Background: Quality training placements are crucial to producing professional practitioner psychologists. However, as in other professions, accessing high-quality placements remains a struggle for trainee counselling psychologists. There is also a lack of information regarding where UK counselling psychology trainees typically work on placement and the level of support provided to students. This project attempted to gather data on programme placement support and placement/training mapping.
Method: A confidential, anonymous online survey was created to gather quantitative and qualitative data, broadly based on the annual US survey, and each BPS accredited counselling psychology programme was invited to complete one questionnaire. Data was collated and reported descriptively; thematic analysis was used to organise the qualitative data.
Findings: 9 of the 13 programmes took part. The average FTE of academic staff allocated to placement support across the participating programmes was 0.5. There was no correspondence between the number of placement contacts per programme and the number of students enrolled on the programme. CBT was the most commonly taught approach on these programmes. For six of the surveyed programmes, there was a strong correspondence between the approaches taught and the number of placement contacts held where students could practice those approaches. NHS placements are now prevalent, but variety in placement settings remains. The qualitative data gathered in this study could be summarised by four themes: ‘Placement problems’; ‘Counselling psychology and clinical psychology’; ‘An improving profile’; and ‘National issues’.
Discussion: The results suggest that there may be a good level of correspondence between the therapeutic approaches taught on UK counselling psychology training programmes and training placements offered. They also illustrate the range of experience offered by graduates, gained from a variety of placement settings. Some suggestions are offered for future national surveys of counselling psychology programmes based on this pilot.