I have a Psychology Degree. I want to become a counsellor/therapist

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itsmyname
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I got a First Class Honours in Psychology 4 years ago, and have done nothing with it. I'm banging head against the wall seeing where my life has gone, and I don't want to do my boring office job anymore.

Seeing as there's still a massive stigma attached to talking about/seeking psychological help within the BAME community, I want to become a therapist, being BAME myself.

What are my routes? Are there jobs in being a counsellor in London?
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itsmyname
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marinade
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London generally has the most generously funded IAPT services in the land.

Get some work experience and apply to do a PGCE or PGDE in low intensity therapies. If you already have substantial experience then apply and see what happens.
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itsmyname
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I've applied for IAPT PWP via the NHS website but like with jobs you have to be very quick when the vacancy is advertised and I haven't been successful thus far
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marinade
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(Original post by itsmyname)
I've applied for IAPT PWP via the NHS website but like with jobs you have to be very quick when the vacancy is advertised and I haven't been successful thus far
They do close early, but I don't think you have to be lightning quick.

Have you ever got an interview for it?
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bones-mccoy
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Do you have anything other than an undergraduate degree? You'd need some kind of postgraduate training in counselling as well I believe
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itsmyname
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(Original post by marinade)
They do close early, but I don't think you have to be lightning quick.

Have you ever got an interview for it?
Nope, I haven't had any interviews.
(Original post by bones-mccoy)
Do you have anything other than an undergraduate degree? You'd need some kind of postgraduate training in counselling as well I believe
Nope, no other training. My biggest regret, not studying further after my degree. 27 years old now with people who depend on me, so I can't quit my job to go back to studying fulltime
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marinade
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(Original post by itsmyname)
Nope, I haven't had any interviews.

Nope, no other training. My biggest regret, not studying further after my degree. 27 years old now with people who depend on me, so I can't quit my job to go back to studying fulltime
If you're not getting interviews, I will respectfully suggest that it's a lack of work experience, or not explaining the work experience in terms of the specific skills IAPT are looking for.

There are a variety of options including distance learning on the other things like counselling. Seems one to explore rather than the concreteness of all or nothing.
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itsmyname
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(Original post by marinade)
If you're not getting interviews, I will respectfully suggest that it's a lack of work experience, or not explaining the work experience in terms of the specific skills IAPT are looking for.

There are a variety of options including distance learning on the other things like counselling. Seems one to explore rather than the concreteness of all or nothing.
Such as? The routes are all too confusing, and it may not even lead to a job
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marinade
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(Original post by itsmyname)
Such as? The routes are all too confusing, and it may not even lead to a job
Well everything may not lead to a job. I'm just sensing a lot of black or white thinking on this matter.

Therapist, unsure what you mean. If you wanted to be a PWP, standard procedure for that is to apply for a PGCE/PGCE/sometimes master's, do a day a week at uni, work the other four days, a proper job getting paid and going to uni. May not suit your circumstances, but it's not a case of giving up the day job, it'd be replacing one thing with another. After PWP people go on to do the high intensity CBT and be a CBT therapist.

Counsellor, can tell you less about, but there are a variety of distance learning courses like the university of derby, someone else can tell you about that.

The former requires work experience to get onto. If you don't have work experience then that's something that can be picked up, unfortunately I doubt very much that they'll be so bothered with your qualifications.
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itsmyname
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(Original post by marinade)
Well everything may not lead to a job. I'm just sensing a lot of black or white thinking on this matter.

Therapist, unsure what you mean. If you wanted to be a PWP, standard procedure for that is to apply for a PGCE/PGCE/sometimes master's, do a day a week at uni, work the other four days, a proper job getting paid and going to uni. May not suit your circumstances, but it's not a case of giving up the day job, it'd be replacing one thing with another. After PWP people go on to do the high intensity CBT and be a CBT therapist.

Counsellor, can tell you less about, but there are a variety of distance learning courses like the university of derby, someone else can tell you about that.

The former requires work experience to get onto. If you don't have work experience then that's something that can be picked up, unfortunately I doubt very much that they'll be so bothered with your qualifications.
Yeah you're right, I am a very black and white sort of person. I prefer stability over risk, especially when I am the bread winner; I'd like to know I'm undertaking something that can lead to a proper job.

PWP can be done via IAPT training on the NHS correct? That would be ideal, because I'll be earning, getting on the job training and a professional qualification.

Issue with that is, adverts barely ever come up, and when they do there isn't much time to apply for the role and the IAPT course in the uni.

