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, Humanistic Relational Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy, and Systemic practice.

The DPsych 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 training because of its expertise in both counselling and psychology teaching and research. The school acts as a regional hub for counselling and psychotherapy training. You will also have the chance to learn from Counselling Psychologists working in a range of practice contexts who bring specialist input to the programme.

Applications for this course will open on Monday the 2nd of October 2023.

This course is extremely popular, and we can only offer up to 10 places each year. Since we have a limited number of spaces, we have to close applications early.

To avoid disappointment, we'd recommend applying between October and end of January of each year to begin study the following September. Interviews following a successful application usually take place in March, if we do not offer all our places, we also have an interview date in May.

Submitting your application between October and January will give you the best opportunity of being considered for a place on our Counselling Psychology Professional Doctorate.

Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 3 Years September Newport City C
Part-time 5 Years September Newport City C
Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 3 Years September Newport City C
Part-time 5 Years September Newport City C

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 and application of these approaches in practice settings
  3. A strong focus on personal and professional development and self-awareness through the development of critical reflective skills on self and practice.
  4. The undertaking of a comprehensive piece of research, which aims to make an original contribution to practice.

Year one modules are taught at level 7 and year two/three at level 8.
You will undertake training in 3 therapeutic approaches:

  • Humanistic and Relational Psychotherapy
  • CBT
  • Systemic

The course will also cover

  • Underpinning philosophy and values of ethical, reflective therapeutic practice
  • Social justice, difference, diversity and inclusion
  • Assessment, formulation mental health and wellbeing
  • Lifespan and neurodiversity
  • Integration of theory into practice, case discussions
  • Ethics and practice issues
  • Advanced research
  • Leadership
  • Clinical supervision


Teaching will usually take place over one day a week, with one or two days a week for placement.  There will also be some asynchronous learning and reading and assignment preparation.  You will need to be available to attend the Newport City Campus for your teaching,  Placements are available in a range of locations.

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.
Students are encouraged to consider the time commitment required for the course when deciding about enrolling on the part or full time route.  This can also be discussed with the course team at the selection day.

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 30,000 words, which will be examined by viva voce.


In the final year, you will submit a Doctoral research thesis, which will be a maximum of 30,000 words, and this will be examined by viva voce. The thesis will include a) the report of a research study and b) a draft article based on this study, in a format appropriate for submission to a specified peer reviewed.

One of the defining characteristics of doctoral research is to create new knowledge that extends the forefront of the discipline. It is therefore important that the benefit to counselling psychology practice, is at the forefront of your research project design.

Even though we require a research proposal to be submitted as part of your application this is not necessarily the research project that you will undertake for your doctoral thesis. If you are offered a place on the programme you will have the opportunity to develop a proposal based on active research interests within the school and with partner agencies. This presents an opportunity to be involved in research with impact.

Your research will be supervised by a team of two research supervisors, who together have expertise in the research area and relevant research experience, including counselling psychology practice.


The DPsych Counselling Psychology is approved by the Health & Care Professions Council  (HCPC) and accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).


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.  While there will be support to help you find placements from the Practice Lead and Placement Officer, securing placement will be the responsibility of the student.

Students will be asked about their ideas for placement at interview and you are encouraged to begin to think about potential placements as early as possible.  You are not required to secure a placement before commencing the programme.


The core course team are counselling psychologists with experience of practice, research and teaching.

Additional teaching is provided is drawn from across the School of Psychology and Therapeutic Studies, including counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists as well as academics with specific research expertise:

Teaching on the programme is enhanced by regular input from guest lecturers who are counselling psychologists and other relevant practitioners. Service users also input to the teaching as Experts by Experience. The input of qualified practitioners and service users ensures that the learning on the course has real world applicability and enhances student understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. Meeting counselling psychologists from a range of practice settings also helps students to broaden their understanding of the diversity of settings and roles for future employment.

The course has strong links with the British Psychological Society’s Division of Counselling Psychology, Wales and has student representation at this committee.

We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement

At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.

If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.

This is a demanding professional training and you are required to be able to have sufficient academic and practical experience.

