Undergraduate Course

FdA Therapeutic Communication and Therapeutic Organisations

FdA Therapeutic Communication and Therapeutic Organisations


The details
Therapeutic Communication and Therapeutic Organisations
October 2021
2 years
Colchester Campus

How can you support the people who need your service most effectively?

How can you work more collaboratively with your colleagues?

What counts as therapeutic support for children, young people, or older adults?

Our Foundation Degree, comprising of one afternoon of teaching a week, offers a theoretical understanding and the practical tools for emotionally grounded therapeutic work with children, adolescents, and adults, whatever your role.

Using a psychodynamic framework, the course will help you develop a thorough understanding of the human processes within and around the people who use your service and the people who are trying to help them. We also equip you with an awareness of the wider dimension of organisational dynamics. Put together, these both will contribute to your development as an effective and perceptive practitioner.

You study:

  • Psychodynamic theory
  • Child and adult development
  • Issues of trauma and violence
  • The dynamics of therapeutic interventions in organisations

You also have the opportunity to develop your insight as a reflective thinker through reflective observation workshops.

We connect the workshops on campus with elements of work-place learning, to ensure that you can make the connection between the course and your practice.

After finishing this Foundation Degree, you are able to take a further one year course to gain a BA Honours Degree. The course is accredited by APPCIOS (The Association of Psychodynamic Practice and Counselling in Organisational Settings).

Why we're great.
  • 91% of our students from the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies expressed overall satisfaction with their course (NSS 2020).
  • You’ll be taught by lecturers who bring both academic and practical knowledge from years of working with children.
  • Our students learn in small groups with expert practitioners and academics.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

What sets our teaching team apart is that each one blends clinical experience and expertise in their field with the academic rigour for which the Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies has such a reputation. You will be taught by lecturers who have years of experience working directly with troubled individuals and groups in specialist settings. This means they can draw upon not only the enduring academic tradition and the latest research in the field of psychoanalytic studies but also upon years of clinical experience as teachers, psychotherapists, and therapeutic community practitioners.

Mr Chris Tanner, Fd.A Course Director, brings many years of experience in special education and therapeutic communities, having held a number of leaderships and directorships roles in such organisations. He also works as an organisational consultant working across diverse sectors in the UK. He is a Specialist Member of the Ministry of Justice Health, Education and Social Care Tribunal. He has postgraduate qualifications in special education, psychoanalytic studies, and organisational consultancy.

Mrs Sue Kegerreis is both an adult and child and adolescent psychotherapist. Sue has published numerous journal papers and chapters including her book Psychodynamic Counselling with Children and Adolescents: An Introduction in 2010. Sue has a long career developing and teaching courses applying psychodynamic approaches to both clinical and non-clinical settings, and she is also a consultant offering clinical supervision.

Dr Bethany Morgan Brett’s specialist areas are in ageing, adult development, the life course, intergenerational relationships and qualitative research. Her PhD thesis on “Negotiating Midlife; The Subjective Experience of Ageing” took a psychosocial approach to exploring midlife and the fear of death. She is the co-author of ‘Teach Yourself Qualitative Interviewing’ (to be published by SAGE in 2020), and is currently completing a book on caring for older parents and the death of parents in later life (for publication in 2021 by Policy Press).

Dr Chris Nicholson has some 15 years experience working in residential childcare and therapeutic communities. His PhD thesis concerned the effects of war trauma upon the literary works of Robert Graves. He is the primary author and editor of Children and Adolescents in Trauma: Creative Therapeutic Approaches published in 2010. Chris sits on the Advisory Board for Children and Young People at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Therapeutic Communities section. He speaks at both national and international conferences and teaches here as well as in Greece.

Mrs Arianna Pulsoni is a child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapist. Arianna has worked in NHS and in schools. She is the lead on the wellbeing and counselling service in an international school. She has also worked with mother and baby refugees and she is doing a research on intergenerational family difficulties and parent work at the Tavistock Clinic. Arianna also works as a clinical supervisor and specialist consultant.

Dr Rodrigo Sanchez Escandon has worked for a variety of therapeutic organisations and children’s homes in Mexico City and Nairobi. He has also worked with homeless people for a number of years. In the UK he has worked as a therapist and clinical manager in the NHS. He is a registered psychoanalyst (IPA,BPC, BPF) with over 10 years of experience in private practice.

