The Student Room Group

Masters vs Diploma: justifiable impact on opportunities as a self-employed therapist?

My background is in Biology/Neuroscience BSc (Hons) - I’m now training to become a psychotherapist.

Goal is to have a mix of 1:1 clients (classical therapist) and corporate consulting in mental health strategy/in-house coaching (I have 6 yrs experience in the latter).

Thus far I have a degree in biology, am a published neuroscientist, and have a diploma in life coaching & advanced counselling.

Trying to understand what my best next step is:

1.

Diploma(s) in psychotherapy (and a few other areas such as CBT - ie covering more areas of expertise for the same £££ a masters would cost me)

2.

Masters in psychotherapy (I love academia, but I don’t want to go into research - will a masters get me further than diplomas when I’m not going into research? I’ve heard mixed views)


Will I have differing opportunities choosing one over the other? Masters is obv a buzz word, but realistically, will it impact my career opportunities/progression (for someone going down the self-employed route)? Or can diplomas achieve the same thing?


Thx!!!
(edited 1 month ago)
To be taken seriously, as none of the above a protected titles, you are going to need a route that give you registration with one of the major counselling or psychotherapy organisations (BACP, UKCP, BABCP or whatever the main nationally recognised body for that therapy model) if you don't already have that. Good rule of thumb for this is that are these qualifications and organisational membership enough to get you NHS/ University/ statutory employment for that role.

Those are not necessarily masters level qualifications, but will assure you have a sufficient level of training (and supervision which you will also have to fund, and sometimes your own therapy) to do the job. They will also allow you to register with insurance companies, get recognised by social care organisations or get through any HR related hurdles that any major corporation may have.

I appreciate you say you already work in the sector, but just to be clear there really isn't any 'career progression' in private work. It's not like an NHS Clinical Psychologist where you go from Band 6 Trainee then up the ranks to a Band 9 Head of Psychology for a region.You are running a business; you network, make contacts, get known for being good and then do that work. If you do want to spend your money on anything, you may want to do some courses on running your own business as this is where many self employed counsellors and therapists make painful mistakes.
Reply 2
Original post by Lord Asriel
To be taken seriously, as none of the above a protected titles, you are going to need a route that give you registration with one of the major counselling or psychotherapy organisations (BACP, UKCP, BABCP or whatever the main nationally recognised body for that therapy model) if you don't already have that. Good rule of thumb for this is that are these qualifications and organisational membership enough to get you NHS/ University/ statutory employment for that role.

Those are not necessarily masters level qualifications, but will assure you have a sufficient level of training (and supervision which you will also have to fund, and sometimes your own therapy) to do the job. They will also allow you to register with insurance companies, get recognised by social care organisations or get through any HR related hurdles that any major corporation may have.

I appreciate you say you already work in the sector, but just to be clear there really isn't any 'career progression' in private work. It's not like an NHS Clinical Psychologist where you go from Band 6 Trainee then up the ranks to a Band 9 Head of Psychology for a region.You are running a business; you network, make contacts, get known for being good and then do that work. If you do want to spend your money on anything, you may want to do some courses on running your own business as this is where many self employed counsellors and therapists make painful mistakes.

Thank you kindly for the quick response! Appreciated. I’m leaning towards PgDip route (with a BACP accredited body) if I’m honest, so it’s helpful to hear feedback in-line with awarding body being the more important deciding factor vs “masters or dip”. Appreciate latter advice too - have this side covered, so again it’s good to hear advice in-line with my current plan! Thank you :smile:
Original post by Bethanyea
My background is in Biology/Neuroscience BSc (Hons) - I’m now training to become a psychotherapist.

Goal is to have a mix of 1:1 clients (classical therapist) and corporate consulting in mental health strategy/in-house coaching (I have 6 yrs experience in the latter).

Thus far I have a degree in biology, am a published neuroscientist, and have a diploma in life coaching & advanced counselling.

Trying to understand what my best next step is:

1.

Diploma(s) in psychotherapy (and a few other areas such as CBT - ie covering more areas of expertise for the same £££ a masters would cost me)

2.

