MSc Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapy

UKCP logo4 Years* Part-time - Next intake: October 2020

Our training dates are available to download [Training Dates]

Places are available on a first come, first served basis. Early Applications are advised to avoid disappointment.

* In order to meet UKCP training requirements and ensure the consolidation and integration of theoretical knowledge and clinical experience, the programme is 4 years in length. This includes a preparatory year where students are registered with SPTI only and three subsequent years where students are registered with SPTI and Staffordshire University.


We are now Office for Students (OfS) registered. That means we meet the OfS requirements for course quality, academic standards, student support, student protection and more. Please visit  for more information. MSc students (year 2 onward) are therefore able to access student support and apply for a Postgraduate Masters Loan and Disabled Student Allowance via the Student Loans Company (SLC)


SPTI has a well-established Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapy Training Programme designed to meet University requirements for an MSc degree together with United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) requirements for registration as an individual psychotherapist following successful completion of all course components. The academic award of MSc and/or Post Graduate Diploma can be undertaken as an initial psychotherapy training by those demonstrating their ability to study at postgraduate level. In this instance, the part-time programme is four years (minimum).


Entry Requirements (including IELTS score)

The following requirements comply with both QAA and UKCP standards for training in psychotherapy.

In order to apply, you must be at least 21 years of age.

You will be required to complete an application form and provide two acceptable references, which must provide evidence of one or more of the following:

  • An undergraduate degree in psychology or a related discipline (for example, sociology, education, theology, philosophy).
  • A non-relevant undergraduate degree with appropriate training or experience.
  • A qualification or professional training/work-based portfolio in the helping professions evidencing study level equivalent to level 6 (for instance, social work, psychiatric nursing, general nursing, teaching).
  • A counselling diploma or equivalent qualification plus evidence of ability to study at level 6.
  • Relevant work and/or life experience plus evidence of ability to study at level 6.

In addition, where English is not your first language you must demonstrate a pass in IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.5 in any element), TOEFL iBT 87 (no less than 21 in listening and writing, 22 in reading and 23 in speaking) or CELE pre-sessional course.

If you do not have an undergraduate qualification (or equivalent) but satisfy criteria relating to ‘relevant work and/or life experience’, you may be asked to undertake an independent assessment via the completion of a piece of written work in order to demonstrate your capacity to study at postgraduate level.

You will also be required to attend an interview which will enable both you and course staff to gauge your suitability for this professional course of study. In addition to the above entry requirements, you will need to demonstrate that you have, or have the potential to develop, the following attributes and skills:

  • Self-awareness, maturity and stability
  • Ability to reflect on life experiences and utilise constructive feedback
  • Capacity to cope with the emotional and intellectual demands of the programme
  • Ability to form a helping relationship
  • Awareness of issues of diversity and equality, prejudice and oppression
  • Ability to recognise the need for personal and professional support
  • The generic professional skills of literacy, numeracy, information technology, administrative skills, self-management skills, communication and interpersonal skills.

If successful, you will be eligible to join the Preparatory Stage of the programme and the length of your training will be four years (minimum).

If you are already a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist wishing to further your career by undertaking additional study/research, you may be eligible to join either the Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma Stage of the Programme via an Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) application process.  In this instance, the length of training will be determined by the point of entry.

DBS: Applicants to SPTI clinical training programmes are reminded that all offers are subject to a satisfactory Criminal Records check by undertaking an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) certificate, and then registering it with the DBS update service.  [DBS Policy] [DBS01 Declaration]

International Students should note that SPTI is not a UK Home Office registered Sponsor with approval to admit overseas students. We can only consider applications from applicants who satisfy HOME fee residential status criteria (e.g. UK/EU/EEA including Switzerland).

The nature of psychotherapy training is primarily relational and as such it is important for applicants to disclose any pre-existing relationships with SPTI staff and/or members (and other applicants where known) at the point of application.  This provides the opportunity to address potential implications for this at the interview stage thereby ensuring professional standards when attending to dual relationships, which Professional Bodies (for example, BACP and UKCP) recommend be avoided to prevent detrimental effects and promote professional accountability at all stages of training and practice.  We aim to ensure that this does not provide an unnecessary barrier to recruitment. Therefore, in cases of pre-existing relationships with current students and/or training staff adjustments may be suggested; this could include an alternative entry point or in some cases an alternative programme of study.

