Practitioner Doctorate in Psychotherapeutic and Counselling Psychology PsychD

Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember.

Involve me, and I will understand.

Confucius Chinese thinker and philosopher

Why choose this course?

The practitioner doctorate in psychotherapeutic and counselling psychology trains high-calibre professionals who have a passion for the philosophical and epistemological foundations of the Reflective Scientist Practitioner identity and who believe in the importance of making a significant contribution to the field.

The programme is embedded within the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences (FHMS) that promotes an international, interdisciplinary and pluralistic attitude evident in the applied strengths of the School when it comes to research and clinical practice.

Moreover, the School of Psychology has been the centre for many cross-national studies and has attracted funding from research councils and local and national government departments, such as ESF, Defra, the MoD, the Home Office, the Environment Agency, the Countryside Agency, Surrey County Council and the EU. As it stands, we are one of the highest ranked Schools in the country for graduates entering employment, and also one of the largest providers of postgraduate training in the UK.

The field of Counselling psychology is an innovative branch of applied psychology concerned with the promotion of psychological well being through a relational understanding of difficulties in living and persons’ subjective experience, values, and meaning as constructed through interactions with the world and other people.

In line with the field’s ethos and philosophical underpinnings to theory and practice, our programme is firmly rooted in phenomenological and humanistic traditions that conceptualise human existence in dynamic, relational, embedded, embodied, and temporal terms.

As such, during the first year you will be exposed to the philosophical underpinning of counselling psychology, which will include seminars on phenomenology and its relevance to the theory and practice of counselling psychology, intersubjectivity, embodiment, and temporality followed by person centred and existential/phenomenological approaches to the theory and practice of counselling psychology.

The second year will expose you to an in depth understanding of contemporary psychodynamic traditions and in year three you will gain a working knowledge of cognitive behavioural approaches that will include both 2nd and 3rd wave theories.

At the heart of this pluralistic attitude lie an emphasis on dialogue, reflexivity, and human relatedness as well as a focus on understanding subjective experience as it emerges out of a relational context that takes into consideration the social, political, economic, spiritual, and historical dimensions of living.

Our practitioner doctorate has been running for over 15 years and is the first training to be accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). Our team comprises of counselling psychologists and psychotherapists who share a passion for the field and its unique place within the wider community of applied psychologies.

Our small cohorts (maximum 15 per year) allow us to ensure a high staff/student ratio and in depth monitoring of trainees development on all aspects of the training including provision and monitoring of clinical placements.

Upon successful completion it confers eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC as a counselling psychologist and BPS for as a chartered psychologist. 

What you will study

The programme enables you to develop:

i) a critical understanding of the ontological and epistemological underpinnings of a number of theories and therapeutic paradigms
ii) a dialogical and reflexive attitude to clinical practice
iii) an ethical stance that respects the otherness of the Other; and a reflective and outward facing identity when it comes to research and its relevance to the field of counselling psychology.

In order to form effective counselling psychology practitioners, we are committed to:

  • Promoting personal awareness and development in the form of Personal and Professional Development Groups (PPD) as well as engagement with Individual Personal Therapy
  • Developing theoretical and psychological knowledge relevant to counselling psychology theory and practice
  • Developing therapeutic skills and providing opportunities for supervised practice
  • Fostering an informed awareness of current professional concerns and debates
  • Developing research knowledge and skills that embrace the Reflective Scientist Practitioner Identity

Time on the programme will be divided into:

i) Two days a week (i.e., Mondays and Tuesdays) dedicated to the taught component of the programme; ii) two days on a clinical placement that is approved by us and that meets HCPC and BPS criteria (usually Wednesdays and Thursdays); and iii) one day of independent study that is dedicated to your research development and research for the empirical project. 

Programme structure and content - years full time

Year one

Introductory bloc - four weeks of everyday attendance.

This initial four weeks are focused on developing your interpersonal skills in the therapeutic domain so that you enter your placement with increased confidence and competence in your ability to engage and develop a therapeutic relationship with clients and develop therapeutic relationships.