It's frustrating because only having 2 weeks to apply for a uni postgraduate diploma is not enough time. When applying for uni for my degree it took me months and several proof reads of my Personal Statement
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marinade
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(Original post by itsmyname)
Yeah you're right, I am a very black and white sort of person. I prefer stability over risk, especially when I am the bread winner; I'd like to know I'm undertaking something that can lead to a proper job.
I'm a carer myself so I understand that aspect of it.

(Original post by itsmyname)
PWP can be done via IAPT training on the NHS correct? That would be ideal, because I'll be earning, getting on the job training and a professional qualification.
PWP is only done through a provider. There's the academic side and work side.

(Original post by itsmyname)
Issue with that is, adverts barely ever come up, and when they do there isn't much time to apply for the role and the IAPT course in the uni.
Vacancies appear throughout the year. What a lot of Psychology grads don't seem to pick up quickly around here (geographically) is that they are advertised for March and October (here). So there's no mystery gap with no jobs, it's just that those people haven't worked out how the system works. Different systems elsewhere.

(Original post by itsmyname)
It's frustrating because only having 2 weeks to apply for a uni postgraduate diploma is not enough time. When applying for uni for my degree it took me months and several proof reads of my Personal Statement
It doesn't take several months to write a personal statement. This is probably not the place for it, but if that's the case I suspect there are other issues like very severe anxiety, severe procrastination, self hatred and a lack of 'confidence' and just juggling so many things at the same time that it's getting shelved. Two weeks is perfectly achievable. It's a nuisance and one can always make a better job and be happy with stuff. Get someone to help you with it. Prepare something before the ads appear to get started.
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goldencactus
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Hi,

I'm a therapist in my final year of training.

A psychology background is useful in some ways, but counselling/therapy is an entirely different field. It's often not even within the psychology department in many universities.

Technically speaking, counsellor/psychotherapist is not a legally-protected title. So anyone can call themselves a counsellor. In practice, if you want to join a professional body like the BACP, UKCP or NCS, you'll need to take a PG-Dip or a masters. You might decide to go for integrative, psychodynamic, cognitive, or person-centred routes (there are others out there too, gestalt, transpersonal, T.A - it can be worth taking a brief intro course where you'll be introduced to a few different modalities!) I also really recommend taking a counselling skills certificate. They take about a year, and are an excellent way to decide if it's for you before you commit to an expensive PG-Dip/MA/MSC. Years later I still draw on things I learned during that foundation year. It also improves your chances of getting onto some of the really competitive courses, especially in London.

Common routes include taking BACP-accredited or UKCP-accredited course. There are other courses out there too which meet the requirements of these professional bodies, meaning you can join as a member when you finish studying. (Side note: don't confuse course-accreditation with individual-accreditation. Finishing an accredited course will make you qualified, completing additional training to meet higher standards will make you personally 'accredited' - it's optional but many jobs are competitive and ask for it)

Courses involve (typically) skills training, reflective practice, having personal therapy, theoretical study, and placements. The number of clinical hours required ranges from 100 to 500+. 150-450 is the most common. For every 8 hours of clinical practice you'll usually be required to have 1.5 hours of supervision (this increases if it's group supervision rather than 1:1 - most people have group supervision).

You're expected to work for free on your placements and you'll have to pay for personal therapy, so it's not a great situation. The lack of diversity in the profession reflects this reality and it's something we should work towards changing. People are trying - there's a new union for therapists (PCU).

It can be hard to get paid work once qualified, but private practice can be very good especially if you are from a demographic underrepresented in the profession.

IAPT is not the same as counselling. The training is different and PWPs are not eligible for BACP/UKCP or NCS membership, although in many IAPT services alongside the paid PWPs you'll find unpaid trainee counsellors who are on placement. It is where the gov is putting the money, but people I know working in IAPT generally feel very dissatisfied. There's a high turnover among PWPs because they're not given the resources they need to deliver what the patients need, in most cases, and it leads to becoming very stressed. Their funding is constantly being squeezed, and they are pressured to see more patients and get them in and out quickly. As a consequence some services are offering 20-30 min sessions instead of the usual 50-min session, or offering telephone appointments instead of in-person. Services are being contracted out to private companies that have different (conflicting) priorities that can undermine things. I know counsellors on placement in IAPT services who feel unsupported and are being asked to pay for their induction/training/supervision in order to have the privilege of working for free. The norm with other organisations is that they provide training and supervision at a minimum in return for your free labour as a trainee.
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marinade
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(Original post by goldencactus)
Hi,

