We’re delighted to share that Health Education England are to launch a new pilot training programme as part of their investment in the counselling and psychotherapy workforce within IAPT services.

This is part of the NHS Psychological Professions Stakeholder Group work.

The three-year core-psychotherapeutic counselling training at master’s level is the first time people will be able to train as counsellors and psychotherapists and work as High Intensity practitioners in a fully funded and salaried NHS scheme, with no requirements for unpaid work.

The curriculum is designed to include the core competences and practice standards for psychotherapeutic counselling and one of four high-intensity IAPT modalities: Person-centred experiential counselling for depression (PCE-CfD), Couple therapy for depression (CfD), Interpersonal therapy (IPT) and Brief dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT).  

Positive shift

We think this development sends a strong signal about the importance of counsellors and psychotherapists to the NHS and marks a positive shift in training and employment opportunities for therapists.

We believe it will also have positive consequences for therapists who already work within IAPT because it will strengthen our arguments for consistency in pay grades.

We’ve been pleased to be involved in developing both the concept and the curriculum for the training programme over the past few months, working with and representing SCoPEd partners alongside NHS and HEE colleagues, service leads, trainers and experts by experience.


Although the SCoPEd framework is still a draft, it’s been an important ingredient in developing the curriculum and in designing training that meets professional standards for counselling and psychotherapy as well as the specialist knowledge for work within IAPT services.

The input from experts by experience has also had a strong influence on the course content.  

Our Chief Professional Standards Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Fiona Ballantine Dykes said:

“This is a landmark moment in how counselling and psychotherapy is viewed by the NHS and in the plans to expand the adult IAPT workforce. 

Bridges a gap

“The training course is a fantastic pathway and package of training that means counsellors will be able to enter the NHS much earlier in their careers. It really bridges a gap between achieving core counselling qualifications and paid employment for the NHS. It aligns with our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion as well as with our campaign for equal status and paid employment.

“We’ve been pleased to be able to contribute to this work alongside and on behalf of all partners in the SCoPEd partnership in helping to develop the curriculum. 

Increase employment

“We know that not all our members want to work within NHS services and feel this is not compatible with their own philosophy and approach but we also know from our workforce survey that many members do want this opportunity.

“We’re continuing to work hard to increase employment and training opportunities and influence positive change in IAPT for all our members.

“It’s important to note that existing pathways for entering the IAPT workforce will continue as they are.”

The pilot will be for 60 trainee psychotherapeutic counsellors to work in NHS IAPT services to deliver specified IAPT modalities for adults with depression.  

Expand access

It will support the NHS to expand access to a range of quality, evidence-based psychological therapies, offering these to an additional 380,000 adults and older people with common mental health problems by 2023/24, as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan. 

Adrian Whittington, National Lead for Psychological Professions – Health Education England, said: 

“We are committed to all IAPT services offering a choice of therapies and this new pilot helps make this choice a reality for the public. The project will establish a new training path for the psychological professions, providing all of the training needed to work as a psychotherapeutic counsellor in IAPT services, fully funded by the NHS. This adds another fully funded route into work as a psychological professional, making this a more accessible career path.”

 IAPT services across all regions of England will be advertising the posts to start training in 2022. The tendering process for training providers to deliver the new course launched this month.