How to become a counsellor?

Published by Denise Freeman

How to Become a counsellor?

How do I become a counsellor? The answer to this question can be a convoluted one. Internet searches throw up a wealth of information that can quickly become overwhelming. In this short blog, I hope to give you the answer in simple and straightforward terms that will make the next steps seem clear.

Most employers, and many clients, look for counsellors and psychotherapists with professional qualifications and membership of, or accreditation with, a professional association. With more than 50,000 members, The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is one of the leading professional associations for counsellors in the UK.  Whilst counsellors and psychotherapists are under no legal obligation to become a member of a professional body, undergoing training that has met certain requirements set by a professional body will ensure you gain the skills and experience to practise competently and safely.


Training can take three to four years. The BACP recommend the following three training steps.

The counselling process uses a therapeutic approach to help people work through issues.  In therapy, people will share their most intimate thoughts and feelings. At times, the job can be emotionally demanding.  The role of the counsellor requires a non-judgmental attitude and a great deal of self-awareness.  Before embarking on your core training, you want to be sure that it is the right profession for you.  A good starting point is a short introductory counselling course.  These courses vary in title, sometimes called: ‘Counselling Concepts’ or Counselling Skills’. They are generally Level 2 courses (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there are eight different levels for academic qualifications).  These courses run at local colleges and are generally one year long and part-time. Taking one of these courses introduces you to the concept of counselling skills and some of the theory that underpin modalities.

The next step towards becoming a qualified counsellor is to enrol on a  counselling course such as Graduate Skills in Counselling Certificate of Attendance Course here at Salford Professional Development.

The course needs to be taught (not online) and be of at least 90 hours duration. It should develop your counselling skills, theoretical knowledge, and self-awareness and it should be one that can lead directly to a diploma level professional counselling training.

Such a course will also be useful if your job involves advising or helping people, even if you don't plan to become a therapist.

The Graduate Skills in Counselling Certificate of Attendance Course fulfils the entry requirement to have completed a certificate in counselling when applying to the University of Salford for the MSc/PgDip/PgCert Counselling and Psychotherapy (Professional Training).  

This is the course that will give you the skills, knowledge, and competence to work as a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist. This training should be a minimum level 4 or 5 diploma in counselling or psychotherapy, but could be a Level 6 bachelor's degree, or Level 7 master's degree. Your training should be an in-depth professional practitioner training programme, preferably accredited by a profession association such as the BACP.  Your course should offer knowledge based and reflective learning, research awareness and classroom-based tuition for therapeutic competences.  It should also include an integral, supervised placement of at least 100 hours, allowing you to work within an organisation and practise your skills with clients under supervision. It will also involve a requirement  for you to undergo mandatory personal therapy whilst training.  

The MSc/PgDip/PgCert Counselling and Psychotherapy (Professional Training) at the  University of Salford  is a professional counselling training course accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) that meets this criteria outline in step 3. On completion of your core training, you are eligible to join the BACP professional register.


As someone who has worked through these stages, ultimately choosing the University of Salford to undertake the MSc in Counselling and Psychotherapy, I can safely say that I left feeling confident and competent to begin my career and I would thoroughly recommend this route.

Interested? Apply Today


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