Frequently Asked Questions


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Find answers to commonly asked questions below. If you can't see an answer to your question please email it to us.

Questions about CPCAB and its qualifications

Questions about registering with a professional organisation

Questions regarding the Foundation Degree in Counselling

Questions regarding Relate qualifications

 

How many credits are CPCAB qualifications worth?

All CPCAB qualifications have a credit value as part of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). Their individual credit values can be found in the qualifications section.

 

Can I transfer credit from CPCAB qualifications to a University course?

Although all CPCAB qualifications are credit rated as part of the QCF structure these credits are not equivalent to HE credits or CAT (Credit Accumulation and Transfer) points.

However, CPCAB qualifications at level 4 and level 5 have been credit rated by the Open University (OU) and these credits can be directly transferred to further study with the OU including the OU Foundation Degree in Counselling.

Candidates wishing to join other HE courses are advised to contact the individual institution as different institutions place different value on vocational qualifications. It is likely that they will ask for details of the qualifications you have completed and want to see your portfolio.

 

Can I transfer credit from CPCAB qualifications to a University course?

Although all CPCAB qualifications are credit rated as part of the QCF structure these credits are not equivalent to HE credits or CAT (Credit Accumulation and Transfer) points.

However, CPCAB qualifications at level 4 and level 5 have been credit rated by the Open University (OU) and these credits can be directly transferred to further study with the OU including the OU Foundation Degree in Counselling.

Candidates wishing to join other HE courses are advised to contact the individual institution as different institutions place different value on vocational qualifications. It is likely that they will ask for details of the qualifications you have completed and want to see your portfolio.

 

If I already have counselling qualifications do I have to start at level 2?

If you have already gained counselling skills and theory qualifications with a minimum of 150 GLH with another awarding organisation, it may be possible to start at Level 4 but speak to a CPCAB tutor at the training centre as they select students for their courses and will be able to assess your relevant prior learning.

 

What qualifications are equivalent to CSK-L2?

The CPCAB Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills (CSK-L2) is made up of 90 GLH (Guided Learning Hours). This is the time spent in the classroom and should not be confused with credit points. As a guide, an equivalent counselling skills qualification should be a minimum of 75 GLH, or a combined skills and theory course of 150 GLH. Distance learning courses are not equivalent.

 

Where is my nearest training centre?

CPCAB qualifications are delivered in FE Colleges, Adult Education Centres and Private Training Centres. Use our training centre finder to find your nearest CPCAB centre.

 

I already have a degree - can I start at the level 4 diploma?

The qualifications required as entry to the Level 4 Diploma are CPCAB Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills and the CPCAB Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies, or the equivalent with another awarding organisation. These qualifications are important as they are practical and relationally-focused rather than academically-focused. As a minimum you need to have completed at least 150 Guided Learning Hours (GLH) of counselling skills and theory before applying to study the CPCAB level 4 diploma. You will also be expected to have an individual interview at your chosen centre - counselling training at this level is not suitable for everyone (see also What would tutors be looking for at the TC-L4 interview?, below).

If you have covered the above entry requirements in the degree you have studied, then you can start at level 4 but most degrees do not include the specific practical training in counselling skills, so you will need to start at level 2. See also Why is a psychology degree not an acceptable entry qualification for the Level 4 diploma?, below.

If you are still unsure, contact your nearest CPCAB approved training centre and speak to a counselling tutor. Use our training centre finder to find your nearest training centre.

 

 What would tutors be looking for at the TC-L4 interview?

In addition to successful completion of the CPCAB Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills and the CPCAB Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies courses or their equivalents, entry to the Diploma courses involves having an interview with the counselling team at your chosen training centre.

Tutors will consider the following important factors in selecting applicants for a programme leading to the Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling (TC-L4):

You will need to be able to:

  • Demonstrate development of self-awareness and willingness to benefit from that process
  • Use insight, honesty, imagination and ability to make links
  • Understand the need for emotional stability
  • Provide evidence of having engaged with a counselling or helping agency or have some knowledge of how such an agency works
  • Identify reasons for training as a counsellor beyond simply personal development.

Candidates will also need to:

  • Be aware of and manage the time and other resources required to meet the academic and emotional demands of a two year diploma
  • Be able to work with difference and diversity
  • Be able skilfully to form a helping relationship
  • Respond sensitively and empathically to others
  • Be prepared to challenge and be challenged
  • Provide references.

