DCounsPsych Counselling Psychology / Programme details

Year of entry: 2024

Programme description

The Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology (DCounsPsych) at The University of Manchester is the only Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and British Psychological Society (BPS)-approved doctoral programme in counselling psychology offered by a Russell Group university. The programme has four major components:

  • the development of appropriate theoretical knowledge;
  • the development of research skills;
  • the development of therapeutic practice skills;
  • and an emphasis upon personal development.

Throughout the programme, you will be introduced in detail to a pluralistic approach of therapy, with a focus on humanistic counselling during the first year and cognitive behavioural therapy in the second.

Alongside assessed units, you will complete a minimum of 450 hours' supervised therapeutic practice and 40 hours' personal therapy.

All members of staff are psychologists who are active in the fields of both research and clinical practice in counselling psychology.

In terms of clinical practice, their work is ongoing within NHS, private healthcare and third-sector settings.

Their training backgrounds include skills in humanistic therapies, cognitive-behaviour therapy, and group analytic approaches.

Staff members publish their research and write widely in the fields of counselling, counselling psychology, psychotherapy, applied psychology, and education, including exploring critical and methodological innovations between psychotherapy and education. For instance, Professor Terry Hanley  and Dr Laura Winter  have recently edited the fourth edition of the well-known SAGE Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy.

In recent years they have been successful in receiving research funding to conduct work looking at topics such as how wellbeing is supported in educational settings, online therapeutic approaches, and the impact of austerity measures on the wellbeing and education of children and families.

The team also has excellent connections within the community of counselling psychology in the UK, as well as strong local links with voluntary sector organisations working around mental health provision for disadvantaged and minority populations.

Some examples include:

Dr Laura Winter previously established the division's Social Justice Networking and Special Interest Group, which she led until 2018 and is a member of the Training Committee in Counselling Psychology for the BPS.

Professor Terry Hanley is a Fellow of the BPS and was the Research Lead for the Division of Counselling Psychology and Editor of Counselling Psychology Review.

Dr Jo Shuttleworth is an HCPC registered and Chartered Counselling Psychology, specialising in the field of trauma.

Dr Ishba Rehman is a HCPC registered, BPS Chartered Counselling Psychologist currently working within the NHS and third sector organisations for eating disorders and sexual trauma.

In the wider therapeutic fields, Professor Erica Burman  is registered with the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapists (UKCP), via the Institute of Group Analysis, as a Group Analyst.


You will, upon completion, be equipped as a competent counselling psychologist who is eligible to apply for HCPC registration and BPS chartered status.

Special features

Education has been a discipline of study at Manchester since 1890.

Our Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology is the only Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and British Psychological Society (BPS)-approved doctoral programme in counselling psychology offered by a Russell Group university.

Staff working on the Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology conduct internationally recognised and world-leading research in the area of 'Education and Therapy', and they have a particular strength in research exploring the intersections between counselling psychology, inequality/social justice, and humanistic psychology and education.

Please see staff profiles for more information.

As a doctoral candidate in the Manchester Institute of Education , you'll also be part of the School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED), a unique interdisciplinary collaboration between the disciplines of Architecture, Education, Geography, International Development and Planning, Property and Environmental Management.

What unites us is a shared commitment to highlight and address the uneven relationships between societies, economies and the environment. We want to understand better the world in which we live, and to offer solutions to the problems within it.

We acknowledge that a complex and interconnected world presents many challenges for analysts, but researchers in SEED are pioneering new evidence, measures, concepts and theories in order to address these challenges in practice. SEED's world-leading research is rooted in everyday life but international in relevance and scope, addressing social, economic and environmental concerns across the globe.

Teaching and learning

The programme consists of three days' contact with the University for the first two years, and one day in the third year.

There is a large emphasis on experiential learning and case reflection in the programme.

Professional input combines larger group seminars with smaller workshop-based activities.

Inputs are facilitated by the core staff team, other University staff, and professionals with expertise in specific areas.

Throughout the programme, trainees have an allocated tutor, with whom they can arrange tutorials and meetings.

Trainees are also supported by the wider programme staff team, and their primary and secondary research supervisors.

A significant amount of learning also occurs whilst on placement and trainees are supported here by placement educators and practice supervisors.

As a postgraduate researcher, you'll have access to a large and diverse community of internationally recognised academic experts offering an environment that will stimulate intellectual debate and development. We provide additional financial support for a number of activities related to your doctoral studies, including:

  • presenting at international conferences;
  • attending workshops that provide relevant professional opportunities;
  • conducting fieldwork in the UK and overseas.

Coursework and assessment

We utilise a range of assessment methods on the course. This includes:

  • videoed therapeutic skills work; 
  • written theoretical assignments, research papers and process reports; 
  • research poster presentations to peers; 
  • practice portfolios; 
  • a 50,000-word thesis in the final year of study.

You must also present your research work at a conference during their time on the course.

In addition to successfully completing academic assignments, throughout Years 1 to 3, you will also have to satisfy progression panels related to your therapeutic practice and research.

What our students say

Discover what it's really like to conduct postgraduate research at The University of Manchester on our student spotlights page.


MIE is located in the University's Ellen Wilkinson building, which is centrally located on the University's Oxford Road campus, close to the Main Library, Alan Gilbert Learning Commons and the Students Union.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service.

For more information, email  dass@manchester.ac.uk