Advanced search

To think I could become a counsellor/therapist without going to university?

(62 Posts)
careerwanted Thu 19-Oct-17 14:43:31

Now that my DC are at school I’ve decided that I’d like a career for myself. I’ve been thinking about what I would like to do and potentially looking at becoming a counsellor or therapist.

The only qualifications I have are GCSE’s ranging from A-E grades. I don’t want to go to university and build up any debt but happy to pay for courses that I can save up for and pay for. Looking at the City of Bristol college which offers evening courses such as introduction to counselling £200 and then level 2 and level 3 at a slightly higher cost (no problem as I could save for this).

I’m planning on going to the open evening and discussing with a careers advisor the right path to take but wondered if any MNers know if it would be possible to become a counsellor/therapist without going to uni and doing these courses or am I just getting carried away with myself?

I’d be really interested to hear from anyone who has decided they’d like a career and went for it. What did you want to do, how did you do it. Was it worth it?


Caulk Thu 19-Oct-17 14:45:43

Psychotherapy is MA only isn’t it? A friend trained to be a counsellor at a college but had to get to level 5 before she was employable. It’s worth looking at jobs you’d be interested in and seeing what qualifications they want.

CiderwithBuda Thu 19-Oct-17 14:45:58

As far as I know to be a counsellor/therapist you need to do many hours of therapy yourself. It's also quite hard to get into and you might need to volunteer to get experience before starting off on your own.

A friend is a counsellor and this is what she told me and I think I read it on here before too.

2014newme Thu 19-Oct-17 14:47:15

How do you plan to get referrals for your services?
Have you check that the referers you are interested in consider that level of course as the right one? It's worth checking because you want to ensure the qualification is the right one before embarking on it so you can make a living.
Good luck

Crabbitstick Thu 19-Oct-17 14:56:19

The courses are just an introduction or intended for people who are in helping roles - e.g. Nurse, youth worker.

You do need a degree level equivalent qualification to be a counsellor.
You need to be fully registered with
You do need to undergo counselling yourself as part of training and you do need supervision when qualified.
So the courses you are looking at are great for an intro but won't make you a fully qualified counsellor.

Crabbitstick Thu 19-Oct-17 14:59:54

Just to add I did a counselling skills course years ago. It was really valuable for my job then. Some people on course were considering going into counselling (planning further study after the course).
Some people realised it wasn't for them others went on to do the further training - it was really useful to help people figure out if it was the right path for them.
I would speak to BACP or read their website though - very helpful.

AndrewJames Thu 19-Oct-17 15:02:51

No, you can't be a proper counsellor or therapist without a proper degree and a post grad.
you could take a few crappy course and advertise yourself as a therapist, without having acquired the necessary skills and put the work in, people do. You shouldn't though.

FriendshipBraclet Thu 19-Oct-17 15:06:43

Training to be a counsellor is an expensive thing to do.
Course fees, weekly personal therapy (around £35-50 depending where you are. Supervision (about £50) approx fortnightly depending on the number of clients, BACP membership (£60 pa for students), personal liability insurance (about £70pa) this all coupled with CPD with courses running into hundreds.
Really you need to have a long and hard think; as at the end of all that there really are not many jobs.

TheWildRumpyPumpus Thu 19-Oct-17 15:22:39

I’m on Level 3 at the moment and won’t be qualified to work as a counsellor at the end (not that anyone HAS to take any qualifications to call themselves a counsellor).

After Level 4 (another 2 years) I can become a full member of the BACP and call myself a qualified counsellor. Or I can do a Masters in Counselling at Uni. Both paths require minimum 100 hours placement work, paying for personal therapy and supervision and a lot of time.

NoCryLilSoftSoft Thu 19-Oct-17 15:28:31

I wouldn’t go to a counsellor that didn’t value the role highly enough to invest fully in it. It’s a really important job, it has a real impact on people’s lives. You can’t, or at least you shouldn’t, half ass it.