 

 Is a psychology degree an acceptable entry qualification for the Level 4 diploma?

A psychology degree is a knowledge based qualification which requires a high level of academic ability. Counselling is a relational activity which depends on personal qualities, self-awareness and soft skills such as the ability to build a trusting relationship, work with difference and diversity and to convey empathic understanding.

These aspects are not included or assessed in most psychology degree programmes and have to be learned and developed in a very different learning context. Unless psychology degree students have other relevant experience it is advisable to start with the Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills (CSK-L2).

 

 I have just completed CPCAB's xxxx qualification. What letters can I put after my name?

It is not usual to put anything after your name until level 4 has been reached. The normal letters for the Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling (TC-L4) is “Dip.Couns”, and for the Diploma in Supervision “Dip.Sup”. There would not normally be any separate “letters” for PC-L5.

Qualifications below level 4 would not normally be listed but there would be no objection to “Cert.Couns.Skills” (CSK-L2) or “Cert.Couns.Studies” (CST-L3).

 

 I am moving to another country, where I will be seeking employment or wishing to engage in further study. How will CPCAB qualifications be rated in terms of equivalence in that country?

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) offers an overarching framework for establishing equivalence across qualifications in Europe. CPCAB qualifications will in future display the EQF level on every certificate. However, it is important to recognise that this is a only rough equivalence and may not be sufficient for employers to make a judgement about content and appropriateness for individual country requirements.

In the UK there is a body called the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) who, despite their name, also deal with vocationally-related qualifications (such as those offered by CPCAB). There is an equivalent to NARIC in each EU country (and in some countries outside the EU) - the contact details for these organisations can be obtained by phoning UK NARIC on 01242 260010 or by visiting their website at www.naric.org.uk.

In general, each country has the responsibility to assess awards themselves. Therefore the acceptance of a qualification is normally dealt with by the relevant authority in the country that the holder of the qualification is going to. In Europe the NARIC/ENIC agency in the country concerned should be contacted for further advice (otherwise contact the relevant embassy or Ministry of Education for assistance).

For CPCAB candidates who have successfully completed the following qualifications you can download a copy of a ‘Europass certificate supplement’ using the following links:

The certificate supplement describes the knowledge and skills acquired by learners who have completed one or more of these qualifications.

The certificate supplement is one of five documents that will make the skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in Europe. Three documents are issued by education and training authorities - the Europass Mobility, Certificate and Diploma Supplements - and two are freely accessible and are completed by European citizens:

  • the Curriculum Vitae helps you present your skills and qualifications effectively and clearly. A template is available to download.
  • the Language Passport is a self-assessment tool for language skills and qualifications, a template is also available to download.

For more detailed information visit the Europass website.

If you are seeking to have a CPCAB qualification rated in terms of local equivalence in a particular country, you will need to contact the local NARIC (Europe) in the country concerned to find out what documents you need to submit. As a guide you may be asked to send them:

  • a photocopy of the CPCAB certificate/diploma concerned;
  • a photocopy of the relevant learning-record / mark-sheet, together with an official translation into the language of the country concerned;
  • a covering letter written by yourself (giving your full contact details).

The 'NARIC' in that country should then - if they follow the pattern of UK NARIC - issue you with a Certificate of Comparability, a kind of official letter which should formally state the locally-equivalent qualification.

 

 I’ve lost my CPCAB certificate. Can I have a replacement?

Yes - complete form CR8 which explains what identification is required and the administration fee that is chargeable.

 

 What qualifications do I need to become a counsellor?

Counselling is not a statutorily regulated profession which means the title of ‘counsellor’ is not protected by law. This means that even an individual with minimal training can call themselves a ‘counsellor’. However, there are recognised benchmarks for practitioner training set by the professional bodies and awarding bodies which are associated with entry to practitioner registers and with opportunities for employment. The current absolute minimum qualification requirement is a Level 4 Diploma in Counselling although some professional bodies require higher level qualifications. In 2012 the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) introduced a system of ‘Assured Voluntary Registers’. The PSA's role is to host ‘approved’ registers so that the public and employers can be confident that the counsellors on the register have met the necessary standards for safe practice. Organisations are not obliged to set the same entry qualifications but they are obliged to take account of what it generally accepted in the field. See also ‘What is voluntary registration?’ and ‘How do I join a voluntary register?’.

