Psychodynamic Counselling

Staff member? Login here

Course overview
(MA) Master of Arts
Psychodynamic Counselling
University of Essex
University of Essex
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
MA C89D24

Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

  • A diploma or equivalent training in counselling.
  • A qualification in counselling from a different orientation or with a different age-group.
  • BA Therapeutic Communication and Therapeutic Organisations.
  • With your online application you must submit a personal statement; this should detail the reasons for wanting to study the course, including any relevant experience (work or voluntary) that may support your application.

    You must also have a satisfactory enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check (including child and adult barred list check) and a Occupational Health Check - both of these are organised by the University.

    A satisfactory Overseas Criminal Record Check/Local Police Certificate is also required, in addition to a DBS check, where you have lived outside of the UK in the last 5 years for 6 months or more.

    IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

    If English isn’t your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5.

    If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

    Additional Notes

    The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

    Course qualifiers


    Rules of assessment

    Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

    Additional notes

    Please refer to the full time version of this course for information on Core and Compulsory modules.

    External examiners

    Dr Anne Elizabeth Worthington

    Senior Lecturer

    Middlesex University

    External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

    eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 27 January 2020 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


    Core You must take this module.
    You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
    Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
    You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
    Compulsory You must take this module.
    There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
    Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
    There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
    Optional You can choose which module to study.
    There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

    Year 1 - 2019/20

    Exit Award Status
    Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
    01 PA961-7-AU Psychodynamic Theory and Practice 1 Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
    02 PA963-7-SP Psychodynamic Theory and Practice 2 Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
    03 PA967-7-FY Personal Development Core 15 Core Core
    04 PA965-7-SU Applications of Research to Psychodynamic Practice Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory
    05 PA968-7-FY Professional Development 1 Core 15 Core Core

    Year 2 - 2020/21

    Exit Award Status
    Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
    01 PA985-7-FY or PA984-7-FY Core with Options 45 Core with Options Core with Options
    02 PA964-7-FY Advanced Counselling Theory and Practice Compulsory 30 Compulsory Compulsory
    03 PA969-7-FY Professional Development 2 Core 15 Core Core
    04 PA966-7-FY Different Approaches Compulsory 15 Compulsory Compulsory

    Exit awards

    A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

    Programme aims

    This programme will build on the knowledge and expertise acquired in the BA Thereapeutic Communication and Therapeutic Organisations or Graduate Diploma. It aims to provide a theoretical and practical training in clinical psychodynamic counselling with children and adolescents sufficient for professional practice in community and other settings. It aims to offer the training component sufficient for accreditation by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. It aims to provide the opportunity for personal and professional development sufficient to support professional practice and conduct as a psychodynamic practitioner. It will further students’ knowledge of psychodynamic theory and practice, extend their awareness of may commonly encountered issues and problems of potential clients and introduce them to the applications of research in the field. It will provide in depth understanding of the counsellor’s role and an appreciation of how counselling fits into the wider provision of therapeutic and care services for their clients. Through a supervised placement it will enable the student to acquire sufficient experience to complete a training qualification as required by the BACP.

    Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

    On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

    A: Knowledge and understanding

    A1: To understand the key theoretical ideas underpinning psychodynamic counselling practice

    A2: To understand the role of the counsellor

    A3: To develop the capacity to be reflective about oneself, the counselling relationship and the workplace, and to learn from a group relations experience

    A4: To develop the capacity to apply psychodynamic principles and techniques in individual counselling

    A5: To understand key areas of difficulty in clients, their presentation and origins

    A6: To understand how reseach informs practice

    A7: To conduct independent study into a topic of the student's own choice

    A8: To understand how the efficacy of interventions can be measured

    Learning methods

    Reading and theoretical seminars
    Clinical seminars
    Workshops on practice issues
    Practice supervision (provided by outside supervisors)
    Experience of a group relations conference Independent study

    Assessment methods

    Essays, dissertation, case study, reflective report
    Supervisor’s report (pass or fail)

    B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

    B1: To become more familiar with and be able to apply with accuracy psychodynamic concepts describing relationships, communictions and clinical interactions

    B2: To be familiar with common symptomatic presentations and developmental issues likely to be encountered in counselling practice

    B3: To develop further the capacity for reflective practice so as to be able to operate as a thoughtful practitioner

    B4: To be able to describe in psychodynamic terms the impact of the course on the student, the impact of the institution on the work and on the clients, and to learn how psychodynamic counselling impacts on the individual

    B5: To learn the fundamentals of psychodynamic counselling practice and to be able to take up the role effectively on placement

    B6: To be able to understand and utilise research thinking in relation to psychodynamic counselling (Different Approaches)

    B7: To be able to understand other approaches and to appreciate where psychodynamic counselling fits in a range of provision (Clinical dissertation)

    B8: To identify an area of interest, to conduct an independent in-depth exploration and develop independent understanding of the subject of choice

    B9: To understand how psychodynamic thinking and techniques apply in clinical practice

    Learning methods

    Theoretical seminars
    Clinical seminars
    Experiential learning (eg group relations)
    Some practice workshops. Students will undertake their own therapy/ counselling which will provide a further kind of learning

    Assessment methods

    Essays, Case Study and Dissertation

    C: Practical skills

    C1: To recognise and describe accurately using psychodynamic terminology client presentations and clinical interactions

    C2: To be able to adopt a psychodynamic stance in clinical work, fully taking up the role of psychodynamic practitioner

    C3: To be able to use psychodynamic, reflective skills in analysing their own and others' impact on each other.

    C4: To carry out psychodynamic work with a range of clients under supervision

    C5: To be able to conduct a critical analysis of research papers

    C6: To be able to use simple outcome measures (Clinical Dissertation)

    C7: To bring to fruition a piece of independent study applying psychodynamic thinking to an area of clinical experience. (Application of Research to Psychodynamic Practice)

    Learning methods

    Theoretical seminars
    Clinical seminars
    Group relations conference
    Supervised clinical placement
    Independent study.

    Assessment methods

    Supervisor’s report
    Essays, case study and dissertation

    D: Key skills

    D1: To communicate effectively with colleagues and with clients and to manage role and authority effectively

    D2: To use e-mail, Moodle and electronic submission of assessed work.

    D3: Ability to understand basic outcome measures

    D4: To address client issues psychodynamically, to use psychodynamic thinking in their interactions with colleagues. To decide on specific topic for dissertation and to manage independent study

    D5: To work effectively in an institutional setting, in which collaboration is the basic aim as well as therapeutic process. To manage the role of counsellor in relation to colleagues from other professions. To maintain the psychodynamic counselling perspective in non-clinical encounters

    D6: To work independently, and to learn through the practice, which is at the heart of the programme.

    Learning methods

    Theoretical seminars
    Clinical seminars
    Group relations conference
    Supervised clinical placement
    Independent study.

    Assessment methods

    Supervisor’s report
    Essays, case study and dissertation


    The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

    The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

    Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: