COUNSELLING PSYCHOLOGY

What is a Counselling Psychologist?

 

"Counselling psychologists deal with a wide range of mental health problems concerning life issues, including bereavement, domestic violence, sexual abuse, traumas and relationship issues.

They understand diagnosis and the medical context to mental health problems and work with the individual’s unique subjective psychological experience to empower their recovery and alleviate distress.

Counselling psychologists are a relatively new breed of professional applied psychologists concerned with the integration of psychological theory and research with therapeutic practice.

The practice of counselling psychology requires a high level of self-awareness and competence in relating the skills and knowledge of personal and interpersonal dynamics to the therapeutic context."

 

BPS 2014

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Copywrite Julie Raworth 2020

 

What makes a Counselling Psychologist different to other therapists and clinicians?

 
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Copywrite Julie Raworth 2020

Biopsychosocial model

As my research shows a CP will consider various elements of the clients world to understand and work with their presenting issue ie;  their current social and environmental context, their past history, any medical issues etc. A CP sees a client as a whole made up of seperate parts that all interact and affect each other, influencing and being influenced by their unconscious processes. 

Link to Msc Research

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Evidence based practice 

Research plays a key part in recognising and validating Counselling Psychology as a credible profession in the medical world. However, some of the approaches typically taken by a CP is hard to measure objectively. 

 

NICE guidelines in the NHS place an emphasis on the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy  (CBT) as it's primary 'talking therapy' treatment for most issues.  This is because CBT is brief and stays focused on a specific, target goal. Therefore outcome can be measured easily through various ongoing questionnaires (Becks inventory of depression, CORE etc). However, a CP can work with various issues and the complexities of the human being, making it hard to measure in terms of efficacy (outcome measure and cost effectiveness). 

Therefore smaller cases of qualiative research becomes crucial in building a picture of effectiveness.

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Assessment and diagnosis

Whilst a CP cannot make a formal diagnosis of any mental illness they are trained in giving a full assessment of a clients needs. From this assessment they will create a case formulation utilising their knowledge of the psychological orientations they are trained in.

 

They may use various questionnaires or measures which will depend on the individual CP and the bias of orientation they work with. They may be more directive in the initial sessions as they try to gain a picture of the clients internal and external world. However, formulation will be mainly based on their first interactions with the client and what they present.

 

They may refer to DSM-IV if they suspect seriours mental illness or neurological conditions, but if they suspect this to be the case they would refer the client for a formal assessment and diagnosis. 

 

It is debated as to whether a diagnosis is helpful for some people and a CP will focus more on whether they can work with what the client presents rather than the label they are given.

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Integrative vs pure

Some therapist and counsellors may train under a specific theory, such as being person-centred or a psychotherapist. Others may train as an integrative therapist where their  overall style incorporates elements of different theories. 

 

A CP trains in specific orientations in their pure form before considering their use in an integrative way. Some therapists may opt to be specific about the orientation they are applying at a given time, or may subtly shift elements in response to the clients needs and complex process. This in itself is a complex issue and debated heavily.

 

As their career and experience develops individual CP's may choose to learn about other and newer, theories which they may start to incorporate into their practice. 

 

TRAINING AND ACCREDITATION

On completion of accredited training chartership is given by the British Psychological Association (BPS) as a Psychologist.

It is only throught registration with the Health professionals Council (HPC) that the title of Counselling Psychologist can be used. 

 

Training as a Counselling Psychologist requires many direct counselling hours with clients as well as the therapists own mandatory personal therapy. An equal emphasis is however placed on a high academic level of learning and applying key theoretical approaches.

In comparison, Clinical Psychology has a stronger stance towards academic and medical diagnostics. However, Counselling Psycholgists are increasingly being recognised as equally credible within the NHS.

 

Due to the Psychological and therefore medical nature of the role it is important for trainees to understand the need for evidence based practice and how this is achieved. They therefore have to complete their own research dissertation to enable them to consider issues around assessing outcome measures. This has implications on the provision of different counselling models within the public and private sectors.

 

Other therapists may have the same level of training, but have focused on a more specialised area such as psychotherapy or integrative therapy. They may then be registered to a different governing body such as United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). 

 

Counsellors will have also had a similar level of intense practical training, but would not need to reach the same academic level. They would gain recognition and be registered with the British  Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). 

Becoming a Counselling Psychologist

 
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ROUTES TO QUALIFICATION

Standard route

To achieve this status therapists would have gained a good degree in Psychology or similar training background followed by a Doctorate in Counselling Psychology.

 

QCOP; BPS Independant route to qualification

Your career and study may mean you are already a long way towards meeting the requirements of accreditation. Therefore it may be more beneficial to follow the indapendant route through the BPS.

 

Working closely with a Co-ordinating supervisor you have the flexibility to create your own training schedule through a combination of courses that meet the requirements of the portfolios and competencies.

Whichever route is taken, standards have increased and students must now train at a doctorate level only.  

For full details of the the QCoP route go to

https://www.bps.org.uk/qualifications/counselling-psychology