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Postgraduate Diploma in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counselling

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The University of Cambridge is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare and safety of children. In all aspects of the Counselling course provision, including the recruitment of trainees, we adhere to relevant aspects of Keeping Children Safe in Education, and of relevant legislation, and expect all members of our community to fully commit to their associated responsibilities to the safeguarding of children, young people and vulnerable adults.

Course summary

The Faculty of Education has a 30-year tradition of educating therapists in this specialised area. We are delighted to offer a creative three-year practitioner professional development programme. The Child and Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counselling Programme at the Faculty of Education is accredited by the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (UPCA) and leads to registration with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

Psychotherapeutic counselling emphasises the co-creation of an in-depth therapeutic relationship that aims to facilitate growth and alleviate distress. Within this purposeful relationship human beings are viewed holistically in the context of concrete life situations and developmental stages.

The course specialises in the aims, processes and skills of working therapeutically with children and young people through an emphasis on working through play and with the arts. Other significant strands include child and adolescent development, clinical skills, professional issues, ethics and child safe-guarding, child mental health, developing children's emotional well-being, working with children's contexts, networks and families, multi agency work, working in a school setting, and working with groups. This programme enables participants to become effective and ethical psychotherapeutic counsellors.

Core Elements

Core elements of the course include theory, practice and personal development. Students will undertake a supervised practice placement, personal therapy and a young child observation. There is a personal development group that runs for a year of the programme. In addition, the teaching and learning methods used encourage constant self-awareness and personal development. The core theoretical model of the training is integrative, relational, developmental, and eco-systemic. This means that the course brings together elements from different theories to make a coherent whole.

There is an emphasis on:

  • The nature of a therapeutic relationship
  • Child and adolescent development
  • The uniqueness of the individual
  • Examining key theoretical perspectives in counselling and psychotherapy including the psychodynamic, the humanistic and the neuroscientific
  • Working eco-systemically with children's networks and contexts
  • Working with play and the arts

The essential elements to gain the diploma

  • Successful completion of the course study hours including completion of a placement comprising 100 supervised practice hours during the course.
  • Continuous weekly personal therapy during the three years of the programme
  • Successful completion of the academic requirements and the practical skills assessment elements of the course. This includes ongoing assessment of student's counselling practice
  • Ongoing student membership of UPCA

The essential elements to gain registration

  • Satisfactory completion of all elements of the PG Diploma in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counselling.
  • Satisfactory completion of an annual CPD audit
  • Completion of an additional 350 post qualifying hours of supervised clinical practice.
  • Satisfactory outcome of a readiness for registration interview

NB : Under UKCP regulations, individuals remain trainee psychotherapeutic counsellors until they have met all accreditation requirements and have achieved UKCP registration. The accreditation the course holds is for those entering the programme in September 2018 or later.

Course DiagramStructure of the Accredited Training Programme in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counselling

Course overview

The programme is designed to enable participants to:

  1. Work therapeutically with children and young people especially through communication using the arts and play.
  2. Develop the skills of psychotherapeutic counselling in one-to-one and group settings through the use of practicums, experiential, active learning methods, practical work with other students and undertaking a supervised practice placement.
  3. Gain a thorough knowledge and understanding of the theoretical base of psychotherapeutic counselling.
  4. Gain a thorough knowledge and understanding of the social and emotional development of young people.
  5. Explore the ethical and professional aspects of working therapeutically with children and adolescents in schools and other settings. This includes being alert to issues of safeguarding that may impact the wellbeing or safety of children and young people.

Personal Therapy

Personal therapy is required for all students for the duration of their course. This will be once a week with a suitably qualified and experienced practitioner (40 hours per annum as a minimum). The cost of personal therapy is not covered by the course and therapy is self-funded.


Students are required to undertake a practice placement; this will normally begin in year 2. The costs of clinical supervision at the placement are not covered by the course. Often the placement provider pays these costs, but we cannot guarantee it.

Who is this course aimed at?

The diploma is designed for those who work with young people in educational or other settings who have either satisfactorily completed the Introduction to Child and Adolescent Counselling Skills (32-hour PAES course) or have an equivalent qualification in counselling and psychotherapy.

  • Award | PDES (120 credits)
  • How is it assessed?
    Students are assessed through a combination of written and practical assignments including a case presentation and a practice viva. Tutors provide formal feedback on all submissions.
  • Cost
    £5,300 (Home fees)/£13,400 (Overseas fees) for 2024/25. Please note these costs are for tuition only and do not cover personal therapy, clinical supervision, professional memberships, cost of DBS, professional indemnity insurance or any other professional costs. You should allow a similar amount for year 2 and again for year 3 (allowing for an annual increase as fees are reviewed every year).
  • Pattern of attendance
    The course is taught one day a week over three ten-week terms for three years. The first and second years are taught on a Thursday and the third year on a Wednesday. In addition in years one and two attendance is required at a four-day intensive course (dates to be confirmed). Students are also required to attend a tri-annual Saturday conference.

