DCPsych in Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy

Course Description


This unique counselling psychology programme, with the existential approach as its main modality, is a joint programme with Middlesex University. On successful completion graduates are eligible for BPS accreditation as a Chartered Counselling Psychologist and registration with HCPC as a practitioner psychologist.

At the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, we consider counselling psychology and psychotherapy to be important evolving professions, which have an essential role to play in the future of mental health services.

The Doctorate in Counselling Psychology programme at NSPC will involve helping you to acquire the right qualification and expertise in this field whilst enjoying its interconnections with other mental health professions. This training involves a substantial period of supervised practice, a sound knowledge of underlying theory, and the development of critical research skills. Theory, practice, self-development and research will therefore be intertwined continuously throughout the programme of studies, so as to bring together all the important elements through concerted work in supervised clinical placements and at our training institution.

We value personal maturity greatly and will seek to enable you to draw from your understanding of your life experiences in becoming a practitioner. Indeed, life crises often represent a special opportunity for personal development and NSPC students will be expected to use individual therapy and personal and professional development groups to achieve such reflection on and understanding of their own experiences in light of the theories and practice of counselling psychology and psychotherapy.

The existential philosophy of the school provides a disciplined philosophical framework for this integration. The existential approach does not focus on what has gone wrong in a person’s life, but on how a person may discover a deeper sense of being through the experience of anguish and a sense of meaning through tackling life’s challenges. The teaching and training provided by NSPC incorporates these basic values by recognising that life experience, in addition to formal academic and practical professional training and alongside careful research together form the four foundations on which students need to build in becoming an accomplished existential counselling psychologist and psychotherapist.

NSPC aims to provide its students with every opportunity to work towards professional competence and academic excellence in an integrated way.

The Course Leader is Dr Claire Arnold-Baker, an experienced existential counselling psychologist and psychotherapist who is also the Principal at NSPC. The Deputy Course Leader is Dr Simon Wharne who is also an existential counselling psychologist.

Useful Links:

Why Counselling Psychology?

Programme of Study


The DCPsych programme is made up of three modules and each module consists of individual units.  

Review Stage 1 (Year 1) 

This module aims to prepare and ready students for the commencement of their clinical placement. This preparation comes in the form of individual units (see below) that the student must complete which aim to develop the student’s practitioner, researcher and experiential skills.

Summative Assessment: Viva in which students will demonstrate their preparation and readiness for practice through the learning they have developed through the module units and through their relevant life experiences.

  • Induction to Counselling Psychology Theory and Practice 

This module will enable students to achieve an overall grasp of the profession, and to begin to build an identity as a counselling psychologist to establish a solid foundation on which to build for the rest of the training. 

Summative Portfolio 2000 word Essay

  • Existential Theory and Practice 

The aim of the theory element of the unit is to enable students to gain a fundamental grounding in theories of existential philosophy and phenomenology that underpin existential counselling psychology.

The aim of the practice element is for students to achieve an initial aptitude in applying the principles of phenomenological practice and to become familiar with their roots in existential philosophy. 

Formative presentation and experiential work and summative 2000 word essay.

  • Psychodynamic Theory and Practice 

The aim of the theory is to provide a grounding in traditional and contemporary psychodynamic and psychoanalytic theory through a critical examination of key concepts conceptualised by the main schools and traditions. Both traditional and contemporary views will be explored.  

The aim of the practice part of the unit will be to enable students to apply the key concepts appropriately in different clinical scenarios and to compare their impact to the alternative existential formulations. 

 Formative presentation and experiential work and summative 2000 word essay.

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Theory and Practice 

The theory element of this unit aims to enable students to achieve a grounding in the fundamentals of CBT, from its philosophical and scientific origins, to the current 3rd wave approaches. 

The practice element provides an opportunity for students to achieve a basic aptitude for applying CBT interventions in a range of conditions. 

Formative presentation and experiential work and summative 2000 word essay.

  • Quantitative Research Methods 

This unit will enable students to critically appraise the variety of counting-based research methods that have been developed to make such enquiries. It will further enable students to design, conduct, and critique quantitative studies. 

Formative forum based input and summative 2000 word essay.

  • Critical Reflexive Thinking 

This unit aims to provide students with a theoretical and practical base for critically evaluating the literature and research encountered, as well as providing a critical reflexive thinking framework from which to evaluate their own clinical practice.

Formative forum based input and summative 1000 word Critical Evaluation.

