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What Qualifications are Needed?

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 3 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Counselling Qualifications Training

Before selecting a Counselling qualification it is worth considering your personal and vocational strengths, along with previous academic achievements. Many graduates end up following a career that has no reflection on their course of specialisation. Understanding that certain types of profession require a particular qualification will help you define your career choice more easily.

Before applying for a study course always research and carefully check the entry requirements. Some Counselling courses require that you complete a foundation or introductory course of study before embarking on more in-depth training. There may also be an age restriction, depending on the particular course you are interested in. Details of all the current counselling courses available will help you make an informed choice, and will provide you with all the information you will require about the course you are interested in studying.

Tools of the Trade

Qualifications are tools that help you to understand and do the work you have chosen to do, in the most effective and productive way. Counselling is made up of many specialist fields, so it is important that you select the correct course of study, that leads to the required qualification, in the field you would like to specialise in.

In order to select the ideal counselling course for you, take your time researching any relevant courses, career and occupational information and options available. Taking time to research, before embarking on a course of study, with ensure you select the ideal specialisation for your requirements.

At present in the UK however, no minimum qualifications are required to practise as a Counsellor.

Degree or Diploma?

If you prefer to learn, with an emphasis on theoretical knowledge, and enjoy research and basic scientific methods, a degree would be the ideal choice for you. A degree will prepare you for a particular professional occupation, like that of a psychologist.

If your focus is on a more practical level, a diploma could be the best choice for you. Diplomas offer training for specific careers. If you are simply looking to improve your skills and knowledge, in a specific field or area of study, a certificate, or short learning course, is also worth considering.

If you already have a degree you may consider a Masters qualification. Some counselling courses however, may require that you complete an Introductory course in the relevant subject.

Accreditation

Many employers, and clients, require that a counsellor is accredited. A professional qualification, and accreditation, that is recognised by a professional body like the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) will stand you in good stead when researching career openings.

In-depth training courses will reward you with an accreditation certificate. This type of course usually requires at least one full year of study, or two to three years of part-time study. A period of supervised placement is also a requirement.

Further Qualifications

Once you have gained a Counselling accreditation you may decide that you would like to continue learning and developing your skills. Many specialist areas of counselling offer training to those professionals who already work in a relevant field. You can however, add a specialist qualification to training you have already gained on a substantial training course.