  • Diploma Year 1 and Year 2 are taught weekly on a Thursday. The dates for 2024/25 are as follows:
Term 1 Michaelmas Weeks 1 - 5 26/09/2024 - 24/10/2024
Half Term Break 25/10/2024 - 06/11/2024
Weeks 6 - 10 07/11/2024 - 05/12/2024
Term 2 Lent Weeks 1 - 5 16/01/2025 - 13/02/2025
Half Term Break 14/02/2025 - 26/02/2025
Weeks 6 - 10 27/02/2025 - 27/03/2025
Term 3 Easter Weeks 1 - 5 24/04/2025 - 22/05/2025
Half Term Break 23/05/2025 - 04/06/2025
Weeks 6 - 10 05/06/2025 - 03/07/2025

Diploma Year 3 is taught on the corresponding Wednesdays.

  • Who is teaching it? Fiona Peacock and Oktober Evennett (Co-Course Leaders), Esther Hunt, Lisa Chung-How and Jo Axton. Each student is allocated a personal tutor to help guide them through their studies.
  • Method of study: The weekly course session is taught in person at the Faculty of Education, Cambridge. Course reading is accessible online. 
  • Progression: Completion of the 3-year diploma allows students to have the option of applying to continue onto the Master of Education (MEd), Transforming Practice.

How to apply

Please apply via the PPD application portal.

If you have any difficulties with this or have any questions, please email

Applications are considered to be complete only when we have received all application documents, including both references and supporting documentation. If applications are incomplete by the application deadline, we may not be able to consider them.

Please note one reference must be provided by the applicant’s current Senior Manager or Headteacher.
If providing a second reference from an employer, this should also be from the applicant’s Senior Manager or Headteacher and should relate to employment within the past 5 years.

Applicants may be invited to a group interview, held in person at the Faculty of Education, Cambridge. Group interviews are planned for Thursday 16 May 2024 and Thursday 11 July 2024. Applicants successful at this stage will be invited to an individual interview.

The final deadline for applications for 2024 entry is 30 June 2024. However, we encourage applicants to apply early, as applications will be considered and some interviews held before the final deadline.

Admissions criteria

The programme is designed for those who work with young people in educational or other settings who have either satisfactorily completed the Introduction to Child and Adolescent Counselling Skills (32-hour course) or have an equivalent qualification. This is a postgraduate programme and candidates are normally expected to hold a good undergraduate degree.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate:

  • a knowledge and use of basic counselling skills and theory
  • the capacity for self-reflection and self-awareness
  • the potential to develop a therapeutic relationship
  • the capacity to undertake academic study at Postgraduate level
  • the capacity to receive and work with feedback
  • the capacity to work with others
  • an awareness of emotion and sufficient robustness to undertake the programme
  • enthusiasm for and commitment to learning
  • the capacity for work with the arts and play

If selected, interviews will take place with the course team when further information about the requirements of the course and the expected demands will be given. Tutors have a limited capacity to engage in pre-interview discussions and we are unable to give feedback after interview.


We aim to notify all candidates of the outcome within two weeks of their interview. Those who are successful will be sent an email confirming the details of their offer and any conditions to be met. Any appeal against an unsuccessful outcome will be dealt with in line with the Faculty's PPD Admissions Appeal and Complaints Policy. Please note that there is no appeal against academic judgement.


All offers are subject to meeting a number of standard conditions. As part of this, the Faculty is compelled to make a judgement about offer-holders' suitability to work with children and adolescents. Offer-holders will be asked to:

• disclose any UK or overseas criminal convictions

• provide an Enhanced Disclosure Certificate with Children’s Barred List information from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

• provide a criminal records check from any other country in which they have lived for more than 3 months continuously in the past five years

• complete a declaration which confirms they are not disqualified from childcare (Childcare Act 2006).

The Faculty will use such information to judge offer-holders' suitability to join the course. Having received their DBS Certificate, all offer-holders will also be required to subscribe to the annual update service, sending confirmation to the PPD Admissions Office prior to the course start date.

If an offer-holder fails to meet their conditions by the course start date, including in relation to the requirements above, their offer will be withdrawn.

Open day

We occasionally hold counselling-specific open days with the Co-Course Leaders, in person or online. More information will be posted on this site in advance of a session. If you would like to be notified of upcoming open days, please email

Any course queries should be directed to