Review Stage 2 (Year 2) 

This module aims to prepare students for the commencing their research project. The module also aims to develop student’s practitioner skills, through theoretical learning and clinical practice. The module comprises of individual units that the student must successfully complete.

Summative Assessment: A viva presentation based on the student’s research proposal will be reviewed by the panel and will also verify that all PSRB requirements have been met for this stage of the programme.

  • Advanced Existential Theory and Practice 

This unit will develop and expand students’ familiarity with the existential approach through continuous questioning of the relevance of philosophy to the practice of psychotherapy and counselling psychology. Students will be exposed to the various philosophers and practitioners on whose work existential therapy is based and consider their pertinence to current day clinical practice, with an emphasis on identifying particular human dilemmas and life issues and learning to work with these creatively. Students will be taught how to apply the philosophical concepts in therapy.

Formative presentation and experiential work and summative 2000 word essay.

  • Social, Cultural and Ethical Issues 

To enable students to understand key principles in the philosophy of ethics, and to apply these in practice by developing an ethical attitude to working with diversity and difference. Students will be able to describe cultural variations and develop their cultural competence in working with others. Students will understand the key terms in social theory and be able to apply these to global and local social organisation and forces.  

Formative forum based input and summative 2000 word essay.

  • Development through the Life Span 

The aim of the unit is to enable students to critically appraise developmental theories, including existential reflections, demonstrating how physical, emotional, cognitive, and social development interact and how theories of development can be applied in practice. 

Formative presentation and summative 2000 word essay.

  • Qualitative Research Methods 

The aim of this unit is to enable students to describe and contrast the main qualitative research methods and to illustrate various types of mixed method combinations. Students will be able to design, conduct, and critique qualitative studies and take into account how individuals interpret experience. 

Formative forum based input and summative 2000 word essay.

  • Placement and Supervision 1 

The aim of this unit is to enable students to develop their therapeutic skills in a variety of placement settings under clinical supervision, thus allowing students to demonstrate their developing professional competence. 

Formative Class input and transcript and summative: Process Report and Evaluation and case study after 150 hours

  • Research Supervision 1 

The aims of the unit are to enable students to design, plan, implement, and complete independent and original research that can be written up as an acceptable programme planning document. To assist the student to monitor their progress on a regular basis. To enable the student to present their work at a Review Stage Viva and make the necessary corrections. 

Summative: Research Supervision Progress Form

  • Research Preparation

The aim of this unit is to enable students to plan their learning and research in relation to their future contribution to their field of practice, through preparing a detailed research proposal. 

Formative forum based input, Summative supervisor registration form, research proposal (8000 words).

Review Stage 3 (Year 3) 

This module aims to develop and advance student’s practitioner and researcher skills to enable them to go forward with their research to Final Viva and also complete the training necessary to gain BPS Chartership and HCPC accreditation. The module comprises of individual units that the student must successfully complete.

Summative Assessment: A viva defence of the student’s research project will be conducted by two examiners, one internal and one external. Before the final viva verification will be given that all units have been completed and passed and that all PSRB requirements have been met.

  • Counselling Psychology Skills, Formulation and Assessment 

This unit aims to enable students to acquire and apply a substantial body of knowledge for assessment, formulation and practice in counselling psychology with a range of clients. It will enable students to communicate to their clients, carers, parents, and colleagues with clarity the evidence basis for the decisions being taken in the programme of this practice. 

Formative presentation and summative 2000 words essay

  • Counselling Psychology Settings and Integration 

The aim of this unit is for students to demonstrate the ability to integrate professional theories with practice in multiple settings where a counselling psychologist might work.

Formative presentation and summative 2000 words essay

  • Critical Psychopathology 

The aim of this unit is to enable students to recognise the characteristics of principal diagnostic categories used in mental health settings, assess risk, increase awareness of the student’s own limitations in practice and be familiar with mechanisms for referring onwards. 

Students will also gain an understanding of the differing applicability and value of diagnoses, the links between diagnosis and treatment, the major critiques of diagnoses, and the criteria used in assessment. 

Formative presentation and summative 2000 words essay

  • Advanced Research Seminar 

The aim of this unit is to enable students to address ethical aspects of their proposed research project. By the end of the unit, students will be able to construct a successful research ethics application.  

Formative forum-based input and Ethics application

  • Placement and Supervision 2 

The aim of this unit is to enable students to develop their therapeutic skills in a variety of placement settings under clinical supervision, building on the work in Placement and Supervision 1, thus allowing students to demonstrate their developing professional competence. 

