DProf Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling

About the Course

Available Study Modes
Intensive Study, Saturday Weekly or Wednesday - Weekly

Course Description

The Professional Doctorate in Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling is a joint programme between NSPC and Middlesex University.  The DProf programme is both an academic qualification and a professional psychotherapy training. Successful completion of the doctoral programme leads to the award of a DProf degree by Middlesex University. Successful completion of the DProf also qualifies graduates for full membership of the University Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (UPCA) and thus also for the Universities Training College, which confers eligibility for UKCP accreditation as an existential psychotherapist.

The programme comprises three different interconnected strands leading to a well-rounded training both academically and as practitioners. These strands comprise of academic theory, skills training  with substantial period of supervised practice in placement, and a research project culminating in submitting a thesis.  

The philosophy of this programme is existential. It is concerned with the understanding of people’s position in the world and with the clarification of what it means to be alive in the world. The existential paradigm is committed to exploring these questions with a receptive attitude in the search for truth with an open mind and an attitude of wonder. 

The existential philosophy of the school provides a disciplined philosophical framework. With this framework in mind, students will focus on learning and understanding the human predicaments and attending to their clients in a philosophical way. It draws on the work of existential and phenomenological thinkers and on the practice of existential psychotherapy. Existential thinkers avoid restrictive models that categorise or label people.  Instead, they look for the universals that can be observed transculturally. There is no existential personality theory which divides humanity up into types or reduces people to part components. Instead, there is a description of the different levels of experience and existence that people are inevitably confronted with. The teaching and training provided by NSPC incorporates these basic values by recognising that life experience combined with formal academic,  practical professional training and alongside research together  form the four foundations on which students need to build in becoming an accomplished existential psychotherapist.

This programme is designed for four years but can be extended up to eight years.

The course leader is Dr Nancy Hakim Dowek an existential psychotherapist.

Useful link: 



What can you expect?

Year one introduces the key concepts of existential philosophy and existential psychotherapy. It will provide 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 modules introducing different psychotherapy disciplines and you will have the opportunity to practice these. In addition, you will study a module involving an overview of research 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 advanced academic modules. Following two additional research modules, 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 the aims and objectives for this research, the literature review, 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 psychotherapy skills through your placement(s) with the continuous support of Clinical Supervision. You will develop your research through an Advanced Research Seminar and the Research Pilot module. In parallel, you will continue your academic and theoretical education with three academic modules pertaining to different aspects of the therapeutic work.

Year four will continue to provide you with a platform to further develop as a psychotherapist in general and as an existential psychotherapist in particular through your placement(s) with the support of Clinical Supervision. You will take part in three advanced academic seminars 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, you will write your thesis.

Programme of Study

Year 1:  

Academic Modules – Existential Theory and Practice I Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice I Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Theory and Practice 

Practice Modules – practitioner skills I self-development group

Research modules - Overview of Research Methods

By the end of this year you would be expected to achieve the following milestones:

Pass all first-year essays

Finalise Placement and get approval

Submit any RPL claim(s)



Year 2:

Academic Modules – Advanced Existential Philosophy I Critical Psychopathology I Development through the Life Span.

Practical training - Placement work I 3 Clinical Supervision Modules.          

 Research modules - Programme Planning I Qualitative Research Methods I 2 terms of Research Supervision.

By the end of this year you would be expected to achieve the following milestones:

Pass all module assignments

PAP Viva (submitting and presenting research proposal)

150 Clinical Hours and submission of 1st Case Study


Year 3:

Academic modules – Families & Systems I Social, Cultural & Ethical Issues I Gender, sexuality and difference.

Practical training - Placement work I 3 terms of Clinical Supervision Modules.

Research modules - Advanced Research Seminar I RP1 (pilot study) I 3 terms of      Research Supervision.

By the end of this year you would be expected to achieve the following milestones:

Pass all module assignments

At least 3 Terms of Research Supervision

300 Clinical Hours and submission 2nd Case Study


Year 4:

Academic Modules – Existential Supervision Training I Existential Group Training I Leadership Training

Practical training – Placement work I Advanced Placement work I 3 terms of Clinical Supervision modules.

Research – 3 terms of Research Supervision I Mock viva I Final thesis

By the end of this year you would be expected to achieve the following milestones

Pass all module assignments

450 Clinical Hours, of which 10 in advanced placement and Case Study

Submission of final Thesis and Final Viva

Accreditation and Careers

Completion of the full professional doctorate or the MProf (4 years or 3 years of study respectively) together with further placement and supervision at NSPC (up to 450 hours of supervised practice) qualifies graduates to apply for accreditation with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). In addition, the DProf also enables graduates to apply to the supervision recognition scheme of BACP, since the four-year doctoral programme includes one year of supervision and group leadership training. 


Year of course

Modules to be completed in year

Fee payable per year

(if no modules have to be repeated)


8 modules over 3 terms



10 modules over 3 terms








Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

£100 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 modules not in this calculation. Students on doctoral programmes are eligible to apply for Student Finance.

Fees are charged per module as you take them, so costs are spread across each year rather than by an annual lump sum.

If you are on a doctoral course you can apply for a student loan, as you are on a joint course.  You must meet the criteria and have been offered a place, on the doctoral course before applying.  The loan is between you and Middlesex University.  NSPC are not involved in the process.  The loan payment will not cover all the costs for a term.  You may need to pay an additional amount, on average around £600 if you take 3 modules a term.


Entry Requirements

  • A good Bachelor degree in any fields
  • 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) 

Words from Our Graduates

My time at NSPC was challenging, but life affirming and part of a key turning period in my life. One always had a sense that one was at a serious academic institution with high standards that one had to step up to. It opened doors to spheres of knowledge I had had no contact with before. Although I found this very hard for quite a long time, I now see how it sparked a thirst for personal development and experience that has helped me develop a new meaning and purpose for the second half of my working life. I am so grateful for having had this experience and sticking it out to a productive end, or at least stopping off point, before returning for more.

DProf in Existential Psychotherapy & Counselling by Professional Studies, Graduate

I enjoyed my studies at NSPC very much; I liked the international atmosphere, the approach of working with (continental) existential philosophy in a therapeutic context and I found lots of inspiration and friends along the way. I hope to be able to stay in touch with NSPC in some way

DProf in Existential Psychotherapy & Counselling by Professional Studies, Graduate

I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU!

It was an incredible week, full of intense thoughts and feelings which I assume I will begin to unpack in the next few days with my own self-reflection. But I wanted to say thank you.

It was a week that gave me a lot of clarity and introduced me to wonderfully inspiring and intellectually driven staff members.

However, the most notable thing that kept coming up was the feeling of family and warmth from the NSPC staff.

Even through the virtual realm, it was clear that I have entered a family atmosphere, not only through the staff’s warm engagement with us, but also with the wonderful cohort that was chosen.

That is such a nice feeling in addition to feeling at home from a professional/theoretical perspective, which is amazing for me ;)

DProf in Existential Psychotherapy & Counselling by Professional Studies Graduate