This document aims to answer the typical questions you might have when considering whether to apply to the DPsych Counselling Psychology at Regent’s. We hope the information below will help you understand the requirements of the programme and support you in your decision. If your question is not answered in our programme information pages on our website or below, please do not hesitate to contact our Head of Programme Dr Isabel Henton.
DPsych Frequently Asked Questions
What qualifications does the DPsych lead to?
Once you have completed the DPsych, you are automatically conferred with eligibility to apply to the HCPC Register of Practitioner Psychologists to work under the legally protected title of Counselling Psychologist. Additionally, you are conferred with eligibility to apply for Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol) status with the British Psychological Society and to apply for Full Membership of the BPS Division of Counselling Psychology. Both these processes involve completion of an application form and payment of a fee.
What is graduate basis for chartership (GBC)?
Graduate basis for chartership (GBC) is a prerequisite for any British Psychological Society accredited training programme in applied psychology that confers eligibility for qualification as a chartered psychologist. It is achieved by completing a BPS accredited bachelor’s degree in psychology. If your original undergraduate degree was not in psychology or did not provide you with GBC, you can complete a master’s level conversion course that will convert your existing qualification to the equivalent honours degree required for GBC. Regent’s offers a conversion MSc in Psychology, details of which can be found here. For further details about GBC or any questions you may have, please visit the BPS website.
What kind of practice experience do I need to apply?
Gaining substantive relevant practice experience is fundamental to entry to the programme, given that it involves working with vulnerable people and beginning practice placements from the outset. Additionally, providers of placements to counselling psychology trainees tend to want to employ appropriately skilled and experienced individuals. For all these reasons, it is important that you take the time to secure sufficient relevant practice experience before applying. We find that applicants who have invested this time tend to be more successful in gaining a place on the programme and in securing a placement in their first year of training.
Relevant counselling or practitioner experience generally refers to face-to-face counselling or therapeutic practice, or other work involving a formal helping role. Such experience may be gained in a variety of contexts, and can include one-to-one work with individuals, group work or both. Ideally, we suggest you gain a year or more experience, however we will consider applicants with experience of less than a year, for example, six months in duration, if solid skills, competence and learning can be evidenced. Through this kind of work, you will gain skills in building a therapeutic relationship with a client. You will also develop your ability to reflect on being in a helping relationship and perhaps on the challenges or ethical issues that can sometimes arise.
Generally, the more psychologically or theoretically driven the practice work, the better, for instance if you have been able to gain experience of working with or being under the supervision of a practitioner psychologist. This is particularly so if your experience is not directly counselling or therapy experience but is, for example, befriending or support work.
Occasionally we will consider applicants who have gained experience in areas that may bear some less direct relevance to counselling, such as human resources or teaching. However, it is typically harder to demonstrate the necessary skills if this is the only experience you have; it is better if you can supplement this experience with some counselling experience or via the completion of a counselling skills course (see below).
Here are some examples of work experience or employment in approximate order of suitability and relevance:
- Voluntary or paid counselling work.
- Clinical work as an assistant psychologist.
- Work as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) in an IAPT setting.
- Mental health work.
- Telephone counselling.
- A voluntary or healthcare role that entails supportive one-to-one work, for example, nursing or nursing assistance, support work, befriending, social work, or occupational therapy.
You might find it helpful to look for relevant experience through the following organisations:
- National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO)
- The Samaritans
- Cruse Bereavement Care
- Anxiety UK
- The Place2Be
Is it necessary to have completed a counselling skills course before applying?
Prior therapeutic training or the completion of a counselling skills course can strengthen your application, so do let us know if you have undertaken this sort of training. However, it is not mandatory to have done a counselling skills course prior to joining the programme, and we are primarily looking for real-world practical experience. A counselling skills course is usually not enough on its own without practical experience, unless it involved working in placements. The completion of a skills course may be a condition of offer to the programme if you have less or insufficient counselling experience.
Can I defer my place if I receive an offer?
You are permitted to defer your place to the subsequent academic year - this deferral is only valid for one academic year. Please be advised that tuition fees and non-refundable deposits are subject to change and so do keep an eye on the programme website for further information. If you choose to defer and you have paid a non-refundable deposit to secure your place, then this deposit will transfer to the next academic year.
Can I apply again if my application is unsuccessful?
Yes, you are welcome to apply to the subsequent academic year; however you cannot apply within the same year. If you have been unsuccessful in your application, we will give you feedback via our Admissions team so that you can improve your application if you decide to apply in the future.
