Search type

School of Environment, Education and Development

Arthur Lewis and Humanities Bridgeford Street Buildings
PD Counselling Psychology
Professional training for psychologists aiming for a career in counselling psychology.

PD Counselling Psychology / Programme details

Year of entry: 2018

Programme description

'The course has provided incredible theoretical, practical and personal learning' (DCounsPsych student, 2016)

'I feel well-held as an individual going through what is a long-haul commitment, and our year groups likewise seem well-cared for and nurtured as working groups' (DCounsPsych student, 2016)

Trainees and stakeholders feel very well supported by the programme team. They have found that the programme team have given them high quality guidance, support and feedback on all aspects of the programme (British Psychological Society Partnership and Accreditation Team, 2015)

The Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology at the University of Manchester is the only Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and British Psychological Society (BPS) approved Doctoral training in Counselling Psychology currently situated at a Russell Group University.

The course offers a professional training in Counselling Psychology and has four major components. These are:

(1) The development of appropriate theoretical knowledge

(2) The development of research skills

(3) The development of therapeutic practice skills

(4) An emphasis upon personal development

We have small cohorts of between 9-12 students a year and we work closely with our trainees to support their development as reflexive scientist-practitioners. Throughout the programme trainees will be introduced in detail to a pluralistic approach of therapy, with a focus on humanistic counselling during the first year and cognitive behavioural therapy in the second. Alongside the assessed units, students will have to complete a minimum of 450 hours of supervised therapeutic practice and 40 hours of personal therapy. The University has a number of placement opportunities available for trainees. We have over 40 links across NHS settings, private health care services, educational settings and third sector organisations, working with a range of client groups. Furthermore, the programme will support individuals to utilise existing work places where they are presently delivering therapeutic work (placements must comply with HCPC and University standards).

The staff team working on the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology at Manchester are all psychologists who are active in the fields of both research and clinical practice in counselling psychology. In terms of clinical practice their work is ongoing within NHS, private health care and third sector settings. Their training backgrounds include skills in humanistic therapies, cognitive-behaviour therapy, EMDR, and psychodynamic group analytic approaches. Staff members publish their research and write widely in the fields of counselling, counselling psychology, psychotherapy, applied psychology and education, including exploring critical and methodological innovations between psychotherapy and education. In recent years they have been successful in receiving research funding to conduct work looking at topics such as how wellbeing is supported in educational settings, online therapeutic approaches, and the impact of austerity measures on the wellbeing and education of children and families. Drs Terry Hanley and Laura Winter have recently edited the 4th edition of the well-known  SAGE Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy  . The staff team also have excellent connections within the community of counselling psychology in the UK, as well as strong local links with voluntary sector organisations working around mental health provision for disadvantaged and minoritised populations. For example, Dr Terry Hanley was Research Lead for the Division of Counselling Psychology and Editor of Counselling Psychology Review  and Dr Laura Winter leads on the division's  Social Justice Networking and Special Interest Group.  In the wider therapeutic fields, Dr Tony Parnell is a member of the BABCP, an EMDR therapist and is a Registered Applied Psychology Practice Supervisor (RAPPS) with the BPS, and Professor Erica Burman is registered with the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapists (UKCP), via the Institute of Group Analysis, as a Group Analyst.

Pease see the following resources for more information:


Ultimately students completing this course will be equipped as competent Counselling Psychologists who are eligible to apply for HCPC registration and BPS chartered status. The course is full time and consists of three days contact with the University for the first two years, and one day in the third year.

Teaching and learning

Current staff team

Programme Director:

Dr Terry Hanley

Core staff:

Professor Erica Burman

Dr Tony Parnell

Dr Laura Winter  

Furthermore we have significant links with the local counselling psychology and counselling networks and inputs are often provided by specialists who are external to the University.

Programme content for year 1

Year 1

In the first year of the programme training focuses on the following areas:

  • Core professional skills and ethical practice
  • Humanistic counselling (Bugental, 1964; Rogers, 1957; Hanley, Scott & Winter, 2016). This includes input on humanistic psychology, person-centred counselling, and humanistic approaches such as Gestalt therapy
  • Integrative therapeutic practice, specifically looking at the Pluralistic Framework (Cooper & McLeod, 2012) and common factors approaches
  • Core research skills training, including both quantitative and qualitative methods.
  • An introduction to therapeutic modalities: working with couples, families, groups, and communities

Joint year 1 and 2 sessions focus on:

  • Psychopathology
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychopharmacology

Programme content for year 2

In the second year of the programme training focuses on the following areas:

  • Cognitive behaviour therapy. This includes input on second wave CBT (Beck, 1979) and more recent cognitive-behavioural therapeutic approaches, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (Hayes, Stroshal & Wilson, 2012) and Schema Therapy (Young, Klosko & Weishaar, 2003)
  • Revisiting integrative therapeutic practice and the pluralistic framework
  • An introduction to lifespan developing and working with children and young people, working age and older adults.
  • Working with diversity and difference in counselling psychology. This includes teaching on social justice in counselling psychology (Cutts, 2013; Winter & Hanley, 2015). Other inputs explore elements of diversity such as ethnicity and culture, spirituality, disability, and social class.
  • Continued individual and group research supervision

Programme content for year 3

In the third year of the programme training focuses on the following areas:

  • Combined input with Group Analysis North, which focuses on a psychodynamic group therapeutic approach
  • Continued individual and group research supervision

Joint year 1, 2 and 3 case discussion sessions are also held on Friday mornings across all three years of the programme. This space allows trainees to share experiences and learn across the cohorts.

Programme unit details

Teaching methods 

There is a large emphasis on experiential learning and case reflection in the programme. Professional input combines larger group seminars with smaller workshop based activities. Inputs are facilitated by the core staff team, other University staff, and professionals with expertise in specific areas. 

Throughout the programme trainees have an allocated course tutor, with whom they can arrange tutorials and meetings. Trainees are also supported by the wider programme staff team and their primary and secondary research supervisors. A significant amount of learning also occurs whilst on placement and trainees are supported here by placement practice educators and placement practice supervisors.


We utilise a range of assessment methods on the course. This includes assessment of:

  • videoed therapeutic skills work
  • written theoretical assignments, research papers and process reports
  • research poster presentations to peers on the programme
  • Students' practice portfolios (we ask that targets of 50 hours, 250* hours and 450* hours of therapeutic practice are met across the three years of the programme).
  • A 50,000 word thesis in the final year of studies.

Students also present their research work at a conference during their time on the course.

*Please note these are cumulative totals including the previous years.


In addition to successfully completing academic assignments, throughout Years 1 to 3, students will also have to satisfy progression panels related to their therapeutic practice and research. Only those successfully completing all components will be allowed to progress to the next year of study. Where students are unable to progress at the end of the second year of the programme, an exit award of M.Phil. Psychology of Counselling will be awarded on completion of a dissertation containing their assessed research papers from the first two years of the programme. This will be presented alongside documentary evidence of supervised practice and personal therapy.  Students will also need to explain the context and implications of their work to the development of the discipline of counselling psychology and themselves as a researcher.  Please note: this exit award will not provide the necessary training for registration with the HCPC or entry onto the register of Chartered Psychologists.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service.