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Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents


Application options include:

On campus

Course Overview

This MSc is a well-established counselling and psychotherapy training course that is ideal if you wish to work therapeutically with children and young people. It offers you a thorough grounding in contemporary psychodynamic theory and practice and integrates unique psychosocial and organisational perspectives to facilitate a broad understanding of children in context.

Why choose this course?

  • This course offers you a two-year clinical placement, divided equally into work with children (5-11 years) and work with adolescents (12-18 years), so that you can gain work experience valuable for your future employability and learn how to work safely and collaboratively within an interdisciplinary organisational setting.
  • It includes a one-year mother-infant observation to hone your observation skills.
  • It is ideal if you have some experience of working with children and adolescents and wish to pursue a career in the counselling and psychotherapy sector, for example if you are a nurse, teacher, youth worker, child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) practitioner or social worker.
  • It is taught by experienced, practising psychodynamic and/or psychoanalytic psychotherapists who also have training in higher education teaching.

What you will learn

On this course you will learn the fundamentals of psychodynamic theory and practice, using both contemporary resources and source texts. You will be encouraged to take a psychosocial perspective to consider the interplay between our internal and external worlds and how children’s identities are formed in context.

You will also develop a self-reflective stance which is central to counselling practice and consolidate this with your own personal therapy which is compulsory throughout the course. 

By the end of the course you will have gained the ability to work as a psychodynamic counsellor at an appropriate professional standard with children and adolescents. 

How you will learn

This course is available to study part-time in the daytime. You will learn via a mixture of academic and experiential learning taking part in presentations and discussions and practising your counselling skills. Your clinical learning is facilitated by an external clinical placement in your second and third years, along with regular clinical supervision.

Discover the career opportunities available by taking Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents (MSc).

Key information and modules

Find another course:


  • This course is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the British Psychoanalytic Council.
  • Birkbeck has 50 years' experience of teaching psychodynamic counselling and practice and an excellent reputation with employers.
  • There is an emphasis on this course on how organisations and groups function which will enable you to understand and manage professional settings and relationships.
  • The course attracts people from a range of backgrounds, including educational, medical, field and residential social work, youth work and voluntary agencies.

Birkbeck makes all reasonable efforts to deliver educational services, modules and programmes of study as described on our website. In the event that there are material changes to our offering (for example, due to matters beyond our control), we will update applicant and student facing information as quickly as possible and offer alternatives to applicants, offer-holders and current students.

  • Entry Requirements Entry Requirements

    Entry Requirements

    Our standard postgraduate entry requirement is a second-class honours degree (2:2 or above) or an equivalent international qualification, however, professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience are taken into consideration positively and may be accepted in place of a degree. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.

    A minimum of one year full-time (or equivalent part-time) experience of direct work with children and/or adolescents in a professional role and/or helping capacity in an organisational setting is required. You should also have completed a psychodynamic counselling/psychotherapy course at Certificate of Higher Education level (Merit) or equivalent.

    We will request a short assignment from non-standard entrants.

    On your application form, please list all your relevant qualifications and experience, including those you expect to achieve.

    Apply now to secure your place. The earlier you apply, the sooner your application can be considered and you can enrol. You do not need to have completed your current qualification to start your application.

    English language requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this course is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses and foundation programmes to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa and funding requirements

    If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant visa and funding requirements by country.

    Please note students receiving US Federal Aid are only able to apply for in-person, on-campus programmes which will have no elements of online study.

    Credits and accredited prior learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution.

  • Fees Fees


    Psychodynamic Counselling & Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents MSc: 3 years part-time, on campus, starting in academic year 2024-25

    Academic year 2024–25, starting October 2024

    Part-time home students: £8,130 per year
    Part-time international students: £12,000 per year

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their course. Tuition fees for students continuing on their course in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    If you’ve studied at Birkbeck before and successfully completed an award with us, take advantage of our Lifelong Learning Guarantee to gain a discount on the tuition fee of this course.

    Additional costs

    As well as fees, you should expect to pay other study-related expenses, for travel to and from College, books, stationery, etc. Birkbeck provides advice and financial support for students who experience hardship in meeting the travel costs of essential fieldwork or study visits.

    On this course, you will also have to pay for the following additional costs:

    Students must be seeing a personal therapist at least once a week for the duration of this course. You will need to find your own therapist, although the course tutors can help you with this, and you will have to fund your therapy yourself. The cost of therapy can vary widely, depending on location, availability and income, but you should expect to pay £45-90 per therapy session.