Isadora2007 Thu 19-Oct-17 15:31:04

I am a qualified counsellor and bacp accredited. My diploma in therapeutic counselling is a level 4 which is only the equivalent to first year university on the framework for qualifications. This is the least academic route to become a qualified practising counsellor. I actually have a psychology degree as well which was helpful in understanding some of the issues in counselling but it was not necessary. Yes you require counselling yourself during your training and ongoing supervision which you can pay for (some organisations cover this for you).

Getting paid work as a counsellor is very very difficult. Private practice can be lucrative but realistically if you’re to be ethical about this you’d work in an agency first and gain supported experience of a few years. So becoming a counsellor is very costly with very little return, sorry.
I’m working for a charity so am unpaid, but I am completing further training (at a cost of £2500) then will be paid £15 an hour after I compete my (further) 100 hours of qualifying work. Since qualification as a counsellor I have worked for 225 hour so far unpaid and have spent around £6500 getting to this point.

It’s awful as there are so many people who would benefit from more accessible and affordable counselling... but the service just doesn’t exist sadly.

Aquamarine1029 Thu 19-Oct-17 15:32:45

I find it alarming that you think it would be reasonable to counsel people without a proper, extensive education. You would be providing therapy to people who might have very serious underlying mental health issues, and you would be wholly unqualified to do so. These people might need to be seen by a psychiatrist, but because of your lack of education and credentials, you might very well miss critical warning signs or symptoms. It's absurd to even consider going into this line of work unless you are willing to put the time in.

Caulk Thu 19-Oct-17 15:39:28

I pay £50per session to an integrative psychotherapist. She has an arts degree and two masters - one in intergrative psychotherapy and one in pastoral counselling. She had volunteered with mind and had 5 years experience of private practice when I began seeing her- so the added costs of room rental and insurance.

I’d seen counsellors in the past but I found her additional training and experience better for me- although it comes to personal relationship as well.

Why do you want to go into counselling?

SugarPlumLairy Thu 19-Oct-17 15:53:16

Sorry but no. Proper counselling is a skilled, trained profession. You would be out of your depth, putting yourself and others at risk. It's not hand holding and a few wise words over coffee.

I have a family relative who many many moons ago started working as a therapist for her local council. It was awful, unprofessional, she wouldgrandly tell tales of the lives she'd "touched" and we would recoil at the knowledge she was such a damaging force in the lives of people who needed, and certainly deserved, better.
Thankfully that all got tightened up andproperqualificationshadto be obtainedto continue practicing. I think she works in Sainsbury these days.

If you feel this is truly your calling pleeeeease invest in yourselfand do it the right way. You could seriously go volunteer with Samaritans to see if this is something that you REALLY want to do. They would love the help and it could help you decide if this is for you or not 👍

Good luck with whatever you decide upon.

careerwanted Thu 19-Oct-17 16:07:23

I’m sorry to anyone I offended- this wasn’t my intention and is purely down to my lack of knowledge in the area. I didn’t mean to play down what counsellors or therapists do and quite clearly there is a lot more to it than I thought so again apologies if I offended anyone. My original question was AIBU to think I could be a counsellor/therapist without going to university?’ And your replies have answered that for me so thank you. YES I ABVU and was very naive to think this would even be possible!

I don’t necessarily want a career but more of a job that gives me more satisfaction than my admin role. I want to help people/families with complex social situations but I don’t know in which context. I would love to support to teenage mothers.I also am very interested in working in mental health and addiction recovery. Any ideas welcomed. I’m more than happy to work towards qualifications and would quite like to ‘work’ towards where I want to be but am not wanting to go to university. I’m also happy to start ‘at the bottom’ and work my way up but not sure where I should be looking and what for?!

Any ideas?

Pollaidh Thu 19-Oct-17 16:07:47

I can't remember course requirements, but I provided a professional reference for an old colleague when she started retraining as a counsellor through a very well regarded course. She already had a good post-graduate science degree. Many of the questions I had to answer were about her intellectual capability to cope with complex matter and extended study.

