Your step-by-step guide to becoming a counsellor

Choosing the best route into counselling is a vital decision – a proper training takes time and costs money. To help you make the right choice first time, you must ask some key questions:

To answer these questions – and more – click through this simple step-by-step guide to becoming a counsellor with CPCAB.

Making the right choice

CPCAB counselling qualifications:

Step 1 Optional

Who is this qualification for?

If you have no knowledge of counselling this introductory 30 guided learning hours (GLH) qualification will give you some insight into the nature of counselling work and help you to decide whether you want to proceed with further counselling skills training.

All CPCAB's qualifications enhance your emotional and social skills, and help you to understand yourself and your relationships more clearly.

Find out more about the Level 2 Award in Introduction to Counselling Skills

Step 2 Compulsory

Who is this qualification for?

If you want to become a counsellor this skills qualification forms the foundation of professional counselling practice as well as providing the essential listening and communications skills used by helping professionals.

It is the first compulsory qualification on our progression route to becoming a counsellor. Your next step is our Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies.

Find out more about the Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills

Step 3

Before this step...

You must have completed our Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills (CSK-L2) or its equivalent with another awarding body, i.e. a counselling skills course with at least 75 GLH, in order to start this course.

Who is this qualification for?

This is the next step on your route to becoming a counsellor. It introduces you to the three main theoretical approaches to counselling and shows you what you can expect from working with counselling agencies.

As part of this qualification you can volunteer to work for an agency in a non-counselling capacity. Working on an agency-based project is also an effective way of securing a work placement for further counselling experience.

Find out more about the Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies

Step 4

Before this step...

You must have completed either our level 2 & 3 (see steps 2 & 3) or their equivalent (150 GLH skills and theory).

Who is this qualification for?

This 2 year qualification enables you to work as a counsellor in an agency setting. In year 1 you will learn how to apply a number of approaches to the therapeutic counselling process and volunteer to work in an agency as a trainee counsellor.

You will also start your own personal counselling sessions which will give you an invaluable insight into the work of a professional counsellor.

Find out more about the Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling

Step 5

Before this step...

You must have completed year 1 of our Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling or its equivalent.

Who is this qualification for?

Year 2 of this qualification focuses on furthering your counselling skills and knowledge to ensure that you are able to work safely and effectively as a reflective practitioner within an agency setting.

In the final year of the diploma you will work as a trainee counsellor with an agency and continue your own personal counselling.

Find out more about the Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling

Step 6

Before this step...

After completing our level 4 diploma you can deepen your therapeutic understanding and practitioner skills by further study. These qualifications will enable you to:

They also prepare you to work safely as an independent and autonomous practitioner by focussing on improving your ethical, theoretical, practical and research knowledge and skills to ensure that you are able to work at greater depth with clients.

Find out more about the Level 5 Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling or the Level 5 Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapeutic Skills and Theory

What next?

Watch this video to see CPCAB students talking about their experiences of counselling training.

Contact the counselling tutor at your local CPCAB training centre to discuss your intention to study counselling and find out when the next suitable course starts.

Once you've decided on a qualification the tutor will discuss with you how your previous qualifications and experience may affect your course entry requirements.

Finally, please note that the cost of courses is set by centres – not CPCAB. As such, costs will vary between courses and centres.

Find your nearest CPCAB counselling course