Psychological wellbeing practitioner

Psychological wellbeing practitioners (PWPs) are trained to assess and support people with common mental health problems – mainly anxiety disorders and depression – to manage their recovery. 

You’ll work within NHS Talking Therapies for Anxiety and Depression (formerly IAPT), which provides evidence-based therapies for people with anxiety and depression. 

Life as a psychological wellbeing practitioner

You’ll provide treatment for adults from many different backgrounds and will collaborate with a range of professionals in physical health, mental health and social care as well as with community organisations.

You'll support people with common mental health problems by:
  • conducting patient interviews
  • helping identify areas where the person wishes to change how they feel, think or behave
  • carrying out risk assessments
  • providing phone, online or face-to-face support 
  • liaising with other agencies and signposting patients to useful services, such as housing and employment

You will work with patients on a one-to-one basis or in groups or workshops. You may be based in a GP practice, healthcare centre or community venue such as a library or leisure centre. You may also work from home in some instances.

You will be provided with ongoing supervision to help you engage in self-reflection, seek and respond to feedback, and develop your professional knowledge and skills.

Valeria Souza

Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner
Knowing that I am making a difference to people’s lives is rewarding and inspiring.

How much can I earn? 

If you’re employed by the NHS, you’ll be on a national pay and conditions system called Agenda for Change (AfC). 

There are nine pay bands and you’ll usually be paid at band 4 while you train. After completing your training you’ll be paid at band 5 with opportunities to progress with experience. 

Terms and conditions can vary if you are employed outside the NHS.

How about the benefits? 

As a PWP you’ll make a difference to people with mental health problems. 

If you’re employed by the NHS, you’ll also have good holiday entitlement and access to:

  • fully funded training plus a salary while you train and a job in the service when you qualify
  • an excellent pension scheme
  • NHS discounts in shops and restaurants

Must-have skills

You’ll need a wide range of skills as PWP, including:  
  • excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to a range of people 
  • the ability to work well within a multidisciplinary team 
  • a good understanding of common mental health issues 
  • good written and verbal communication skills
  • effective time management skills to juggle competing demands in a busy work environment

You'll also need to be able to demonstrate the values of the NHS Constitution.

Entry requirements 

You’ll need to complete a British Psychological Society (BPS)-accredited APT training course, which typically consists of 45 days of academic work (one day per week) alongside supervised practice, usually over an academic year. A local NHS Talking Therapies service will employ you while you train and once you’re qualified. 

Training is open to people with a range of experience but will help your application if you have some experience of working with people with mental health problems, and good interpersonal skills are essential for the role. 

If you have a degree, you can usually take a postgraduate certificate. If you do not have a degree, you can do an equivalent graduate-level qualification  or a level 6 apprenticeship. Courses sometimes have different names, so make sure you check the ones you’re interested in are graduate level PWP courses.

The apprenticeship is intended for people without a degree but have useful life experience or would like to make a career change and work for the local community. 

From June 2022, all PWPs need to meet the national requirement for registration with either the British Psychological Society (BPS) or British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). The BPS and BABCP websites have all the details about how the registration process works, including the annual renewal requirement. 

How to become a psychological wellbeing practitioner

You need to apply for a post as a trainee or apprentice PWP in an NHS Talking Therapies service. If you are a graduate, you’ll need to apply for a training post and then complete a postgraduate certificate. If you do not have a degree, but want to make use of your life experience, you’ll complete a postgraduate certificate or apply for an apprenticeship PWP position in an NHS Talking Therapies service. 

You can search for current opportunities and vacancies below.

Where a career as a psychological wellbeing practitioner can take you

As a qualified and experienced PWP you can apply for more senior posts at bands 6, 7 and 8a with additional management and leadership responsibilities or a clinical specialism. While you are working as a PWP, you’ll have regular supervision to help you develop in your role.  

There are many opportunities for you to progress your career. For example, you could specialise in: 

  • long-term conditions – such as diabetes or chronic pain 
  • perinatal health – working with midwives, health visitors and specialist perinatal mental health services to support families
  • occupational health - supporting NHS staff with mental health problems

Or you could focus on:

  • training to provide colleague supervision - providing case management and clinical skills supervision to other PWPs
  • management, for example team management, recruitment and project management
  • service promotion and leadership, for example developing and overseeing projects and liaising with partners and local organisations
  • clinical advisory work, for example advising networks of healthcare professionals and specialist groups regionally and nationally
  • research – either within the NHS or an academic institution

Alternatively, some PWPs go on to train as high intensity therapists, clinical psychologists, counselling psychologists and counsellors. 

It’s important to note that a two-year psychological professions funding rule policy was implemented on 1 April 2022. This means that if you start NHS-funded psychological professions training from April 2022, you won’t be eligible for NHS funding for further psychological profession training for two years from the expected completion date of your first training, where it would lead to a change in your job role.  

Visit the funding for psychological professions training programmes web page for more information about NHS funding.  

Progression from PWP to high intensity cognitive behavioural therapy training  

Many PWPs progress to undertake cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) training to become a CBT therapist or high intensity therapist.

If you started your PWP training after September 2018, you will need to pass all the course requirements and work as a PWP for at least two years before being eligible for NHS-funded high intensity CBT training. However, if you already hold a previous core professional qualification recognised by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), you’ll be able to apply for further high intensity training sooner than two years. 

Visit the funding for psychological professions training programmes web page for more information on NHS funding.

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