Itsanicehotel Thu 19-Oct-17 16:09:07

I took a part time course at uni about 15 years ago, that started with an intro to counselling, then led on to a certificate, a diploma and then a degree. You had to be in either a work or voluntary setting where you could regularly used counselling skills throughout the whole course.

You could exit at the end of each course and got a certificate after each part. It was accredited by BACP which is important. I left after getting the certificate as I felt I wasn’t very good at it. To finish the full degree involved supervision as well as doing a set number of hours counselling in your voluntary or work setting (it was a lot of hours). And this was at a time when there was more scope for finding work. Now I imagine that it is highly competitive and probably very difficult to find voluntary placements let alone jobs when you graduate. Without a degree i think you would be upping your risks of being unable to find work. Setting up as a private practitioner would incredibly hard and expensive.

I think an introduction course is a really useful and not too costly way to find out if counselling is something you want to pursue more formally with the goal of working in an associated area. But it is hard and it won’t be cheap.

AndrewJames Thu 19-Oct-17 16:13:04

You could look at jobs with homeless services etc, charities, support worker type roles that you can usually train up from. Volunteering first would give you some insight and experience.

Pollaidh Thu 19-Oct-17 16:13:29

Career I would try volunteering first, there may be some qualifications or at least training courses that you will be sent on which can help you when you come to make an application to university. Also the volunteering will be useful for your UCAS statement AND give you the chance to find out if this is what you really want. A different friend did the post-grad training for counselling a few years ago and decided at the end, after significant investment, that it was not her cup of tea.

I volunteer mentor students to get them through the UCAS process. I would recommend you find some well-regarded courses, then look for their entrance requirements. GCSEs won't be enough for a university course, but you could go back to college and do A-levels or perhaps vocational qualifications, checking they are accepted for entry to your uni course.

Also look into Foundation Degrees, which give an additional start year, or the Open University has some Access Qualifications which can be used by people who don't have A-levels.

Caulk Thu 19-Oct-17 16:15:43

I’m a Childline counsellor, they do all their own in-house training. That might be worth beginning with if you want to try something?

Nandoshoes Thu 19-Oct-17 16:15:43

Could you go down the life coach route instead ?

Maybe a job at CAB ?

papayasareyum Thu 19-Oct-17 16:15:46

you don’t need a degree to be a counsellor but to get proper accreditation you’ll need a level 4 diploma in counselling at least. It’s expensive to train but not as much as 6.5 k, at least not where I live. It probably varies from area to area. When these threads come up on Mumsnet people always say there’s no work in counselling but the students from the counselling college i attend almost always end up in rewarding careers afterwards. This might also depend on where you live. It’s also a good idea to get a cbt qualification if you want to work in the nhs at some point. A 6 week course in cbt seems to the the main thing prescribed these days, no money for person centred counselling which goes on longer, unless you want to work in private practise.

loveinanelevator Thu 19-Oct-17 16:15:48

While it is possible to gain qualifications in counselling in a distance learning way so much of the learning comes from working with classmates and participating in skills sessions.
Professional accreditation requires a minimum amount of placement hours, in my case 100 hours and I require student membership to do placement. I was only able to obtain membership because of a recommendation from my tutor.
I have studied level 2 counselling, access to counselling and am now doing my foundation degree.

ludothedog Thu 19-Oct-17 16:16:10

what about support work? However, I think for most support work positions you now need an HND/C in social care?

Have you tried volunteering with mental health charities?
You could be a befriender for someone with mental health issues. This would give you an idea if you were suited to this kind of work.

Itsanicehotel Thu 19-Oct-17 16:18:07

You could take a look at the NSPCC site as they have info about volunteering with Childine. Other sites such as Samaritans, Sure Start, CRUISE and other societies that offer befriending and counselling services are worth checking out too. They all provide training for volunteers.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: