School of Education

MA Person-Centred Experiential Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice Frequently Asked Questions

What are the entry requirements?

2:2 (or international equivalent) with a year of work/volunteer experience in a helping or supporting role. Other qualifications, such as a Diploma in counselling, social work or nursing, also considered.

We accept a wide range of combinations so encourage all applicants to provide as much detail as possible about qualifications, relevant training/experience and professional development activities, such as ChildLine or Samaritans training, and mental health or children’s services conferences. This information can be included as part of the personal statement within your application.

We take references very seriously and it is important that they are able to comment on your intellectual abilities, interpersonal skills and potential for postgraduate study. References from friends are not acceptable.

UK students that meet these requirements will be invited to interview. Here, you will have the opportunity to meet with other potential students and staff in order to decide whether the Nottingham course is right for you.

It is not normally possible to invite international students to interview in Nottingham. Instead, a Skype interview may be required, and course tutors rely on references and your personal statements on IELTS scores. The experiential nature of the course makes particular demands on you and therefore special attention is paid to your speaking and listening scores. If your first language is not English, we require IELTS 6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element).

All students will need to complete Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before starting their placement.

What is distinctive about the Nottingham model of professional development in counselling?

Nottingham is a global university with a prestigious international reputation for innovative research and teaching. Our counselling courses are well established and have also developed an international reputation for excellence over the past 20 years.

The teaching team is made up of expert academics and experienced practitioners, providing a safe, academically and professionally robust learning environment in which you will develop the theoretical, professional and personal skills needed for effective counselling practice.

The development of a strong learning community ensures that you will be supported to develop your academic voice and your way of being a counsellor as well as specific areas of interest and expertise.

In addition, you will engage with and benefit from access to a wider community of scholars through training events, seminars and conferences organised by other centres, divisions and schools across the University. These may include for example, the Institute of Mental Health, the Institute of Work, Health and Organisations, the School of Medicine, and the Centre for Trauma Resilience and Growth.

What is expected of me as a student?

You must agree to abide by the guidelines of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)'s Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions or to an equivalent code for members of other relevant associations, such as the UK Council for Psychotherapy or the British Psychological Society. This requirement is relevant for all aspects of the programme, including participation in class, research, engaging with assessment tasks and supervised placements.

What will I need to do to pass the course?

You must complete and pass all assessment tasks and be an active member of the learning community. You will be required to take a Readiness to Practice examination during the first (full-time) or second year (part-time). If you successfully demonstrate your readiness to practice, you will be required to engage in a supervised counselling placement of 100 hours beginning in your second (full-time) or third (part-time students) year.

If you do not successfully completing the Readiness to Practice examination you can choose to graduate with a PGDip Counselling Studies (120 credits) or MA Counselling (Studies) upon successful completion of a 60-credit dissertation.

Will I arrange my counselling placement?

You are responsible for organising your own placement and ensuring that the four-way contract between you, your supervisor, placement provider and course leader is signed, with a copy placed on your file in the School of Education. Supervision must be provided by a trained and/or experienced supervisor. Line management and peer supervision is not acceptable. You might need to cover the cost of supervision and this should be in the region of £30-35 per hour. You will need at least 20 hours of supervision to complete the 100 hours of clinical placement.

We have recently established a research clinic, called the Human Flourishing Project, in which students can undertake a clinical placement. The project is run by staff and students within the programme and is a great place to learn.

Will I need to undertake personal counselling?

You will be expected to have a minimum of 80 hours of personal counselling with one therapist while you study. Previous experience of therapy will not be counted towards this and it is advised that you are in personal therapy for the duration of the course.

It is important to take some time to find the right personal counsellor for you, as this may not always be straightforward. You need to look for someone who is committed to the model of counselling practiced on the course, practices in a convenient location for you, and offers a reduced student rate.

You will then need to arrange an initial meeting and take some time to reflect on the experience before making a contract with them. You will need to decide for example, whether the fit between yourself and the counsellor is likely to help you grow as a person. Don't always go with the first counsellor you see. Be aware that choosing the person you like the most doesn’t automatically lead to a strong therapeutic alliance.

The staff team will distribute a list of counsellors registered with us at the beginning of the course. Most of the training counsellors are local and many have reduced student rates. We recommend that training therapy should cost no more than £30-35 per session.

Please note there are forms to complete pertaining to your personal therapy. Your counsellor will need to sign a form saying they agree to see you, and they will sign off the form again to confirm satisfactory completion of therapy hours.

How many hours are involved in this course?

The number of taught hours will be 160 hours per year full-time and 80 hours per year part-time. In addition, you will be expected to spend a substantial amount of time in course-related learning (skills practice, research, reading, assignment preparation, writing, presentations, journalling) and practice-based learning, (personal therapy, placement activities, placement supervision). Overall, this amounts to approximately 30 hours per week full-time and 15 hours per week part-time, not including travel time.

On some weeks, particularly where there are intensive workshops, the 30-hour average may be exceeded. It should be noted that in order to achieve the taught contact hours expected by the BACP, we have higher expectations of attendance and participation compared to other postgraduate courses in the School of Education.

How will I be assessed?

Assessment varies and relates to the learning outcomes of each module. This may include theoretical essays, book reviews, presentations, recorded counselling sessions and tape transcripts, case studies, peer assessment and reflective journals.

Assignments vary in length and you will be given clear guidelines at the beginning of each module about its assessment requirements. You will also be assigned a tutor for each module who will discuss your essay plan and ideas with you. You will be able to negotiate your own topics for assignments, focusing on some area of interest related to the module aims.

Placement supervisors are required to submit regular reports on your development as a counsellor within the context of the placement agency and your engagement with clients and supervision.

Will I become BACP accredited after graduating?

Course members who pass all the formal assessment tasks will have completed the training requirements for BACP accreditation. You will need to gain up to a further 350 practice hours and wait one year after graduating before applying for accreditation. Please see the BACP website for the most up to date details.

Is there provision for Recognition of Previous Learning?

If your undergraduate degree (or equivalent) is in counselling or psychology and you have two years of counselling training and professional experience, you may be eligible to apply for exemption from up to 30 credits. If you are successful, you will be expected to attend the whole course even though you will have exemption from fees and assessment requirements for one 30-credit module. You should mention this when you apply for the course, and at least four weeks before you start.

How much does the course cost?

Please visit the University's fees page.

What should I read before I come on the course?

We suggest the following references to start your reading:

  • Joseph, S. (2012). Therapeutic Approaches in Counselling and Psychotherapy: an introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • Rogers, C.R. (1951). Client-centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory. London: Constable.
  • Rogers, C.R. (1961). On Becoming a Person. Boston: Houghton Mifflin




School of Education

University of Nottingham
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