Masters in psychotherapy (I love academia, but I don’t want to go into research - will a masters get me further than diplomas when I’m not going into research? I’ve heard mixed views)


Will I have differing opportunities choosing one over the other? Masters is obv a buzz word, but realistically, will it impact my career opportunities/progression (for someone going down the self-employed route)? Or can diplomas achieve the same thing?


Thx!!!

There is no technical answer to this, other than the very good advice above that accreditation in whatever is key.

You will be selling yourself to the public, not having them sent to you if you were in the NHS. So you have to view it from the perspective of a prospective client - will they be more inclined to choose, all other things being equal, someone with a Diploma or someone with a Masters?

On the face of it, as Diploma isn't a protected qualification title and a PG Diploma is usually awarded for failing a Masters, a Masters degree is much more 'sellable' as a qualification. But will your clients think like that?
Reply 4
Original post by threeportdrift
There is no technical answer to this, other than the very good advice above that accreditation in whatever is key.

You will be selling yourself to the public, not having them sent to you if you were in the NHS. So you have to view it from the perspective of a prospective client - will they be more inclined to choose, all other things being equal, someone with a Diploma or someone with a Masters?

On the face of it, as Diploma isn't a protected qualification title and a PG Diploma is usually awarded for failing a Masters, a Masters degree is much more 'sellable' as a qualification. But will your clients think like that?

the exact question I am positing! As a laymen, are clients really distinguishing between MSc/PGDip/PGCert etc? I guess there are those who are more academically-minded, and therefore do and those who are new to the world of therapy/unfamiliar with the difference between qualifications, where this is less influential.

I’ve not come across PG Dips being awarded for failing a masters however .. is this fact or conjecture / more a shared opinion by academics?

Greatly appreciate your opinion/advice! Thank you!!
Original post by Bethanyea
the exact question I am positing! As a laymen, are clients really distinguishing between MSc/PGDip/PGCert etc? I guess there are those who are more academically-minded, and therefore do and those who are new to the world of therapy/unfamiliar with the difference between qualifications, where this is less influential.

I’ve not come across PG Dips being awarded for failing a masters however .. is this fact or conjecture / more a shared opinion by academics?

Greatly appreciate your opinion/advice! Thank you!!

In my clinical experience as a service lead, supervisor and clinician service users tend not worry about PGDip or Msc distinctions as for most the postgraduate world isn't really on their radar (although your mileage may vary).

The main perception difference, especially in the heirarchical NHS but also for the general public, tends to be if the person has a doctoral title or not. As a clin psy I have that and can defintely observe the differences in how you are treated within a multidisciplinary team, but also with patients. I don't necessarily agree with this as I would much rather have a veteran specialist counsellor on my squad than a fresh wet behind the ears Band 7 clinical psychologist or rookie psychiatrist with a doctor title but that's just life.
Reply 6
Original post by Lord Asriel
In my clinical experience as a service lead, supervisor and clinician service users tend not worry about PGDip or Msc distinctions as for most the postgraduate world isn't really on their radar (although your mileage may vary).

The main perception difference, especially in the heirarchical NHS but also for the general public, tends to be if the person has a doctoral title or not. As a clin psy I have that and can defintely observe the differences in how you are treated within a multidisciplinary team, but also with patients. I don't necessarily agree with this as I would much rather have a veteran specialist counsellor on my squad than a fresh wet behind the ears Band 7 clinical psychologist or rookie psychiatrist with a doctor title but that's just life.

Can’t tell you how much I appreciate your honesty here - the latter really hits home, and is exactly why I’m finding this such a hard decision to make. Appreciate knowing that in reality there is distinction between treatment by patients based on your academic status/background - and also your personal opinion on the latter point! I think this is one of those things I can debate forever more, but should go with (i) my gut and what I personally will get the most out of, that (ii) also somewhat plays the game with ensuring at the very least the most prestigious governing body (eg BACP) accredits.

Some food for thought - I thank you kindly!

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