Programme Overview

Person-centred therapy can be seen as an umbrella term referring to the variety of approaches grounded in the theoretical views of human nature and interaction originally developed by Carl Rogers, and others, in the 1940’s and 1950’s; approaches such as classic client-centred; experiential process; existentially informed; focusing-oriented; integrative person-centred; pre-therapy. The programme combines a dynamic mix of philosophical, theoretical, research and clinical based learning. The idea that no one model of therapy is superior informs a central view underpinning the Programme which reflects the value of both single-orientation and pluralistic therapeutic practices for both therapist and client.

Those joining the Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapy programme can expect to actively engage with key elements of each of these models in order to develop a personal style of therapeutic practice whilst holding at their core a continuing critical examination of the impact of their ‘way of being’ in relationship. Respect for the uniqueness of the person is emphasised, along with the idea that therapist and client work in partnership. A central belief is that, under the right conditions, our potential for ongoing growth and development naturally unfolds. This includes the potential to overcome present problems and difficulties from earlier environments, and to live a deeper, enriched life.

The programme comprises of four distinct stages, each containing several modules addressing key elements of the professional practice of person-centred psychotherapy/counselling. Modules are outlined below;


Preparatory Stage - validated by SPTI

Module 1 – The History, Philosophy and Fundamental Principles of Person-Centred Approaches to Psychotherapy

Part 1 - The History and Philosophy of Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapies

The first part of this module examines the history of Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapies including consideration of a number of philosophical traditions which influence theory, clinical practice and practitioner research. It seeks to place philosophy at the centre of understanding Person-Centred Approaches and to provide opportunities for exploration of personal values, beliefs and assumptions in order to determine the nature of the relationship between personal and professional viewpoints. There will be exploration of both commonalities and differences between the various ‘tribes’ within the Person-Centred Approach and opportunity for students to begin to determine their own position within these associated perspectives.

Part 2 – The Characteristics of Power in Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapies

An examination of interpersonal and intrapersonal power dynamics is central to understanding person-centred perspectives and practices. There will be analysis and reflection on factors which inhibit and/or promote empowerment within the therapeutic relationship/process alongside critical consideration of central aspects of theory in relation to human nature and interaction. Students will have opportunity to consider their personal experiences of difference, diversity and commonality within relationships and to explore factors such as gender, sexuality, race, culture, religion, class, disability, poverty. Consideration will also be given to the differences and commonalities within the person-centred and experiential psychotherapies framework.

Part 3 - The Fundamental Principles of Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapies

The theory and practice of person-centred approaches to psychotherapy is often misunderstood and/or misrepresented; consequently, this module seeks to offer ‘fair representation’ of key principles and to address misunderstandings and criticisms, in order to illustrate the integrity of the approach, whilst acknowledging the existence and relevance of other philosophies, theories and practices. Central to this part of the module are ideas about effective therapeutic relationships which emphasise the roles of both client and therapist. Research findings will also be considered. There will be continued critical exploration of the various ‘tribes’ associated with the Person-Centred framework, in order to ensure on-going personal and professional reflection.

Module 2 - Professional Context and Practice

This module addresses the fundamental aspects of ethical and professional practice necessary for undertaking a clinical practice placement as a person-centred practitioner. The emphasis is on placing ethical thinking centrally within the process of Person-Centred Psychotherapy by drawing attention to the personal and moral qualities of the practitioner and the application of codes of conduct and/or ethical frameworks to therapeutic practice. Again, attention will be given to the distinct approaches associated with Person-Centred perspectives to enable critical reflection in regard to implications for ethical decision making and its translation into practice.

Preparatory Stage: Parallel Clinical Obligations

The module will focus on the student’s continued personal development and professional development which is cumulative throughout the programme and will enable the student to meet the requirements for registration with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. Among the components of this aspect of the programme are the personal therapy, clinical placements, clinical supervision and the requirements of the mental health component.


Year 2 MSc - registered with Staffordshire University

Module 1 - Relating and Therapeutic Change

This module examines the notion, nature and assessment of change with specific emphasis placed within the person-centred therapeutic relationship. Attention is given to the roles of client and therapist in order to identify factors likely to facilitate or hinder both relating and change as it is thought to occur within the person-centred therapeutic process. Classic and contemporary person-centred views are considered together with ideas from other therapeutic models.