 

 What is the difference between CPCAB and BACP?

CPCAB is an awarding body – also known as an examination board or awarding organisation – whereas BACP is a professional membership body which represents the interests of counselling.

CPCAB is a specialist awarding body which designs and awards qualifications in counselling and related subjects. CPCAB is approved and statutorily regulated by Ofqual – the government regulator responsible for standards in education and training. CPCAB core practitioner qualifications are on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF). CPCAB also offers a number of customised awards for individual employers and agencies.

BACP is a professional organisation which represents the interests of the counselling profession. As such it has a role in setting standards (the most well known being BACP accreditation of counsellors) and registering counsellor/supervisors etc, protecting the public, hearing complaints and interacting with society at large. BACP also approves course content (hence BACP accredited courses) but they cannot award qualifications and they are not externally regulated. In practice therefore BACP accredited courses may be linked to national qualifications or they may not.

 

 Why is my CPCAB course not accredited by BACP?

CPCAB offers qualifications which are assessed to a national standard. These qualifications are accredited by Ofqual (the qualifications and examinations regulator).

Centres have to be approved by CPCAB in order to run CPCAB qualifications and successful candidates are awarded CPCAB certificates at the end of the course. However, the course itself is owned by the centre and since every course is unique, centres have to individually apply to BACP for course accreditation. This applies no matter who awards the qualification and no matter whether the course is delivered in FE, HE or in a private training centre.

Some CPCAB centres have chosen to apply for BACP course accreditation, others have not seen the need since candidates with CPCAB qualifications can join BACP, apply for individual accreditation and join professional body registers once they have completed the necessary practice hours. However, it is possible that the introduction of the BACP Register may prompt other centres to apply for course accreditation since this offers a more direct route on to the BACP register.

 

What is voluntary registration?

At the end of 2012 the new Accredited Voluntary Registration (AVR) scheme for health care professions was launched by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA). This scheme includes counselling and psychotherapy and replaces all former plans for statutory regulation by the Health Professional Council (HPC). Practitioners are not obliged to be registered in order to practise but registration is being seen as increasingly important for employment in the public sector.

Organisations that hold voluntary registers can apply to PSA to have their register accredited. This involves meeting standards of governance, setting standards for registrants (including education and training) and managing the register. Visit the PSA website to find out more about voluntary registration.

 

How do I join a voluntary register?

Three counselling organisations have had their registers approved by the PSA to date and CPCAB candidates can potentially access any of these registers in the following ways:

  • British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP): counsellors with CPCAB qualifications who are (a) individually accredited by BACP or (b) have completed a BACP accredited course can apply directly to join the new BACP Register. Those who are not individually accredited but are ordinary members of BACP can take their free on-line Certificate of Proficiency (COP) and successful candidates can then join the BACP register.
  • United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP): candidates with CPCAB's Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling (TC-L4) and Level 5 Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling who also fulfil the UKCP enhanced practice and supervision requirements may be eligible to apply for UKCP registration as a psychotherapeutic counsellor. See Information on how to apply to UKCP for further details.
  • National Counselling Society (NCS): The National Counselling Society recognises that the Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling (TC-L4) can form part of an individual application for registrant status on its Accredited Voluntary Register. Applicants with this qualification will also have to meet the other standards for registration but no further examination will be required. See the NCS website for further details.
  • Other registers: CPCAB will continue to update this information as more organisations gain approval to hold registers.

 

How do I start the foundation degree?

Your foundation degree study will begin with CPCAB's Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling (TC-L4). But before you start the foundation degree, you will need to achieve the entry requirements for TC-L4.

The first step in your CPCAB training is the Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills (CSK-L2) which is a 90 hour course. You will spend between 6-10 months, part-time, learning counselling skills in a classroom environment. Your next step is the CPCAB Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies (CST-L3) which is also a 90 GLH course and also classroom-based. CSK-L2 and CST-L3 are the entry qualifications for TC-L4, the first CPCAB qualification to form part of the foundation degree.

You can begin studying your Open University modules when you start TC-L4. See the Foundation Degree in Counselling for further info.