Formative Class input and transcript and summative: Process Report and Evaluation and case study after 300 hours

  • Research Supervision 2 

To enable students to design, plan, carry out, and complete independent and original research that can be written up as a completed research dissertation through regular monitoring of progress through ethics and the pilot study. 

Summative: Research Supervision Progress Form

  • Part 1 Research Project 

To enable the student to complete part of the requirements of their final dissertation by submitting a document that will be a near final draft of their literature review and intended methods and an analysis of one transcript or an example of practice.

Formative class input and transcript. Research Part 1 Submission (15,000 words).

Review Stage 3 (Year 4) 

  • Existential Supervision Training 

The unit aims to enable students to critically appraise theoretical models and skills to supervise others in the practice of existential psychotherapy. 

Formative experiential and summative 2000 words essay.

  • Existential Group Training 

This unit aims to enable students to critically appraise a range of group psychotherapy approaches and demonstrate their links to existential psychotherapy. Students will apply the work of existential philosophers to develop an existential practice of group psychotherapy and will develop skills in running groups along these lines in a competent and responsible manner.

Formative experiential and summative 2000 words essay.

  • Leadership Training 

This unit aims to enable students to incorporate existential philosophy into their leadership roles leading them to be effective and authentic leaders in their work of supervising other staff, leading and evaluating service designs and implementing service innovations upon graduation. Students will develop their leadership skills and consider how existential concepts can be used in democratic and inspirational leadership. 

Formative presentation and summative 2000 words essay.

  • Preparation for Viva 

This unit aims to prepare students for the successful presentation of their research project at a viva voce examination. It will provide students with the information required in regard to disseminating their work (conferences, books, articles). It will provide students with practical experience of a viva voce examination. 

Preparation dissemination workshop, mock viva and clinical assessment

  • Research Supervision 3 

To enable students to design, plan, carry out, and complete independent and original research and monitor the writing up process for the completed research dissertation through regular monitoring.

Summative: Research Supervision Progress Form

  • Placement and Supervision 3 (advanced) 

The aim of this unit is to enable students to develop their advanced therapeutic skills, where they can also practice some leadership skills, either leading a group, offering supervision or providing training sessions. 

Formative Class input and transcript and summative: Process Report and Evaluation and case study after 450 hours

 It is possible for students on the DCPsych programme, who have had personal therapy with an existential therapist to be able to gain registration as a UKCP psychotherapist on successful completion of the following two additional units: 

  • Families and Systems Therapy (An optional module that can be taken as an extra for UKCP registration) 

The aims of this unit are to provide a thorough grounding in the family and systems perspective on therapy and to show the development of this approach from its inception to the present day. It will enable students to think of individual problems as located in the nexus of the family and to apply this way of looking at issues to their own clinical work.

Formative presentation and summative 2000 words essay.

  • Gender, Sex and Sexuality (An optional module that can be taken as an extra for UKCP registration) 

The aim of this unit is to explore contemporary theories of gender, sex and sexuality recognising the range and complexity of current debates around these topics. These topics will be explored through a cultural, biological and social lens and from a phenomenological perspective.  By the end of the unit students will be able to effectively challenge themselves and others to overcome discriminatory practices around sex, sexuality or gender. 

Formative presentation and summative 2000 words essay.

What can you expect?

Year one introduces the key concepts of existential philosophy and counselling psychology. It will provide you with the opportunity to start building your practitioner skills. You will start with core competencies, and you will gradually be introduced to existential and phenomenological practical work. You will also take part in learning units introducing different counselling psychology disciplines and you will have the opportunity to practice these. Your second modality will be either CBT or Psychodynamic and will be determined by the clinical placement you choose. In addition, you will study a unit on quantitative reserach methods.

Year two provides an opportunity to start building experience in a placement with the support of Clinical Supervision. You will take part in three academic learning units and two additional research units, you will start looking into your research subject and, with the help of your supervisor, you will be able to design an academic proposal for your research. This will consist of choosing the subject of your research and will include it’s aims and objectives, a review of the literature, and your chosen research method. Your proposal will also include your reflection on the process which is an important part of this research project.

Year three will continue to provide the opportunity to add to your counselling psychology skills through your placement(s) with the continuous support of Clinical Supervision. This work will be supported by a further three academic units which are connected to your therapeutic work. You will develop your research through an Advanced Research Seminar and the Research Pilot unit.

