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Psychology or counselling??? HELP

Buckle in for this confusing ride…

Right so recently I have changed my mind on what I want to do for the rest of my life..

I have studied business since school and now was to move onto either psychology or counselling!

I just don’t understand the routes of these professions and I have lots of questions and I would appreciate the help!!

So I’m in Scotland and want to do either Psychology degree or the HNC and HND in counselling (as it is BACP accredited) however I seen that for psychology degree you would need to do a phd… is this correct??

I would like to know what is the “better” qualification… the psychology degree or the HND in counselling??

I want to be able to help other and talk about their problems but I want to learn a lot too!

If I do the degree in psychology could I still get a good job without the phd etc? If I do the HNC and HND in counselling will I still have good career prospects?

Any other information about anything related would also been so appreciated!!!

Thanks!
Original post by aba3
Buckle in for this confusing ride…

Right so recently I have changed my mind on what I want to do for the rest of my life..

I have studied business since school and now was to move onto either psychology or counselling!

I just don’t understand the routes of these professions and I have lots of questions and I would appreciate the help!!

So I’m in Scotland and want to do either Psychology degree or the HNC and HND in counselling (as it is BACP accredited) however I seen that for psychology degree you would need to do a phd… is this correct??

I would like to know what is the “better” qualification… the psychology degree or the HND in counselling??

I want to be able to help other and talk about their problems but I want to learn a lot too!

If I do the degree in psychology could I still get a good job without the phd etc? If I do the HNC and HND in counselling will I still have good career prospects?

Any other information about anything related would also been so appreciated!!!

Thanks!


As you're based in Scotland, I am a bit hesitant to say that the requirements to go into psychology or counselling would be the same as those in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (English vs Scottish politics, laws, and everything in between).

If the laws and rules are the same (I would check with the health service in Scotland), then a psychology degree at bachelor's level (or master's if you're feeling the itch) would be sufficient to go into counselling and mental health.

If you want to become a counsellor then you should be able to get in with a Level 3 qualification in counselling (from a college, and it's the equivalent level of Highers in Scotland) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. I am not sure whether this is applicable in Scotland.
You can go all the way up to PhD in counselling should you wish, but the requirements is usually a Level 3 recognised qualification in counselling.
As far as I know, counselling isn't a tightly regulated area of work, so whilst you can go in with zero qualifications and call yourself a counsellor it's strongly not recommended for very obvious reasons (there are professional bodies that you can become a member of). Being a member of BACP would likely mean that you need to do CPD continuously, which makes sense and it's strongly recommended. Also being part of a professional body would make you significantly more credible in the counselling space, than say being the lone wolf and winging it.

If you do a degree in counselling, then you would more or less be limiting yourself to counselling. If you do a degree in psychology, then you are open to most fields in psychology (except psychiatry because you need a medical degree for that, and mental health nurse because you will need a specific approved degree in mental health nursing for that).

There is no specific requirement for you to study psychology all the way up to PhD level should you wish not to, but if you want to become a clinical psychologist (see: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-profiles/clinical-psychologist, https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/psychological-therapies/roles/clinical-psychologist), you would need to do a specific PhD in clinical psychology and the entry requirements for this is usually at least an undergrad (or equivalent) in psychology.

A number of mental health professions (not a wide range of careers) tend to ask for an undergrad in psychology, but you can go all the way up to a master's in psychology in the same professions should you wish.

If you already have a degree, I would recommend looking into a psychology conversion course at postgrad level (see: https://www.prospects.ac.uk/jobs-and-work-experience/job-sectors/healthcare/psychology-conversion-courses). This will save you doing another 3/4 years of undergrad and paying everything out of your own pocket (as far as I know, Scottish residents don't get funding for second undergrad degrees). The conversion course will be the equivalent of an undergrad degree in psychology (or a master's depending on the specific degree), and you can use this to pursue a master's or PhD in a psychology related field. Having said that, I am not entirely sure whether the conversion course would be accepted for Scottish postgrad degrees (it should be, but again politics... so I would double check the entry requirements).
I am not sure on the specific requirements for Scottish mental health professions, but if it's the same as for that for the rest of the UK, your psychology degree needs to be accredited by BPS in order for it to be useful in mental health work. If it's not, then you are not able to work in mental health with that specific psychology degree to my knowledge (you should be able to use it to progress into psychology research though, or apply for work that requires any or no degree).

For work in psychotherapy, it gets a bit complicated. For one, you will likely need a degree accredited by a different professional body (don't ask me why). I don't know the specific legal requirements for Scottish jobs in psychotherapy, so you would need to check with the mental health service.

If the following is valid for Scotland (again, it should be), I would look at the mental health professions listed: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/job-categories/healthcare
The main ones are cousellor, psychologist, psychotherapist, and psychological wellbeing practitioner.

I generally have an issue with HNDs and HNCs. For one, they are like the equivalant of half of a degree, so it's very difficult to do anything with them (you can't use them to apply for undergrad degrees and they are usually not enough to progress onto postgrad; most jobs in healthcare will ask for full bacehlor's degrees and not partial degrees). Second, to progress onto a full bachelor's degree, you would need to do a top up degree but these courses are very uncommon and the choices of universities and colleges are very limited.
However, a HNC/HND is counselling is more than enough to go into counselling should you wish.

If the idea of doing a psychology degree interests you, then I recommend using the following to narrow down your search for courses: https://portal.bps.org.uk/Accredited-Courses
Reply 2
Original post by aba3
Buckle in for this confusing ride…

Right so recently I have changed my mind on what I want to do for the rest of my life..

I have studied business since school and now was to move onto either psychology or counselling!

I just don’t understand the routes of these professions and I have lots of questions and I would appreciate the help!!

So I’m in Scotland and want to do either Psychology degree or the HNC and HND in counselling (as it is BACP accredited) however I seen that for psychology degree you would need to do a phd… is this correct??

I would like to know what is the “better” qualification… the psychology degree or the HND in counselling??

I want to be able to help other and talk about their problems but I want to learn a lot too!

If I do the degree in psychology could I still get a good job without the phd etc? If I do the HNC and HND in counselling will I still have good career prospects?

Any other information about anything related would also been so appreciated!!!

Thanks!


I guess the first thing to point out is that if you want a career as a Psychologist, you firstly need a degree in psychology. This needs to be accredited by the BPS and can be either a bachelor degree, or a conversion master's degree. If you want to become a counsellor, you don't need a degree, but do need to complete training up to (at least) a level 4 diploma.

You could do a degree in psychology, which is a purely academic qualification, but will give you the basis to go onto further training if you want to become a psychologist. You are right that you would need to complete training up to doctorate level (e.g., professional doctorate in Clinical Psychology [DClinPsy]). You could do a degree in Psychology and Counselling, which is what I did, and this provided the BPS-accredited psychology degree with a good introduction into counselling.

I would say that a psychology degree opens up more options, as you could go on to further training to work in the field of psychology, or could then go on to train in counselling and/or psychotherapy.

As an example, I did my BSc in Psychology and Counselling, then completed level 3 and 4 counselling qualifications and qualified as a counsellor, and I am now training as a High Intensity CBT Therapist.

I hope this helps, I know it's a bit of a complicated field. And I'm not sure if everything I've said would be the same in Scotland, so do check around. The BPS and BACP websites might be helpful!

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