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 and Theory.
  • 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) supported by a clinical reference.
  • The capacity to undertake Doctoral level research - supported by an academic reference.
  • An Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on the Child & Adult Workforce and Child and Adult Barring Lists and subscription to the DBS Update Service. (Overseas equivalent required for non-Uk applicants) 
  • Maturity and robustness to undertake work that is emotionally and academically challenging, a willingness to engage with feedback on your development and a commitment to self and professional growth.
  • If English is not your first language, you need to provide evidence of English proficiency (been taught and assessed in English and be able to evidence English fluency to TOEFL 570 or IELTS 6.5 or higher)

 Your application should include the following items:

  • Evidence of Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) or Graduate Basis for Registration (GBR) from the British Psychological Society (BPS) 
  • Copies of all relevant academic transcripts and certificates, or evidence of equivalence
  • One academic reference, ideally to comment on your academic ability, and suitability to undertake a doctoral level training
  • One professional reference, ideally relating to your counselling or practitioner experience, voluntary work, or employment in a formal helping capacity 
  • A personal statement which details the following how you meet the entry requirements, any relevant work experience, education, training, or research experience you have done to date, why this course and why USW
  • Applied Research proposal (1,000 words) relevant to counselling psychology (see application tips below)
  • Reflective Piece  (1,000 words)  “Why I want to train as a Counselling Psychologist” (see application tips below)


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.

August 2024 - July 2025 Fees


August 2025 - July 2026 Fees


Student Perks

At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.

Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.

Click here to learn more about student perks at USW.

Additional Costs

As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Professional body student fees (BPS graduate member = £36 plus Membership of Division of Counselling Psychology = £12) * £48 - £48
This is required for each year of your Doctorate course.
Clinical supervision * £0 - £70
Cost per session will depend on the individual supervisor. In many instances, supervision requirements are available through the placement provider. (£0 - £70 per hour of placement)
Personal therapy * £25 - £70
Cost is per session and will vary depending on the individual therapist. Students need to undertake a minimum of 40 hours, usually spread out over the duration of training.
Professional indemnity insurance * £45 - £75
Required for each year of the course.
DBS * £55.42
This fee includes £40 for the enhanced DBS certificate, the Post Office Administration fee and the online administration fee.
DBS updating service * £13
Subscription required for each year of the course for a yearly fee of £13. Please note the service has to be joined within 30 days of receipt of your enhanced DBS certificate.
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
Other: data collection


Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs

Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).

To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.

Apply directly to the University for this course.

Application Guidance

There are several required elements in your application:

1)    USW application form
2)    Evidence of GBC with the British Psychological Society
3)    Two References (academic and practice)
4)    Reflective Piece  “Why I want to train as a Counselling Psychologist”
5)    Research proposal
Guidance on the above elements is included below:

Reflective Piece “why I want to train as a counselling psychologist” (max 1000 words)
Your reflective piece 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.
  • Making a case of the relevance of your work / volunteering experience to the role of a professional psychologist

Research experience

  • Experience of conducting research to date
  • Academic ability to study at doctoral level and engage in doctoral research relevant to counselling psychology

Personal Development

  • Engagement in personal development activities indicating self-awareness and reflective capabilities

Your statement should be specific to counselling psychology and should demonstrate an understanding of its difference from other types of psychology or counselling. You should also state why you would like to be selected to study the course at University South Wales. 
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 (GBC)
This can be evidenced by membership with the BPS or a letter from the BPS confirming your psychology course conferred to the GBC membership requirement.
Research Proposal Guidelines
You are required to prepare a brief research proposal that demonstrates:

  • Understanding of research that is of relevance to counselling psychology
  • Ability to prepare a proposal to an acceptable academic standard
  • Awareness of research design, methods and ethics

The proposal should cover the following elements

The importance and relevance of your project
The Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology is primarily concerned with researching real professional issues in Counselling Psychology practice. Therefore, make sure your research project is relevant to the field of Counselling Psychology. Ensure you explain why you think your research is important, identifying any current gaps in the research literature and the contribution you consider your research will make to research and practice.

A brief review of the literature
You need to indicate some of the literature that you are going to use, try to include some of the main arguments and viewpoints in the field, indicating their relevance to your research proposal. Also make sure you include how your research sits within this current body of research.

Theoretical framework/methodology
In this section you need to clarify which methodology you will be following and why. In particular, you need to explain the relevance and usefulness of your chosen methodology to your particular project. You should clearly explain why and how the approach you plan to use will fit your topic and the problem you are addressing. Include any data sources you plan to use? How do you plan to collect data (e.g. interviews, a survey). Describe the process you will use to analyse the data.

Identify any ethical issues or issues around risk that your research might pose and how you will mitigate or manage these.

List the publication details of all the works you have referenced in your proposal. Use a standard referencing format (e.g. Harvard). This should help us to understand the literature you are familiar with.

Successfully completing the course is the first step in your career as a Counselling Psychologist. 

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 registration with the HCPC (the regulatory body for psychology). This will give you the professional title of Practitioner Psychologist.
You will also be eligible to register for chartered status with the British Psychological Society (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.  You will be able apply your supervision and leadership skills to working with multi-disciplinary teams and agencies and to contribute to service development and innovation of clinical services.

More information about careers in counselling psychology can be found here https://careers.bps.org.uk/area/counselling

Keep checking back here to find out more about what the course alumni are up to.