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Questions on becoming a counsellor, psychotherapist, or psychologist

  • 18-10-2010 3:12am
    #1
    Closed Accounts Posts: 5 ✭✭✭ Petek1


    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


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,861 ✭✭✭ JuliusCaesar


    PLEASE READ THIS FIRST BEFORE POSTING A QUESTION OR A COMMENT


    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 578 stuf


    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,497 ✭✭✭ Old Perry


    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,754 Odysseus


    stuf wrote: »
    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,754 Odysseus


    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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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 100 ✭✭✭ ebaysellerrob


    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


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,824 ✭✭✭ Torakx


    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,861 ✭✭✭ JuliusCaesar


    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,861 ✭✭✭ JuliusCaesar


    allprops wrote: »
    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,754 Odysseus


    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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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,327 ✭✭✭ hotspur


    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.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1 juliejam


    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,754 Odysseus


    juliejam wrote: »
    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 [I think, I know a degree is 8 and post-grad is 9] 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.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 100 ✭✭✭ ebaysellerrob


    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


  • Registered Users Posts: 32 ✭✭✭ hadas


    You need to choose a route first. Would you like to be a psychologist or a therapist?

    You can become a counselling psychologist by getting an undergrad degree in psychology and then continue on to do a MSc degree in counselling (Trinity, DCU, Cork).

    If you want to become a therapist - a two year diploma can do. Try DBS or NUIM.


  • Registered Users Posts: 578 stuf


    hadas wrote: »
    You need to choose a route first. Would you like to be a psychologist or a therapist?

    You can become a counselling psychologist by getting an undergrad degree in psychology and then continue on to do a MSc degree in counselling (Trinity, DCU, Cork).

    If you want to become a therapist - a two year diploma can do. Try DBS or NUIM.

    not strictly true - the two year postgrad diplomas only give you a theoretical and practical basis to enter a further clinical training such as an MA in Psychotherapy. You don't actually have client facing time on the diploma courses.

    Unless you're doing a CBT PG Dip; but in that case you are a qualified mental health professional anyway, before starting the course. JC


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,754 Odysseus


    I thought most post grad courses in counselling require the student to write up case studies and have appropriate placements. Maybe you were thinking of foundation courses!

    Sadly you do not need to be a post-grad to be a psychotherapist. An under-grad Dip will get you into IACP if they stand over it. That is it then you are entitled to work as a counsellor/psychotherapist in the HSE.


  • Registered Users Posts: 154 ✭✭ kitkat.3b4t


    Odysseus wrote: »
    Sadly you do not need to be a post-grad to be a psychotherapist. An under-grad Dip will get you into IACP if they stand over it. That is it then you are entitled to work as a counsellor/psychotherapist in the HSE.

    I understand that an undergrad diploma is a level 7 qualification. However as far as I know people who pursue this path are maturre students who are given places on courses because of appropriate life experience and character, etc. They are also required to have a Foundation Certificate in counselling before they are accepted on a course. They also have to write up case studies and complete 100 client contact hours before they graduate - I think!

    My point here is that these undergrad diploma courses take life experience into account. Is this such a bad thing!

    I understand that this situation is difficult for counselling psychologists who have probably spent 10 years studying but end up on the same wage as someone who has only studied for 4 years. Maybe suitability for a job as a counsellor shouldn't be judged so much by academic ability. Those who become counselling psychologists are very strong academically because success in getting college places is dependent on academic results. As someone who is trying to become a registered psychologist I have been studying for the last 10 years and that doesnt include my previous Arts Degree which took 4 years. Sometimes I wonder if Ive wasted a lot of money and time and maybe I should have simply done an undergraduate diploma in counselling and by now Id have a job in the HSE and no fear of being made redundant


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,754 Odysseus


    I understand that an undergrad diploma is a level 7 qualification. However as far as I know people who persue this path are mautre students who are given places on courses because of appropriate life experience and character, etc. They are alos required to have a Foundation Certificate in counselling before they are accepted on a course. They also have to write up case studies and complete 100 client contact hours before they graduate - I think!

    My point here is that these undergrad diploma courses take life experience into account. Is this such a bad thing!

    I believe the foundation course requirement is just money making, and personally I think in the long run you have taken the right course of action. It will pay off in the long run. But my point was a Dip not a post-grad one will get a person started, correct me if I'm wrong but it appeared you thought a post-grad one was needed.


