You are viewing information for England.  Change country or region.

Exploring mental health and counselling

This module locates counselling within the broader field of mental health and provides a comprehensive and engaging introduction to the often controversial debates around mental health/illness and the main theories and practices in counselling. The module will critically examine the definitions and understandings of mental health issues and the ways they are treated in the related fields of practice, especially in counselling and psychotherapy. You'll be presented with recent theoretical debates and contemporary international research to inform and help you develop a critical understanding of the themes and issues related to mental health and counselling.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

Browse qualifications in related subjects

Module

Module code
D241
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
OU SCQF FHEQ
2 8 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

Request your prospectus

Explore our subjects and courses

Request your copy now

What you will study

This module provides a comprehensive introduction to the controversial debates around mental health/illness and the main theories and practices in counselling. You'll learn about the five main themes that are central to the understanding of the intersection of mental health and counselling, and the role that mental health services play in society, in five separate blocks, and you'll study a new topic each week.

Block 1: Understanding mental health
You'll begin with an introduction to the fundamental debates around the contested nature of mental ‘illness’ and the changing ways people with mental health problems are perceived, categorized and treated today and in the past. You'll learn about the history of psychiatry and how psychological treatments and ‘talking cures’ have developed. You'll take a critical look at systems of diagnosis and categorisation of mental health problems and the forces that have shaped them. This block will also introduce the difficulties that have often faced those people who have been subject to various forms of diagnosis and treatment – including the stigma of labelling as well as confinement and cruel and coercive treatments.

Block 2: Presenting problems
In this block you'll explore the main issues that cause people to seek counselling or other forms of help and the way they are experienced and diagnosed or formulated in practice. You'll take a critical look at depression and anxiety, which are commonly understood to be the most common presenting issues, and the feelings of ‘sadness’ and ‘worry’ are labelled as mental health difficulties. You'll learn what is meant by trauma and crisis, as well as some of the presenting issues most commonly associated with the trauma response, including self-injury and suicide risk. The block will then turn from a focus on the individual to look at relationships and intimacy and how they influence our mental health and vice versa. At the end of this block you'll be introduced to formulation which is presented as an alternative to diagnostic classification.

Block 3: Models of working
This block presents an overview of the most common approaches that inform counsellors and psychotherapists, allowing therapy practitioners to make sense of and work with the issues presented to them by clients. You will learn about psychodynamic approaches and their notion of the dynamic unconscious and its impact on our feelings and behaviour. You'll examine how concepts and techniques from cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can be employed to work with mental health difficulties. You’ll study humanistic approaches and their focus on the therapeutic relationship between client-counsellor in providing conditions for growth. You’ll also explore pluralistic and integrative approaches the efforts to put different orientations to mental health and counselling in dialogue with each other.

Block 4: Counselling in practice:
You'll be introduced to the ways in which counselling and psychotherapy are practised and mental health problems are treated in different practice settings, including settings beyond the individual client and the traditional face-to-face encounter. You will learn about role and importance of the therapeutic relationship between client and therapist and the ways it is understood and employed in different therapeutic traditions. You'll be introduced to counselling approaches ‘beyond the individual’ especially systemic and group therapy - and how they are applied in family, group and community settings. You'll take a critical look at different forms of technology-based counselling and the ways these are employed as alternative and/or supplement to face-to-face services. The block will also introduce specific professional and ethical issues and challenges in counselling in practice, including the way contracts and boundaries are negotiated. 

Block 5: Contemporary issues: mental health and society
The final block looks at the social, political and economic forces that inform and shape contemporary understandings of mental health and practices in the field, including the ways the current ‘therapeutic culture’ might impact on the way we see and experience mental health issues and treatment. You'll critically examine how research agendas and practices in mental health and counselling are often informed and shaped by social, political and economic influences. You’ll explore the fascinating and contested relationship between ideas about mental health difficulties and criminal justice. You'll also be invited to consider mental distress not from an individual (biological or psychological) perspective but how particular difficulties may be causes by social factors and related to the socio-political environment. 

Throughout the module there will be a focus on client/service user voices and experiences, and the discussion of research evidence and diversity issues. You'll also be introduced to three fictional service-user/client narratives which will unfold across the module (e.g. through videos and podcasts) to illustrate the module content. 

Some of the real-world topics covered in the module involve issues that some people may find personally emotive or currently sensitive. Individual content warnings will be given before such material is presented, outlining the issues to be covered and suggesting ways in which you might engage with it if it is personally relevant to you. Before signing up we invite you to look through the topics covered (as described above) and to consider whether this is the right time to undertake this module.

Vocational relevance

Although this module does not qualify you to practise in counselling and/or mental health, it provides key knowledge and skills for those seeking careers in all areas of applied psychology. You'll also gain academic and practical learning of relevance to many other careers where 'people skills' are particularly important – for instance, in social work, nursing, teaching, the police/probation service or other professions –  if you're seeking further knowledge and training in mental health and counselling theory and skills.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will be assigned a tutor who will give you advice and guidance throughout the module. They will help you with the study materials, as well as mark and comment on your written assignments. Your tutor will offer online group tutorials in which you are encouraged to participate.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Exploring mental health and counselling (D241) starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2020. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2027.
 

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    This is an OU level 2 module. Prior to studying this module you should have obtained the necessary study skills to study at OU level 2, for example by completing relevant OU level 1 study, but you are not expected to have any special knowledge of psychology or counselling and mental health.

    As this module can lead to a professionally recognised qualification in counselling, and due to some aspects of the module content and activities, entry is only open to students over the age of 18 at module start date.

    Although we support students in the learning of this subject, please note that your tutor is not there to help with your own life or personal difficulties. This is not a function that this module can fulfil.

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    03 Oct 2020 Jun 2021 £3096.00

    New to OU? Registration closed. Already an OU Student? If you can pay in full by card you can register here until 02/10/20

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2029.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2021. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 19/09/2020.

    What's included

    Module textbook, and the module website which will include audio-visual material and the online study guide. The module textbook is available in hard copy and also electronically through VitalSource. To view the ebook you will need to download the free VitalSource Bookshelf desktop app.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying D241 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.