How do I become a Counsellor or Psychotherapist?

Attending the GCS Foundation course is the first step towards becoming a counsellor, psychotherapist or counselling psychologist. Guidance is crucial in choosing a professional training course as they are not of all the same quality, some being of very poor standard. In addition not all degree programmes (BA and Masters) meet the professional standards in the field of counselling and psychotherapy. A degree may meet the academic standards but not the professional standards, thus leaving you without accreditation with the main professional bodies as many have unfortunatly discovered. Completing the Foundation will ensure this does not happen to you and that you train at the very best institutes.

Once you have successfully completed the Foundation course you will be much clearer as to your suitability and readiness for this vocation. You will also be clearer about the direction you wish to take, which approach (gestalt, person centred, etc.) or profession you are drawn to, and which recognised professional training programme best suits your needs. Well established, reputable colleges are looking for applicants who have attended a Foundation course that involves a high level of personal development work, especially through groupwork, as well as theoretical input that helps you understand the subject. They want to know that you have experienced, coped with and grown from groupwork, as high quality recognised professional training involves group therapy. 

What are the main theoretical approaches to Counselling & Psychotherapy?

Gestalt is focused on encouraging here and now awareness, self support and self responsibility.

Existential Therapy is a philosophical approach with no inherent techniques or skills. It focuses on how the person is choosing to live their life. Encourages self responsibility and reviews one's of personal perspectives, beliefs, wants, values, attitudes and needs.  

Cognitive behavioural therapy helps the person to develop more self supportive thought patterns and behaviours through a colaborative and psycho educational approach.

Psychodynamic Therapy (psychoanalytical) is focused on raising the persons awareness of unconscious influences on their behaviour.

Person centred therapy involves forming a therapeutic relationship that aids the person in learning to access their own personal resources and internal wisdom. 

How do I find a suitable therapist?

You may get in touch with a counsellor or psychotherapist through your G.P., through a recommendation or through the professional therapist registers (see below). You are paying for a service so check around and don't feel obliged to continue with someone who you do not feel comfortable with. A good therapist should receive you with respect, warmth, non judgemental acceptance and an open mind. Don't put up with a therapist who does not adhere to personal boundaries. For example: a therapist who takes phone calls, or is frequently distracted is not abiding by the boundaries of the therapy. It is inappropriate and unethical for the therapist to form any other relationship with you. Do talk to the therapist about anything you are not happy about in the therapy. In your initial enquires don't hesitate to email, text or ask the therapist important questions for you. "have you training and experience in helping people with my problem?"; Who are you accredited with? What are your qualifications? Where did you complete your training? Some of this information is usually available on the website listings cited below. Unless they are in training they should either be working towards accreditation with one of the organizations below or be accredited. Below are the websites of accredited therapists from reputable professional bodies in Ireland:

ICP Irish Council for Psychotherapy
IAHIP Irish Association for Humanistic & Integrative Psychotherapy  (associated with ICP)
IACP Irish Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy
PSI Psychological Society of Ireland (counselling & clinical psychologists)

Accredited means:
The therapist is fully qualified. 
Has a minimum of 450 hours post graduate experience of working as a therapist.
Abides by a code of ethics and practice. 
Has regular supervision (min. monthly).

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