Social sciences and religion

Career outlook for psychotherapist

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 listen to people talk about their feelings and encourage them to think about their experiences.

You’d guide them to examine their emotional responses and actions so they can work out how to deal with emotional or relationship problems and become happier.

You would use a variety of techniques and therapies, rather than drugs or physical treatments, with each person.

You would:

  • Encourage people to talk about their experiences so they can explore their problems
  • Analyse past events and behaviours so they can make changes
  • Assess their way of thinking and their feelings
  • Help them develop new ways to cope and deal with life

You could work with adults or children, individually and in groups.

People would sometimes be distressed so you’d need to ask them questions sensitively. You’d need to have the confidence and develop the skills to explore painful issues with clients. It would be important to be non-judgemental and build trust and rapport with a wide range of people.

You might also do training with other professionals such as social workers.

Sometimes people might tell you things that are upsetting but you’d need to be able to separate your own feelings from those of your clients. You would probably get your own support from a mentor at regular supervision sessions.

There are different types of psychotherapy, known as theoretical models or theoretical approaches. These include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Therapeutic counselling
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Hypnotherapy

The approach you use will depend on the clients you work with.

Working conditions


You would usually work between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, although private therapy sessions may take place outside of these hours to fit in with your clients' working times. Part-time hours are often possible.


A session will last from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on what you agree with the client. This work can be emotionally challenging. However, you are likely to have support from a mentor through regular supervision sessions.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Supporting
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Researching
  • Empathising
  • Social conscience
  • Attention to detail
  • Analysing
  • Understanding

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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.


Most psychotherapists are graduates who have experience as medical doctors, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers or academics.

You would need an honours degree (SCQF level 10) in a relevant subject such as psychology, social work or medicine, and a postgraduate qualification in psychotherapy (SCQF level 11).

To enter a psychology degree requires minimum of Highers at BBC and selection of Nationals or equivalent.

Courses must be approved by one of these organisations:

  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
  • UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • British Psychoanalytical Council (BPC)
  • Council of Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA).

Once you have graduated, then membership of one of the psychotherapy professional organisations and registration on an approved psychotherapist database is recommended.

If you study a BACP-accredited course, it leads to membership and entry to the register on the approved psychotherapists’ database. 

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most courses)
  • Maths (required by most courses)
  • Social studies (required by most courses)
  • Science (required by most courses)

Modern languages and computer science are also required by some universities.