Counselling psychologist

Social sciences and religion

Career outlook for counselling psychologist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would help people who have had difficult experiences or mental health issues to understand and change their behaviour for the better.

You’d combine your understanding of psychological theory and research with therapeutic practice. You’d try to help your patients make changes so they can deal with their issues and hopefully become less distressed.

You would see people who are struggling with very difficult experiences like bereavement, violence or abuse or have problems with relationships or mental health issues and disorders.

You would:

  • talk with a person to find out what has happened to them
  • find out how they feel about it
  • assess their mental health
  • explore other issues for their feelings and responses
  • identify a psychological explanation
  • plan therapy sessions to help them understand their behaviour
  • plan therapy to encourage the person to change the way they act
  • assess the success of the counselling sessions.

You would work with adults or children either individually or in families or groups.

You could work in:

  • hospitals, including psychiatric hospitals
  • GP surgeries
  • private hospitals
  • prisons
  • community healthcare services
  • education support services.

You could also work independently as a consultant.

You would have to deal with people who may be very upset or confused. They may show challenging behaviour and be difficult to work with. You would need to be calm, very patient and have a high level of self-awareness.

Working conditions


You'll usually work office hours of 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday - but you could see patients in the evening or at the weekends. There's also the opportunity for part-time work.


You could work in an office, health centre, school, university, college, hospital or prison. You could even work in a client's home. As clients may be distressed, your work may be emotionally demanding.


You may spend some time travelling to clients.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Reflecting
  • Building relationships
  • Supporting
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Observation
  • Questioning
  • Empathising
  • Developing a plan
  • Motivating others

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Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

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You will need an honours degree (SCQF level 10) accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS) or to complete a conversion course and achieve a Society-accredited doctorate in Counselling Psychology or the Society’s Qualification in Counselling Psychology.

To enter a psychology or behavioural studies degree (SCQF level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of three Highers at BBC or above.

To enter a postgraduate (SCQF level 11) usually requires a relevant honours degree.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most courses)
  • Maths (required by most courses) 
  • Sciences (required by most courses)
  • Computing science
  • Psychology
  • Social science subjects 

You will also need

To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

Once qualified, you will need to register with the Health and Care Profession Council (HCPC). 

Helpful to have

Paid or voluntary work experience.

Once qualified, it may be helpful to become a Chartered member of British Psychological Society (BPS) or become a member of the Division of Health Psychology.