    Private clinical supervision while on placement is compulsory from 2024-25 onwards, except in the event that suitable psychodynamic supervision is provided on placement. Supervision forms a core element of clinical learning during the course and supports you to meet the personal and professional development competencies for each stage. Supervision would normally be either weekly or fortnightly. The fee should be negotiated with the individual supervisor at a cost range similar to that of personal therapy.

    In some instances, you may be asked by your placement to take out personal indemnity insurance which can incur an annual cost of £55-100.

    Discover the financial support available to you to help with your studies at Birkbeck.

    International scholarships

    We provide a range of scholarships for eligible international students, including our Global Future Scholarship. Discover if you are eligible for a scholarship.

  • Teaching and Assessment Teaching and Assessment


    At Birkbeck, most of our courses are taught in the evening and all of our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Seminars, work discussion, infant observation, practical exercises and experiential groups.

    Teaching hours

    Our evening hours are normally between 6pm and 9pm (6-7.30pm and 7.30-9pm). Some programmes also offer teaching during the day and this will be clearly signposted to you where it is available.

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Scheduled teaching sessions may include lectures, seminars, workshops or laboratory work. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and field trips. On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project (if applicable).

    Alongside your contact hours, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. The amount of time you need to allocate to study both for taught sessions (this might include online sessions and/or in-person sessions) and personal study will depend on how much you are studying during the year and whether you are studying full time or part time.

    Birkbeck’s courses are made up of modules and allocated ‘credit’. One credit is equivalent to ten hours of learning time. Modules are usually in 15, 30 or 60 credit units. A 15-credit module will mean around 150 hours of learning, including taught sessions and independent study or group work. This is spread out over the whole period of that module and includes the time you spend on any assessments, including in examinations, preparing and writing assessments or engaged in practical work as well as any study support sessions to help you in your learning.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students is encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies.


    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.


    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Year 1: two termly essays, a 'take-away' examination and a student review.

    Year 2: an infant observation assessment, case study and student review.

    Year 3: a mid-year essay, final portfolio and student review.

  • Careers and employability Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    On successfully graduating from this MSc Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents, you will have gained an array of important transferable skills, including in:

    • listening
    • clinical thinking
    • critical thinking
    • academic writing
    • observation
    • reflexivity
    • effective group/organisational participation.

    Graduates can pursue career paths in counselling and education. Possible professions include:

    • child psychotherapist
    • counsellor
    • educational psychologist
    • learning mentor
    • youth worker.

    Birkbeck graduates from this course have gone on to be employed in various therapeutic and educational settings including in charities such as Place2Be and the Brent Centre for Young People, schools and colleges, and also in research. 

    Read about how you can become a professional counsellor or psychotherapist.

    We offer a comprehensive careers service - Careers and Enterprise - your career partner during your time at Birkbeck and beyond. At every stage of your career journey, we empower you to take ownership of your future, helping you to make the connection between your experience, education and future ambitions.

  • How to apply How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link.

    You will need to prove your identity when you apply - read more about suitable forms of identification.

    When to apply

    You are strongly advised to apply now, to ensure there are still places on your chosen course and to give you enough time to complete the admissions process, to arrange funding and to enrol.

    You don't need to complete your current programme of study before you apply - Birkbeck can offer you a place that is conditional on your results.

    You will also receive information about subject-specific induction sessions over the summer.

    Help and advice with your application

    Get all the information you need about the application, admission and enrolment process at Birkbeck.

    Our online personal statement tool will guide you through every step of writing the personal statement part of your application.

    Apply for your course

    Apply for your course using the apply now button in the key information section.

Course structure

Course structure listing

Course structure and modules for Psychodynamic Counselling & Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents MSc: 3 years part-time, on campus, starting October 2024

You complete nine modules worth a total of 270 credits.

  • The foundation year (Year 1) covers the psychoanalytic attitude and provides an introduction to basic psychoanalytic concepts and techniques and their application to children and adolescents. It gives an overview of individual development and psychosocial issues from this perspective and there is emphasis on understanding infancy, through mother/infant observation.
  • Year 2 provides a deeper study of psychoanalytic theory and psychotherapeutic practice, including a supervised counselling placement. There is an introduction to organisational theory.
  • Year 3 is primarily a clinical year consisting of more intensive supervision in a counselling placement. Advanced seminars in counselling theory and technique and in organisational dynamics are related to the practice placement. A group relations week is also held in both years.

For the clinical placements in Years 2 and 3, you will need to source regular (weekly or fortnightly) private psychodynamic or psychoanalytic supervision, except where supervision that meets course requirements is provided by the placement. You are required to be in personal psychodynamic or psychoanalytic psychotherapy from the start of the course, and preferably for up to six months before starting. If you are considering an application you can ask for a copy of our personal therapy requirements.

Year 1
Year 2
Year 3