Module 2 - Human Development

This module explores person-centred perspectives in regard to human development in active comparison with a variety of different theories from outside the approach. Ideas regarding on-going developmental and relational needs are addressed with reflection on personal experiencing of development throughout the lifespan. Students will have opportunity to consider contemporary research and understanding from the field of neuroscience in relation to person-centred philosophy, theory and practice.

Module 3 - Psychopathology: Person-Centred Perspectives

Both clinical experience and research indicate person-centred therapies to be effective with a wide range of psychological disturbance. Consequently, this module provides opportunities to develop understanding of person-centred perspectives to various psychopathological processes. Models of psychopathology prevalent within the UK’s Mental Health Provision including DSM-V and ICD-10 categories are critically considered in relation to Person-Centred viewpoints in order that students develop an informed dialogue with approaches based upon contrasting underlying assumptions. Students will critically consider a wide range of psychotherapeutic responses in the context of person-centred practice with particular attention given to contemporary perspectives such as processing styles and work on pre-therapy.

Year 2: Parallel Clinical Obligations

Again, the module focuses on the student’s continued personal development and professional development which is cumulative throughout the programme. It enables the student to meet the requirements for registration with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. Among the components of this aspect of the programme are the personal therapy, clinical placements, clinical supervision and the requirements of the mental health component.


Year 3 MSc - registered with Staffordshire University

Module 1 – Use of Self in Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapy

This module provides students with an opportunity to develop and advance their understanding of the practice of person-centred psychotherapy in the context of its history and continuing development including research findings. The emphasis on values and principles is maintained, stressing the personal and professional dimensions and the quality of the person-centred relationship in theory and ethical practice. There will be opportunities to consider what constitutes Self including exploration of how its various dimensions may be creatively utilised within the therapeutic relationship. A variety of therapeutic techniques will be critically explored together with the contemporary perspectives regarding pluralism and integration within Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapies. Consideration will be given to the practitioner’s use of their own presence in the therapeutic and supervisory relationships. Relevant research findings will be explored.

Module 2 - Research and Person-Centred Psychotherapy

The module emphasises psychotherapy as a research endeavour, demystifying and making it accessible for use by practitioners of person-centred psychotherapy. It encourages the development of a reflexive approach to research and its ethics. The emphasis is on both evidence-based practice and practice-based research findings in an attempt to support and advance professional practice. It will familiarise students with the philosophical origins and assumptions of the major paradigms. Finally, students will be equipped to design a small scale project and write a research proposal relevant to the theory and practice of person-centred psychotherapy.

Module 3 – Reflexivity and Developing Clinical Practice

This module provides opportunities to consolidate knowledge and understanding of clinical practice and offers students a focus for further development of self-reflexivity and personal style as a person-centred practitioner. Several aspects of the therapeutic relationship are explored together with their ethical dimensions. Systematic single case study design and undertaking will be critically considered. Consideration is also given to experiences of grief, bereavement and loss including attention to the relevance of a variety of theoretical perspectives to person-centred practice.

Year 3: Parallel Clinical Obligations

Among the components of this aspect of the programme are the personal therapy, clinical placements, clinical supervision and the requirements of the mental health component. As in previous stages, the module continues to focus on the student’s personal development and professional development which is cumulative throughout the programme enabling requirements for registration with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) to be met.


Year 4 MSc - registered with Staffordshire University

Module 1 - Clinical Competency - Case Study and Process Report

This module involves the preparation and undertaking of a substantial case study and a process report; having equal weighting. This will provide evidence of the student’s integration of theory and practice within their clinical work.

Module 2 - Research Project and Dissertation

This module involves the undertaking and writing up of a small-scale research project relevant to the theory and practice of Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapy. It aims to produce research-competent practitioners capable of advancing the profile of Person-Centred Psychotherapy and Counselling.

Parallel Clinical Obligations

Among the components of this final year of the programme are the personal therapy, clinical placements, clinical supervision and the requirements of the mental health component. The focus is on the student’s continued personal development and professional development which is cumulative throughout the programme enabling the student to meet the requirements for registration with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy.

Further information can be found in the Programme Information Leaflet – available on request. If you would like further information about this course please contact Admissions.

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Our Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degrees are awarded by Staffordshire University