Throughout Year one you will take a number of academic and practice-oriented modules, including:

  • Philosophical Foundations of CoP: Phenomenology, Intersubjectivity, Embodiment, and Temporality
  • Therapeutic Approaches: Person Centred and Existential/Phenomenological Theory and Practice
  • Human Distress and Assessment and Formulation of clients’ difficulties in living
  • Therapeutic Skills Training, Practice and Evaluation and Group Supervision Tutorials
  • Life-span Development
  • Development of a Ethical Awareness on all aspects of the training
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
  • Personal and Professional Development Group

Therapeutic practice

You will work with our professional tutors to establish placements that are appropriate to your learning needs and where you will be seeing clients two days a week.


You will be required to submit a systematic and critical literature review (8,000 words) that constitutes the basis of your research endeavour throughout the three years of your training (i.e., up to 30,000 words empirical project that is submitted at the end of your training for external examination).  

Your research development will be carefully monitored by the programme team throughout the three years of the training in the form of research supervision (40 hours in total), research workshops that focus on literature review and research proposal writing, seminars on critical academic writing skills, taught units that focus on qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, and trainee presentations of research proposals in Year 2 for formative feedback prior to assignment submission and viva voce examination.

Please note that access to further support for postgraduate research development (see Research Development Programme) will not always be possible due to programme and clinical placement demands that take precedence. 

When there is no clash in time tables or clinical placement attendance trainees are strongly encouraged to join departmental research development workshops and training. 

Personal development

You will take part in a personal and professional development group with an independent facilitator (i.e., not a member of the programme team). This space is designed to facilitate your personal growth through an exploration and understanding of your modes of relating with your fellow trainees. It also provides a forum where you can engage in dialogue with fellow trainees about professional development and experience of training.

During this year you will also start attending personal psychological therapy, which we strongly recommend you continue throughout your training, as it is an invaluable part of your personal and professional development.

We also recommend that you keep a private, reflective journal that is not seen or assessed by the programme team in order to further facilitate your independent thinking and development in relation to the training and outside of it.

Finally you will engage in professional activities outside of the training, which will include conference attendance and poster presentations as well as knowledge acquired by specialist workshops offered by the BPS.

Years two and three

Throughout year two you will take a number of academic modules, including:

  • A series of seminars focusing on your development as a reflective scientist practitioner;
  • Preparative seminars focusing on your upcoming research proposal (5,000 words) which you will need to present as part of an oral examination;
  • Subsequent research supervision of your project that aims at facilitating your growth in the research domain (see below)
  • Therapeutic Approaches: Psychodynamic Theory and Practice
  • A continuation of year 1 seminars on Counselling Psychology Competencies
  • Therapeutic Skills Development, Practice and Evaluation and Group Supervision Tutorials
  • Personal and Professional Development Group

Therapeutic practice

You will spend two days a week in a psychodynamic therapy placement.

Throughout year three you will take a number of academic modules, including:

  • Therapeutic Approaches: Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy (including ‘second and third wave’ practice)
  • Further attention on Counselling Psychology Competencies with close reference to BPS Standards
  • Therapeutic Skills Development, Practice and Evaluation and Group Supervision
  • Workshop Programmes on various topics relevant to the theory and practice of CoP
  • Personal and Professional Development Group
  • Preparation for final year portfolio submission and oral examination; the Portfolio contains your empirical project of up to 30,000 words and your reflective paper on the development of a CoP identity (7,000 words)

Therapeutic practice

Two days a week are spent in a cognitive-behavioural therapy placement.

Personal development

During the second and third years of your training you will continue attending to your Personal development through writing your reflective journal and attend the personal and professional development group with an independent facilitator (i.e., outside the programme team).

As mentioned we strongly recommend you continue with your personal therapy throughout your training (i.e., beyond the required 40 hours as stipulated by the BPS standards and competencies) and continue your involvement with conferences and workshops. 

