Because counselling is a profession centred on two people being in direct contact with each other this award is unlike many others the OU provides. It is not delivered in its entirety through our excellent supported distance learning system but involves a partnership with the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body (CPCAB) and their nationwide network of learning providers (such as your local FE College) to offer a mix of learning experiences, some the usual OU supported distance learning, some in small groups in a local learning outlet and also learning through supported practice and supervision. CPCAB is the largest specialist awarding body for counselling in the UK and has an established reputation in the field.
Does counselling work for people in general and, more importantly, how and why does it work? These are central questions for the contemporary counselling profession and, in an attempt to answer them, a great deal of research has been undertaken over the past twenty years. This research has concluded that the answer to the first question is a fairly resounding "yes" - counselling does work for people in general. As to the question of how and why does it work, although the research findings are both hesitant and complicated, there is a growing international consensus that certain key factors contribute to therapeutic change. Factors that concern not only the treatment but, more importantly, the counsellor, the client and the relationship they form.
CPCAB counselling qualifications are designed around these key factors that contribute to therapeutic change which means that, when you train as a counsellor on the FD, you're training in these key factors. In fact, CPCAB qualifications were born out of a research programme in the early 1990s and CPCAB since ensured that they remain up-to-date with the latest research. The CPCAB counselling staff, for example, conduct regular reviews of the research literature and attend key UK and international research conferences. CPCAB is, in fact, the only awarding body providing research-informed counselling qualifications which means that, when you qualify as an OU/CPCAB counsellor with the FD in Counselling, you can confidently offer your clients a quality service that is grounded in the latest research findings.
CPCAB validates awards delivered in a variety of learning outlets throughout the country (currently around 130 learning outlets), which students on the FD will need to access to gain this qualification. This means that there will be some inevitable gaps in provision up and down the UK but we are working hard to ensure that as many students as possible are able to find a local learning outlet to provide those elements of the award which develop the work based component of the award. Please note that we cannot guarantee local provision of CPCAB awards and so it is vital that you check with your local learning provider whether this is available and, if it is not currently available, decide for yourself whether you still want to work towards this award. The course you need may become available in the future but we cannot and do not offer this guarantee.
There is still a limited number of learning outlets providing the CPCAB Level 5 courses (PC-L5 or CBT-L5 – optional level 2 courses for the Foundation Degree in Counselling). Many outlets determine what they will teach on the basis of student demand so do please contact your CPCAB approved local learning provider to ask about whether they will be teaching the Level 5 courses (either before or whilst you are taking the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma) and they may well respond to demand. Please note, while the CPCAB level 5 qualifications are still among the options which count towards the FD, achieving one of these is no longer mandatory (please see the ‘New Flexibility on the FD’ section for more information on this).
Details of all CPCAB approved outlets are provided on the CPCAB website. It also lists which qualifications they are approved to deliver. Note however that delivery will be dependent on demand so some may not be offering the qualifications listed and you will need to contact your local learning provider directly to ask if the qualification that you are interested in (e.g. the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling) is available. Also, note the point above that learning providers respond to demand and that if sufficient people enquire and register an interest in a course then they are more likely to ensure that it is delivered in the future. It is the local learning provider who decides whether to run a course or not (and not the OU or CPCAB) and the most important thing in making such a decision is whether there are sufficient students interested in taking it to make it worthwhile to offer a course.
All students taking the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling, which comprises the main mandatory element of their work-based learning on the FD, will need to be working in a supervised placement as counselling trainees to gain the required experience of working with clients. Details of how to find a placement and also the necessary numbers of hours and supervisory arrangements (you will need to have a named number of hours of supervision in addition to the client hours) will be supplied to you on the Level 4 Diploma by your local learning provider. You should expect to commit additional time to working in a placement in addition to the contact (and independent) learning hours specified for the CPCAB awards.
In addition to the learning and practice components required to qualify as a counsellor you will also be expected to undertake a minimum number of hours of personal development (currently this is 30 hours for BACP accreditation). For many people this involves undertaking 30 hours of personal counselling (with an approved counsellor) but alternative ways of gaining this personal development are available. Details will be provided by the local learning provider delivering the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma and students studying for the Diploma will be given appropriate guidance to satisfy this requirement to become a professional counsellor.
The government has ruled out further statutory regulation of healthcare professionals but has instead introduced a new form of Accredited Voluntary Registers (AVR) for non-statutory regulated health professions in 2012. Counselling and psychotherapy are currently included in the AVR scheme for health care professions. The scheme is administered by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) for health and social care, an independent body accountable to Parliament. Professional bodies can apply to the PSA to have their register approved by demonstrating that the organisation meets rigorous standards of governance, ethics and professional standards. The first counselling body to have its register accredited was the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) in January 2013. Our partner CPCAB is pursuing an active policy of developing clear entry routes to all AVRs and prospective AVRs for graduates of the FD in Counselling.
Furthermore, the FD in Counselling meets the needs of students wishing to pursue individual accreditation with the BACP by providing the required hours of specified learning, and this - with appropriate practice, supervision and personal development - will enable graduates to apply for individual accreditation. Information about membership and accreditation is provided on the BACP website and your local learning provider will be able to supply more details.
Students who have achieved the CPCAB Level 4 Diplima in Therapeutic Counselling (Stage 1 of the Foundation Degree in Counselling) have a choice of two routes in completing the degree at Stage 2. They will study the mandatory OU module D241 (60 credits) and either gain 60 more credits by studying one of the two Level 5 CPCAB Diplomas and an OU module that looks at mental health by focusing on the brain’s functions, or by combining D241 with 60 credits from a range of our psychology and mental health modules (more detail on these two routes is given in the Planning My Studies section).
The flexibility on Stage 2 makes it possible for those without access to CPCAB Level 5 practitioner qualifications to access the Foundation Degree by doing more credits with the OU instead. Whichever combination of options students choose, the Foundation Degree can be mapped to the BACP core curriculum and QAA benchmark standards for counselling and psychotherapy. Learners with Level 4 practitioner qualifications can currently gain entry to the new Assured Voluntary Registers either directly (e.g. if their course is BACP approved), or after taking an additional assessment, such as the BACP Certificate of Proficiency.