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Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling

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  • Objectives
    The central aim of the course is to develop reflective practitioners who have examined counselling and themselves in relation to counselling to an extent that they can function with confidence in the voluntary or paid sectors. Integral to this central aim is the objective that course members will progress in the five main areas related to the training: * attaining a clear understanding of the counselling and personality theories of the person-centred approach and gaining a comprehensive knowledge of the issues around professional practice in different working contexts; * fostering the skills involved in creating the therapeutic conditions and advancing the therapeutic process in counselling relationships with a range of clientele; * learning to use the supervision relationship with another individual or group in such a way that both protects the client and also enhances the counsellor’s professional development; * gains in terms of personal development will vary from one participant to another. However, two strands which are likely to be general to most are: discovering and confronting attitudes and values which inhibit the course member's functioning as a counsellor; and moving the “locus of evaluation” in the direction of self-acceptance to the extent that the member may grow to trust his or her therapeutic use of congruence; * developing sufficient confidence in counselling practice to work in intensive as well as short-term contracts with clients.
  • Academic Title
    Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling (PgDip)
  • Course description
    Structure of the Courses

    Precise dates are given on the Fees and Dates page.
    The Full-Time Course (about 30 members)

    This course commences in early October and ends in early to mid-June. For the first four weeks of term one course members will be in University five days a week. For those course members who are then ready to begin their counselling work the pattern for the remaining two and a half terms will be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on campus with Monday and Tuesday as time off in lieu of counselling practice.
    The Part-Time Course (about 30 members)

    This begins with a non-residential week in early September . Thereafter the course will meet one day a week from 1.00 pm until 8.00 pm for two academic years. It is likely that one or two residential weekends will be arranged in consultation with course members. Counselling practice will take place outwith this time in contexts arranged by the course member.
    BACP Accreditation

    Both the part-time and the full-time courses have won the Certificate of Accreditation of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). This means that graduates are automatically deemed to have met the training requirement for their BACP Accreditation and national registration as independent counsellors. Please note that BACP accreditation includes requirements additional to training.

    Course Content

    A typical University day would include work in small groups on supervision and skills practice or on aspects of personal and professional development as well as time in the larger group discussing matters of theory. The four course issues of theory, skills, personal development and supervision will be fully integrated. For instance, in the supervision groups, aspects of current counselling practice can be explored with reference made to the personal development and skills issues involved as well as input from the supervisor and other group members on relevant elements of counselling theory. Similarly, work on skills or counselling theory will relate to issues arising in supervision and personal development. Therefore, although periods of time will be devoted to work under these four headings, the issues which will be covered may be common to all. These central issues of content which the course will cover are summarised below.

    The course carries a distinction between 'core' and 'extension' content. 'Core' content includes that body of theory which is central to the work of any graduate counsellor in the person-centred specialism. 'Extension' content is equally important, but may be more specific to particular counselling settings or may vary with the individuality of the course member. Considering the listed content headings very generally, the first four contain most of the 'core' content while the last three contain much 'extension' content. This division, however, can never be precise. For example, the course would be concerned to help everyone to explore their prejudice and in that sense this is 'core'. But that exploration would likely take each person in different directions, so, in that sense, it is 'extension'.
    The Personality Theory Underlying Person-Centred Counselling

        * The development and maintenance of the self concept
          The actualising tendency and self-concept; self-concept protective strategies; phenomenology.
        * Social influences
          The nature of prejudice; the power of role in determining behaviour; person-perception.
        * The creation of disorder
          Rogers' 19 propositions; conditions of worth; the development of the person under oppressive conditions of worth; introduction to psychopathology; Lambers' person- centred psychopathology; Warner's 'fragile' and 'dissociated' process; Mearns' revision of Rogers' theory; Cooper's revision of Rogers' theory.
        * The changing self-concept
          Self-actualisation; adjusting to transitions; Dissonance Theory; 'the self-concept fights back'; Mearns' work on 'configurations' within the Self.

    The Therapeutic Conditions

        * Empathy
          The definition of empathy and exploration of its boundaries; levels of empathy; blocks to empathy; releasing empathic sensitivity; 'disguises' and 'clues' for empathic working; Rennie's work on 'tracking' the client; Gendlin's 'focusing'.
        * Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR)
          The definition of UPR and exploration of its boundaries; the 'counter-conditioning' effect of UPR (Lietaer); the client's 'personal language'; communication of warmth; sources of conditionality.
        * Congruence
          The definition of congruence and exploration of its boundaries; forms of incongruence; developing congruence; congruence and self-acceptance.
        * Are other conditions required?
          Are the three conditions necessary and sufficient?; Thorne’s 'Tenderness'; Mearns' 'Sufficiency of the Therapeutic Context'; Mearns' "working at relational depth".

