As a counsellor you could work in any of the following areas:

  • education
  • health and social care services
  • agencies dealing with specific issues such as bereavement, family relationships or homelessness
  • advisory organisations and helplines
  • human resource departments
  • churches and other faith-based organisations.

How to become a counsellor?

To practise as a counsellor most employers will require you to have undertaken professional training and you’ll need a qualification at foundation degree/diploma level to join a professional body or to become accredited.

Do I need a degree to become a counsellor?

Training as a counsellor involves a combination of theoretical study and practical experience, but you don’t need a degree to become a counsellor. 

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), and most other professional bodies, require counsellors who are working with clients to receive supervision from another qualified practitioner. Some courses require students to have had therapy themselves or to be in therapy during their training. This is not only so you can experience therapy from the client’s point of view, but for personal development and to help you cope with issues and emotions raised when counselling others.

How can The Open University help?

Foundation Degree in Counselling2 and Diploma of Higher Education in Counselling

Developed with the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body (CPCAB), our Foundation Degree in Counselling (X09)2 and Diploma of Higher Education in Counselling (W09) provide the theoretical understanding and practical skills needed to practise as a professional counsellor3.

These qualifications also provide the required hours of specified learning that will enable you to apply for individual accreditation with the BACP, following appropriate practice, supervision and personal development. You can also use this qualification as a starting point for further professional development, including the possibility of topping up to an honours degree.

2Not a recognised qualification in Scotland.
3There are entry recommendations for X09 and W09 included in the ‘Course details’ and ‘Entry requirements’ tabs on the links above.

Study for a degree

We offer the following degree courses that can help you acquire the knowledge and understanding for effective counselling practice:

4Accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Getting started

If you’re not quite ready for degree-level study, our People, work and society Access module (Y032) could be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s designed to build your confidence and study skills while introducing ideas and debates about children and young people, health, law, management, psychology and social science. By the end of the module, you’ll be well prepared to take on further OU study.

Need more information?

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