  • Registered Users Posts: 154 ✭✭ kitkat.3b4t


    Odysseus wrote: »
    I believe the foundation course requirement is just money making, and personally I think in the long run you have taken the right course of action. It will pay off in the long run. But my point was a Dip not a post-grad one will get a person started, correct me if I'm wrong but it appeared you thought a post-grad one was needed.

    I understand that an undergrad diploma is an acceptable qualification to get started. However for those with a degree in psychology the route to becomming a counsellor is a postgrad dip or MSc. I imagine the content of the postgrad and undergrad are the same. Ive just completed an MSc in counselling but see no hope of getting paid employment. That's why Im thinking of applying for clinical, but is it going to leave me in the same position a few years down the line, when Im older and poorer.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,754 Odysseus


    I understand that an undergrad diploma is an acceptable qualification to get started. However for those with a degree in psychology the route to becomming a counsellor is a postgrad dip or MSc. I imagine the content of the postgrad and undergrad are the same. Ive just completed an MSc in counselling but see no hope of getting paid employment. That's why Im thinking of applying for clinical, but is it going to leave me in the same position a few years down the line, when Im older and poorer.

    Are you doing any vol. work it can be a way to paid work. At least your ready to go now when work comes. Having done the MSc have you the i's dotted and t's crossed in terms of working as a counselling psych in the HSE? Basically if a counselling psych position came up would you be entitled to apply?

    Also you have more than likely done this but ads in shops, letters to GPs etc?

    Edit: It does bug me to see people like yourself who really put the hard work in and avoided the quick fix option not being able to get work when there are so many people with just Dips working in the HSE


  • Registered Users Posts: 154 ✭✭ kitkat.3b4t


    Odysseus wrote: »
    Are you doing any vol. work it can be a way to paid work. At least your ready to go now when work comes. Having done the MSc have you the i's dotted and t's crossed in terms of working as a counselling psych in the HSE? Basically if a counselling psych position came up would you be entitled to apply?

    Also you have more than likely done this but ads in shops, letters to GPs etc?

    Edit: It does bug me to see people like yourself who really put the hard work in and avoided the quick fix option not being able to get work when there are so many people with just Dips working in the HSE


    Im on the conditional register with the PSI until 2012 when I will hopefully have completed enough supervised client hours to join the proper register. Ive completed 300 postgrad client hours so I think I need another 100 before I can be registered with the IACP. I applied for 2 jobs recently where I had enough credentials, but not enough experience. I work part-time as a resource teacher which pays the bills so I cant give up the 'day job' until something better comes along, which seems unlikely at present. I do a few hours per week private practice to build up hours, but Id much rather work for an organization. I probably could also do a few hours voulantary work if I could find an organization that would have me.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,327 ✭✭✭ hotspur


    kitkat.3b4t did you do your MSc in counselling psychology or in counselling?


  • Registered Users Posts: 154 ✭✭ kitkat.3b4t


    hotspur wrote: »
    kitkat.3b4t did you do your MSc in counselling psychology or in counselling?

    Counselling


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2 PensiveJane


    my question is similar to the above, about becoming a counsellor/psychotherapist/social worker or something in this field.

    I am 24 years old. I did my Leaving Cert (2005) and at the time was aiming for Primary School Teaching. I missed the points and so went for my next choice which was a BA in UCD.

    .... In the time that I've spent since leaving college (it's been about 2 years), I have decided that I don't want to become a teacher. ...

    I want to return to 3rd level education in Sept 2011, but I'm just not sure what kind of a course to go for. The long-term plan is to do a 4 year undergrad and then a Masters and then maybe go on to do some kind of Doctoral. I am presuming that once I am knee deep in a Bachelors Degree then I will become aware of the different fields of study and what I am specifically interested in pursuing at Masters level and then whether or not I want to study further.

    At the moment I am doing an evening course, two nights a week, run by the UCD Adult Education Centre, which is the Certificate in Communication Skills. It is Level 7 on the HETAC framework and I am hoping it will help me to apply for an undergrad as a mature student. I just don't know where to start with choosing an undergrad, and I am in dire need of some direction!

    If anyone could offer any advice it would be HUGELY appreciated.

    And if I have not followed the rules about the forum etc in anyway, please let me know!


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,754 Odysseus


    Hi PensiveJane,

    Firstly, congrats on getting back into the system with your current course. To be a counsellor/psychotherapist all that is required currently is a Dip with a clinical training. However, things are changing firstly it comes down to cash, can you afford a private college or are you dependent on going through the system for want of a better description.