Year four will continue to provide you with a platform to further develop as a counselling psychologist through your placement(s) with the support of Clinical Supervision. You will take part in three advanced academic seminars which focus on developing your leadership skills, whilst also concentrating on your research. You will conduct your interviews, redraft your literature review, adapt your research method, analyse your data and conclude your research. Finally, supported by your academic supervisors, complete your thesis.



Accreditation and Careers

The Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy by Professional Studies is a joint programme between NSPC and Middlesex University. It is designed for students who have obtained the Graduate Basis for Chartering of the British Psychological Society. You can view the Middlesex Research Degree Regulations here.

Successful completion of the Professional Doctorate makes you eligible to apply for chartership with the BPS and eligible to apply for registration with the HCPC as a practitioner, counselling psychologist. With a small amount of additional study, it also makes you eligible for registration with the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (UPCA) and the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

While we hope to help you achieve the full doctoral qualification, it is important for you to know that there are a number of exit qualifications to the programme if you were to choose to leave earlier.

The whole list of available exit qualifications is as follows:

· PGCert in Psychology and Psychotherapy

· PGDip in Psychology and Psychotherapy,

· MSc in Psychology and Psychotherapy

· MProf in Psychology and Psychotherapy,

· DCPsych: Doctorate by Professional Studies in Counselling Psychology and Psychotherapy

Please note that if you exit with one of these other qualifications and decide to return to complete a higher qualification, you will have to abandon your previous exit qualification, as Middlesex University will not award two qualifications for the same work.

 



Fees 2023-24

Year of course 

Units to be completed in year 

Fee payable per year  

(if no units have to be repeated) 

9 units over 3 terms 

£10260 

10 units over 3 terms 

£11400 

11 units over 3 terms 

£12540 

10 units over 3 terms 

£11400 

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) 

£400 per submission 

NB: You should also expect to pay for books, personal therapy, student membership of an accrediting organisation, and practice indemnity.  

If you are on the DCPsych and want UKCP accreditation, you will be required to take two additional units not included in this calculation.  

Students on doctoral programmes are eligible to apply for Student Finance through Middlesex University. 

There is a £50 non-refundable application fee for all courses, to cover administrative costs. Applications will only be processed once this has been received.   

A registration Fee of £150 will be paid when you accept your place on the course. This is non- refundable. 

For more detailed financial terms and conditions click here.



Entry Requirements

  • a good Bachelor's Degree in Psychology
  • Graduate basis for chartership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • An introductory course in psychotherapy and counselling such as the Foundation Course offered by the Existential Academy
  • Some counselling practice, either professionally or in a voluntary position, for instance with Childline or the Samaritans
  • Personal suitability for the course to be demonstrated at interview
  • Fluent English (ELTS for study score of 7.0 or TOEFL score of 87)
  • A clear DBS check or equivalent

Currently the number of applications we receive outweighs the number of places available.  Therefore only shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview and will be asked to provide an additional 1500 word research proposal outlining a potential area of research that the applicant is interested in.  Further details will be provided to shortlisted applicants.



How You Study

The minimum length of study is 4 years, with a maximum length of 7 years to complete the programme. Those students who start the programme in the Winter term may have to extend the course by one term. The programme is taught using blended learning. For the first two years (Review Stage 1 and 2), students may participate as distance learners, attending in person on an intensive basis for blocks of study, or as weekly attenders, attending NSPC in London either on a Wednesday for three ten week terms, or weekly on a Saturday. Some of the units may also be studied online with intensive online tutor support. Weekly attenders may also be required to attend some intensives and some online units.

The third and fourth years (Review Stage 3) of the programme are provided by a mixture of 5 day intensive blocks of in person tuition and some online units.

While studying on our programme, you will be actively engaged in theory and practice-based units which take the form of seminars. You will also take supervised clinical placement units, and research units. Each unit is linked to an assessment. We aim to give prompt feedback, and you will progress by gaining a pass. We anticipate that you will be a mature, independent, and experienced learner. There is also an expectation that you will work with varying tutors, supervisors, and learn from your fellow students. You will take some units via Moodle, an online system where you will also upload your assignments and report on your progress, thereby building your personal development-planning portfolio. You will receive formative assessment on your class presentations, forum posts, skills practice, self-reflective essays, research progress, and your clinical placement work. You will receive summative assessment on the degree to which your theory-based assignments meet unit aims and objectives, on the case-studies you submit. Each module is assessed by an end of year viva and your final thesis and viva will represent your final assessment.

MIddlesex University