Careers Service Occupations

Counselling & Psychotherapy

Counselling and Psychotherapy

About

Counsellors and therapists can work in a range of locations, including hospitals and GP surgeries, schools, universities, in the workplace, addiction agencies, support groups, specialist telephone lines, youth services or self-employed in private practice.

The current NHS mental health workforce comprises approximately 200,000 whole time equivalent (WTE) staff. The Future of the Mental Health Workforce, Centre for Mental Health, 2017

As part of their Five Year Forward View the NHS aims to increase the mental health workforce – including 800 mental health therapists embedded in primary care by March 2018, rising to over 1500 by March 2019.

Careers advice

Industry news

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them on LinkedIn, or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector include:

Find professional bodies outside of the UK on GoinGlobal by selecting ‘Professional and Personal Networking’ on each of the individual country guides.

Making contacts

Making contacts is helpful for success in this sector. Jobs in this field can be gained through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:

  • NCL Spark – our online mentoring platform, with graduates happy to give you advice about the kind of work they do
  • Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn – find out what they did after graduation and contact them for advice

Social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, is useful for making contacts, finding employers and opportunities. Find out more about how to use social media for your career and subscribe to our counselling and psychotherapy Twitter list.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give insight and opportunities to make contacts. Events for this sector include Careers Service events and External Events.

Related sectors

You may also be interested in PsychologyHealthcare and Complementary Therapies. Or see our other Sector-specific pages for more options.

Roles & Skills

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.

For most roles in psychotherapy you will need a postgraduate qualification, such as a master’s or a postgraduate diploma.

You don’t need a degree to train as a counsellor, but the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) do recommend a three stage route which can take three or four years.

Cognitive behavioural therapist

Counsellor

Genetic counsellor

High intensity therapist

Mental health nurse

Play therapist

Primary care graduate mental health worker

Psychological wellbeing practitioner

Psychotherapist

Psychotherapist, child

Skills employers look for

  • excellent communication skills with the ability to build a rapport
  • observation and listening skills
  • a non-judgemental attitude and a sensitive and empathetic approach
  • resilience, patience and tolerance
  • self awareness and a sense of humour
  • a clear understanding of confidentiality, equality and diversity issues

Gaining Experience

Getting into counselling & psychotherapy is extremely competitive. Work experience is invaluable in developing relevant skills and demonstrating your interest and commitment to recruiters.

Finding work experience

In the counselling and psychotherapy sector it is common for offers of placements and work experience to be on an unpaid basis. With work experience often taking place on a voluntary basis for a charity.

Eligible students can apply for a Career Insights Bursary and receive a bursary of up to £500 to help with costs related to undertaking unpaid experience.

Professional bodies and research councils also advertise opportunities. See About for a list of organisations.

Volunteering

Voluntary work for a mental health charity or working with vulnerable people can help you develop relevant skills.

In the North East
UK Wide
  • Counselling helplines such as Relate and Samaritans recruit volunteers - see the NHS directory for specialist helplines
  • Place2Be - charity working inside schools to improve the emotional well-being of children, their families and the whole school community. They offer voluntary work placements for people training to be child counsellors, as well as voluntary fundraising, administrative support and research
  • NHS - NHS trusts offering voluntary experience
  • Do-it - volunteering opportunities

See Volunteering for help with finding opportunities.

Part-time work

Part-time work can help you develop relevant skills. Care assistant roles, for example, can be useful experience for getting into counselling. To search, see Vacancies Online and Finding a part-time job

Specialist recruitment agencies

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) is available to search for recruitment agencies specialising in health and social care.

Finding organisations

Work shadowing with relevant practitioners can help you develop your knowledge of a role and organisation. Find organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact.

Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. 

Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Try the following sites to find organisations to approach:

See Researching Employers for more information on finding companies.

Finding Jobs

Competition is strong, especially for entry-level positions. Use the following resources to find advertised vacancies and also research employers for speculative applications.

Counsellors and therapists can work in a range of locations, look for jobs in hospitals and GP surgeries, schools, universities, addiction agencies, support groups, charities, specialist telephone lines and youth services. 

Professional bodies and research councils also advertise opportunities. See About for a list of organisations.

Vacancy sites

Specialist recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies often advertise graduate and entry-level positions. They also have a wealth of industry knowledge.

Use the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) directory to search for recruitment agencies specialising in health and social care.

Finding organisations

Not all jobs are advertised. You could also approach organisations or find work through networking in the industry.

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. 

Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Try the following sites to find organisations to approach:

See Researching Employers for more information on finding companies.

Find jobs and additional vacancy source websites outside of the UK on GoinGlobal.

Study

For most careers in counselling and psychotherapy, you will need a qualification approved or accredited by the relevant professional body.

Counselling

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) recommend a three stage route to train as a counsellor. This can take three to four years and includes:

Stage 1: Introduction to counselling: a short course of around 8 – 12 weeks on basic counselling skills.
Stage 2: Certificate in counselling skills: provides a deeper understanding of counselling theories, ethics and self-awareness. Typically one year part-time.
Stage 3: Core practitioner training: includes teaching of knowledge based learning, therapeutic competences and research awareness, as well as a 100 hour supervised placement. One year full-time or two years' part-time.

Psychotherapy Roles

For other roles in psychotherapy check entry requirements for each role using the profiles below:

Cognitive behavioural therapist

Genetic counsellor

High intensity therapist

Mental health nurse

Play therapist

Primary care graduate mental health worker

Psychological wellbeing practitioner

Psychotherapist

Psychotherapist, child

Further information

See Further Study for more information on finding, funding and applying for courses or come and talk to us, no appointment is needed.

 

Work for Yourself

Being self-employed or working freelance is common in counselling.

START UP provides information on the range of activities and support available to eligible Newcastle students and graduates interested in developing enterprise skills or starting their own business/working for themselves.

COBRA has factsheets and reports on starting up and running a business. COBRA can only be accessed through a University computer on the Newcastle campus. 

For more information and advice on self-employment, visit Work for Yourself