Teaching and assessment 


Depending on the aims and learning outcomes of assignments, you will engage with oral and written assessments such as essays, clinical reports, research assignments, videotaped practical exercises and class presentations. 

Our approach

In line with the programme’s philosophy and ethos, dialogue, reflexivity, and personal and professional development will lie at the heart of your training. You will gain a range of experiences that will provide you with the opportunity to identify your strengths as well as areas that need further development.

Feedback will be at the epicentre of your engagement with tutors who will be monitoring, facilitating, and assessing your work and overall progress on the course. This assessment will take the form of oral and written assignments as well as individual and group developmental reviews that focus on your own self-evaluation and monitoring of progress.

Throughout the three years, you will be exposed to a number of theoretical and clinical approaches that will facilitate your development of a counselling psychology identity that integrates the four foundational pillars of any CoP training; theory, practice, research, and personal and professional development. 

The programme provides notable exposure to two main psychotherapeutic traditions – namely the humanistic/existential and psychodynamic approaches to theory and practice. During the final year, you will also engage with 2nd and 3rd wave cognitive behavioural approaches that constitute the working modality of this training and that are fundamentally chosen for marketability and historical reasons.

You will also be exposed, albeit more briefly, to several other models and integrative and eclectic perspectives which will provide you with the opportunity to develop your own personal preferences, as well as understanding of similarities and differences between varying approaches.

Epistemological pluralism and the notion of the reflective scientist practitioner will be at the heart of all academic, clinical and research input that will take the form of workshops, lectures, seminars, research supervision, clinical practice and supervision groups, as well as personal and professional development groups. Finally, irrespectively of the programme’s theoretical modalities, our training is firmly rooted in humanistic values and a phenomenological understanding of (inter)subjective experience and difficulties in living. 

Our facilities

The School of Psychology is a hub of information and support. You will have access to the following facilities:

  • Computing
  • Two computing rooms, one dedicated to postgraduate studies
  • Test library
  • 300 + psychometric tests are available as well as five years of dissertations and theses from all programmes. You will also have access to all on line e-theses submissions
  • Video and audio editing
  • Image and manipulation, interview and telephone recording transcription equipment
  • Observation suite (video and audio recording)
  • Seminar and classrooms
  •  Three fully equipped for multimedia presentations 

Accreditation of prior learning 

We do not offer APL except in the case of trainees who have successfully completed the University of Surrey’s MA Research Methods. In this case, trainees will be exempt from attending the Quantitative Methods Research Unit. 

Trainee placements

We have long-standing relationships with a number of clinical placements in different settings. Our dedicated staff will ensure that you gain sufficient experience in working within the programme’s main theoretical models (i.e., humanistic/existential in Year 1; Psychodynamic in Year 2; and CBT in Year 3) which constitutes the working model of this training. This exposure to different settings and therapeutic modalities will enable you to develop a coherent, integrative, and flexible approach to therapeutic practice.  

To date, trainees have undertaken placements in NHS psychology and psychotherapy departments, CMHTs, organisational settings, child and family services, older adult services and student counselling services, as well as specialised services.

Trainee/graduate publications

Many of our trainees/graduates have published their research. You are encouraged to submit your work for publication and thereby share your insights and findings with other practitioners. Our aim is to produce graduates who can evaluate all forms of psychological research and use it in an informed way to enrich their therapeutic practice, and who can undertake high-quality practice-relevant research to extend the evidence base of the discipline.

Psychology at Surrey

The School of Psychology at the University of Surrey is one of the most active and highly regarded psychology departments in the country. We specialise in applied and policy-oriented teaching and research within a strong theoretical context. The international, interdisciplinary, policy and applied strengths of the School mean that students’ theoretical and methodological research puts them at the cutting edge of the discipline.

We are one of the highest ranked Schools in the country for graduates entering employment, and also one of the largest providers of postgraduate training in the UK.

The School of Psychology has been the centre for many cross-national studies and has attracted funding from research councils and local and national government departments, such as ESF, Defra, the MoD, the Home Office, the Environment Agency, the Countryside Agency, Surrey County Council and the EU.

