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Diploma of Higher Education in Counselling - Learning outcomes

Educational aims

There are four overall aims for the qualification:

  • to provide you with the appropriate skills, values and knowledge required to operate as an effective counsellor
  • to provide you, through flexible learning routes, a range of educational experiences appropriate for diploma students
  • to provide suitable work-based experiences that will enable you to develop and evaluate your practice as a counsellor
  • to enable you to evaluate your own learning and realise your educational potential now and throughout your career.

Learning outcomes

The qualification provides opportunities for you to develop and demonstrate knowledge and understanding, qualities, skills and other attributes in the following areas:

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this diploma you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • the major theoretical perspectives, concepts and explanatory frameworks employed within counselling
  • the historical and cultural context of counselling theory and practice with an understanding of the importance of diversity and difference
  • the appropriate professional principles required for effective counselling practice
  • the importance and impact of social processes on the theory and practice of counselling.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this diploma you will be able to:

  • analyse situations from a range of perspectives and evaluate the appropriateness of different interventions or approaches
  • apply concepts and theories to inform understanding of practice
  • critically evaluate evidence from research and its application to practice
  • make use of a range of sources of information and use them to sustain an argument or develop new insights into practice.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this diploma you will be able to:

  • practise safely and effectively in a recognised model of counselling
  • act in accordance with the legal, ethical and procedural boundaries of your profession
  • use appropriate knowledge and skills to make professional judgements and interventions, seeking guidance when appropriate
  • reflect on, review and audit your professional practice and identify appropriate continuous professional development opportunities.

Key skills

On completion of this diploma you will be able to:

  • communicate ideas, arguments, principles and theories effectively in speech and in writing using visual and ICT tools where appropriate
  • identify, develop and present systematic arguments, drawing on appropriate, up-to-date literature
  • reflect upon one’s own learning in order to develop as an effective and autonomous learner, including maintaining records of one’s personal learning and professional development
  • make use of appropriate information and communications technologies where appropriate.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Teaching, learning and assessment methods will be proportionally appropriate for the qualification. Two-thirds will be primarily concerned with the application of learning with regard to professional competence with one-third concerned with evaluating the student’s knowledge of relevant knowledge alongside the development of cognitive skills. The key to incorporating theory into practice will be the model of the reflective practitioner and self-directed learner. Both will be strongly emphasised in the assessment strategy.

Assessment methods are varied and appropriate to the learning outcomes being developed and assessed. This includes presentations, essay writing and examination along with practical assessment of professional skills using formative and summative assessment methods. Professional practice in particular is developed through formal assessment of case studies, recorded client sessions and further developed through professional clinical supervision and discussion. In addition, students will need to maintain a portfolio of their learning such that they can track and develop their own professional skills and development needs.

Cognitive skills will be taught and developed throughout the qualification. They will enable the development of analytic abilities and the application of theory in practice. The core OU counselling module will further teach and develop the ability to evaluate evidence and alongside the optional modules will encourage students to develop skills in using information to formulate a reasoned argument and encourage new insights into practice. Cognitive skills are formally assessed throughout the qualification.

Key skills are taught and developed within learning materials and through continuous assessment. The CPCAB modules require students to develop communication skills and encourage the development of systematic argumentation. This is built upon and assessed in the OU modules such that students develop key skills to an appropriate level for the qualification. A key element of teaching, learning and assessment will be to promote independent learning in the context of becoming a reflective practitioner able to determine their own professional development needs.