Mental health has been a major talking point around the world in recent years. In Britain, the traditional stiff upper lip is being replaced by an increasing awareness and understanding of mental health issues. Long gone are the shackles of early Victorian asylums and diagnoses such as hysteria. The Crown itself supports this movement, with Princes William and Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge coordinating Heads Together, a campaign to raise awareness and eradicate stigma. The strength of this changing tide is such that counselling courses are seeing a golden era. More and more people now look to accept and give help.
Counselling courses in this article can be defined in three different ways:
- A course of counselling for somebody receiving help with their mental health.
- A course of counselling for somebody wanting guidance with an area of their life that is not necessarily related to mental health.
- Formal training for somebody wanting to become a counsellor.
This article will explore some of the best counselling courses for people looking to fall into any of these categories.
Counselling Courses – Receiving Counselling
Counselling courses in this sense can simply mean a structure of help and guidance from a counsellor. It’s what the Americans call therapy and it can be short-term or long-term help. There are many different types of counselling, depending on what you would like help with. Some are free and some cost a fee. These are also the categories to consider if you are aspiring to become a counsellor and are not sure where to specialise.
This type of counselling is the most well known and counselling courses (as in a schedule of sessions) can be prescribed by medical professionals. Common reasons for counselling are depression and anxiety. These illnesses have seen an enormous rise in recent years, with blame being pinned on social media and increasingly stressful lives. A stand-out counselling course for anxiety is BeMindful, a £30 online course that has shown a 58% reduction in the anxiety levels of its students. Many doctors will choose counselling courses over medication to prescribe to their patients. These sessions help people to better understand how they are feeling and how to resolve emotional issues.
Poets, authors and singers have been writing about love for centuries for good reason – falling love and all the other emotions that go with that can be some of the most overwhelming that we’ll ever feel. Most of us experience distress because of a relationship at some point in our lives. A relationship with someone you love struggling, ending or indeed, never starting, can be incredibly painful. It can be difficult to understand the other person’s emotions, thoughts and actions. It can be tougher still to handle your own.
Relationship counselling is not just the image we see in various comedies – two people sat in room, arms folded, barking at each other about “your mother” or the other woman. Relate is one of the best UK organisations that offer relationship counselling. Whether suffering emotional abuse from your partner, in a financially crippling divorce or trying to cope with unrequited love, Relate offer support for nearly every relationship scenario imaginable. They offer online, telephone and face-to-face support so as to be as inclusive and as accessible as possible.
Eating Disorder Counselling
Another illness that has shot up with the rise of social media, eating disorders are thriving. The almost inescapable exposure to posts of aggressively picture-perfect lives is feeding insecurity and giving people both unrealistic views of what their body should look like and sky-high goals of how they want to look. Chuck in the endless ‘celebrity’ endorsements for supplements and ridiculously expensive teas and you have a recipe for a toxic relationship with food. Even the body positive movement puts enormous importance on looks. Obsessive thoughts or actions about body image are rarely healthy and counselling courses for eating disorders can literally save lives. Beat is a charity that offers free, confidential counselling via their helplines or email. It is a fantastic service for anyone who has an unhealthy relationship with food or their body where they can receive support and advice.
Most of us have heard of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These were developed by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and interestingly are often also used to describe the stages after being dumped. Grief is an unavoidable part of life but bereavement counselling can help grieving people to manage their emotions and begin life without their loved one.
Career counselling courses are more educational than the above counselling courses. Universities generally provide career counselling for free, but for non-students, there are paid options available. Career counsellors will guide you through everything from deciding what you want to do to planning your retirement. They can polish your CV and teach you interview skills. Career counselling is not just for people in their early twenties. Many people turn to career counsellors in their forties or fifties. This can be due to wanting a career change, redundancy or simply feeling out of touch with the business world.
Counselling Courses – Becoming a Counsellor
Counselling is a demanding and highly responsible job. The people you counsel may be sharing thoughts that they struggle to admit to themselves, let alone other people. Your response may be of paramount importance to them, both emotionally and to their future decisions. As a counsellor, you will be in a significant position of trust and therefore will need high levels of professionalism. Compassion and empathy are personal traits that make a good counsellor, but the ability to use succinct analysis in order to provide the correct help makes a great counsellor. Skills such as this are what counselling courses teach.
