Psychotherapeutic and Counselling Psychology PsychD

Why choose this course?

Our programme has been running for over 20 years and was the first programme accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) to confer Chartered Counselling Psychology status. Upon successful completion of the programme, you’ll be eligible to apply for Chartered Membership of the BPS and register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a counselling psychologist.

Our programme embraces a pluralistic approach to theory, practice and research. Throughout the three years, you will gain in-depth exposure to the main psychotherapeutic traditions (namely humanistic, psychodynamic and second and third wave cognitive behavioural therapy) and you will be supported with training and supervision provided by established professionals in the field.

During your studies you will benefit from the University’s excellent learning resources and support network, as well as many events that will contribute to your personal and professional development. In addition, our small cohorts mean that you will enjoy a close relationship with staff, who will monitor your development throughout your training on clinical, academic and research levels.

Our team has seven counselling psychologists and psychotherapists, who have a wide range of academic, research and clinical interests. We are also home to a number of visiting lecturers who contribute to the teaching and learning of our trainees. In addition, we are one of the few programmes organising placements for trainees throughout the three years while also following their development on placement with a mid-year placement visit that facilitates the monitoring and development of strong therapeutic skills and professional identity.

What you will study

In line with counselling psychology philosophy and ethos, our programme is firmly rooted in humanistic values and a pluralistic stance to theory and practice.

At the heart of our training’s philosophy lies an interdisciplinary, relational attitude that is grounded in the negotiation of a thoroughly holistic and contextualised understanding of clients’ experience, presenting issues, and concerns.

To assist you in becoming a reflective scientist practitioner, our programme emphasises integration of theory, research and practice and the development of a phenomenological attitude that is characterised by openness, respect, curiosity, critical self-awareness, and a commitment to ethics, equality, diversity and social justice.

Course facts

Qualification Study mode Course length Start date
PsychD Full-time 48 months October
Stag Hill

Professional recognition

British Psychological Society (BPS)
Accredited against the requirements for the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) of the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Health and Care Professions Council, the (HCPC)
Approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) for the purpose of providing eligibility to apply for registration with the HCPC as a practitioner psychologist.

Programme structure

The programme is non-modular and offers no exit awards. It is comprised of five compulsory taught units that are designed to meet the expected competencies as set by the BPS and HCPC. All units are interdependent and need to be understood in relation to one another.

Unit one - Theoretical Models of Therapy

This unit runs throughout the three years. In Year 1, you will be exposed to the philosophical foundations of counselling psychology that include phenomenology, intersubjectivity theories, embodiment, and hermeneutics. You will also gain an in depth understanding of person-centred and existential phenomenological approaches to theory and practice and you will learn ways to formulate your clients’ concerns from these perspectives. Your clinical work will be further assisted by an in-depth and critical understanding of psychological theories of human distress, lifespan development and attachment, as well as skills in conducting (risk) assessment in a variety of clinical settings.

In Year 2, the focus will shift to contemporary psychodynamic theories and their relevance to counselling psychology practice. In Year 3 you will explore second and third wave CBT, which constitutes the working modality of our training.

Unit two - Counselling Psychology and Research

At the heart of this unit lies your development as a reflective scientist practitioner. You will be trained in quantitative and qualitative methodologies and engage with workshops and seminars on how to approach and write your literature review and research proposal. You will be assigned to a research supervisor who will guide you throughout the three years that culminate in the completion of a 30,000 word research project for external examination.

Unit three - Therapeutic Skills Training

This unit is dedicated to your clinical practice and consists of an intensive 4-week training period at the beginning of Year 1 which ensures your readiness to practice at clinical placements. It also includes clinical workshops and on-site group supervision that focuses on the therapeutic modality of each year, as well as specialised workshops that attend to your development and understanding of therapeutic practice and interventions.

