Counselling psychologist


Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

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

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Listening to people
  • Explaining things
  • Caring for people
  • Being tactful
  • Researching and investigating
  • Planning and organising
  • Making decisions

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


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
  • Geography
  • 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.