If you choose to study psychology at the University of Surrey, you will be provided with a combination of opportunities that would be hard to match elsewhere. We offer you a degree that provides a thorough grounding in the theories, methods and practice of contemporary psychology. Our programmes lay particular emphasis on the application of psychology to real-world problems, and also consider issues related to professional practice in preparation for your career as a professional psychologist.

The basis of good postgraduate courses is the research activity of staff, the incorporation of current research programmes in teaching material and a reciprocal relationship between theory development and applied research in everyday contemporary issues. We believe in involving all postgraduate students in the research life of the School through active participation in one of the research groups, by attendance at research seminars and, where possible, an attachment to ongoing research projects.

As a student of the School of Psychology, you will also have access to a number of conferences, seminars and workshops hosted throughout the year.

Career prospects

Psychotherapeutic and counselling psychology is an expanding area of professional applied psychology. Counselling psychologists work in a variety of settings including GP practices, community mental-health teams, clinical psychology departments, voluntary agencies, social services, private practice, higher education, national and international companies/organisations and so on.

Our graduates have been extremely successful in obtaining jobs as counselling psychologists and have established themselves in a range of settings including the NHS, prisons, EAP settings, private companies and independent practices.

  • Assessment and Formulation
  • The Context of Counselling Psychology Practice
  • Group Supervision Tutorials
  • Life-span Development
  • Understanding Human Distress
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
  • Theoretical Models of Therapy (Phenomenological and Humanistic Approaches)
  • Therapeutic Skills Training, Practice and Audit

Our academic staff

Programme team
Dr Elena Manafi
Dr Stelios Gkouskos
Dr Lucy Gorvin
r Lucy Longhurst
Mr Tommi Raisanen
Dr Ben Rumble

Associate tutors
Mr Peter Cockersell
Mr Tony Ambrose
Ms Alexandra Schlotterbeck

Additional costs

There are associated costs with this programme:

  • Commuting (local travel expenses): Unable to specify amount - Students spend two days a week on clinical placement throughout the duration of the programme. Students will be expected to meet the travel/parking costs incurred whilst on these placements, which are predominantly based in the Kent, Surrey, Sussex area with some providers based in South West London.

Professional recognition

Accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS)

The programme is accredited by the British Psychological Society (Division of Counselling Psychology – DCoP) and approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the statutory regulator for practitioner psychologists.

Upon successful completion of the degree, you will be eligible to apply for BPS Chartered Psychology Status – with full membership of the Division of Counselling Psychology – and for registration as a Counselling Psychologist with the HCPC. 

Related research areas

Related departments/schools

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PsychD Full-time 36 months September

Entry Requirements

Deadline for 2017/18 Applications: 10th March 2017

Interview dates: Monday 3rd to Tuesday 11th of April 2017 (excluding the weekend)

  • Essential: A first or 2.1 honours degree in psychology and Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) from the BPS
  • Essential: Sufficient personal maturity, robustness, and stability to cope with the demands of doctoral level studies
  • Essential: Satisfactory check by the Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS), formerly known as the Criminal Record Bureau (CRB)
  • Desirable: Masters Degree in Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy, or related field
  • Desirable: Clinical Experience and/or training in psychotherapy and counselling

Applicants are required to submit a 1,000 word personal statement to reflect on your interest in training as a Counselling Psychologist with special reference to the field's philosophy, values and personal aspirations. Those applications without a personal statement will not be considered.

Contact details for a minimum of two referees should be provided and Admissions will request references directly. Please note, that we must have received responses from both referees by the deadline in order for your application to be considered.

If you foresee this being an issue please contact us at

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS minimum overall: 7.0

IELTS minimum by component: 7.0

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time £8700 £19,500

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/18 only. All fees are subject to annual review.

Overseas students applying for 2017 entry should please note that annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our research programmes

Doctoral College

Our Doctoral College supports researcher excellence and employability across the doctoral and early career stages of the researcher journey.

Find out more

Code of practice for research degrees

Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees.

The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.

Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).