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@Flo - you sound as though you have the right qualifications to set you on a further course of study. Specialising is good. But it's a long, hard, comeptitive slog and you would have to do further study, maybe even a second degree. What about an MA in counselling? They do one in London Goldsmiths.Best of luck.
RaV - 5-Dec-17 @ 10:50 AM
Hello there, I am a 34 year old female and mother of three young children. Two of our children are of school/nursery age and I have just a few years before our last child will follow suit. I have been a stay-at-home mum for the last six years and I am thinking now about what I will do when I return to work when our youngest is at nursery full-time. I have a BA in Theological Studies - a II:I from Exeter University; I also have a PGCE in Secondary Religious Education, although I never taught full time afterwards and did not, therefore, gain my full qualification with QTS. I have always been interested in counselling as a career and yet now, a little older and with mor elide experience - particularly that of parenting perhaps - I feel in a better position to make a more rounded application. There seems to be an increased interest in and effort from the government around issues of mental health generally, and particularly in children's mental health and early intervention within schools. I would love to gain the correct qualifications that would enable me to apply for school counsellor positions, for example. What would my best training options be? I am based in London. Many thanks indeed for any input or advice you are able to give.
Flo - 3-Dec-17 @ 8:19 PM
Hi. I am nearing 40 and am looking to change career and counselling is something what I want to get in to. Have no qualifications regarding counselling so would be starting from scratch. I have diploma in Nursing studies. Thanks
PD - 9-Nov-17 @ 12:46 PM
Hello, I am 55 and been social work qualified for many years. I also have an advanced diploma in counselling and group work -2years part time whilst practicing as a. Social worker so in full time placement. I am now in a position where I can choose to leave work. I would like to establish a wellbeing retreat, available to professionals looking for 1:1or group time out. Would offer physical treatments, as well as talking therapies, and coaching. Do I need to acquire additional counselling qualifications to offer private counselling group work or life coaching? Many thanks Lel
Lel - 29-Oct-17 @ 9:11 AM
@Ali27 - it would take a long time as in order to work professionally you would really need to get to degree standard and more to be able to get a job. I don't wish to dampen your enthusiasm, but it's also a really competitive field. There are a lot of university open days currently for next year, why don't you go and speak to someone and see what the best path is. At least it will put things into context and where there is a will, there's always a way.
ToddJ - 23-Oct-17 @ 11:54 AM
Hi. I am nearing 50 and am looking to change career and counselling is something wanted to get into.Keep getting pulled in that direction! Have no qualifications egarding this so would be starting from scratch.Unfortunately can’t do this full time as still need to work How would I go about this part time/evenings and how many years would this take? Thanks
Ali27 - 22-Oct-17 @ 9:38 AM
These are the courses i have nearly completed. How far can i get with these? I will be continuing my learning on various seminars with Cruse to help families and children with bereavement. The BSY Professional Certificate of Merit in Basic Counselling. Award 1- The professional ASC Advanced Counselling Skills Diploma and will become a Registered BSY Advanced Counselling Skills Practitioner (level 3) Award 2- ABC certification of achievement at Level 3. Award 1 – The BSY Professional Certificate of Merit in Bereavement Counselling. Award 2- ABC certification of achievement at Level 3 for Bereavement Counselling. I have been told i can practise with these qualifications? (not that i would for a further couple more years training etc)
stef34 - 3-Oct-17 @ 2:09 PM
Good evening, Firstly, thank you very much for your very helpful article. I have completed an Hons degree in psychology & i have decided to pursue a career in counselling. I have completed Level 2 & 3 Certificates in counselling and i am due to do the level 4 diploma starting in September. I have been offered a place for a BACP accredited master degree in counselling & psychotherapy. I am really struggling to decide between the Diploma & the Master degree, I do understand the difference in terms of academic expectations and work load but i am still unclear about the difference in career prospects or outcome between the two routes. Would you be able to clarify what is the difference in terms of prospect & outcome between these two types of training? Thank you very much for your help again. Kind regards, Frenchuk
Frenchuk - 8-Jun-17 @ 7:10 PM
Hello, I have been teaching for 24 years, 10 of which in international schools. I came back to the UK 5 years ago, went back to college to do a Professional Diploma in Therapeutic counselling (BTEC 5) giving me the chance to become school counsellor. Since then I was able to teach Health and Social Care and Psychology in a college. Itching to go abroad again, I am now applying for positions as counsellor in international schools but most of them seem to require experience in career guidance and college applications, which I don't really have. I am thinking of doing an accredited online course at level 4 in Career Counselling to gain the knowledge and confidence. If you are or have been in this situation, I would be grateful for any advice. I have worked as a school counsellor for many years now in the UK and abroad but just don't feel confident about the career side of the job.
mincepie - 5-Jun-17 @ 8:47 AM
Hi, I competed an access to HE diploma in counselling. I don't want to move onto the degree and was wondering if the BACP would accept this qualification to start counselling privately with this under my belt. Regards, Tommy
Tommy - 10-May-17 @ 2:20 PM
i have recently completed an online course for counselling and an advanced course for counselling through a british companycalled bsy will i be able to get a job with this
biggirl - 2-May-17 @ 7:55 PM
Heya, just wondering what courses would be best to start to learn counselling? Would it be better to start on a level 2 to give me a understanding of it? Or go straight to level 3/4 and do open university? I have my level 3 in health and social care... have worked in mental health and ex offenders and rehab places... all for about 7 years, but I'm 24 and want a change and counselling would probably be best! Let me know, would really help. Thank you
Matt - 5-Apr-17 @ 2:46 PM
I completed a BS degree in Psychology at San Francisco State Uni in 2003 and a MA degree in Counseling from John F Kennedy Uni in Oakland in 2006. I completed approx 750 supervised hours between 2005 and 2007. Since 2006 I've been working in a behavioral health organization doing telephone crisis counseling. I am interested in relocating to the U.K. and completing any requirements for accreditation then working in a group practice or center. What is the best way to proceed with accreditation? Do I need to secure a position somewhere first? Thank you.
Lisa - 29-Mar-17 @ 6:22 AM
I have decided to tsje up s level 3 counselling course, do I need s placement, how can I source counselling organisations that provide placements for student's. I was also looking inti counselling internships, but I do not quite understand how internships work.
Mel - 15-Jan-17 @ 11:52 PM
i am completed diploma nurse, iwanna become a psychiatric counceller. so,what degree should i need to complete. pls,provide me a good suggestion.
yuva - 30-Dec-16 @ 12:28 AM
Jude - Your Question:
I am 57 and want to develop a new career as a psychotherapist, as I love working and helping people and have done throughout my career. I graduated at 22 in English/Sociology BA hons. I have run my own outplacement / career management company for 18 years where I've worked with people up to director level, helping them gain self esteem, achieve and sort out problems to get to a level where they are happy. I've helped people who are totally despondent gain direction and reach a place where they are happy. I am s good listener, empathetic motivational and love helping people. As a budiness coach at director level I've helped people develop and grow. My mother has is controlled I bipolar and I've helped her regain her life for 20 years. My nephew has mental problems too and I have always been a pillar for him. ive also helped anorexic family member. I've always helped people and would love to change career direction to be a psychotherapist. I've seen the BSY advanced psychotherapy course and diploma - would attaining this help towards practising as a psychotherapist?

