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Planning My Studies

This section will provide you with more information on the different components of the FD (CPCAB courses and OU modules) and two routes to completing this qualification and the recommended study order ('Standard pathway' with Stage 1 followed by Stage 2). Please note that it is recommended but not mandatory to follow this standard study order (more information under 'Exceptions from the Standard Pathway for the FD').

Stage 1: CPCAB Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling

You'll start this qualification by studying the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling, a 120-credit course delivered through a network of Further Education Colleges and other registered training providers (see Entry requirements for details of prerequisite study). This course will provide you with the basic theory and practice of counselling through competence-based training and experiential learning in small groups. You'll find out more about different approaches to counselling and develop your skills in working ethically, safely and professionally:

    • within a counselling relationship
    • with a diversity of clients
    • within a user-centred approach to counselling
    • with self-awareness in the counselling process
    • within a coherent framework of theory and skills.

You'll also work in a supervised placement as a counselling trainee to gain the required experience of working with clients; and engage in a number of hours of personal therapy (or alternative modes of personal development) required from counselling trainees. Help with making these arrangements will be given by the FE college/registered provider delivering the training.

Stage 2: D241 and optional CPCAB Level 5 courses and OU modules

In Stage 2 you begin your knowledge-based OU study with the compulsory OU module D241 'Exploring Mental Health and Counselling'. This 60-credit module locates counselling within the broader field of mental health and provides a comprehensive and engaging introduction to the often contoversial debates around mental health/illness and the main theories and approaches in counselling. This module critically examines the definitions and understanding of mental health issues and the ways they are treated in counselling and psychotherapy practice. It presents students with recent theoretical debates and contemportary international research to inform and help them to develop a critical understanding of the themes and issues related to mental health and counselling.

For the remaining 60 credits you can choose from two routes which include a range of options from both CPCAB courses and OU modules:

Route 1:

You can  gain another 30 credits by continuing your practice-based CPCAB studies with a CPCAB Level 5 Diploma (either in Psychotherapeutic Counselling, or in Cognitive Behavioural Therapeutic Skills and Theory), and completing your studies with the OU module SK298 Brain, mind and mental health (30 credits) which looks at mental health by focusing on the brain's functions. Please note the comment about the availability of CPCAB Level 5 provision in delivery of the foundation degree. The more students request Level 5 CPCAB provision (whilst taking the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma and/or the OU core module) the more likely a learning provider is to deliver the course. It is the local learning provider who decides whether or not to run a course (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.

Route 2:

You'll complete your foundation degree with 60 credits of study from one of currently four  optional modules from the OU. These are DD210 Living Psychology - from the everyday to the extraordinary, E219 Psychology of Childhood and Youth, K240 Mental health and community and K220 Death, dying and bereavement.

As you have some choice with the OU knowledge-based modules when choosing this route (in addition to completion of the core module D241 Exploring Mental Health and Counselling , you may be confused about which is best for you. This is of course a personal choice and we strongly recommend you visit the OU pages describing these modules in order to make your decision. However, we can also offer you some advice here to help focus your decision-making process. One aspect which may guide your decisions about which options are best for you may be your personal and professional interests. If, for instance, you are interesting in working with bereavement (or you already do) then you may find Death, dying and bereavement  (K220) particularly appropriate for your needs. If you have particular interests in working with children (or simply an interest in child development) then Psychology of Childhood and Youth (E219) would clearly be the best choice for you. On the other hand, you may want to understand more about psychology and also learn some of the methods of how to conduct psychological research and in this case Living Psychology - from the everyday to the extraordinary  (DD210) may seem the best choice. Finally, your particular interest may be in mental health in which case  Mental health and community (K240) will be the option of choice for you.

Registration with the OU and Credit Transfer

You need to register with the Open University for this qualification before you start studying OU modules. To get your CPCAB study linked to the Open University's Foundation Degree in Counselling, you will need to complete and return the Credit Transfer application form together with your original CPCAB module certificate/s. You do not need to provide a transcript or syllabus for this CPCAB study.

More information on how to check and transfer credits for previous studies can be found on the credit transfer website. Please make sure you transfer credit from the CPCAB courses counting towards the Foundation Degree as soon as you have gained them.

Exceptions from the Standard Pathway for the FD

The FD in Counselling is exempted from the OU progression rule. This means that you don't have to follow the standard study order  as described above and can take the work-based (CBCAB) and the knowledge-based (OU) components in any order to suit your convenience. However, there are still some restrictions and also some recommendations for your order of study.

Please note that government funding such as Student Fee Loans and Advanced Leaner loans cannot be claimed for study at two different institutions in the same academic year. If you able to access government funding to study the CPCAB element of this qualification (which will be affected by the centre you study at, and local funding regulations in UK nation where you live), this may increase the length of time it takes you to complete your studies.

If this funding constraint does not apply, it is possible to study the Open University module ' D241 Exploring Mental Health and Counselling' ,or the optional OU modules, alongside the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling in the first two years of your studies. Whilst this has the potential to shorten the time you need to complete the qualification, this is a huge commitment and you should only do it if you are very prepared and have plenty of time on your hands. Some students will wish to begin with the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma and then complete Exploring Mental Health and Counselling (D241) in the second year  of their studies on the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma (usually 2 years). Whilst completing the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma you will also need to be in an appropriate counselling placement and be receiving supervision (the local learning provider delivering the CPCAB Level Diploma will provide information about these elements of your studies).

Also, it is necessary to complete the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma before beginning the CPCAB Level 5 qualification. Don't forget to transfer credit from your CPCAB courses as soon as you have gained them (see above under credit transfer).

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