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Online counselling: advancing your knowledge

This 25-hour short course equips counsellors, psychotherapists, and trainees to advance their skills in delivering effective and safe video and phone-based counselling. It provides research-informed knowledge and support, focusing on essential aspects such as establishing the therapeutic frame remotely, understanding the psychological impact of virtual environments, emotional containment, risk management, and creative techniques for engaging clients at a distance. Developed by the OU with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and in partnership with the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body (CPCAB), the course is designed for those with prior remote work experience or who have completed online and phone therapy training. You’ll receive a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certificate upon successful completion.

Discounts available

BACP members or those intending to progress to the CPCAB Level 5 Award in Online and Phone Counselling Practice can claim a 40% discount on this course. To take advantage, please call 0300 303 5303 and have your discount code to hand, which you can obtain from BACP or CPCAB.

Short course

Short course code



This is a non-credit bearing course.

Study method

Short course cost

Entry requirements

What you will study

This course will focus on research-informed knowledge and support that will help counsellors and psychotherapists to advance their knowledge and improve the effectiveness and safety of the counselling and psychotherapy they are offering remotely.

The course is split into the following six units:

Unit 1: Introduction sets up the course and invites you to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses as a remote counsellor.

Unit 2: The challenges of managing the frame in video and phone therapy focusses on the challenges of managing and maintaining the therapeutic frame when providing video and phone counselling and psychotherapy.

Unit 3: Impact of being virtual and remote introduces you to theories around human behaviour as it appears in an online environment, with a specific focus on the ways in which the psychological impact of being virtual can play out in remote counselling.

Unit 4: Relating, emotional containment and risk in video and phone counselling focusses on how being in a virtual and/or remote space can impact relationships, creating potentially more intense client emotions or distress that is more difficult for a counsellor to hold therapeutically.

Unit 5: Working creatively in video and phone counselling introduces you to engaging in creative and imaginative ways of working remotely in an online environment and on the phone.

Unit 6: Conclusion prompts you to reflect on what you have learned on this course, and to assess yourself against current training needs/requirements for delivering remote counselling.

The course content has been jointly developed by The Open University, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body (CPCAB) who recognise this course as one of the pre-requisites for the CPCAB Level 5 Award in Online and Phone Counselling Practice. Course completion will advance knowledge and confidence and help counsellors and psychotherapists to provide video- and phone-based counselling effectively and safely in their regular practice.

Please be aware that Online counselling: advancing your knowledge has replaced the previous course, Video and phone counselling 2.0: advancing your knowledge, which was hosted on OpenLearn Create. It's important to note that the course content remains mostly unchanged. If you've already completed Video and phone counselling 2.0: advancing your knowledge, there is no need to retake the course, unless you wish to revisit the material.

You will learn

By doing this CPD course, you will gain:

  • an understanding of how to set up and manage a secure therapeutic frame in remote counselling
  • awareness of the clinical impact of working remotely on clients and therapists in remote counselling
  • an understanding of the specific nature and challenges of developing and maintaining the therapeutic relationship in remote counselling
  • knowledge of the ethical and clinical considerations for containing/managing emotion and risk in remote counselling
  • knowledge of different ways of engaging with creative methods and approaches in remote counselling.

Vocational relevance

This course will help counsellors and psychotherapists to advance their knowledge and understanding of how to provide video- and phone-based counselling effectively and safely.

Professional recognition

This CPD course has been jointly developed by The Open University and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and in partnership with the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body (CPCAB) to support counsellors and psychotherapists in delivering therapy remotely (via video/phone). 

BACP and CPCAB logos

Learner support

This short course offers online learning and contains self-study materials to be studied at your own pace. There is no learner support from learning advisers available on this course.

Teaching and assessment


There is no formal assessment on this course. The course includes multiple ‘pauses for reflection’ designed to promote reflexivity which is a professional skill for counsellors. The course also includes an end-of-course multiple-choice quiz.


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.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements. This course is designed for counsellors and psychotherapists who have completed their training and are accredited/registered with an appropriate professional body, or are students in training. This course is designed as CPD for those who already have some experience of working remotely and/or have completed online and phone training. Completion of this short-course is not a substitute for a core Online and Phone Therapy course (BACP).

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the course, please contact us.

Course length

In total, this course will require around 25 hours to complete.

The course is open for registration for 12 months. Once enrolled, learners are advised to complete within two months but the course will be accessible for 18 months.


Start End England fee Register
At anytime before registration end date Jan 2025 - see Entry requirements for more detail £200.00

Registration closes 31/07/2024


Ways to pay

Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2024/25 academic year. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

All learning materials are delivered entirely online. You’ll have access to a course website, which includes:

  • a study planner
  • course-specific materials and activities
  • audio and video content.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS Ventura or higher.

Our module websites comply with web standards and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

If you have a disability

The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs.

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DGXS001 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.