These courses often range from about 6 – 10 weeks in duration and provide an introduction to counselling. The content will vary between institution, but they will include some basic counselling skills and learning about the profession. They are sometimes a requirement to undertake a certificate course.
These can be anything from around 20 weeks to two years. Some will provide a certificate accredited by an awarding body, and some will provide a certificate from the institution studied at. They consist of more in-depth learning than an introductory course, and a greater amount of practical skills practice.
Training Courses - Diploma/Degree/Masters Degree
These are the courses that will provide professional training in counselling, which will allow you to practice as a counsellor once completed. They are usually two or three years, but there is a full-time, one-year masters degree at one university, and some that are four years in duration.
It is important to check whether the course you are interested in is accredited by a body such as the BACP, because although you will still qualify on a non-accredited course, you will have more work to do afterwards if you want to gain individual accreditation.
There are various approaches to counselling, such as person-centred, psychodynamic and CBT, and it is important that you choose the one that is right for you, not just the one taught at the closest institution.
These are different to the qualifying masters degrees discussed above, and are intended for people who already have a counselling qualification. They provide the opportunity for you to develop your skills further, and undertake relevant research. They are usually one to three years in duration, often studied part-time.
After gaining at least two years of post-qualification experience, it is possible to undertake a diploma which will qualify you to supervise other counsellors. These courses are usually a year long.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
It is important that counsellors continue to develop their skills, knowledge and experience throughout their careers. This provides an awareness of any developments in the profession, but also ensures that each practitioner is able to provide a professional service to their clients. Examples of CPD are workshops, which can be as short as a couple of hours, courses in additional skills such as online counselling, which can be one day or several days or weeks in duration, and also attendance at conferences.