IAPT is not the same as counselling. The training is different and PWPs are not eligible for BACP/UKCP or NCS membership, although in many IAPT services alongside the paid PWPs you'll find unpaid trainee counsellors who are on placement. It is where the gov is putting the money, but people I know working in IAPT generally feel very dissatisfied. There's a high turnover among PWPs because they're not given the resources they need to deliver what the patients need, in most cases, and it leads to becoming very stressed. Their funding is constantly being squeezed, and they are pressured to see more patients and get them in and out quickly. As a consequence some services are offering 20-30 min sessions instead of the usual 50-min session, or offering telephone appointments instead of in-person. Services are being contracted out to private companies that have different (conflicting) priorities that can undermine things. I know counsellors on placement in IAPT services who feel unsupported and are being asked to pay for their induction/training/supervision in order to have the privilege of working for free. The norm with other organisations is that they provide training and supervision at a minimum in return for your free labour as a trainee.
That is how IAPT is, but most psychology students are aware that IAPT is the only show in town. The OP said they live in London, where some CCGs spend 3 times per head on mental health what they do up north. There are many other routes, but people seem less fussed about them.
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goldencactus
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(Original post by marinade)
That is how IAPT is, but most psychology students are aware that IAPT is the only show in town. The OP said they live in London, where some CCGs spend 3 times per head on mental health what they do up north. There are many other routes, but people seem less fussed about them.
I'm not entirely sure what you're saying, so feel free to clarify if I've misunderstood you.

I'm based in London and those I know in IAPT are too. I don't doubt that it's even more dire in other areas where there's even less funding.
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marinade
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(Original post by goldencactus)
I'm not entirely sure what you're saying, so feel free to clarify if I've misunderstood you.

I'm based in London and those I know in IAPT are too. I don't doubt that it's even more dire in other areas where there's even less funding.
The view of many seems to be that psychology students are naively wanting to go into IAPT to change the world and thinks it's all wonderful.

I think people should enquire and show a bit more imagination about other routes, however I think in many the view about being a PWP stems from what they hear from others and that IAPT is the only show in town. Psychology graduates even work in things they don't want and then PWP is appealling.

I've known people go off and work in IAPT in London and other places. What I said about London was just passing commentary as the OP lives in London. It's simply a fact that compared to many other places a lot of London CCGs are incredibly generously funded. Still vastly underfunded, but if you compare to some CCGs up here it's laughable. In some CCGs up here IAPT has got itself a quite nasty little reputation.
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goldencactus
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(Original post by marinade)
The view of many seems to be that psychology students are naively wanting to go into IAPT to change the world and thinks it's all wonderful.

I think people should enquire and show a bit more imagination about other routes, however I think in many the view about being a PWP stems from what they hear from others and that IAPT is the only show in town. Psychology graduates even work in things they don't want and then PWP is appealling.

I've known people go off and work in IAPT in London and other places. What I said about London was just passing commentary as the OP lives in London. It's simply a fact that compared to many other places a lot of London CCGs are incredibly generously funded. Still vastly underfunded, but if you compare to some CCGs up here it's laughable. In some CCGs up here IAPT has got itself a quite nasty little reputation.
Ah, yeah, I see what you're saying. I agree 100%. I know a lot of counsellors who have struggled to find paid positions (because the NHS and other orgs love to create 'honorary psychotherapist' positions ... I suppose we're supposed to be honoured to have the opportunity to take on many hours of work and huge responsibility for no pay?). Many of them have actually gone into IAPT to train as PWP and find it heartbreaking to be forced to deliver less effective interventions when they have the training to do something less manualised and more tailored to the patient's needs. Depending on how closely managed they are, some actually just break with what they've been told to do and deliver counselling instead of the wellbeing program because they can see the client has already been through the low-intensity program several times with no improvement, or they're totally unsuitable for it. Poor state of affairs. You can see why so many therapists go for private practice instead. Even with all of its various pros and cons it's at least not such a disheartening grind and involves being able to make a living.
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itsmyname
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(Original post by goldencactus)
Hi,

I'm a therapist in my final year of training.

A psychology background is useful in some ways, but counselling/therapy is an entirely different field. It's often not even within the psychology department in many universities.