    The Therapeutic Process

        * Structuring the counselling context
          Place of meeting; length and frequency of sessions; the first meeting; counselling 'contracts'; extended counselling sessions; 'review' meetings; can clients become friends?
        * The therapeutic relationship
          Issues of power and how that changes; counsellor self-disclosure; what happens to the counsellor in the process of counselling?; client and counsellor dependency; interaction of client and counsellor pathologies; "intimacy" and "mutuality"; tapping the 'unspoken relationship' between counsellor and client.
        * Stages within the process
          Beginnings; middles; endings; referrals; therapeutic 'stuckness'; therapeutic 'regression'; Barrett-Lennard's and Rogers' formulations on therapeutic stages.
        * Special therapeutic processes
          Daily counselling contracts; working with profoundly disturbed clients; child-centred play therapy; working with clients who have profound learning difficulties; working with groups; working with particular client categories (e.g. the dying, the bereaved, couples, victims of abuse, individuals with addiction problems, disaster/war trauma victims).

    Evaluation of counselling

        * Counsellor experiences; client experiences; 'outcome' and 'analytic' research within counselling; counselling evaluation and 'audit'; designing research; ongoing Counselling Unit research.

    Development of Self-Acceptance

        * 'Experimentation' with self in regard to the therapeutic conditions; unravelling parental injunctions; awareness of the counsellor's configurations' within Self; uncovering our prejudice; attitudes to birth, death, sexuality and spirituality; barriers to our self-acceptance.

    Key Concepts From Other Approaches

        * Other counselling approaches compared and contrasted; basic concepts of Transactional Analysis; the psychodynamic concepts of 'transference' and 'counter-transference'; the 'medical' model; the psychiatric DSM diagnostic system; transition theory; 'problem-centred' rather than 'person-centred' counselling.

    Professional Issues In Counselling

        * Client Issues
          Issues of race, culture, gender, disability and sexual orientation in counselling work.
        * Counsellor Issues
          Confidentiality; counsellor under-involvement; counsellor over-involvement; abusiveness in counsellors; inducing 'false memories'; the 'value-added' counsellor; record keeping; supervision.
        * Institutional Issues
          Working in institutional settings; interdisciplinary team working; liasing with other agencies; the social construction of reality; the politics of counselling.
        * British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Issues
          The BACP Ethical Framework; the BACP Complaints Procedure; BACP Accreditation.
        * Developments in Counselling
          Current issues from counselling journals.


    This is an equal opportunities course. Applications are welcome from people without prejudice of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation nor any other means of discriminating prejudicially among people. In addition, the course will make every effort to accommodate those with disabilities and has considerable experience in this area - indeed, we take pride in our efforts with respect to people with a range of disabilities.

    In the selection process the staff will be particularly concerned with the following questions:

        * Does the applicant have prior counselling experience?
          Such prior experience makes selectors feel more confident that the applicant has tested himself or herself in counselling contexts and is really sure the role is right for them.
        * Does the applicant have prior experience of counselling or counselling skills training?
          It is certainly helpful if the applicant has had some prior experience of counselling training before embarking on such as large course. For instance, a Certificate in Counselling Skills is an excellent precursor to a Diploma training, particularly our own Certificate Course which is designed to prepare for the Diploma.
        * Does the applicant seriously want to qualify as a counsellor or is he/she interested chiefly in the personal development which the course can provide?
          This is a critical selection issue. While personal development is an integral part of counsellor training, selection will endeavour to ensure that it is not the principal motivation of the applicant, because embarking on a full-scale counselling training is a rather uneconomical way of advancing personal development.
        * Will the applicant be able to meet the academic challenges involved in the reading and writing elements of the course?
          Although this is a course which considers the practical to be as important as the theoretical, it is still necessary to feel confident that course members will be able to cope with academic work. The staff have considerable experience of working with people from a range of prior educational experience.
        * Is the course coming at the right time in the applicant's development as a counsellor?
          In selection the staff will be concerned that the course is coming at a time in the applicant's development when he or she can make the most use of it. That optimum time has little to do with age but a lot to do with the applicant's personal and professional development up to that time.
        * Does he applicant have a personality which is appropriate for counselling?
          It is not possible to make reliable judgements of personality in any selection process and yet the question of personality is of crucial importance in determining suitability for the role of counsellor. One question which should always be in the mind of selectors is: would this person be able to handle appropriately his or her power in the counselling role?
        * Does the applicant have a basic awareness of and compatibility with the core theoretical model of the course?
          Since this course specialises in the person-centred approach it would be doing the applicant a disservice to select him/her for the training if he/she was unaware of the approach or if he/she wanted to work in ways which were quite different.

    A fuller discussion of these selection criteria can be found in Chapter 5 of the book: Issues in Professional Counsellor Training by Dryden, Horton and Mearns, Cassell, 1995 and Chapter 5 of Person-Centred b Training by Dave Mearns, Sage, 1997.

    Selection will take place on the basis of completed application forms, two references and an interview.

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