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Need-To-Know Facts About Accredited Counselling Courses

Are you considering a career in counselling? With the UK currently suffering a chronic shortage of mental health professionals - at a detriment of approximately 2,000 workers, according to recent data - combined with the ever-increasing demand for mental health care services, there has never been a better, nor more urgent time to enter this essential field. 


Whether you’re hoping to develop your counselling career fresh out of college or university, or you’re a professional who is looking to change careers, you might be wondering how counselling training actually works. After all, there isn’t one strict route that every trainee follows, and you’ll often find that many qualified counsellors come from many different professional backgrounds. Fortunately, we’ve put together this guide of essential facts that will help you get a better picture of what counsellor qualifications in the UK actually look like. 


Ready to get clued up? Let’s dive in. 



young woman talking to a counsellor


What Does a Counsellor Do?

Counselling is a term we hear thrown around often, and a lot of the time you’ll find that it is used interchangeably to describe other types of mental healthcare professionals, such as therapists, psychologists and mentors. While there are some small distinctions, the main thing to know is that a counsellor is one who aims to help people to discuss their thoughts and feelings, and identify any difficulties they may be facing. 


Like all mental health professionals, counsellors provide a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment within which to help clients reflect on their choices, past experiences and behaviour and encourage them to make positive and effective changes in their life. Crucially, counsellors are not expected to give advice to clients, but instead are there to act as a facilitator to support people to overcome their problems.


Counsellors might choose to see clients from a wide range of backgrounds and ages with whom they will work on a variety of issues, or they may opt to specialise their practice, such as working with children, couples, the bereaved, those coping with a specific type of mental illness and so on. They might work as part of a large organisation like the NHS, or a smaller private practice or charity. Some counsellors even choose to establish their own practice or work on a freelance basis. 



Why Counselling Accreditation Matters

Counsellors in the UK work without a formal licensing structure, which means that the title of ‘counsellor’ isn’t a legally protected one. As a result of this, employers, insurance companies and online directories where counsellors advertise their usually demand counsellors be members of a professional body. This is why, if you’re looking into becoming a counsellor, training under an accredited counselling course is crucial. 


Accredited counselling courses are designed to equip trainees with the knowledge, skills and ethical understanding necessary to practise as a professional counsellor. Counselling and psychotherapy courses are recognised and endorsed by reputable accrediting bodies, which signify that they meet very high standards of quality and professionalism. In the UK, accreditation is most commonly provided by organisations such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or the National Counselling Society (NCS).


Some of the biggest benefits of choosing an accredited counselling course include:


  • Professional credibility: Holding a reputable accreditation easily validates a counsellor’s expertise and commitment to practising ethically. 

  • Building trust: Proof that you’ve trained on an accredited counselling course provides clients with reassurance in your skills and reliability as a mental healthcare professional. 

  • Career advancement: Holding an accredited certificate opens doors to new career opportunities.

  • Professional development: Accredited counselling courses encourage ongoing learning and development, allowing you to enhance your knowledge and services well into your professional career. 


The Counselling Training Process

Because there are no mandatory qualifications and training courses required for becoming a counsellor, the training process can look a little different for everyone. However, there are certain routes that it’s recommended you follow by accrediting bodies such as the BACP. This initial, three-stage approach typically takes 3-4 years to complete, and can lead to further training opportunities if you wish to specialise your practice. 


  1. Introduction to Counselling

Taking an introductory course will help you determine whether counselling is the right career path for you. It will help you to gain basic counselling skills and provide an overview of what training involves before you commit to it fully. 


Key Counselling Training’s Level 2 Foundation Counselling Course is the ideal equivalent to this stage. This course includes three key units: 


  • Unit 1: The Professional Context of Counselling

  • Unit 2: Communication Skills in Helping Relationships

  • Unit 3: An Introduction to Personal Development


You will have 3 small assignments for this course. We will teach you everything you need to know in order for you to complete the assignments.  You will be given an extensive workbook with all the information needed. For your practical learning, you will have skills feedback sheets to evidence your practical skills and to map your development. 



At this level, you will start to experience some personal development, and this course aims to provide you with all of the necessary learning to move on to intermediate level 3, which is the certificate level.



Stage 2: Certificate in Counselling Skills 

At this stage, you will develop fundamental counselling skills and a deeper understanding of counselling theory, ethics and self-awareness. This is training that could come in handy if your job role involves advising or helping people, even if you don’t plan on becoming a counsellor. 


Key Counselling Trainig’s Level 3 Certificate in Counselling aims to provide the above. Trainees will further their knowledge and understanding of three key counselling theories. They will also gain an understanding of person-centred counselling, CBT and psychodynamic theories as comparative theories. As well as this, they will develop your understanding of how theory and skills are utilised within counselling sessions.


This in-depth training allows you to develop your counselling skills competently. It will enable you to learn how to manage a formal 30-minute counselling skills session, with a full contract and a suitable, sensitive and safe ending of the session.


This Level 3 is not classed as an award. It is a full certificate, which is what you will require in order to ensure a place for the diploma training. Upon successful completion of the intermediate certificate course, you will then be able to apply for the Level 4 diploma.



Stage 3: Core Practitioner Training

This will provide you with the necessary skills, knowledge and competence to work as a counsellor. Core practitioner training should be at the minimum level of a diploma in counselling or therapy, but could also count as a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or doctorate. 


If you choose to go down the diploma route, Key Counselling Training’s Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling is an excellent choice. In this course, you will learn to blend two theories of Transactional Analysis - a personality and communication model - with Gestalt - an experiential model of the unconscious processes, perceptions and exploration of senses and awareness. You will use creative learning to enable you to provide safe and effective interventions when applying techniques to specific, sensitive issues, such as anxiety, depression, bereavement and phobias.


You will also complete 100 hours of supervised practice, of which we can provide up to 45 hours or do our best to help you to secure a placement nearer to where you live. We have a list of approved low-cost supervisors who support and work with our learners to provide the supervision needed for SEG-accredited training.


Further Training

While completion of a diploma means you will be recognised as a fully-qualified counsellor, you might decide you want to develop your skills further or specialise in a specific type of counselling. At Key Counselling Training, we can facilitate this choice - offering a wide range of training courses and CPD workshops designed for advanced professional development. These include:


  • Diploma for counselling children

  • Diploma for integrative psychology 

  • Counselling couples

  • Understanding eating disorders

  • Phobia cure technique

  • Hypnotherapy

  • Gay affirmative therapy


Remote Counselling Training

Did you know that you can train to become a counsellor both remotely and in-person? Key Counselling Training can provide remote learning options for many of our accredited counselling courses for students who would like the option to learn from home - or anywhere with an internet connection! Alternatively, you can also choose to attend classes in-person at our training centre in Birmingham. Having the choice of both provides students with the necessary flexibility to complete their training in a timeframe that suits them and their lifestyle best. 


Award Winning Counselling Qualifications in the UK

Here at Key Counselling Training, we provide a range of accredited counselling and psychotherapy courses, available in our training centres, located in Birmingham and Devon, as well as online through remote learning.


We work to help aspiring and qualified counsellors reach their full potential and obtain their certificates in counselling. From a counselling Level 2 online course to advanced CBT therapy training, whatever your requirement is, get in touch with a member of our professional and highly qualified team to find out more about our courses and how we can help you to achieve your counselling career goals.


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