Where can I find information about study visas?
What if I have a criminal conviction?
Applicants are asked to disclose any criminal convictions on their application form, and we may require further details regarding any disclosures to assess your suitability for the programme. Please note this does not mean you will be excluded from being invited for interview or from joining the programme. It is also important to be aware that entry to the programme does preclude the HCPC from assessing your criminal convictions for entry on their register separately. In other words, successful completion of the DPsych confers eligibility to apply for HCPC registration and BPS chartership, but it does not automatically mean that these bodies will confer registration and chartership. Assessments are made on a case-by-case basis. If you have any questions about criminal convictions or previous offences, we advise you to contact the HCPC. You may want to do this before considering applying to the programme. We would also advise you to read the HCPC’s Guidance on Health and Character which contains information on certain offences that may preclude applicants from joining the register.
Will I need a DBS check?
DBS checks are not an entry requirement. However, if you are successful in gaining a place on the programme and do not hold an up to date Enhanced DBS check from your year of entry, we ask you to obtain one. We advise you to contact the BPS who may offer Enhanced DBS checks for a discounted fee. Please visit the BPS website for further information. DBS checks can sometimes take up to eight weeks to be processed, so if one is required, it is best to apply for it as soon as possible.
What kind of practice experience will I gain while training?
Over the course of the DPsych programme, you will have the opportunity to practice within a wide variety of general and specialist placement settings. In choosing placements, we encourage trainees to follow their personal and professional areas of interest, and to gain as much of a breadth and depth of placement experience as possible, in order to generate as wide a range of employment opportunities as possible in the future. Typical placements might include:
- NHS Primary care settings - psychological services within GP practices or in other locations.
- NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) services - IAPT is an umbrella term for a programme of psychological services in the NHS.
- NHS Secondary care settings –general or specialist outpatient settings that liaise with Community Mental Health Teams (or CMHTs). These settings tend to provide therapy for more complex, severe or chronic difficulties.
- Psychotherapy departments - generally offering relatively longer-term therapy, group therapy, systemic psychotherapy and/or psychodynamic psychotherapy.
- Eating disorders services - specialist multi-disciplinary inpatient and outpatient services specialising in the provision of therapy for presenting issues around eating.
- Substance misuse services - multi-disciplinary services that focus upon services for substance misuse and recovery.
- Forensic settings - work with offenders in prisons or other forensic settings.
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – multi-disciplinary services offering a range of support and therapies for children, young people and their families.
- University counselling centres - these can be excellent placements for the early gaining of skills. Brief contracts are often used.
- Third sector (charity) settings and independent psychotherapy organisations – these can be excellent starting points for gaining experience in the early stages of the programme.
- Organisational settings and Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) - time-limited work may address issues of stress, bullying, conflict resolution, time management or misconduct.
Can I work while I train?
The DPsych is full-time. While you are only on campus for a maximum of two days, practice placements, supervision, personal therapy, academic assignments, and research, will quickly fill up the rest of your week. There is little time for paid work outside these tasks and demands. We have found that trainees can struggle to maintain paid work while staying on top of all the training asks of them. This can sometimes have a significant impact on learning, engagement, well-being and ultimately outcomes while on the programme, so we do advise you to consider this issue carefully.
In some circumstances, trainees find paid practice placements, although this tends to happen more often in the second or third year of the programme. Alternatively, it is sometimes possible to use an existing salaried job as a practice placement. If trainees are also employed by their placement provider in another capacity, their work and titles must be clearly delineated and distinguished for clients, colleagues, any other relevant stakeholders, and in any public information about their work, for example online. Where trainees are paid for work that includes their training hours, their title while undertaking these hours must continue to reflect their training status.
Can you recommend any preparatory reading?
Good preparation may come from one or more of the following texts:
- Bor, R., & Watts, M. (Eds.). (2016). The trainee handbook: A guide for counselling & psychotherapy trainees. Sage.
- Douglas, B., Woolfe, R., Strawbridge, S., Kasket, E., & Galbraith, V. (2016). Handbook of counselling psychology (4th ed.). Sage.
- Galbraith, V. (2017). Counselling psychology. Taylor & Francis
- Murphy, D. (Ed.). (2017). Counselling psychology: A textbook for study and practice. Taylor & Francis.
- Orlans, V., & Van Scoyoc, S. (2008). A short introduction to counselling psychology. Sage.