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Psychotherapists use talking techniques and therapies to help people who are distressed, or have mental health problems.

Annual Salary

£40,056 to £53,218

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

38 to 41 a week

You could work: in your own business; managing your own hours

Future employment

There will be 6% more Psychotherapist jobs in 2026.
In your local area

Day to day tasks

You could work with individuals, couples or groups to:

  • build an accepting and trusting client-therapist relationship
  • encourage clients to talk about their thoughts, feelings and behaviours
  • help clients to explore how they behave and deal with their feelings
  • focus on the best ways for them to make positive changes

You'll also:

  • have regular supervision sessions with your mentor to reflect on your practice
  • create and update confidential client records and write reports
  • keep up to date with theory and research

Working environment

You could work in the community, in a therapy clinic, at a health centre, in an NHS or private hospital or from home.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course

You'll need to complete:

  • a degree in psychology or a related subject like nursing, medicine or social work
  • an accredited postgraduate qualification
  • 450 hours of practice to be registered as a licensed psychotherapist by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)

Your course should be one recognised by the:

Courses can take up to 4 years to complete.

To become a child psychotherapist, you will need to complete 4 years of training with the Association of Child Psychotherapists (ACP).

You'll also need experience of working with children or vulnerable adults.

Some courses may expect you go into therapy yourself during your training. This is to help you deal with any issues that may affect you as a therapist, as well as to experience therapy from a client's point of view.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information

You could start by doing a Level 3 or 4 Diploma in Counselling before moving onto further training at degree and postgraduate level.

You'll be encouraged to take an introductory course to start, to make sure that counselling is a career for you.

Some colleges have a minimum age limit to start this type of course. They may also expect you to have had experience of working with vulnerable people.

For more information

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

Training in psychotherapy is personally and emotionally challenging. It can also be costly and takes a lot of time and dedication. It's important to think about how it will impact your life before committing to a course.

Further information

You can find out more about careers in psychotherapy from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

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With experience, you could take on a training, teaching or mentoring role.

You could become self-employed and set up a private practice where salaries may be higher than in the NHS. You could also move into academic research.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • knowledge of sociology and anthropology for understanding society and culture
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • active listening skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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