    Even though their are counselling degrees out there, I recommend that people get a psych degree, I am working as a psychotherapist for over 13 years, my BA and MA are in psychoanalysis, I'm happy with that, but sometimes I think I would have been better with a psych degree, just in that it opens a wider range of post-grad courses. I would still work psychoanalytically, but a psych degree would open a few more doors.

    If you decide to go for a counselling degree, have you read any specific theories? There is no point in being into one from of therapy and ending up studying another, and some course are very specific in the modality they teach. You can do post-grad and PhD level studies in psychotherapy, DCU have a Doctorate in Psychotherapy.

    Remember with psychotherapy training there is not only the course fees but also personal therapy and supervision fees as well.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,824 ✭✭✭ Torakx


    When you talk of the psyche degree that may open more doors later, do you mean something like a U.C.D foundation 3-4 year course?
    I would love to get onto this course but it is five thousand euros for the fees.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,754 Odysseus


    Torakx wrote: »
    When you talk of the psyche degree that may open more doors later, do you mean something like a U.C.D foundation 3-4 year course?
    I would love to get onto this course but it is five thousand euros for the fees.

    I basically mean any psych degree which entitles a person to become a gradute member of PSI. I don't know where you are getting foundation from 3-4 years is a degree.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,824 ✭✭✭ Torakx


    Oops a 3-4 year course i had thought of as a foundation or base to start from.Im also one confused fella when it comes to words like msc ba bsc etc
    I think/memorise visually and wont remember too easily what each represent unless i have made a picture in my head first to remind me later.So even though i have researched these on websites from the colleges its very hard for me to remember based on just the print with nothing else to go off.
    It worries me that it may also effect my learning in college and that i may need to do it online or double study my own way on top of the school study if college is all linear learning.
    I tend to learn much faster when i can see the goal and im let loose with grabbing info from all stages at the same time.Ive gotten the impression(which could be false) that i will have to be restricted to one topic at a time inan orderly fashion.Hence the fear of having to do my own research ahead while i do the course like everyone else.

    My memory may be playing tricks with me, but i thought the undergraduate course was 3-4 years long in U.C.D for example at roughly 5000 euro

    So if im correct, to choose a more flexible route i could do the undergraduate degree(no volunteering needed or experience in volunteering?)at 5k euro, then after or during those 3 years get a job or volunteer for experience and follow up with a post graduate? probably another 5k euro(3 years?) in psychology to have more choices in the areas i wish to pursue.
    This would be 6 years of training so a big commitment i dont take lightly.
    Do you know roughly what areas and jobs that could set someone up for?

    I see you mention psychotherapy includes lots of personal development.
    I really feel i have covered most of this over the last few years and peaked around now,so not too enthusiastic about doing it all again.Although i do see the advantage in knowing from experience the other side of the "table" so to speak.

    I would be interested in knowing how psycho-analysis study went for you also.I think Carl Jung may have favoured that and he was a bit of an inspiration to me albeit maybe outdated these days.

    Lastly i want to thank all who are replying to these questions.Its much appreciated and i hope in future will be earned :)


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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,754 Odysseus


    Torakx, may I make a suggestion forget about which course from a moth or two; have a look at some academic texts not popular psych, and see what you make of it.

    I have had five years of training analysis, three of them where twice a week. I have external supervision twice a month from the HSE 1.5hrs individual and 1.5hrs group, and top of this I have extra supervision from an APPI every fortnight I pay for that myself.

    My point being there is always room for more personal work, I don't mean this in a bad way; you still only starting out. However, you have a poor understanding of psychology/psychotherapy at the moment. At this stage it is not about your opinion, but you understanding of the leading therapists in the field. Academically you only get an opinion after your post-grad training. I don't mean to be hard on you here.

    However, there is nothing worse than listening to a person going on in a lecture about what they think when they have not read the main thoughts in that area if you get my point.

    Getting reading some core texts and I'll gladly answer any questions you have if I can.

    When I get my PhD which if my plan goes the way I want I will have my degree and three Masters, as well as by that time nearly 20 years of clinical experience, I might be entitled to a valid academic opinion them. So I saying it applies to me too, when most posters disagree here their disagreemnt am based upon different schools of thought they studied not what they just think?

    Also you personal development was done by yourself am I correct, if so it does not count. I can't take myself on as a client if you get my point.


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