Clinical and Counselling Psychology in the UK

Dr Fay Short started out her studies in Psychology as a BSc student at the University of Bangor. After completing a Masters and a PhD, she now lectures at Bangor's School of Psychology whilst researching body representation, teaching and learning, and counselling in high schools. Fay gives us an insight into why is it great to study Clinical and Counselling Psychology in the UK.

Careers in Psychology are diverse and varied, and many undergraduates starting a degree in Psychology can end up on a career path that is quite different from their original plan. This is one of the most exciting things about studying Psychology!

Studying Clinical and Counselling Psychology in the UK

In the UK, your journey will begin with an undergraduate degree in Psychology. This will take a minimum of three years, and should include training in all of the core areas of psychology plus experience conducting your own psychological research. For example, at Bangor University, our undergraduate students learn about research methods and statistics, neuropsychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, behavioural psychology, clinical psychology, and they will complete a research project in a field of their choice in their final year. You must make sure that the British Psychological Society (BPS) accredits your chosen degree, because this means that you will be eligible for graduate membership once you graduate. Graduate membership of the BPS is a prerequisite for many postgraduate courses and careers in Psychology in the UK. After graduating with your undergraduate degree, you will find many different career paths open to you…

If you are passionate about helping others, then you might want to follow the path to become a Clinical or Counselling Psychologist. Clinical and Counselling Psychologists help clients or patients who are experiencing psychological difficulties due to mental health disturbances, head injuries, strokes, etc. To qualify to practice, you must complete a three-year doctorate in either Clinical or Counselling Psychology. These courses are fiercely competitive, so you will usually need a first or high upper second class undergraduate degree in psychology and some experience working with a clinical population to be accepted onto a course.

Social Neuroscience

An alternative route to helping people who are struggling with their mental health is to become a Counsellor, instead of a Counselling Psychologist. These two roles often overlap, but you may find that your work as a Counsellor focuses on supporting those with mild emotional and psychological disturbances, rather than those with significant diagnosed psychological or neurological problems. For this reason, you will also usually find that a Counsellor works on a lower pay band than a Counselling Psychologist. The training to become a Counsellor is usually a one or two-year Masters in Counselling, and you should try to find a course that meets the requirements for membership of a professional body, such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. While these courses are often competitive, there are more Counselling training providers available than Counselling Psychology training providers so you may find it easier to find a course if you have less academic or professional experience. Some students first complete a Masters in Counselling to begin working as a Counsellor, and then return to education at a later point to complete their doctorate in Counselling Psychology.

Clinical Psychology, Counselling Psychology, and Counselling are all extremely rewarding careers. They will give you an opportunity to apply your understanding of psychology to support those with emotional and cognitive difficulties, and this means that you will be working to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

Dr Fay Short 
Reader in Psychology
Deputy Head of School (Teaching and Learning)
Bangor University


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