Introduction to counselling and psychotherapy (D12)

Take your first steps into psychodynamic counselling and psychoanalytic psychotherapy

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 analyse human development through a psychoanalytic lens, while exploring key psychoanalytic concepts, complex mental health presentations and how we view the life of groups and organisations, as well as difference and diversity.

This course is also available to study online: Introduction to counselling and psychotherapy (ED12, online).

The deadline for applications to this course is provisionally set for Wednesday 31 July 2024. However, we encourage you to submit your application as soon as possible, as spaces are limited and can be competitive.

Please note: you may see the D12 course also referred to as PATCTP002 in communications from our application system.

About this course

This is the entry level course to our adult psychotherapy cluster of professional training programmes and 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 or the voluntary sector who want to deepen their understanding of mental health issues.

For 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 you).

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

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

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

Examples of suitable placements include: a mental healthcare setting (local mental health or hospital setting), a charitable organisation, or an educational setting (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 or 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 find these roles very rewarding.

We ask that you put aside at least two hours per week for your placement. Alongside this, each week you are required to write a work observation report (1,500 words); you will take turns to present this 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

Who is this course for?

The course is suitable 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 why our students study this course:

  • to investigate further whether or not they would like to undertake a clinical training in psychoanalytic or 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 or psychoanalytic psychotherapy

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

Course details

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. While it is not mandatory for a placement to be organised by 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.


£4,250 per year (2024/25)


£8,500 per year (2024/25)

You will be charged course fees for each year of your course. If your course is longer than one year, the fees that you will be charged after the first year will be subject to an annual inflationary increase. This will either be an increase of 3% or the Consumer Price Inflation as on 1 September of that year – whichever is the greater. At its discretion, the Trust may determine a figure between these two rates. Please refer to our Student Fees & Refund Policy for further information.

Financial support may be available to help you fund your studies at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.


Assessment for this course is based upon a minimum attendance rate of 75% throughout the year, plus the submission of 12 write ups (each 1,500 words) taken from observations from the work placement.

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


Tuesday mornings from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

Students from this course tend to go on to do further training to become either adult psychotherapists or child and adolescent psychotherapists.

Some students choose to continue their studies through organisational consultant or coaching courses.

Why study with us?

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 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.”
“I enjoyed the course immensely. I am considering a career change and found the content stimulating and thought provoking. I wanted a course where I could get a good foundation in the theory but also get a sense of how clinicians themselves put it into practice, which the D12 does. Also, having a placement as an integral part of the course means that from the very beginning students are learning to apply in practice the insights they gain during the course.”
“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.”

Course facilitators

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