Unit four - Counselling Psychology Issues and Competencies

This unit runs in years 2 and 3 and is comprised of specialist workshops and seminars that are designed to meet BPS and HCPC standards and competencies. You will be exposed to seminars that focus on working with diversity, trauma, culture, ethnicity, spirituality, gender and sexuality, as well as working with clients who present with complex issues, learning and physical disabilities and substance misuse. Psychometric theory and testing, ethical and professional guidelines, and clinical settings’ dynamics and issues are also part of the unit’s content. 

Unit five - Personal and Professional Development

Finally, this fifth unit is dedicated to your personal and professional growth. Together with personal therapy, which we highly recommend you continue throughout the three years, you will be part of Personal and Professional Development groups that are facilitated by external group analysts. You will also engage with developmental and experiential workshops that focus on the development of self-awareness, interpersonal skills, understanding and use of therapeutic process issues, and dynamics and leadership.


We are one of the only programmes that will organise placements for you and monitor your progress on placement with mid-year visits. These visits are designed to facilitate the development of your therapeutic skills and support the growth of your professional identity.

Learning and teaching

The programme benefits from a variety of different learning methods to promote personal and professional growth including lectures, seminars, experiential workshops, and video exercises. The assessment of the taught units is designed to the learning outcomes of each component and includes academic essays, clinical practice reports, statistic exams, individual and group presentations, and oral examinations.

Additional costs

There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. 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).

Our students

  • Anna Stitson, BSc Psychology

    "My best moment at Surrey has definitely been completing my placement year. I have developed lots of different professional and personal skills."

    Read more

  • Lucy Todd, BSc Psychology

    "My best moment at Surrey has definitely been my placement year, I grew in confidence so much just in the first few months and have made many friends there."

    Read more

  • Dr Gemima Fitzgerald, PsychD Practitioner Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

    "I loved the placements on my course and the breadth of experience I was able to gain over the three years."

    Read more


  • Find out how our Doctoral College can support your research career

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  • Stay up to date with our latest research news

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  • Explore how our research is making a difference to the world

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Research themes

Our programme contributes to research that focuses on:

  • Health and wellbeing
  • Diversity
  • Equal opportunities
  • Community intervention

In addition, our staff members specialise in a number of areas that lie at the heart of counselling psychology theory and practice, these include:

  • Identity
  • Sexuality
  • Gender
  • Culture
  • Trauma
  • Attachment
  • Emotional regulation
  • Critical psychopathology
  • Continental philosophy and its relevance to therapeutic practice
  • Phenomenology
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Embodiment
  • Temporality

Our academic staff

Our team has seven counselling psychologists and psychotherapists, who have a wide range of academic, research and clinical interests. We are also home to a number of visiting lecturers who contribute to the teaching and learning of our trainees.

Entry requirements


  • A first or 2.1 honours degree in psychology and Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC) from the BPS
  • Sufficient personal maturity, robustness, and stability to cope with the demands of doctoral level studies
  • Satisfactory check by the Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS), formerly known as the Criminal Record Bureau (CRB)


  • Masters Degree in Psychology, Counselling and Psychotherapy, or related field
  • Clinical Experience and/or training in psychotherapy and counselling

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS Academic: 7.0 or above (or equivalent) with 7.0 in each individual category.

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.

Selection process

Closing date for applications: Monday 26 February 2018.

Interview dates: 21-23 March 2018 and 26-28 March 2018.

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.

Applicants are also required to have a atisfactory check by the Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS), formerly known as the Criminal Record Bureau (CRB).

Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time October £9,000 £20,300

For fees payable in 2018/19, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).

Overseas students applying for 2018 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.

View a complete list of all fees for our research programmes.

Funding and studentships

Doctoral College Studentship Award

Supervisor(s) To be confirmed
Application deadline 17 April 2018
Opportunities across all subjects

January applications for 2018 entry now closed

All applications made for a January start date are for 2019 entry exclusively.

Contact us

Admissions enquiries

+44 (0)1483 682 222

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