This course consists of a minimum of 90 Guided Learning Hours and looks at how we can listen to and understand others better and help them to work towards their goals in life. There are thirty sessions each of three hours that may be offered in a number of formats, for example three sessions on a long Saturday once a month for ten months or twice a month for five months, or one evening a week for thirty weeks. How we can offer the course will vary from centre to centre. Before each course there will be a taster day which you must attend to make sure that this is the right course for you. This will cost you £20, which will be deducted from the cost of the course if you enrol. You will need to complete a portfolio consisting of a journal of your learning, assignments, self-reviews, and tutor and peer feedback. There is also an external assessment which involves answering questions relating to a short video.
Whilst there are no academic requirements required for this course, putting together the portfolio and meeting all the criteria to pass the course means that you must be able to write coherently, express your thoughts and emotions in a way that others can understand, be willing to explore your personality, history and patterns of relationships and be willing to look at diversity and difference. It would not be good to take this course while you are experiencing emotional difficulties as the course material may raise issues that you will find difficult to cope with in the class situation. You will need to spend time outside the sessions at college working on your portfolio, so do please make sure that you have enough time available to complete the course satisfactorily.
Course Outline: Introduction to the Course, Self-Awareness and Feedback, Personal Development, Simply Listening, An Introduction to Ethics, Active Listening Skills 1, Boundaries, Active Listening Skills 2, Empathy and Diversity, Understanding Diversity, Recognising our own prejudices and issues, Understanding Agendas, Helping a helpee to clarify and focus, Recognising the limits of our ability Referrals, Challenging, Stages of the Counselling Process, Understanding Personal History, Ending a helping Session, Understanding Relationships, Self-disclosing, Mock External Assessment, Bereavement and Loss, Counselling or Advice Giving?, Ways to help a helpee move forward, Working with “Spiritual” Issues, Helping Couples and Families, Using the Bible in Helping Relationships, Ending helping relationships, Completing your Portfolio and Progressing, Gathering it all together.
While you can start a level 3 course before you have passed the external assessment for your level 2 course, you must have completed your portfolio successfully and also paid all outstanding fees. Your tutor must also be satisfied that you will be able to cope with the more demanding work that the level 3 course requires. To sit the external assessment for the level 3 course, you must have passed the external assessment for the level 2 course. For admission to the level 4 course, you must have completed your level 3 portfolio and satisfy the tutor that you are able to cope with the very tough demands of level 4 and are committed to complete the course. At the end of the first year of level 4, students who are not keeping up with the work may not be re-enrolled for their final year, and may be required to take time out to complete their first year’s work.
What do these courses equip you for?
If you want to become a professional counsellor who can be registered with or accredited by a professional body such as the Association of Christian Counsellors or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, you will need to study and pass all three courses. You will also need to gain more experience and keep up your ongoing continuous professional development to reach and maintain the level of accreditation.
However, not all students want to become a professional counsellor and want to use their skills either in a church setting or as part of their secular job. It is important here to recognise how certain terms are used in the UK at present, as these can affect issues such as insurance and liability. Often in church situation we have used the term counselling quite lightly to describe situations where we listen to and help others, perhaps sharing some Bible verses or praying for them. This would not be seen as counselling, but rather pastoral care. In some churches the term pastoral care is confined to very simple practical caring tasks, and some students ask why they should spend time and money studying if that is all they can do afterwards. In the UK however, pastoral care would include a lot of the deeper support and ministry that is involved in the pastoral work of the church, and therefore a lot of what many churches would regard as counselling. It is advisable in the UK though not to claim the title of “counsellor” unless we are a fully qualified professional counsellor, since most churches’ insurance policies will cover pastoral care in terms of personal liability but will specifically exclude professional counselling. A professional counsellor needs separate insurance which will often require that they can demonstrate adequate training and supervision.
So, if you feel that your ministry will be listening to others and helping them in a church context, then a level 2 course may be all that you require. If you want to go a bit deeper and understand a bit more about human psychology and counselling theory, then you may want to carry on and do a level 3 course. We would recommend that if you are going to be the senior pastor in your church, a level 3 course will be of great assistance to you in equipping you well for your task. The Association of Christian Counsellors has a Pastoral Care membership category which provides support and training for those who are using their counselling skills within a church context. You can find more details on the ACC website (www.acc-uk.org).
The level 4 course is very demanding and requires a lot of commitment. We can only run it when we have a sufficient number of students, and it is not so likely that we can run it on local campuses. This course is only really for you if you feel called to become a professional counsellor. Since in the UK most counselling is done on a voluntary basis, it is no guarantee that you will gain a paid job, and many counsellors who set up in private practice find they do not make enough money for it to be their only source of income. You need to understand a lot of these factors before committing to this course as it will take a lot of your time and money.