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

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £28,050 to £85,333 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:  

  • a relevant degree or professional qualification in social work, psychology, medicine or mental health
  • experience of working with vulnerable adults or children
  • training at postgraduate level
  • registration with a professional body like the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) or the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) 
Training can take up to 4 years to complete.
The UKCP and the BPC have more information on how to train as a psychotherapist.
If you’re applying for a child psychotherapy training post, you may be able to get financial support from the NHS Trust you’re applying to.

2. Skills required

You’ll need

  • excellent communication and listening skills
  • observation and questioning skills
  • the ability to build trust and rapport with a wide range of people
  • the ability to separate your own feelings from those of your clients
  • the confidence and skill to explore painful issues with clients

3. What you'll do

Your work with clients could involve:

  • encouraging them to talk about emotional or relationship problems
  • analysing past events and behaviours so that changes can be made
  • assessing their way of thinking and their feelings
  • helping them develop new strategies for coping 
You could work with adults or children, individually or in groups. You may also be involved in training non-client groups like social workers.
There are different types of psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioural therapy, psychoanalysis and hypnotherapy. The approach you use will depend on your specialism and your clients’ needs.

4. Salary

Starter: £28,050 to £35,250 (NHS trainee)

Experienced: up to £41,500 (qualified)

Highly Experienced: up to £85,333 (senior managers)

In the private sector, you could charge £40 to £100 for a 50-minute session.
These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Private therapy sessions may take place outside these hours to fit in with your clients' working times.
Sessions last from 30 to 60 minutes.
This work can be emotionally challenging.
You’ll usually have support from a mentor through regular supervision sessions.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could take on a training, teaching or mentoring role, or become self-employed and set up in private practice.

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Last updated: 14 November 2018