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Psychodynamic Counselling (4 year)

Course overview

(MA) Master of Arts
Psychodynamic Counselling (4 year)
University of Essex
University of Essex
Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies
Colchester Campus
MA C89D48

External Examiners

Dr Anne Elizabeth Worthington
Middlesex University
Senior Lecturer

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 21 October 2019 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
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
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 PA217-5-AU Psychodynamic Concepts Compulsory 15
02 PA218-5-SP Personality Development Compulsory 15
03 PA216-6-FY Psychodynamic Observation for Counsellors Compulsory 15
04 PA221-6-FY Personal Development Core 15

Year 2 - 2020/21

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 PA256-6-AU The counselling relationship and counselling techniques Core 30
02 PA215-6-SU Counselling Contexts Compulsory 15
03 PA257-6-SP Group and Organisational Dynamics for Counsellors Compulsory 15

Year 2 - 2021/22

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 3 - 2022/23

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 PA985-7-FY or PA984-7-FY Compulsory with Options 45 Compulsory with Options Compulsory 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: