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Based on the idea that mental illness is to some extent the result of repressed negative experience, psychodynamic counselling aims to expose the contents of a client's unconscious to make him or her aware of any underlying psychological conflicts.

It prioritises the therapeutic relationship and draws from the work of psychoanalysts such as Freud, Klein, Winnicott and Bion, as well as more contemporary thinkers such as Lacan, Bowlby, Kohut, Mitchell and Benjamin.

The postgraduate diploma teaches models of both long-and short-term counselling, the second of which is particularly relevant to NHS work and employee counselling schemes. It stresses the importance of developing counselling awareness through practice in workshops and provides a sound theoretical foundation to the psychodynamic approach.

The course is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and therefore recognised as preparing students for work as a professional counsellor. The university itself is an organisational member of the BACP as well as the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (UCPA).

Course structure

The courses are taught on a semester system with two semesters each year. The provisional dates for the 2017-2018 academic year are as follows:

  • Semester 1: 14 September 2017 to 18 January 2018
  • Semester 2: 16 February 2018 to 24 May 2018

In addition to academic study, you will need to complete 100 hours of supervised counselling practice in an approved clinical practice agency, for example at the Rock Clinic or Sussex University counselling service.

You also need to undertake a course of personal therapy that lasts for the duration of the course, from October of year 1 to June of year 2, and we recommend that you factor in the cost of this therapy before your application.

Assessment consists of four essays and three case studies. You will also keep a professional log of your clinical work and maintain a personal journal.

Areas of study

The course contains four major elements: academic and professional studies, practical training, training supervision, and personal growth and development. A strong theoretical knowledge is of great importance and considerable weight is given to canonical writers. The seminars provide a broad overview of the reading material and invite you to reflect further on it.

Psychodynamic counsellors rely on their own feelings to help make sense of the moment-by-moment changes in client sessions. This process underlies the need for a certain level of self-awareness and maturity, hence why personal growth and development is the fourth key strand on the course. This is partly met through personal development groups and partly through your own counselling or therapy.


Year 1 modules

  • Introduction to Psychodynamic Counselling Theory: Human Growth and Development
  • Themes in Professional Practice
  • Psychodynamic Counselling Workshops
  • Personal Development Groups

Year 2 modules

  • Psychodynamic Counselling Practice 1
  • Psychodynamic Counselling Practice 2
  • Critical Perspectives in Psychodynamic Counselling
  • Research Methods for Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Personal Development Groups

Completion of the Postgraduate Diploma allows continuation (after successful application) on to our Psychotherapy MSc

Careers and employability

The postgraduate diploma has an excellent reputation in the locality and our students have gone on to hold counselling posts across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Others have progressed to further training or used their counselling skills in their existing professions.

If you enjoy the course and are interested in further study, you may want to consider our Psychotherapy MSc, to which all successful graduates of the PGDip are eligible to apply.

Visit the Psychodynamic Psychotherapeutic Counselling (PGDip) page on the University of Brighton website for more details!




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