Technically speaking, counsellor/psychotherapist is not a legally-protected title. So anyone can call themselves a counsellor. In practice, if you want to join a professional body like the BACP, UKCP or NCS, you'll need to take a PG-Dip or a masters. You might decide to go for integrative, psychodynamic, cognitive, or person-centred routes (there are others out there too, gestalt, transpersonal, T.A - it can be worth taking a brief intro course where you'll be introduced to a few different modalities!) I also really recommend taking a counselling skills certificate. They take about a year, and are an excellent way to decide if it's for you before you commit to an expensive PG-Dip/MA/MSC. Years later I still draw on things I learned during that foundation year. It also improves your chances of getting onto some of the really competitive courses, especially in London.

Common routes include taking BACP-accredited or UKCP-accredited course. There are other courses out there too which meet the requirements of these professional bodies, meaning you can join as a member when you finish studying. (Side note: don't confuse course-accreditation with individual-accreditation. Finishing an accredited course will make you qualified, completing additional training to meet higher standards will make you personally 'accredited' - it's optional but many jobs are competitive and ask for it)

Courses involve (typically) skills training, reflective practice, having personal therapy, theoretical study, and placements. The number of clinical hours required ranges from 100 to 500+. 150-450 is the most common. For every 8 hours of clinical practice you'll usually be required to have 1.5 hours of supervision (this increases if it's group supervision rather than 1:1 - most people have group supervision).

You're expected to work for free on your placements and you'll have to pay for personal therapy, so it's not a great situation. The lack of diversity in the profession reflects this reality and it's something we should work towards changing. People are trying - there's a new union for therapists (PCU).

It can be hard to get paid work once qualified, but private practice can be very good especially if you are from a demographic underrepresented in the profession.

IAPT is not the same as counselling. The training is different and PWPs are not eligible for BACP/UKCP or NCS membership, although in many IAPT services alongside the paid PWPs you'll find unpaid trainee counsellors who are on placement. It is where the gov is putting the money, but people I know working in IAPT generally feel very dissatisfied. There's a high turnover among PWPs because they're not given the resources they need to deliver what the patients need, in most cases, and it leads to becoming very stressed. Their funding is constantly being squeezed, and they are pressured to see more patients and get them in and out quickly. As a consequence some services are offering 20-30 min sessions instead of the usual 50-min session, or offering telephone appointments instead of in-person. Services are being contracted out to private companies that have different (conflicting) priorities that can undermine things. I know counsellors on placement in IAPT services who feel unsupported and are being asked to pay for their induction/training/supervision in order to have the privilege of working for free. The norm with other organisations is that they provide training and supervision at a minimum in return for your free labour as a trainee.
Thank you so much for a detailed response. You've cleared up a lot for me. It's a shame that a Psychology Degree, though personally helpful, doesn't get recognised as mine had 2 modules on Counselling Therapies.

I have a few questions if you don't mind me asking them;

1. You've mentioned you're in your final year of training. What sort of training is that?

2. I hadn't realised IAPT wasn't BACP recognised; so essentially with IAPT training you can only work as a PWP within the NHS?

3. Many places offer Levels 2-6 in various counselling certificates, would you recommend them over doing a PG-Dip or Masters

4. Also, where are the jobs? I haven't seen any jobs advertised for role of therapist or counsellor outside of the NHS (which I've seen require IAPT training).

I would love to start my practice independently, however I feel as though it'll be a massive task, like opening up your own business. A risk I'd be willing to take once I am more financially stable.
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Deadwood Jawn
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Nerol
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(Original post by itsmyname)
I got a First Class Honours in Psychology 4 years ago, and have done nothing with it. I'm banging head against the wall seeing where my life has gone, and I don't want to do my boring office job anymore.

Seeing as there's still a massive stigma attached to talking about/seeking psychological help within the BAME community, I want to become a therapist, being BAME myself.

What are my routes? Are there jobs in being a counsellor in London?
Hi there!

I would suggest beginning with a level 3 Counselling Skills course. I completed one last year, it was one evening a week at a local college and ran September to June. This teaches you the basics and is not too time consuming or costly. It will also give you an idea of your skills and if it is something you want to pursue.

If you want to qualify as a counsellor, you then need to complete level 4 training. This is a 2 year course, which involves further training and a counselling placement of around 100 hours. This is generally unpaid, but your college should help you find a suitable placement. This course is more expensive as it involves paying for tuition, clinical supervision and 20 hours of personal counselling (which is usually discounted for trainees).

If you want to keep working and not study full-time, this is probably the best route. You may need to cut down hours for the level 4 course, but it depends on how your placement fits in I guess! I am doing a level 4 qualification online, but this is not BACP accredited, which you generally want after you qualify. My end goal isn't to be a counsellor, though, I just enjoy the training, so it works for me!

Hope this helps!

Loren
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