How do I become a
counsellor or psychotherapist?

Enrol on the GCS


first. A foundation course is required for entry to professional training. The foundation course will prepare you for
the training and ensure

entry to a diploma, higher diploma or degree course. Becoming a counsellor or
involves 3-4  years part time training plus 450 hours post training supervised practice. This
leads to accreditation with the relevant body (ICP, IAHIP, IACP, IAAAC etc).


What is counselling?

can be described as a principled relationship; based on a clear
code of ethics and practice; being confidential, private and
non-judgemental. Counselling involves a trusting relationship and
cannot proceed effectively
without this trust present.
A counsellor gives a person time and attention; is patient, and
respectful of the individuals autonomy. The counsellor
facilitates the counselling process in a way that allows
exploration and expression of feelings,
thoughts, concerns and intentions. As trust develops the person
starts to consider aspects of their life unapproached up to this
point and begins to develop a different or deeper understanding
of the problem and themselves. The person often gains a greater sense of self-value
through the counselling relationship and process. The counsellor

highlights the options that are revealing themselves which can
lead to changes taking place in the persons circumstances. Any
choice of action is left for the individual to choose. Personal
autonomy is of fundamental importance in counselling and
respected at all times; the person makes their own decisions and
decides if or when to put ideas into action.

People come to counsellors
with a wide range of issues: distress about a relationship;
anxiety and panic attacks; dissatisfaction with life; a loss of a
sense of direction or purpose; unresolved grief; low self esteem;
depression; ; sexual abuse; addiction problems; sexuality issues or to seek
increased personal effectiveness in relationships or general personal growth. Some counsellors will specialise in particular
areas, thus we have addiction counsellors, bereavement
counsellors etc. Counselling may end after one session or may continue for
several weeks, months or years.

“At its core counselling is a searching human relationship
where the client and the counsellor are committed to finding
creative responses to the client’s present difficulties and
needs.” IACP (1995).

Colin Feltham ‘what is
counselling?’. More basic but Irish based: Ursula O’Farrell’s ‘first steps in
counselling’. Obtain books from;



Is counselling the same as

Two main views
exist: 1) They are of the same nature 2) They are utterly distinct from each
Psychotherapists commonly have had more substantial training,
needed a degree, and are more experienced. This, to some degree, still bears
some truth. Feltham (1995) , however
believes that

`many of
the professed differences between

and psychotherapy stem from purely
historical, ideological factors and prejudices

Research with clients who have
attended both a counsellor and a psychotherapist did not
notice any difference.
therapists use the two terms interchangeably
(as Carl Rogers did).

References: C.
Felham (1995), What is Counselling?  Sage.


What is good and bad practice in
Counselling and Psychotherapy?

When seeking a therapist remember that you are
paying for a service, so don’t feel obliged to continue with
someone who you do
not feel comfortable with. You may find someone with an excellent
reputation with whom you feel no rapport or another who is warm
and friendly but unhelpful. A good therapist should receive you
with respect, warmth, acceptance and an open mind. You may want
to ask if the therapist has experience and training with your
particular problem.
Don’t put up with a therapist who does not adhere to personal
boundaries. The therapeutic hour is yours: a therapist who is
frequently late, takes phone calls, leaves early or is frequently
distracted is not abiding by the
boundaries of the therapy. Self-disclosure by the therapist can
be useful at times, if used skilfully and sparingly, however it
is not helpful for the therapist to talk too much about
themselves or their own lives. It is
also inappropriate, unethical and unprofessional for a therapist
to have a sexual relationship with a client. Such behaviour
should be reported to their professional organisation.
A therapist should regularly review with you how the therapy is
progressing or you can ask to review progress. Always take note of any
uncomfortable feelings you experience and share these with your
therapist in the first instance. At present there is no legal
restraint to stop anybody putting up a sign and calling
themselves a counsellor or
psychotherapist. Always check the persons credentials with the
appropriate body below. Unless they are in
training or working towards accreditation status (in which case
they must inform you of this in advertising material and in their first contact with you)
they will be registered with one of these organisations.
Accredited means fully qualified, experienced, abides by a code
of ethics and have regular supervision. For a listing of
accredited therapists contact one of the professional bodies in
Ireland listed below.

ICP  Irish
Council for Psychotherapy, 73 Quinn`s Road, Shankill, Co. Dublin. 01

For a list of registered psychotherapists



What is personal development

involves working on your problems through individual or group therapy.
development can also be gained through workshops. Ongoing appraoches, such
as a foundation course are invaluable as they involve group development
exercises and group interaction in a safe trusting atmosphere.


What is a psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medical d
who specialise
in psychiatry
`; studying how the mind
works in abnormality.

Some go on to train in psychotherapy

or counselling
. Primary
treatment offered: Drugs, Hospital admission, ECT,
Advice/Guidance/Information on
referral to other professionals.
They help
people suffering from psychosis,


What is a psychologist?

Psychologists learn about understanding human behaviour
how the mind works in normality. No medication is given.


in education, advertising, sport, hospitals, learning difficulties, RCC`s

there is
no significant

counselling input in psychology degree studies. Traditionally


use directive/structured approaches (cognitive-behavioural) learning
specific techniques for dealing with problems. An increasing tendency in
recent times


towards post


training in counselling. A clinical or counselling psychologist has a post


degree. Psychologists don`t usually have their own personal therapy except

Note that
psychology degree


does not qualify or make someone capable of counselling another person
anymore than a philosophy or economics degree.       


What is the IAHIP?

IAHIP stands for Irish Association
for Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy. The IAHIP seeks to promote and develop the
profession by evolving standards for practice and training. Its Codes of
Ethics and Practice are regarded as the essential guidelines for responsible
practitioners. The IAHIP has an accreditation scheme for professional
counsellors.  IAHIP is part of the ICP.  Website: www.iahip.com


What is the ICP?

ICP stands for the Irish Council
for Psychotherapy. This includes all psychotherapies.  The ICP seeks
to promote and develop the profession by evolving standards for practice and
training. Its Codes of Ethics and Practice are regarded as the essential
guidelines for responsible practitioners. The ICP has an accreditation
scheme for professional counsellors and may be listed
on the Register, also held on their website. Website:


What is IACP?

The Irish
Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy