Introduction to counselling and psychotherapy (D12)

Course overview

This course provides an introduction to a psychoanalytic understanding of the human mind and to specific principles of psychodynamic psychotherapy at an elementary level. This course is also available in a blended (BD12) and fully online version (ED12).

Please note that this course is full for September 2020 entry.  We have a similar course, Psychoanalytic Thinking at Work, starting in November 2020 being taught from our Digital Academy that has spaces remaining.

This is the entry level course to our adult psychotherapy cluster of professional training programmes and it is suitable for you if you are taking your first steps towards a qualification in counselling or psychotherapy. It is also a popular CPD opportunity for health care practitioners, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, those working in education, occupational therapists and unqualified professionals from the statutory and voluntary sectors seeking to deepen their understanding of mental health issues.

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 or a 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.

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
  • Eating disorders
  • Endings.

This course will introduce you to some of the key concepts in psychodynamic counselling and psychoanalytic psychotherapy, including the unconscious, transference and countertransference, projective identification, psychic defences, anxiety and containment. The course 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.

The course will also introduce you to some of the key principles of counselling/psychotherapy practice and show you how these can be applied to practice situations, for example working with the transference. You will also learn about reflective practice and about working with emotionality, and you will be helped to develop your capacity to take an observational and reflective stance to interactions in the workplace, including those involving risk and risk management in mental health settings.

What our students say:

“The teachers have fostered a great atmosphere – it really feels, not only abstractly but in the moment also, as though what we’re learning and discussing matters.” 

“The other students are very interesting and come from a wide range of backgrounds. I have enjoyed the clinical seminars, and the reading has been very interesting and stimulating.”   

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

If you are interested in undertaking a clinical training in psychotherapy after this course, please make yourself aware of the entry requirements (particularly the experience required) of the preferred courses. If you have questions, please contact us.

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 2020. 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 9.30 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 headshotPeter 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.


£3040 per annum


£6080 per annum

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

Please contact us if you have any questions. 

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

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