Postgraduate Certificate in Psychodynamic Counselling

Course details

The Postgraduate Certificate in Psychodynamic Counselling provides a broadly based exploration of psychodynamic theory, philosophy and practice, and includes self-exploration. The course forms part of the Oxford University Master’s Programme in Psychodynamic Studies.

The PG Certificate will be of interest to those seeking to:

  • Develop their understanding of psychodynamic theory and practice;
  • Prepare for professional training, such as this programme’s PG Diploma in Psychodynamic Practice.

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Course structure

The course is part-time, held on Wednesday evenings from 6-9.30pm over three ten-week terms with two Saturday workshops. The number of students is usually about 26. Teaching takes place in both whole group and smaller group sessions, with two individual tutorials per term.

Course evenings commence with a theory-and-practice workshop (6.00 to 8.00 pm) where each week one of the course tutors provides an introduction to central psychodynamic concepts, followed by exercises and/or structured discussions. After a coffee break/library period there are experiential groups (8.20 to 9.30 pm). On the last week of each term the workshop sessions take the form of revision seminars, while the experiential groups are replaced by a course community review meeting with all members of the course including the Course Tutors.

To aid study, papers and books will be recommended. Extensive regular reading and private study of at least 10 hours per week between the taught periods is recommended.

The Certificate course runs annually, while the Diploma and Masters courses are on a two year cycle. A post-certificate seminar series is held on alternate years, when there is not an intake for the Diploma directly following the Certificate. The seminar series gives the opportunity for consolidation of certificate learning and facilitates a progression in psychodynamic thinking.


The Masters Programme is accredited by the UPCA (Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association). Students who complete the full programme and the necessary clinical hours will be eligible for professional accreditation via UPCA with UKCP (UK Council for Psychotherapy) as a psychotherapeutic counsellor. In addition, those that wish may apply individually to the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy).

Course details

Theory and Practice Workshops

Each term is organised around a key dimension of psychodynamic practice, though a constant feature throughout the course is the inclusion of theoretical, personal and clinical aspects of counselling work. Revision seminars are timetabled to conclude each term.

Michaelmas term: The Psychodynamic Approach
Possible topics include – Beginnings; Social and historical developments in psychoanalytic/psychodynamic ideas and approaches; Core psychodynamic concepts; Personality development; Ingredients of healing; Current theoretical developments.

Hilary term: Therapeutic Processes and Skills
Possible topics include – Developing a Therapeutic Alliance; Working with the Transference; Working with the Countertransference; Internal supervision; Therapeutic interventions.

Trinity term: Therapeutic, Practical and Ethical Implications
Possible topics include – The Therapeutic Frame; the setting; Assessment and contracting; Referrals; Dynamic administration; Ethical issues; Endings.

The aim of the theory-and-practice workshops is to enable students to develop a broad knowledge of psychodynamic counselling theory, philosophy and techniques.

Experiential Groups

These agenda-less groups are intended to assist students to support one another through the course, to reflect in an unstructured way on their experience of learning, and to increase their capacity for self-awareness in relation to others on the course. Although students may wish to bring personal material to the groups, these are not therapy groups. The groups are aimed at facilitating the development of students as reflective counsellors and to encourage the self-reflection central to the psychodynamic approach.

Assessment methods

Assessment will be by coursework. The four assignments will each count for 25% of the final mark. To be successfully awarded the Certificate, you will need to meet attendance requirements, pass each assignment and receive a satisfactory tutor report.

Course outcome

By the end of the course students should have achieved:

  • a broad understanding of the central psychodynamic counselling theories and concepts studied
  • the ability to analyse psychodynamic schools of thought and the writings/clinical practice of individual psychodynamic authors carefully
  • a level of competence to, where appropriate, commence supervised psychodynamic clinical counselling work with clients/patients on placement
  • a level of competence to apply psychodynamic therapeutic skills to workplace settings.

Who should apply

As this is a postgraduate course, you are normally expected to have a good first degree, although candidates may be admitted on the basis of relevant experience and other studies. All applicants, however, should already have some understanding of psychodynamic theory and principles, and be familiar with counselling practices. Many will already have related qualifications or limited experience in the field.

Students come from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances, including those who:

  • wish to prepare for training to practice professionally as psychodynamic therapists;
  • practice already in a non-psychodynamic discipline and who wish to add to their understanding;
  • wish to add psychodynamic understanding in their place of work.

Although entry is open, absolute beginners will not be considered.

Please note that in their own interest no applicant currently in therapy/counselling with a course tutor will be admitted to the course.

If you would like guidance on general matters relating to the course please contact the Psychodynamic Studies Programme Administrator on 01865 280725 (mornings only) or email:

Introductory courses

The Department runs introductory counselling courses separate to this Programme. Details can be found online, or in the Department’s prospectus available from Reception at Rewley House, or from the Weekly Class Administrator on 01865 280893.

Recommended reading

For more detail on Freud and psychodynamic counselling, the following books may be helpful:

  • Storr, Anthony (2001) Freud: A Very Short Introduction, OUP
  • Spurling, Lawrence (2004) An Introduction to Psychodynamic Counselling, Palgrave
  • Howard, Susan (2005) Psychodynamic Counselling in a Nutshell, Sage
  • Jacobs, Michael (2010, 4th ed.) Psychodynamic Counselling in Action, Sage
  • Ross, Alistair (2016) Sigmund Freud: Pocket Giants, History Press

Application details

Fees and additional expenses

For information about fees and additional expenses please visit the course page on the Oxford Graduate Admissons website.

For accreditation purposes membership of UPCA is required throughout the programme, currently £21 for the Certificate year.

How to apply and application deadlines

For information about entry requirements and how to apply please visit the course page on the Oxford Graduate Admissons website.

If you have any questions about the progress of your application, please contact the Graduate Admissions Office (tel: 01865 270059; email: ); or the Course Administrator, (tel: +44 (0)1865 280725; email:

Visa information

For part-time courses longer than six months with a weekly or monthly attendance requirement you will not be eligible for a Student or a visitor visa based on the structure of the course.