Counselling Courses for Qualifications
To become a counselling professional you need to be qualified. Here are just a few selected courses that might inspire you.
Counselling and Mental Health, BA Joint Hons – York St. John University
Counselling course type: Full-time, face-to-face study.
As well as spending three years in the greatest city on Earth, this course offers you academic training as well as practical placements which will allow you to put your skills into practice and build valuable connections in the industry. Just up the hill is The Retreat, a mental health provider established in the eighteenth century. Its Quaker founders used the then ground-breaking approach of treating mentally ill patients as humans. Its current staff are extremely welcoming and are happy to walk students around the grounds and discuss the history and current work of the Retreat. York St. John is the perfect place to study your counselling course and to also use York’s resources to establish yourself as a counselling professional. That’s without mentioning the city’s luxuriant history, storybook aesthetics, Harry Potter shops and abundance of pubs. In summary, York rules.
Diploma of Higher Education in Counselling – The Open University
Counselling course type: Part-time, online study.
Online learning can help people begin a new career path in later life, which is especially applicable to counselling courses. Many people looking to become a counsellor may have had counselling themselves. For example, a widow who found guidance and solace in grief counselling might then be inspired to help others going through grief. Someone who went through a break-up and handled it appallingly might want to guide others to not make the same mistakes that they did. Online counselling courses allow people to use their own experiences to help others, without sacrificing their work and family responsibilities.
This online counselling course from the respected Open University takes around 4 years to complete part-time. It even has an optional module specifically about death, which is a positive.
Introduction to Counselling – The University of Oxford
Counselling course type: Part-time, face-to-face study, short course.
This is a 10-week counselling course that begins in April 2020. It doesn’t actually have a qualification at the end of it but it’s been included here because getting Oxford University on your CV is always a good idea.
Volunteering in Counselling
Volunteering can be a great way to test the waters to see if becoming a counsellor is really for you. It allows you not only to see where you would be interested in specialising, but also where you would like to work. Alongside private practices and charities, counsellors are key assets to universities, hospitals and prisons. Your area of interest likely reflects your own experiences or it may simply be an area of human psychology that fascinates you.
On the other hand, you may not be interested in going professional at all, you may simply want to help people. Here are a few places to consider offering your services.
This award-winning service is aimed at helping older people to manage loneliness via weekly telephone calls with volunteers. A 30-minute conversation can make a huge difference to an older person’s wellbeing and you, in turn, can learn from them. As well as their breadth of life experience, this opportunity can also develop your skills in listening, empathy and compassion. This is a friendship-building project which will help you to practise building trusting relationships that you will certainly need if you become a counsellor.
The Prison Advice and Care Trust works to help ex-convicts and their families to move on from the prison sentence. They started out in the nineteenth century with a young girl needing a home while her parents were in prison. As a volunteer with Pact, you could offer support for prisoner’s families or the prisoners themselves, inside and after gaol.
If you have ever suffered from severe anxiety, you could use your experience to help others in a similar position. Whether you can be a mentor or support the cause by writing for their blog, there are plenty of opportunities to use your experience and talents to make a difference.
Mind is one of the UK’s leading mental health charities. Their support covers pretty much every base imaginable in the field of mental health. Their President is Stephen Fry, comedic genius, general genius and diagnosee of bipolar disorder. There are plenty of volunteering and campaigning opportunities with Mind, or you could put your mental health expertise to good use by being a paid reviewer of the information.
Hopefully, this article will have given you some practical guidance on counselling courses, whether you’re looking for help or to build a career. Receiving help and or enrolling on an academic counselling course will develop your emotional intelligence. Furthermore, emotional intelligence is a key trait in a good counsellor. We’ve all experienced people with very low emotional intelligence and they’re a nightmare to be around, let alone work with. Sorting through your feelings with a counselling professional can not only make your situation better but make you a more emotionally intelligent person, therefore benefiting your relationships, career and mental well-being.