Our Response:
As specified in the article, while counsellors and psychotherapists are not regulated by law, it means in theory anyone can practice. However, most employers, and increasingly clients, understand the importance of using a therapist who is professionally trained and qualified, and is a member of a professional body. You can see more via the BCAP link here. You obviously have the right grounding, but we cannot comment on the BSY course and how recognised the qualification may be in professional circles, as it comes under the banner of 'complementary therapies'. Therefore, I advise you do some more research regarding what stage of the profession you wish to reach and whether a one year Masters course may be more professionally beneficial.
TheCounsellorsGuide - 18-Nov-16 @ 12:40 PM
I am 57 and want to develop a new career as a psychotherapist, as I love working and helping people and have done throughout my career. I graduated at 22in English/Sociology BA hons.I have run my own outplacement / career management company for 18 years where I've worked with people up to director level, helping them gain self esteem, achieve and sort out problems to get to a level where they are happy. I've helped people who are totally despondent gain direction and reach a place where they are happy. I am s good listener, empathetic motivational and love helping people. As a budiness coach at director level I've helped people develop and grow. My mother has is controlled I bipolar and I've helped her regain her life for 20 years. My nephew has mental problems too and I have always been a pillar for him. ive also helped anorexic family member. I've always helped people and would love to change career direction to be a psychotherapist. I've seen the BSY advanced psychotherapy course and diploma - would attaining this help towards practising as a psychotherapist?
Jude - 17-Nov-16 @ 9:25 PM
I have a Heath and social care degree and have a health and social care management certificate. During my course I have studied psychology and counselling. Would I need to do an additional course. I have experience of working with students with complex needs and I have used my counselling skills which were successful. Could anyone help please.
Trina - 10-Nov-16 @ 8:13 PM
I'm a House surgeon student of BHMS.i would like to study councelling too...please help me
jubi - 8-Oct-16 @ 3:06 PM
Hello, I am a qualified primary teacher and would like to go into counsellingand would like to know how to start what courses are available and what are the entry requirements
Sham - 2-Sep-16 @ 9:03 AM
Hello,I have got a diploma in counseling but never got a job as a counsellor. Life took me on a different path. I am now 52 years old and sitting here pondering about the what ifs. I have always and still love to be involved with people and wondered where I can go now with this qualification.Any advice would be appreciated.
Paulalynn - 26-Aug-16 @ 1:17 PM
I am a qualified secondary history teacher and have been employed In this role for the past six years. I have decided I'd like a career change and would like to become a counsellor in an educational setting instead. Given that I already have a history degree and a PGCE, are there any conversion courses I can do or do I have to start from the bottom with regard to training again?
EskimoMelon - 20-Aug-16 @ 7:03 AM
nik - Your Question:
Hi, I am nikki from India.I have lost my path to career. I am nw 26 yrs. But, m jobless, its not tht m not getting job.bt d degrees I have I do not wants to go in that field.After 12th I completed Air hosstess training, also got selected for Indigo airlines bt due to parents concern and conservative mentality I droped it and completed my Bachelors in science and later on also nw m done with my masters degree in science.specialization in zoology.I can further make a job in dis field bt sumwer I stil don't feel happy to b in it.I have realized that m gud at understanding people problems.I also hv keen interest in observing people, knowig dem, about d subjectt of psychology n etc.My frends share der sorrows n problms wid me n dey say dey feel great and motivated after talkin to me.I love to talk, gv advice n m very mch sure that I wil b a great councellor.bt, it says I need to hv a psychology degree wich I do not have.bt wants to become a councellor.plz Councellors help me out.n also I wants to b a councellor in al field,.lik for marriage, relationships, schools, communities n etc.plz guide me soon so that I take my decisions fast on it.Thank you.waiting eagerly for ur guidance n advices.