TC-L4 is a two year course and when you have achieved it you can progress on to one of the two CPCAB level 5 qualifications – Level 5 Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling (PC-L5) or Level 5 Diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Therapeutic Skills and Theory (CBT-L5).

Your level 4 and level 5 CPCAB qualifications, also classroom-based like all CPCAB qualifications, combine with your Open University modules to create the joint foundation degree in counselling.

 

How long will it take to complete the Foundation Degree (FD)?

As each centre structures their own training programmes, they will vary slightly but as a guide it will take about 3 years to do the CPCAB Level 4 and 5 components of the Foundation Degree. Before you start the Foundation Degree you also need the entry qualifications to the level 4 Diploma, which may take between 1 and 2 years. As most of our learners are adults the courses tend to be on a part time basis.

If you have already achieved any of the Open University modules that form part of the Foundation Degree, it is possible to include them. Nonetheless, it is strongly recommended that you don't start your Open University studies (beginning with the mandatory module D240, exploring fear and sadness) until you have started your CPCAB Level 4 Diploma course, in order to gain the most benefit from your studies.

 

How much does the foundation degree cost?

Course fees are set by individual training centres: you need to contact your nearest training centre to find out how much the CPCAB qualifications will cost. To find your nearest centre, use our training centre finder. Contact the Open University to find out the cost of their knowledge based components of the Foundation Degree.

 

Am I eligible to receive funding?

Individual financial assistance may be available. To find out more contact your nearest CPCAB training centre or the Open University or read our guide to funding.

 

Do I have to do the courses in any specific order?

Yes. Please follow our step-by-step guide to the Foundation Degree in Counselling for full details of the order courses must be completed in.

 

Can I study the OU's D171 instead of CPCAB's Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies as the entry to the Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling?

Yes, D171 is an acceptable alternative to CST-L3. However, to enter onto TC-L4 you will:

  • Also need to have gained CPCAB's Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills (CSK-L2) or its equivalent; and...
  • Regardless of the qualifications held, prospective candidates will have a personal interview prior to being accepted onto TC-L4.

If the training centre is still concerned about any area of your experience you may not be accepted on to the Diploma course.

Take the advice of the tutors at the interview, but the following activities may help you to prepare for your interview and progress to an acceptable level:

  • Actively research an agency or do voluntary work with an agency that offers counselling; looking at, for example, agency policies and practice;
  • Undertake some personal development which enables you to grow in self awareness and interpersonal skills;
  • Do some volunteer work with an agency that allows you to use your Level 2 counselling skills.

It has always been the case that entry onto TC-L4 is not just about previous qualifications. Our candidate entry requirements stress the need to:

  • Identify reasons for training beyond just personal development
  • Provide references
  • Cope academically and emotionally with this very demanding level of training
  • Be able to work with difference and diversity
  • Possess personal qualities, imagination, intuition, openness and ability to benefit from self-development
  • Be able to form a helping/therapeutic relationship
  • Demonstrate some self-awareness, insight, honesty and the ability to make links
  • Be emotionally stable and without personality disturbance
  • Be able to challenge and be challenged
  • Be able to respond sensitively and empathically to others

See also ‘What would tutors be looking for at the TC-L4 interview?’.

 

I have a diploma from another awarding organisation so can I do the Open University Foundation Degree?

The OU only accept CPCAB levels 4 and 5 as the qualifications that are suitable for their Foundation Degree. Diplomas from other awarding organisations are not accepted as components of the OU Foundation Degree in counselling. See the Foundation Degree in Counselling for further info.

 

Can the Relate L4 and L5 qualifications be used towards the OU Foundation degree?

No. They are not on the QCF and do not have credit attached. Even if they were on the QCF they would not be equivalent in size to PC-L5 or CBT-L5.

 

Can Relate qualifications be used towards any HE qualifications?

Yes. Candidates with Relate L4 and L5 qualifications can progress to Relate’s own Postgraduate Diploma in Psychosexual Therapy and MA programme (offered at Doncaster College).

 

Can candidates with the Relate L4 progress to the CPCAB L5 qualifications?

No. The Relate qualifications offer a specific training for working for Relate, they are not equivalent to a generic counselling training qualification for working with all kinds of clients The Relate L4 is therefore not sufficient in terms of training (credit, GLH, client hours etc) to progress to CPCAB L5 qualifications.