Our Student Administrator, Alison Evans, who will help you with many of the arrangements and technical aspects of the course, has a fantastic reputation among our students as being particularly helpful and approachable.

Specialist facilities

You will experience a lively, informal environment with many possibilities to pursue your own interests:

  • Whether in Colchester or Southend Campus, you will have access to the Albert Sloman Library, which houses a strong collection of books, journals, electronic resources and major archives
  • The Department has its own dedicated library of specialist texts which inform and influence our research
  • At the Southend Campus, you also have access to the new Southend library and IT suite, as well as dedicated open and closed study areas and pods.

  • Free evening Open Seminars on topics relevant to psychoanalysis which are open to students, staff and members of the public.

Your future

In undertaking this course you’ll study a range of psychoanalytic concepts - applying them to individuals, relationships and organisations, which will provide you with a unique perspective of why we are the way we are, on understanding others and knowing how to relate to them, which will make you suited for further clinical training, postgraduate study in different fields, or employment.

With around 80% of our students moving on to postgraduate study or employment, this course prepares you to move successfully into your own career path.

Key areas of employment for people with these skills include marketing, advertising, human resources, management, the media, care work, teaching or health care. Our recent graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of careers, including:

  • Psychoanalytic therapy
  • Clinical psychology
  • NHS Mental Health work
  • Management Consultancy
  • Country Director (Afghanistan) with the Danish Refugee Council
  • Therapeutic Consultancy

We also work with the University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

* Non-specialist higher education institutions with a survey population of at least 500.

“I never expected to develop such enthusiasm and passion for my chosen subject. I have acquired and built on a range of different skills, and by the end of my first year I had obtained paid employment within two separate organisations: a community interest company in Essex and a registered charity in Suffolk.”

David Bloomfield, FdA Therapeutic Communication and Therapeutic Organisation.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

Our applicants must demonstrate capacity to study for Foundation Degree as evidenced by NVQ, A-level and access courses or other evidence, perhaps including evidence of relevant experience and ability from the workplace.

You will also need a satisfactory screening via the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) (enhanced disclosure).

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall with minimum 5.5 in each component (or equivalent). Different requirements apply for second year entry.

We accept a wide range of other qualifications from applicants studying in the UK, EU and other countries. For further details about the qualifications that we accept, please e-mail us with information about the high school qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

We welcome applications from mature students and students wishing to defer entry.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.


Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory modules and options chosen from lists. Below is just one example of a combination of modules you could take. For a full list of optional modules you can look at the course’s Programme Specification.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change.

Please note that in both years, you choose between two modules - Theory, Practice and Responsibility (Child and Adolescent) and Theory, Practice and Responsibility (Adult) - depending on your preferred route.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Work-based Learning 1

Want to work independently? Keen to learn through practice? Continue your normal work responsibilities and individual casework while receiving expert supervision. Learn to communicate and work effectively in an institutional setting. Take this opportunity to discuss your overall work experience with aspects of your degree scheme in mind.

View Work-based Learning 1 on our Module Directory

Understanding Individuals Groups and Organisations : An Introduction to Psychodynamic Concepts

How do unconscious dynamics work in individuals, groups and organisations? How can psychodynamic insight be applied to this? Explore how individuals affect one another, how institutions affect those who work there and vice versa. Understand key concepts in psychodynamic thinking and how to apply this to individuals, groups and workplaces.

View Understanding Individuals Groups and Organisations : An Introduction to Psychodynamic Concepts on our Module Directory

Introduction to Psychodynamic Observation and Reflective Practice

How do you apply psychodynamic theory to everyday events? What role does the unconscious play in ordinary life? Gain a theoretical and practice-based understanding of psychodynamic observation. Develop practical skills in assessment and case presentation, while becoming more perceptive and reflective of what you observe.

View Introduction to Psychodynamic Observation and Reflective Practice on our Module Directory

Child, Adolescent and Adult Development

How are foundations of emotional development laid down in early life? What impact do early experiences have on future social and learning? Study personality development from a psychodynamic and attachment perspective. Examine key development stages to see how work with clients requires understanding of the initial roots of their difficulties.

