Skip Content

How to train to be a psychotherapist or psychotherapeutic counsellor

The training for psychotherapists is postgraduate masters, or masters-equivalent level specialist training. It is not normally less than four years. The training for psychotherapeutic counsellors is degree level or equivalent.

On this page you will find answers to these questions:

How do I train to be a UKCP psychotherapist or psychotherapeutic counsellor?

The usual requirement is the completion of a masters-level course in psychotherapy or an accredited course in psychotherapeutic counselling which meets the requirements of the training standards of the relevant UKCP college.

UKCP’s minimum training standards documents are available on this website or you can contact the organisational member you are considering for a copy of their training standards.

How long will it take to train?

Psychotherapy training courses leading to UKCP registration normally last four years of taught training, part-time. UKCP membership as a psychotherapist also requires evidence of 450 hours of practice, theory and skills. Membership as a psychotherapetic counsellor normally requires three years of taught training, part-time, in addition to evidence of 450 hours of practice, theory and skills.

If you have already received training from an organisation that is not a member of UKCP, or have worked for some years as a counsellor or psychotherapist, your earlier experience may be taken into account. Ask the UKCP training organisation(s) you have chosen or approach a UKCP accrediting organisation and discuss accredited prior learning (APL) or accredited prior experiential learning (APEL) with them.

How much does it cost?

As with any Master’s level qualification, the cost of training can be considerable. You should take into account the cost of:

  • the training organisation’s fees
  • textbooks
  • personal therapy
  • supervision.

Costs vary between training organisations, please contact them for up-to-date information.

Which training courses are run in my area/when are they run?

Image showing a map of the UK with the locations of UKCP training organisationsThere are training courses run in different parts of the country. Check out our training map to find out where they are.

Many of UKCP’s training organisations offer flexible options. It is worthwhile discussing the alternatives with the training organisation you have chosen, as they may have other potential students interested in a particular pattern of training, and be able to arrange a course to fit your needs.

How do I know which training to choose?

There are different types of psychotherapy so it is worthwhile looking at each to see which you think best fits your view of the world and the way you want to work.

Read more about the different types of psychotherapy on our college pages. You can also learn more about common types of psychotherapy here.

It is also important to consider how convenient the location is, whether the timing of the courses fit in with your lifestyle, how much the training will cost and whether there are flexible payment options.

Probably most important of all, however, is how well you relate to the people providing your training and their way of working. You are thinking of committing yourself to a long-term relationship, so take opportunities to talk to and meet people at the organisation. Many training organisations hold open days and some run introductory courses.

I have a diploma in counselling and a degree in psychology, how do I go about training?

You will need to identify the type of training you are most interested in. Once you have chosen a potential training organisation, you should talk to them about their Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) which could help reduce the time it takes to gain UKCP membership. However, no more than 50 per cent of any training can be achieved through APL or Accreditation of Previous Experiential Learning (APEL).

I have completed my training – how do I become a member?

If you have completed your training with a UKCP organisational member, or are already a member of a UKCP organisation, you can apply to join us online.

Once we have received your completed application form and payment information, we will verify your details with your training organisation. This will usually take around 7-10 working days.

If you trained elsewhere, and are not already a member of a UKCP organisational member, you will need to have your qualifications and experience accredited. You can do this through one of our accrediting organisations. They will compare your professional education and training with UK training standards and assess your skills and experience.

Can I become a UKCP member while I train?

We have membership grades for both students and trainees and welcome new members.

To become a student or trainee member, you must be studying or training with a UKCP training organisation.

Free student membership is available up to the point when you start seeing clients or patients under the supervision of your UKCP organisational member. At that point, you should consider becoming a UKCP trainee member. We are currently running a bursary scheme for all trainee members to help with the cost of training. You can find out more here.

To learn about the benefits of joining UKCP and find out if you are eligible for student or trainee membership, please visit the relevant pages of this website: