Large numbers of us will be affected by emotional challenges during our life-time. We may experience periods of profound depression or anxiety during our own lives or amongst our family and friends. More than this, we will all also inevitably have to face 'problems in living' such as separation/divorce or death/loss at some point (or points) in our lives. Thankfully, human beings are a resilient lot and most of the time we face these challenges with courage and in time overcome them or, at the very least, learn to live with them. However, there are times when the fear or sadness may become overwhelming and that is the time when we may turn to others for support. This is often in the form of family and/or friends who may be all we need to help us through the tough times. Sometimes though, this is either not available or appropriate or not enough and that is when increasing numbers of people are calling upon the support of a professional counsellor or psychotherapist. A little bit of professional help is all many people need to help them through the tough times and the counselling profession is becoming increasingly recognised for the value it adds in helping people to live with the problems that we all must face.
At the OU we have responded to the growth in interest in counselling by producing an award designed specifically for people wanting to become professional counsellors, the Foundation Degree in Counselling. Counselling and psychotherapy are now considered acceptable and valuable forms of treatment for a wide variety of problems in living, from everyday concerns about work or relationships to more serious mental health issues like chronic anxiety and depression. There has been a significant growth in counselling over the last twenty years which is only likely to increase given the recognised value of this profession to improving quality of life and indeed the economic state of the nation. Counselling has moved from a largely voluntary activity into a profession with practitioners employed in primary care, industry, local authorities and many other workplaces. At present there are no minimum requirements to practise (no statutory regulation for counsellors) but this might change in future. For now, individual accreditation with one of the professional bodies in the field remains the benchmark of the experienced ethical counsellor / psychotherapist. The OU Foundation Degree is designed to meet all professional practice requirements and – with appropriate practice, supervision and personal development – will enable graduates to apply for individual accreditation, e.g. with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
The required elements needed to become a professional counsellor are:
Counselling is an inherently rewarding profession and one that many people find brings them tremendous satisfaction, as well as an income of course! But it is not for everyone as those of us working in the profession have to confront our own feelings about fear and sadness in order to be able to work with others facing difficulties in living and this can be quite a personal and professional challenge. Counselling is more than simply listening, though that is valuable in itself, and is not a case of offering advice on 'how to fix the problem' and as such requires considerable training and experience if we are to be able to offer the required professionalism needed to help people at some of the most difficult times in their lives. Our award reflects this and therefore requires a serious commitment of time and effort. But being an OU award you can be assured you will be receiving the best possible training, designed to equip you with all the knowledge and skills you will need to work to the highest professional standards, not something all other counselling awards necessarily offer.