View Child, Adolescent and Adult Development on our Module Directory

Theory, Practice and Responsibility (Child and Adolescent)

What are the complexities of human relationships? You will learn and explore different topics, linking relevant theories to clinical observation and connecting them with your work-based practice. Each week you will explore a different topic, through peer-reviewed articles, case studies, anecdotes from professional sources and first-hand DVD diaries of looked after children.

View Theory, Practice and Responsibility (Child and Adolescent) on our Module Directory

Trauma and Recovery: A Psychodynamic Approach

What place does trauma have within psychoanalytic thinking? What impact does loss have on children? Or on adolescents and adults? Explore human development and organisational dynamics by studying themes of child abuse, deprivation, loss and trauma. Understand the implications for organisations working with traumatised people.

View Trauma and Recovery: A Psychodynamic Approach on our Module Directory

Advanced Psychodynamic Observation and Reflective Practice

How can you apply psychodynamic theory to everyday events? What do you understand about the role of unconscious and emotional communication in ordinary life? Understand and practice the skills of psychodynamic observation. Become more perceptive and understand the meaning of what you observe.

View Advanced Psychodynamic Observation and Reflective Practice on our Module Directory

Violence and Containment: A Psychosocial Approach to Physical and Psychological Violence

Why are some people violent towards children? What are the underlying reasons for antisocial behaviour? Examine psychodynamic thinking to issues around aggression, violence and antisocial behaviour, as well wider socio-political topics. Explore psychodynamic applications in social and health care, culture and society.

View Violence and Containment: A Psychosocial Approach to Physical and Psychological Violence on our Module Directory

Group Relations and Professional Life

What are the challenges faced by organisations in getting the best out of their teams and how can you operate within group dynamics? This module includes reflective practice groups and a three day residential Group Relations Conference. Here you will learn through experience about the complex world of group, organisational and social dynamics and gain a greater understanding of the key features of organisational life including roles, leadership, conflict and participation. You will also look at how conscious and unconscious factors impact effectiveness and influence the relationships between individuals and groups within the work place and large institutions.

View Group Relations and Professional Life on our Module Directory

Work-based Learning 2

Want to work independently? Keen to learn through practice? Continue your normal work responsibilities and individual casework while receiving expert supervision. Learn to communicate and work effectively in an institutional setting. Take this opportunity to discuss your overall work experience with aspects of your degree scheme in mind.

View Work-based Learning 2 on our Module Directory

Critical Analysis of Psychodynamic Theory and Practice

The aim of this module is to enhance your psychodynamic thinking and practice in specialist areas. You will develop your knowledge of the psychodynamic field and become more familiar with interventions in specialist areas, with the aim of developing further understanding of and the application of the transference and countertransference phenomena. The module emphasises skills in critical analysis.

View Critical Analysis of Psychodynamic Theory and Practice on our Module Directory


  • Teaching takes place in relatively small seminars and fora, with a focus on group discussion
  • Discussion in seminars includes both discussing other peoples’ work and discussing your own experiences in the workplace
  • You also undertake supervised clinical practice, participate in skills based workshops, and teach others through presentation of theoretical readings and clinical cases


  • Your grade is made up entirely of coursework marks, including essays and reflective reports

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee


As part of your course, you’re required to undertake work-based observations and attend a conference. You may incur associated travel costs.

International fee


As part of your course, you’re required to undertake work-based observations and attend a conference. You may incur associated travel costs. EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.


If you are interested in applying for this course you will need to complete our online application form. If you have any questions please contact ppsug@essex.ac.uk for further information on how to apply.

Applicant Days and interviews

Resident in the UK? If your application is successful, we will invite you to attend one of our applicant days. These run from January to April and give you the chance to explore the campus, meet our students and really get a feel for life as an Essex student.

Some of our courses also hold interviews and if you’re invited to one, this will take place during your applicant day. Don’t panic, they’re nothing to worry about and it’s a great way for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the course. Some of our interviews are one-to-one with an academic, others are group activities, but we’ll send you all the information you need beforehand.

If you’re outside the UK and are planning a trip, feel free to email applicantdays@essex.ac.uk so we can help you plan a visit to the University.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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