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Jan 2017 by PCI College

Integrative and Experiential - Introducing the BSc in Counselling & Psychotherapy

Jade Mullen introduces you to the BSc in Counselling & Psychotherapy, our Honours degree programme, validated by Middlesex University. The course is taught part-time, at seven different locations around Ireland and the Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy, awarded on completion of Year 3, is fully accredited by the IACP.

PCI College will celebrate 25 years of training and education in counselling and psychotherapy this academic year of 2016-2017.  Founded by Liam McCarthy and Josephine Murphy, the original objectives of PCI to bring together high academic standards, in-depth personal development and accessible education regardless of background, still hold true in today’s BSc degree in Counselling & Psychotherapy.  

Mental health services in Ireland have changed considerably since PCI College was first established, and our society is more willing to talk about mental health in open forums and everyday conversation. People are more open to the idea of professional therapy to help, not just with serious issues such as depression and suicide, but with more widespread concerns such as stress, relationship difficulties, anxiety etc.  Counselling & psychotherapy offers a considerable choice for career development.  There are more opportunities than ever for counsellors / psychotherapists to provide therapeutic help, either in private practice, through charity and voluntary organisations or government and state-sponsored services.  Many counsellors choose to specialise in a particular therapeutic approach or develop expertise with a specific cohort of clients such as children & adolescents, couples etc. while others will employ a range of different approaches and modalities depending on the client’s needs and presenting issues.

In light of recent media reports and the call from TD Mr. Simon Harris for submissions in beginning the process for regulating the profession, mental health services and counsellors/psychotherapists have never been more on the public agenda. There is a growing demand for qualified professionals in the field of counselling and psychotherapy and there is a spotlight on adequate and appropriate training for same.

Validated and quality assured by Middlesex University, the PCI College BSc is an honours Level 8 degree which combines the key themes of counselling & psychotherapy theory, skills and personal development over four years part-time study.  The course is integrative in approach, meaning it brings together all of the main theoretical approaches in counselling & psychotherapy, giving students a broad-based psychological education and a solid foundation for professional practice as a therapist.  Largely humanistic in ethos, the degree explores theories from person-centered, cognitive behavioural, psychodynamic and other approaches and encourages students to critically examine and evaluate their application in client relationships and therapeutic interventions.  

As the learning style on the degree is fundamentally experiential, students will be encouraged to apply the theoretical concepts to themselves. Understanding the theory through the lens of their own lives, students will be taken on a journey of self-exploration and discovery throughout their four years of study. This rich, personal learning enlightens and equips students with the tools necessary to accompany a client on their journey of change and growth.

In addition to the academic qualification, the course is professionally accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (IACP).  In Ireland, where counselling & psychotherapy is not yet regulated, professional bodies like the IACP set and maintain standards for therapists.  These standards include training requirements, ethical frameworks, continuing professional development etc. and ensure that clients and healthcare professionals who refer clients are choosing a therapist who has met these standards of best practice.  Recently the Minister for Health announced a consultation process to progress the regulation of counselling & psychotherapy and you can read more about this here.  The IACP professional accreditation requirements are integrated into the BSc programme, and on completion of Year 3, students are awarded a Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy which is fully accredited by the IACP.  Students complete four key elements to achieve this Diploma: 50 hours personal therapy with an IACP accredited therapist, 24 hours professional or personal development workshops, 100 hours client work and 20 hours supervision with an accredited external supervisor.  

What does the course content cover?
The BSc degree comprises four years, part-time study with three or four modules in each year.  In Year 1, the modules introduce students to the three key elements of theory, skills and personal development.  In Year 2, these elements are explored in more detail, integrating the clinical practice requirements of client work and supervision, and students begin Group Supervision which gives an opportunity for further support and discussion of issues presenting in client work.  Year 3 deepens the student understanding and invites critical examination of the application of theory and skills in professional practice, through a Research Project and a module on Personal and Professional Integration.  At the end of Year 3, once the student has completed all the necessary requirements, they are awarded their Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy, and many students then begin their professional practice, while completing their final year. Year 4 offers a choice of three modules for more in-depth study in either Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psychodynamic or Humanistic approaches and finally, students complete a Case Study and Proposition Essay (or thesis) to conclude their degree.  Throughout the four years, classes are taught by lecturers who are themselves accredited, experienced counsellors. They bring a rich variety of personal and professional experience to share in the classroom and each tutor brings their individual style and personality, within the framework of a structured, honours degree.

The teaching brings together theory and practical skills and is largely experiential, with powerpoint and formal teaching methods complimented by class discussions, practical exercises, creative mediums and a wide range of other materials.  Students are supported throughout their studies by Core Tutors, who in addition to being a primary lecturer on their course for the duration of their studies, will also meet individually with each student twice a year to provide feedback and support. There are also Year Heads in place for each year of study.

The central focus throughout this training is on preparing you as a student to work with vulnerable clients in a professional setting; how to listen, guide, hold and help someone experiencing pain and confusion to find their way out of that pain, or to find a new level of awareness and understanding so they may recognise the pain and develop ways to cope with it.  Within that focus, the trainee therapist must develop an understanding of themselves, and their own strengths and limitations, in order to provide an effective therapeutic environment for clients.

Jade Mullen, MIACP

Programme Leader, BSc (Hons) in Counselling & Psychotherapy

September 2016

What our Students Say

“Excellent tutors and course-work, made this course very enjoyable. Also, Joyce in PCI was a fabulous & caring person... The Student Care Officer Phil Duggan was a great help in keeping students on track with their required hours. I found the college had a lovely approach in dealing with students & helping them to handle the pressure of completing the high level.... required.”
Jenny Hannigan - Foundation & BSc (Hons) in Counselling & Psychotherapy Graduate

What our Students Say

"This course highlighted and revisited some of the areas I have covered before - it has given me the confidence to start actively looking at creative play again...a real breath of fresh air for practical, back to basics ways of working with children & after-all play is child's work."
Sarah-Jane Conneff - Child & Adolescent Counselling Taster Day
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