Our Response:
I have included a link to National Careers which gives you more information on what you need to take the next step, if this is the route you wish to take, here. I have also included a psychology link here. However, please be aware these qualifications are for UK-study only, as we are a UK-based site. If you wanted to combine your zoology qualifications, then you may be able to specialise in pet behaviour, please see link here . If you took this route, you would be working with both owners and animals.
TheCounsellorsGuide - 3-Aug-16 @ 10:23 AM
Hi, I am nikki from India.I have lost my path to career . I am nw 26 yrs. But, m jobless, its not tht m not getting job...bt d degrees i have i do not wants to go in that field.After 12th i completed Air hosstess training, also got selected for Indigo airlines bt due to parents concern and conservative mentality i droped it and completed my Bachelors in science and later on also nw m done with my masters degree in science..specialization in zoology.I can further make a job in dis field bt sumwer i stil don't feel happy to b in it.I have realized that m gud at understanding people problems.I also hv keen interest in observing people, knowig dem, about d subjectt of psychology n etc...My frends share der sorrows n problms wid me n dey say dey feel great and motivated after talkin to me.I love to talk, gv advice n m very mch sure that i wil b a great councellor.bt, it says i need to hv a psychology degree wich i do not have...bt wants to become a councellor...plz Councellors help me out...n also i wants to b a councellor in al field,...lik for marriage, relationships, schools, communities n etc...plz guide me soon so that i take my decisions fast on it. Thank you. waiting eagerly for ur guidance n advices.
nik - 2-Aug-16 @ 10:02 AM
I am msc counselling psychotherapist finished in tnou open universitybut I want a good experience in this field what can I dofor next my career developing ? Pls msg me
Priya - 31-May-16 @ 3:44 PM
i have level 2 counselling skills, can i get into a counselling job with this or would i have to look at voluntary? or even go on to do level 3, many thanks
nic - 30-Apr-16 @ 9:40 AM
Hi I have a foundation degree in working with young people and would like to become a young people's counsellor. What course would you recommend?
Roseyem - 11-Mar-16 @ 7:20 PM
Hi, can you private counsel with a HNC level 4 counselling qualification?
Ribbons - 29-Sep-15 @ 7:38 AM
I'm interested in working in America but I've read that you have to have a Masters degree in counselling to obtain a license. I have a Level 4 diploma in Person-centred and a Level 5 diploma in CBT and live in the UK. I can't find any information about whether or not these qualifications would allow me to work in the U.S. or whether I would need to get a degree first. It's also not made clear which Beitish degree is the equivalent of an American Masters. I'm so confused!!
Mags - 28-Sep-15 @ 9:01 PM
Joy - Your Question:
I have a certificate in theory and skills and a diplomas with CSCT. I would like to start a business and counsel at home. Would you have any ideas where to start?

Our Response:
You can find out more from the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy, BACP, link here. I hope this helps.
TheCounsellorsGuide - 4-Sep-15 @ 10:06 AM
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