Student Counsellors

Counselling and Psychotherapy Students

As a counselling student, you have embarked on one of the hardest and at the same time, most enjoyable and rewarding journies of your life. The costs of training, supervision, personal therapy and books are high however if you have the right information from the start, you can keep them to a minimum.  See below for questions that counselling students frequently ask.

If you are thinking about training to become a Counsellor or Psychotherapist, researching this can be really daunting

With no statutory regulation in the UK, choosing an ethical and credible course which can lead to membership with one of the main UK professional bodies is a minefield.

There are many courses out there to choose from but choosing the right one for you and your potential ‘future’ clients is really important if you would like to make your career in the field of Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Which is why we have thought about some of the questions you may have and answered them below:

Should I do taster courses to see if I think counselling is for me?

That’s a really good idea, most taster courses last about 6 to 10 weeks and cover the very basics. Most are designed to help ‘potential’ counselling students decide if they would like a career in counselling and psychotherapy.

Which type of training do I choose?

This is entirely up to you, however sometimes it is best to go for a course that suits your philosophy on life (eg) some people believe that everything you become as an adult is because of your experiences as a child and how you have 'learnt' to be. Some believe that through a nurturing relationship with a practitioner that shows unconditional positive regard and empathy, which can be enough to affect change. It’s best to research this and think about what option is best for you.

Where do I study?

We have created a website which lists some of reputable courses across the UK.  Please visit our sister site, of course the professional bodies will also list their training courses too.

However if travelling is an issue, consider looking at your local college or university however check with them about the number of face to face classroom hours, a supervised work placement and their personal therapy requirements – they should have a list of the course requirements for you to look over.

What is an accredited course?

An accredited course has met the professional body’s requirements to become an accredited course which ensures that on completion of the course the student member will be able to either:

  • Become a Registered Member
  • Work towards their Accreditation
  • Sit a Proficiency Examination whilst working towards their accreditation

If the course is not accredited, what does that mean for me with regards to my membership of a reputable professional body?

As long as the course has taken a minimum amount of time, had taught face to face classroom hours, a minimum amount of hours in personal therapy and a supervised work placement, you should be able to become a member and take an alternative route to registration or accreditation.

However, all the main UK professional bodies have different requirements – please visit their websites to confirm the requirements of each professional body.

What about orientation or modality – what does that even mean?

Please see this link to the different types of counselling and psychotherapy, this will help you consider your options when choosing a course. Try to choose a course that closely matches your beliefs and that you feel will work best for you when working with future clients. Being real and true to yourself will help develop the therapeutic relationship between you and your clients.

How do I know which course is going to be suitable?

If you have chosen a course which fits in with your beliefs and philosophy on life, then you have given yourself the best chance of ensuring the course is suitable for you.

Other things you may need to consider are cost, location of the training establishment and existing family/work commitments.

I work so I need a part-time course, how long will that take?

Courses take varying amounts of time, most courses to diploma level take a minimum of 3 years part time, some take up to 8 years if you are studying at Masters level on a part-time basis. However, you should check with the college/university about the length of time it will take you to gain your qualification.

What is the minimum requirement for me to be deemed safe and able to practice?

The professional bodies each have their own requirements.

Do I have to find a counselling placement?

Yes, counselling courses require a supervised work placement which means that you will need to undertake supervision to ensure best practice and that you are working within your capabilities.

Your college or university should have a list of local organisations you can approach about a work placement.

Will I have to find a supervisor?

Yes, definitely – the main UK professional bodies see this as a professional requirement.

Supervision ensures best and ethical practice and helps protect clients against oversights and gives the practitioner the chance to reflect on their own feelings, thoughts, behaviour and general approach with the client. You should expect to pay £25 to £60 per session; however some supervisors will offer students a concessionary rate until they gain their qualification.

WilI I need personal therapy, if so, how much will it cost?

Personal therapy is a requirement of reputable courses. It helps the student practitioner understand how difficult it can be to sit in the clients chair and also gives the student an opportunity to work on their own issues as we all have them.

This work is invaluable when working with clients whose issues may touch our own and it really helps us to understand and separate what feelings are ours and what feelings belong to the client. Supervision and experience will also help with this.

Most Counsellors and Psychotherapists offer concessionary rates for students as they understand how expensive it is to train in the field of counselling and psychotherapy. You should expect to pay £25 to £40 per session. The number of sessions required by your training establishment is usually no less than twenty.

What about getting accredited/registered as a counsellor with a main UK professional body?

Again, the requirements and time taken to gain accreditation or registration is down to the main UK professional body you choose to join – joining a professional body can also be dependent on location (eg) COSCA is Scotland, IACP is Ireland.

There are some reciprocal memberships in place (eg) IACP and COSCA will accept BACP Accredited Counsellors and visa versa and UKCP will accept ICP (Irish Council of Psychotherapists) and visa versa. This ensures only reputable counsellors can work nationally.

Accreditation can take years to achieve and with that in mind, you can start to work towards it early on in your career by ensuring you keep a counselling hours log, records of CPD days, additional training and hours of supervision will all help when you are ready to start the accreditation process.

Please visit the professional body websites (Internal link to pro body contact page) for more information on their accreditation and registration requirements..

I want to work for an organisation or the NHS, how do I go about this?

Most counselling services within the NHS were phased out in about 2007 and replaced with IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) which offers short term counselling, CBT (telephone, computerised or face to face) or group therapy. IAPT train and employ their own practitioners.

To work for an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) like BUPA, PPP and Atos, most will only employ accredited/registered practitioners. You would need to contact them to find out their requirements.  However most insist on being accredited.

Are there any other costs associated with training to become a counsellor or psychotherapist?

In addition to the costs of your counselling course, other costs you will incur are:

  • Supervision
  • Personal Therapy
  • Student Insurance
  • Student Membership with a Professional Body
  • Books

Don’t forget you will also need stationery and have to get to your course so factor in travelling costs and any childcare if you have children.  Also many courses will have a residential weekend once a year.

Non Recognised Counselling Training

It is of course easier and safer to enrol on an accredited and/or recognised course which fits the main UK professional body’s criteria for membership.

If in doubt that the course you are considering will be adequate and safe for you to practice on completion, contact the professional body to discuss the course you are considering, they will be able to tell you if they will grant you membership based on the course.

Knowledge is Power...

Whichever course you choose there will be a lot of reading so you can prepare yourself by looking at some of the reading material which could be used on your course.