Certificate Counselling

Entry year
Course code
Professional/Short Course
School of Social Sciences
One year part-time, normally Thursday evenings.
Course Director
Alison Rouse

The application deadline for the September 2024 intake is 25 April 2024.

You will be notified of the outcome of your application by 3 June 2024, and if successful invited to interview during June/July 2024.

Page last updated 6 February 2024


An excellent first step to become a practising counsellor, and useful as a standalone course applicable to a range of roles. There are no pre-requisite formal qualifications, but you must be working in a paid or voluntary setting where counselling skills can be used.

This course is designed for people who work in a setting that involves offering help, support, or guidance to others. People working in education, the NHS, voluntary agencies, social services, government schemes or in the private sector will find the course provides invaluable skills and knowledge.

The next step

The Certificate in Counselling (Level 4) gives you the chance to develop counselling skills, so it is useful for a wide range of roles and also a first step towards full qualification as a Professional Counsellor. This is a foundation enabling you to apply for our professional counsellor qualification on our MA Counselling and Psychotherapy.If you have an undergraduate Psychology degree (with Graduate Basis for Chartership with the British Psychological Society), completing the certificate enables you to apply for our Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology.

We introduce counselling skills through student-centred and experiential learning techniques, with the opportunity to consider a wide variety of counselling-related subjects. For example, you will investigate different models of counselling and learn what it is like to be a client. You'll come to clearly understand client-counsellor contracts, develop self-awareness and learn when counselling is appropriate. You will also be trained in the safe and ethical use of counselling skills, and develop an awareness of its limitations.

Entry requirements

One of the strengths of our course is the diverse backgrounds of our students. Whilst it is desirable that you have studied previously at degree or diploma level, we value and welcome applications from individuals who have navigated 'non-traditional pathways', who have extensive related work experience and valuable life experience to offer and use on the course.

It is essential however, that applicants have a minimum of one year experience working or volunteering in a suitable helping/support role and must be working in a paid or voluntary setting in which basic counselling skills can be used at the time of application. 

As our course has an adult focus, it is essential that you are currently in a suitable role, working with individuals (or groups) who are over 16 years of age. We do not expect applicants to have experience working as counsellors, as this would not be ethical at this level of training. Students have previously volunteered on helplines or as befrienders for example, or have used counselling skills in roles such as nurses, support workers, health care assistants, teachers or social workers.

It is also advantageous if you have taken a short introductory counselling taster course, and if you have had some personal experience of counselling or therapy.

Due to the popularity of the course, we now offer intakes across two evenings. As applications typically exceed the number of places available, you must complete an online or written application and, if short-listed, take part in an interview process. In addition to having relevant employment or volunteering experience, we are looking for applicants who are self-reflective about their own personal histories and have some understanding of how this may impact within their work roles and may have influenced their decision to apply for this course. As such the personal statement, as well as the interview, is a key part of your application process.

Please be aware that deferred entry on this course is not permitted.

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Careers / Further study

This qualification is invaluable to develop your counselling skills and enhance your career prospects if you're in existing employment in education, the NHS, voluntary agencies, social services, government schemes or in the private sector. It can also help those wishing to become professional counsellors to progress onto further study, and is a prerequisite to studying the MA level.

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Watch: The learning and teaching experience



The course comprises several elements to help you develop your counselling skills, along with a firm background knowledge and understanding of its approaches, theories and disciplines:

  • Peer support - You will pair up with a fellow student and meet weekly for peer support. This helps you develop self-awareness and listening skills.
  • Introduction to counselling - This consists of training in basic listening skills, giving and receiving feedback, the use of different types of questions and how to 'challenge' appropriately in your work. We also focus on key issues relating to boundaries and ethical practice.
  • Person-centered, Psychodynamic and Gestalt approaches to counselling - In the first unit of the course, we cover the person-centered approach to give you a solid foundation in the practice of counselling skills. The second unit covers either Psychodynamic or Gestalt counselling skills, to build an understanding of another significant approach in contemporary counselling.
  • Group work - Sessions that involve focusing on the theory of group work and the processes of the group.
  • Practical work - Spread throughout the course, this will include an opportunity to develop your counselling skills with feedback from tutors, as well as developing your assessment and self-assessment skills.
  • Reading - You will be given a reading list which suggests key texts, and undertake other reading set by course tutors.

We provide more specific details of the units at the beginning of the course.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

We encourage you to be actively involved in your own learning. This means working in groups of various sizes, practising counselling skills in small groups, completing written assignments, video work and taking part in discussions.

Some of the teaching and learning is personal, in that you will be asked to use personal material in skills practice sessions (instead of role play).

For more details see our glossary of teaching and learning terms.

Study time

One year part-time - held in the evenings (there is likely to be a choice between Wednesday or Thursday evenings. This may change, please check for up to date details).

This course consists of 24 three-hour sessions - one a week, held from 18:00 to 21:00. There are also two one-day workshops (one each term), which are usually on a Friday so they follow Thursday evening's session.

The workshops are an essential part of the course, and you must also meet with a fellow student each week for peer support. The total contact time (class and peer support) amounts to 108 hours.

For this course, you also need to be involved in a setting where you can practice your counselling skills weekly, for example, using your counselling skills in your paid employment or work for a voluntary agency. In the final term we expect you to present an example of your counselling skills work and to receive supervision on it.

You will also need to set aside time for private study. To get the most from this course, we recommend around 8 hours of private study each week.


Study facilities

You'll have access to a range of on-campus and online facilities to support your learning, including the University library which is open 24 hours a day. The Department of Health and Social Sciences has an excellent reputation for the quality of its teaching and the facilities it provides.

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Prices and dates

Supplementary fee information

Home/EU part-time award fee - £2,250.

More information on fees can be found on our tuition fees pages.

How to apply

How to apply

Follow the link below to begin your online application:

Certificate in Counselling

Please note the application deadline for this course is 25 April 2024.

You will be notified of the outcome of your application by 3 June 2024, and if successful invited to interview during June/July.

Your personal statement should state:

  • Your reasons for wishing to follow the course and the use to which it will be put
  • Your understanding of what is meant by 'counselling'
  • Any background education, personal experience (including any experience of your own therapy or counselling), involvement or interest that is relevant to your application
  • Any other relevant information (for example, the contribution you expect to make to the work of the course)

You should also provide the name of one referee who knows you through your work setting (not a personal friend).

Applicants that do not provide the above information may be unsuccessful, prior to interview, for this reason.

Short-listed applicants will be invited for a group session with other candidates, followed by an individual interview with members of the course team.

For further information