This course consists of the same number of hours as level 2, and can be offered in the same formats. It will look more at the theoretical side of counselling as well as teaching some more advanced skills. It would prepare you for a practical placement in a counselling agency which is required for level 4, but many agencies will not allow students to take up their placement until they are part way through their level 4 course. Because this is a higher level course, the academic demands are greater than for the level 2 course. You again have to complete a portfolio consisting of a journal of your learning, assignments, self-reviews, and tutor and peer feedback. You will have to write a short case study covering some sessions that you will have with another student. There is also an external assessment which involves answering questions relating to a short video.
Course Outline: Introduction to the Course, Understanding the Counselling Role, The Ethical Framework, Working in an Agency, A User centred approach, An overview of counselling theory, Psychodynamic Approaches, Humanistic Approaches, Cognitive Behavioural Approaches, Similarities and Differences between Secular Models, A Biblical view of people, Some Christian models, Integrating Counselling Models, McMinn and Campbell’s Integrative Psychotherapy, The Counselling Relationship, Stages of the Counselling Relationship, Supervision in counselling, Ending the counselling relationship, Anti-discriminatory Practice, Counselling Models and Culture, Understanding and Promoting Mental Health. Mock External Assessment, Research in Counselling, Common Mental Health Problems, Relational Immediacy and other advanced skills, Review of the models and identifying our own, Applying theory to our own lives, Where is counselling going? Where are we going?, 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.