clinical placements and your own individual personal therapy.

You will undertake a range of placements with different client groups achieving 450 counselling hours. 

You will be required to undertake a substantial piece of doctoral level research, which will make an original and applicable contribution to practice.

There is a significant amount of independent study within each module to prepare you for assessments, personal development and placements.

Please visit our Graduate School for details of support for research students. 


Assessment will be varied to reflect the range of professional competencies and experiences that you will develop on the programme.

These will include essays, case studies, presentations, process reports, research proposal, assessed skills practice, personal development reviews and placement reports.

Students will also submit a doctoral research thesis of a maximum of 50,000 words, which will be examined by viva voce.


The DPsych Counselling Psychology is accredited by the British Psychological Society.


The University of South Wales has strong links with NHS setting, third sector organisations, and a wide range of local counselling agencies, employers and counselling services.

The University also has an in-house counselling service offering placements. While there will be support to help you find placements from the placement coordinator, securing placement will be the responsibility of the student. The University will run placement and career events during the year and careers support beyond the course.


We have:

  • an exceptional suite of counselling rooms for training and for placement use, including five individual counselling rooms
  • a family/ children’s counselling room equipped with play resources
  • video and audio recording facilities
  • in-house placement provision
  • psychology computer lab with eye-tracker, EEG, bio-packs and other resources
  • interview and observation rooms
  • psychology technican support
  • access to SPSS and NVIVO
  • priority use subject teaching rooms


The teaching team is drawn from across the School of Psychology and Therapeutic Studies, including:

Applications for the September 2020 intake will open on the 2nd September 2019.

In order to apply you will need:

  • Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership with the BPS
  • Upper second class or first class degree in psychology / or Psychology conversion course. Applicants with a lower classification may still be considered if they can evidence subsequent higher academic achievements, such as, a Masters awarded merit or distinction.
  • 100 Hour Certificate in Counselling Skills, with a minimum of 40 hours in CBT theory and skills.
  • Evidence of working in a one to one helping role (e.g. experience in the health and social care field in the public, private or voluntary areas)
  • The capacity to undertake Doctoral level research - supported by an academic reference.
  • Enhanced DBS check
  • Two references uploaded with your application (one from your previous/current employer and one academic who can comment on your ability to work at doctoral level.


Application Stages


There are two stages to the application process: 


Stage 1– Applicants who meet the entry requirements, will be invited to submit an application, which includes a personal statement and a short written statement (300 words), which sets out their research idea, with a focus on the proposed methodology and the relevance of the research to Counselling Psychology Research and Practice.


Please read Application Tips below before applying, as this details what information should be included on your application form. 


Stage 2 –Shortlisted applicants from Stage 1 will be invited to submit a research proposal, which should be no more than 1000 words. 


Shortlisted proposals will then be considered by the University’s Research Applications Panel. If the research proposal is approved, the applicant will then be invited for interview.


Application Timeline

From Monday 2nd September 2019 – you can submit your application and short written statement. 


Monday 9th December 2019 – the deadline for all applications. 

By Wednesday 15th January 2020 - if you have been shortlisted for stage 2, you will be notified by email and invited to submit a research proposal. Further guidance on the proposal will be given at this time. 


Wednesday 26th February 2020 – deadline for research proposal to be submitted.


By Wednesday April 15th April 2020 – if your application has been successful in Stage 1 and 2, you will be invited for an interview.


Interview dates will be confirmed by January 2020, but are likely to be held April/May 2020.


Further information can be found below, or contact the course lead Shelley Gait


Interview Process

If you have been successful with your application and your research proposal has been accepted, you will be invited for interview. 

The interview will be in two parts, both will usually be held on the same day. One part will focus on your potential as a practitioner in counselling psychology, and the other part will consider your suitability as a Doctoral level research student.



Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Professional body student fees * £26
This is required for each year of your Doctorate course.
Clinical supervision * £0 - £1200
Cost per session will depend on the individual supervisor. In many instances, supervision requirements are available through the placement provider.
Personal therapy * £25 - £60
Cost is per session and will vary depending on the individual therapist. Students need to undertake a minimum of 40 hours in years one to three of the course.
Professional indemnity insurance * £45 - £75
Required for each year of the course. Some placement provider may cover you for insurance; evidence will need to be provided.
DBS * £57.20
This fee includes £44 for the enhanced DBS certificate, the Post Office Administration fee and the online administration fee.
DBS update service * £13
Years two to three for full time student; years two to five part time students.
Placement travel
Students need to fund their own travel costs to their placement. Costs vary, depending on location.
Kit * £45 - £55
Recording device and encrypted memory stick


You can apply for a postgraduate loan as a contribution towards your course and living costs.

Apply directly to the University for this course.


There are two stages to the application process: 

Stage 1 – Submit application form and written statement (see below for further guidance)
Stage 2 – Shortlisted applicants from Stage 1 will be invited to submit a research proposal, which should be no more than 1000 words.

Application Guidance

Personal Statement

Your personal statement should outline your readiness and suitability to undertake the doctorate programme, by focusing on the following three areas:

Professional experience

  • In particular your practice experience of using counselling and CBT skills; these may have developed while undertaking a certificate and/or in a work role.
  • Why you wish to train to be a counselling psychologist, including your suitability to do so.
  • Academic/research experience
  • Academic ability to study at doctoral level and engage in doctoral research relevant to counselling psychology.
  • Research experience
  • Personal Development
  • Engagement in personal development activities indicating self-awareness and reflective capabilities
  • You should also state why you would like to be selected to study the course at University South Wales.

Written Statement

You need to include a short written statement (300 words), which sets out your research idea, with a focus on the proposed methodology and its relevance to Counselling Psychology Research and Practice.

Two references

A referee who is familiar with and able to comment on your academic work, and abilities to study at doctoral level, including engaging in doctoral research.
A referee who is able to comment on your experience, including your suitability to train as a counselling psychologist.

Evidence of Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership of the British Psychological Society

This can be evidenced by membership with the BPS or a letter from the BPS confirming your psychology course conferred to the GBS membership requirement.


When you have completed and passed all components of the programme, including 450 hours of supervised clinical work and the research thesis, you will be able to apply for HCPC registration and chartered status with the BPS. Once qualified, you will be equipped to work with a variety of client groups, including adults, groups, families and couples in a broad range of settings, for example, the NHS and third sector organisations.