Petek1 Registered User

So, i'm considering a carrier as a counsellor,psychotherapist, or psychologist, how do you become one?

So if I go through college with a major in psychology, get a BA, or BSc in psychology, or a doctorate in psychology, what would i need to do to become a practitioner?

I've locked this thread as it seems that people aren't reading it for information first and we're answering the same questions over and over. PLEASE READ THIS THREAD FIRST, BEFORE POSING YOUR QUESTION. JC

JuliusCaesar Registered User


all you need to do is set yourself up as a counsellor.

Unfortunately that's true. And there are a good few out there with little or no education in counselling, psychology or anything else.

With a degree in psychology, you can go into further study in any branch of psychology, including Clinical, Counselling, Occupational or Educational psychology. It's an excellent base, but is only a base.

There are lots of other threads on the subject if you do a search. Try this one from How to find a Therapist, which lists the qualifications/affiliations/accreditations your counsellor/therapist/psychologist should have. Please remember that these terms are not interchangeable.

Before you post your question, please do a search to see if it has already been answered. There are a LOT of repeat questions here.

If unsure of the difference between counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist etc, please check Psychological Society of Ireland or British Psychological Society for initial information or Irish Council for Psychotherapy or even here. Thanks.

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stuf Registered User

There's loads of threads in the forum about different courses available around the country.

Basically most courses have their academics ratified by awarding university or HETAC so the academic level should be recognised in most of the anglophone world. Your suitability to practice is ratified by professional bodies such as IACP or IAHIP through an accreditation process which in some cases can lead to a European accreditation - how well that's recognised in north america I'm not sure.

A couple of things to note though.
22 is a bit young for psychotherapy training. Most reputable courses don't accept people under 25 for a number of reasons - I would lean towards 30+ being a better starting age. Relational psychotherapies require you to have a good understanding of your self and how you relate to others. This is part of the training but being a bit older helps.

Also private practice psychotherapy isn't the most mobile of professions as you have to plan well in advance and wind down your client base responsibly which would leave you with a diminishing income while preparing to move.

Not wanting to put you off but I think getting some more life experience is useful before starting. Some of the others may have suggestions as what you may do in the meantime but I didn't get into it until my late 30s and I'm only halfway through a 4 year training at the moment.

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Old Perry Registered User

If you dont have the points from leaving cert you will qualify as a mature student next year (23) you could apply through the cao to do psychology in one of the Unis or ITs around the country, theres everything from psychology on its own , psych with arts to psych wit science. Qualifax is the main website for searching up courses in ireland.

If you wanted to get into it straight away im sure there is part time introductory courses you can do or even better PLC (FETAC) courses which also look good if you do decide to move on to a third level college.

NB:my understanding is that areas like counselling and psychotherapy are specialised fields which when you do apply to do them will require some experience, ie. a social care background.

Odysseus Registered User

stuf said:
22 is a bit young for psychotherapy training. Most reputable courses don't accept people under 25 for a number of reasons - I would lean towards 30+ being a better starting age. Relational psychotherapies require you to have a good understanding of your self and how you relate to others. This is part of the training but being a bit older helps.

I have to disagree with the 30+, yes life experience is important but if you start at 22 by the time you do a degree and masters your 27. I started working in a clinical position when I was 27, yes I did get the odd comment, but it only happened a few times that my age was mention.

For a 22 year I would suggest a psych BA, so they have a degree and are 25 when they start clinical training. It really depends on the individual some 22 year old are very mature some 35 year old are still living like 16 year old.

Odysseus Registered User

ebaysellerrob said:
thanks Odysseus,would any one recommend a good place that dose this sort of training or recommend one learning center over another.From what Iv read seems like they look for you to have completed a foundation course before starting...or am I wrong on that.

No it not a must in some places, to be honest I see a place from these courses, for people who are unsure if this is the road they wish to take; or those who will not work as therapists but work in a therapeutic environment and wish to know a bit more on the topic. I teach a basic 12 introduction to a related topic myself. However, there is also a part of me that thinks they are just a way of keeping people paying fees.

I could be wrong on this but some of the private colleges like DBS and The Independent College do not require foundation courses. As for recommendations it does really depend on whether you have a particular school of psychotherapy that you wish to study. For example unless you like Freud and Lacan The Independent College is not the place for you.

What I would suggest you look at is a long term study plan, [this is where foundation courses can help, giving you an overview of various schools] your plan should look at further study; personally I will not refer a client to another therapist unless they are trained to Masters level. It is not a fail safe, but it does help weed out possible unsuitable therapists. So you need to look at what your course will provide in terms of access to further study.

Personal example I suggest to most people to start with a psychology degree, my BA is in psychoanalytic studies, where I studied I could have done a psychology degree and still managed to study most of the psychoanalytic modules I covered. My regret on this is that certain post-grad courses are not an option to me as my primary degree is psychoanalysis not psychology. I am currently doing my second masters at the Royal College of Surgeons. My plan is to follow that up with another MSc in forensic psych and criminology with the OU. I can gain access to that because its not pure psychology there is criminology in it too, if it was a pure psych course I would not be accepted. So even though you are focused on getting qualified and working, you need to look at what happens next.

