Counselling, which is a branch of therapy allows individuals to talk about their problems, issues, feelings and anxieties with a professional within a confidential, dependable and reliable environment.
A counsellor is trained to listen to individuals with problems with empathy and the ability to understand the issues of the patient. They will aid the person to deal with any negative feelings and thoughts and the processes involved to move past these negative feelings and problems.
Counselling, although seen as similarly as a Psychology degree programme, it’s different and the two areas require varying paths to be taken for completing. Psychology is concerned with how our brains work, and what this means for behaviour, relationships and feelings, whereas counselling is focused on aspects on how to positively get a person through therapy. Additionally, psychology and psychologists may use therapy as a way to treat and diagnose their patients; the branches are different.
Students should check with their chosen universities and desired degree courses to ensure they understand what they need to gain admission to the course. Universities can ask for varying entry requirements, from 280 UCAS tariff points, work experience or A-levels in similar fields of study such as Psychology.
There are Bachelor’s of Arts (BA) and Bachelors of Science (BSc) degrees available for candidates interested in this field of study, including, BA Counselling Theatre Studies, BA Counselling and Sociology, BA Counselling and Theology and BSc Psychology and Counselling degree.
Studying counselling as a joint honours degree will open up diverse areas of study to those interested in branching out their speciality.
Counselling degrees are typically three years unless a student chooses to enrol on to a course that includes a sandwich year. A sandwich year tends to be between second and third years of study and involves student gaining work experience as part of their course, which can aid them in seeking employment upon graduation.
For some counselling degrees or courses, the institution asks students to take part in their own counselling – to understand what it is like to seek and complete therapy as well as dealing with any issues they may have, in the context of the process.
Students will learn through attending lectures, seminars and tutorials, as well as completing assessments and group project work. Candidates will also participate in role-playing activities with their peers as lecturers teach them the tools of becoming a counsellor, allowing students to understand the practical part of the process.
Degree courses will be assessed within a variety of ways, including lectures, participating percentage, skill improvement, presentations, group talks, coursework and written examinations. The weighting factor or each method of assessment will depend on the course, as two degrees which are similar can be assessed in entirely different ways, choosing the right university and course is an important issue and will need time and patients. Therefore students who prefer a specific method of assessment, whether they are comfortable with examinations, or prefer to hand in coursework, are advised to research the methods of assessments prior to their UCAS application.
Furthermore, there may be opportunities to take part in practical assessments with role [playing techniques and working with others in your class.
The first year of the degree, where students learn the foundations of the course by taking core modules (compulsory) tends to not count towards the final degree classification.
Counselling offers students practical skills and the ability to analyse and interpret information submitted to them. Individuals will learn the issues, feelings and problems of others and be able to decipher and make connections to help people overcome these.
These analytical skills will be beneficial for those wishing to pursue a career in counselling. Students who attend university will gain a number of skills which are transferable upon graduation, from time management, organisation skills, social skills; learnt from group work projects, presentations and role-playing techniques.
Studying counselling is ideal for candidates who wish to study a medical subject, but who do not desire to become a Doctor, Nurse, or Midwife. This area is also under constant study and care and is continuously evolving making the subject exciting and never dull. Therapeutic models are being researched, improved and altered as they offer the best modes of therapy to those in need and students of this area need to be at the forefront of this.
Additionally, counselling is perfect for students who wish to study the techniques of therapy more so than how the brain works and how it affects behaviour – which psychology is concerned with.
Counselling as a course area, provides a balance between skills development, professional practice, academic work, personal development and self-awareness. Offering insight into not only how therapy works, but how it affects you.
Counselling is an adaptable degree and is available as an undergraduate degree as well as a postgraduate course.
Upon graduation, students may decide to continue with their studies or to start their journey into the world of work as a graduate. Graduate employment is competitive but with good grades and experience – either from work placement and work experience or through the practical techniques learnt through the course – (Learn more – Is having a placement good for your degree).
There are different counselling employment opportunities, from working within the government and NHS to becoming freelance and working as a self-employed counsellor. Although it is important to bear in mind that individuals who seek self-employed counsellors would more likely appreciate a counsellor with experience, recommendations and qualifications.
Students with a counselling degree hold transferable skills such as research and communication, presentation, personal understanding, an ability to work with people in complex situations and maintain an empathetic mindset which is not only beneficial but vital to employment within this sector.
As well as becoming a counsellor, graduates may find employment within tutoring, nursing, careers adviser, probation officer, psychologist, prison officer, youth work and social work.
For those wishing to continue their education may want to complete a Master’s in counselling, addiction psychology, career management, school counselling, coaching, supervision studies and dispute resolution.
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