Introduction to counselling and psychotherapy (D12)

Course overview

This popular course provides an introduction to a psychoanalytic understanding of the human mind and to specific principles of psychodynamic psychotherapy at an elementary level. We will explore human development through a psychoanalytic lens, while exploring key psychoanalytic concepts and exploring complex mental health presentations and how we view the life of groups, organisations and difference and diversity.  This course is also available as a fully online version (ED12).

Want to hear more? Join this course information session at our virtual open day on Saturday 25 June. Book your place using our booking form here.

This is the entry level course to our adult psychotherapy cluster of professional training programmes and it is suitable if you are taking your first steps towards a qualification in counselling or psychotherapy. It is also a popular CPD opportunity for people working in health care, education,  social care and voluntary sector practitioners seeking to deepen their understanding of mental health issues. For many others who work in unrelated fields, it is an opportunity to begin a course of study that may open up new career opportunities as well as new ways of thinking about the world we live in

Over the year you will undertake:

  • weekly theory lectures and reading seminars
  • weekly workplace discussion seminars
  • weekly set readings
  • a weekly self-reflective journal
  • termly individual tutorials
  • a workplace observation project (to be arranged by the student)
  • an optional written assignment based upon the application of psychoanalytic thinking to the observational experiences from the work placement. 

The requirement to undertake a workplace observation project is a significant component of the course, and this should ideally be in place before the course begins.

The project may be within your own current workplace if you work in a healthcare, education or another related profession; if not, you will be required to organise a voluntary placement in a suitable setting.

It is strongly advised that to fully maximise your learning experience and opportunity on this course, that placements are organised and secured prior to, or immediately following the commencement of the course.

Examples of suitable placements include a mental healthcare setting (local mental health or hospital setting), a charitable organisation, or an educational setting, e.g. a school or youth centre.

The placement can be a purely observational experience, such as observing a support group in a mental health clinic or psychiatric unit. You could also opt for a more hands-on experience of becoming a befriender for clients who come to your chosen centre or service, or taking a group of children/young people for an activity in an educational or youth programme setting. A number of our students take up roles with elderly or homeless service users and experience these roles as very rewarding.

We ask that you put aside at least two hours per week for your placement, and alongside this, each week you are required to write a work observation report (1500 words) which you will take turns to present in weekly work discussion seminars.

Term one

'Introduction to the psychotherapeutic domain' will be studied via the following units:

  • Beginnings
  • Thinking about observation
  • Introducing psychoanalysis – Freud and the unconscious
  • Therapeutic practice and the setting
  • Klein and the paranoid schizoid position
  • Unconscious phantasy
  • Klein and the depressive position
  • Transference and counter-transference
  • Projective identification.

Term two

'Human psychological development and the therapeutic process' will be studied via the following units:

  • Infancy and early childhood
  • The third object and the Oedipal situation
  • Later childhood
  • Adolescence
  • Adulthood and later life
  • Old age
  • Psychic pain
  • Trauma
  • Difference and diversity.

Term three

'Clinical applications of psychoanalytic thinking' will be studied via the following units:

  • Depression
  • Personality disorder
  • Psychosis
  • Suicide
  • Risk assessment and risk management
  • Endings.

This course will introduce you to some of the key concepts in psychodynamic counselling and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. It will teach you about different kinds of mental illness from a psychodynamic perspective and will offer you a comprehensive theoretical framework within which to understand mental health and therapeutic work in the human services. A key aspect of this course is the emphasis we place in our teaching and learning processes on difference and diversity. We will look at how difference, diversity (in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and disability) is thought about in terms of psychoanalytic thinking and through learning from experience.

The course is for both individuals and healthcare professionals wishing to explore their interest in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, including those thinking of taking their first steps toward a formal qualification.

There are three common reasons that our students study this course. They are:

  • to investigate further whether or not they would like to undertake a clinical training in psychoanalytic/psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • for interest, and to find out more about psychoanalysis in order to apply the approaches and theories to their personal and work lives
  • to support them whilst they gain the necessary experience to be eligible for a clinical training in psychodynamic/psychoanalytic psychotherapy

We celebrate the rich diversity of our student group and encourage people to apply whatever their background. 

In order to undertake this course, we ask that you:

  • have a demonstrable interest in psychodynamic counselling, psychoanalytic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis and a wish to make a deeper study of the human mind, either for professional reasons or for the purposes of your own personal development.
  • are able to organise a workplace observation project which must be in place before the course begins in October 2021. While it is not mandatory for a placement to be organised at the time of interview, it is encouraged to start thinking about this as early as possible.

Although the course aims to be supportive and containing in its approach, the subject matter can be emotionally challenging. Personal readiness for the course is therefore an important factor which will be explored at interview.


Tuesday mornings from 9.30am to 12.30pm.


Assessment for this course is based upon a minimum attendance rate of 75% throughout the year, plus the submission of 12 write ups (each of 1500 words) taken from observations from the work placement.

Successful completion of these assessment components will enable students to receive their Trust Certificate. 

Peter slater headshot

Peter Slater

Dr Peter Slater is a child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapist and an adult psychotherapist. Peter undertakes clinical work with the Harley therapy Clinic and has worked for a number of years in CAMHS settings in Kent and London as a Highly Specialist Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist. He has returned from NZ where he was Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for the Masters Programme in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy at Auckland University.

Peter has published articles in the Journal of Child PsychotherapyJournal of Psychotherapy of New ZealandAotearoa. Peter is a member of the Association of Child Psychotherapists and the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy.


£ 3,675 per year


£ 7,350 per year

For more information about how Brexit may affect your fee status, please see Brexit information for EU & EEA and Swiss Nationals

Please note that course fees are subject to a 3% or CPI uplift each year, whichever is greater.

We are happy offer a range of ways to pay your fees, as well as some funding for specific courses. 

Trust Certificate
Course length:
1 year
Tuesday mornings
The Tavistock Centre, London
Theoretical approach:
Admission status:
Course lead:
Peter Slater

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