The second important factor is what professional body you will get membership of; I'm a member of APPI a psychoanalytic body and the IAAAC which is a body of therapists who work in the addiction area. Now you need to be a member of a professional body to work in the HSE for example. IACP are a well known professional body, they would not accept me as they don't recognise my degree and master; however, I'm covered by my other memberships.

A diploma will get you working in a lot of cases, but I have sat on interview boards and I generally skip over a CV if there is no post-grad study. You have missed the start of the academic year so you won't be doing any academic study until next year, so I would suggest you start to compile a file of all the courses you are interested in and do some background reading so you are in a position to make a good informed choice for next year. This is where a short course may help you as some are run twice a year, it would get you started studying and give info on various schools of psychotherapy so you can make that inform decision next year.

It’s late so I hope that makes sense and helps you a bit.

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ebaysellerrob Registered User

great,will prob do the foundation course.this way it will give me insight into the way I can reach my goal,and as an added benifit if Im asked about it in n interview I can tell them Iv passed that course.Is it common for for some one to get their doctorate and then apply for a second masters.For example addiction-crime

Torakx Registered User

JuliusCaesar said:
With a degree in psychology, you can go into further study in any branch of psychology, including Clinical, Counselling, Occupational or Educational psychology. It's an excellent base, but is only a base.

I was just wondering how long roughly it takes to get this degree as i feel i really just need a base understanding to work from and also i cant keep track of all this hetac fetac stuff while figuring out timescales and grants/fees.
i saw a course in UCD but i think as a mature student(30) i will need to have done a year of volunteering before i will be accepted in the interview.
If i could get into a credited foundation course for this basic understanding and i am more or less around 33-35 i will probably have a really good idea then what i am suited for.
Also i am very very nervous about all this volunteering stuff.
I have no experience working with people and have absolutely no idea what it would be like and where to look or consider.
My memory and motivation are 100% reliant on my ability to visualize things in my head or i am unable to SEE myself able to do it.
Im having alot of trouble visualizing how college will be and volunteering at the same time while either on the dole or trying to make money to feed and cloth myself.
So any help with building a clear picture i would jump at right now.

JuliusCaesar Registered User

I can't recommend a BA or BSc in Psychology strongly enough as a base for counselling/psychotherapy.

It takes 3 or 4 years full-time in most colleges and universities. It can also be done through Open University.

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JuliusCaesar Registered User

allprops said:
I should think you might need more than a base understanding. Counselling is a serious profession and a lot of damage could be done by people who think that they might be good at it. You should have proper training and supervision before you start!

I said as a base, ie something you do first before doing something else. A base is just a base without further study- it's just a beginning.

When you have your degree, by all means go on and study counselling.

Odysseus Registered User

I would suggest you wait until half way through your degree until you start looking for vol work, it is not required for a psychology degree.

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hotspur Registered User

Torakx you know you don't need any experience in anything (volunteering or otherwise) to do a foundation course in counselling? The purpose of them is to give people a taste of what counselling is and usually contain some personal development. They are open to anyone and last a few months.

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juliejam Registered User

BA in Psychology in DBS

Just wanted to post up a reply to the questions regarding how to get on to a counselling course. I do not know if this advice will be helpful but i know i did a three year BA in Psychology in DBS it was tough going but well worth it. Then i went and got experience working in the mental health service, this enabled me to save for a Master's.

As far as i know in order to practice in a professional manner you HAVE to get a Master's, there are people working out there who have done a counselling foundation course and are practicing. As counselling is not regulated there are many unqualified individuals saying they are counsellors.

The counselling Doctorate in Trinity is difficult to get on to but is a brilliant course and it provides you with real life counselling placements in order for you to have great experience. Just thought i would give you advice about how i became a counselling psychologist.

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Odysseus Registered User

juliejam said:
As far as i know in order to practice in a professional manner you HAVE to get a Master's,

No, to work as a counsellor within the HSE the entry qualification in most services is a Diploma, I believe it should be higher but that is the way it is. Some of the HSE services require a high qual, but in most cases it's a dip. A foundation course will of course not get you entry, but then it is not a professional qualification either. By dip I mean a level 7 qualification, not a 12 week dip.

To become a member of a lot of professional bodies in counselling the level 7 dip will do, on top of supervised practice of course. Counselling psychology is of course different to counselling/psychotherapy. Things are changing thankfully, but I see part of the difficultly being that a person with a dip can go for the same position as me a psychotherapy post-grad, as in the end we are currently seen as being the same level.

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ebaysellerrob Registered User

hoping to do a 12 week foundation course before I (hopefully) start an actual course in september.can any one suggest any of these,having trouble finding them online

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