Find a training course
There are a wide variety of counselling and psychotherapy courses and qualifications available, provided by colleges, universities and private training organisations.
For Stage 1: Introduction and Stage 2: Certificate courses, you’ll need to check with your local colleges, universities and adult education centres to see what courses are running and when.
For Stage 3: Diploma courses you can check the BACP Accredited Courses directory. These are courses that have been assessed by us as providing a high quality of training. There are many other non-accredited courses, but we can only recommend those that we have assessed.
You don’t have to take a BACP accredited course to join BACP, as long as your course meets the membership requirements shown in Stage 3. But if your course isn’t BACP-accredited, you’ll need to take our Certificate of Proficiency before you can become a Registered Member or qualify for our Accreditation Scheme.
Counselling and psychotherapy courses often require previous experience or training. Many have a tough application process including interviews and written assessments. Check with the individual course providers for their specific requirements and process.
Some of the main things tutors look for are:
- If you have the right personal qualities to become a therapist
- Self-awareness: understanding of yourself, your thoughts and values and how you function internally and in relation to others, possibly gained from having personal therapy
- Understanding of counselling models / approaches and how those used on the course suit you as an individual
- Whether you can fully commit to the training at this stage in your life and relationships
If your application is rejected, ask for feedback and see what you can do to improve your application should you re-apply in the future. Tutors are often impressed by applicants who listen to feedback and apply again.
Core practitioner training
To meet BACP requirements, core practitioner training must be an in-depth professional practitioner training programme, based on internationally recognised standards of quality and competence, that trains individuals to be reflective, competent and ethical practitioners. It must include:
- Knowledge based learning: for example, psychological theories and their application to practice, philosophy, human development, common medications, ethics and the law, functioning of groups and supervision
- Therapeutic competences: for example, monitoring and evaluation, relationship building, communications, strategies and interventions, self-awareness, reflective practice and use of supervision
- Research awareness: for example, critical awareness of research findings, methodology and application
BACP accredited courses
BACP is recognised as the leading accreditation body for training courses in counselling and psychotherapy. We build strong collaborative relationships with our accredited courses providers, working together to share knowledge and develop the highest standards of professional practice.
By choosing a BACP accredited course, you can be sure that:
- the course content, delivery and assessment meet the highest professional standards
- the course is mapped to external benchmark standards and curricula (for example QAA standards, BACP core curricula)
- the tutor team meets BACP teaching, experience and practice requirements
- the learning environment and resources are appropriate for high-quality practitioner training
- the course assessment and moderation are externally assured
- the course and practice requirements satisfy BACP membership and individual accreditation training requirements
- the course is subject to ongoing BACP quality assurance
Successful graduates of BACP accredited courses can apply to join the BACP Register directly without having to sit our Certificate of Proficiency.
Your course should involve one or more supervised placements as part of your training. This gives you the opportunity to work within an organisation and practise your skills with clients under supervision. For BACP membership, you must complete a minimum of 100 hours in supervised placement as part of your course.
The demand for placements is usually far greater than the number available. Your course provider may be able to give you a list of organisations who have offered placements in the past. You could also contact local agencies who offer a counselling service to see if they will accept you.
BACP Student Members can also use the Student Placement Database to search and apply for suitable placements.
Awarding and validating bodies
There are several bodies that can award or validate counselling and psychotherapy qualifications. For example, universities can award their own degrees or validate other training providers to teach their degrees. Further Education and Higher Education courses are written to national qualification frameworks so you can compare the level of the training course.
If you are considering a course that is not BACP-accredited from a private training provider, check who awards or validates the training. Courses that are not externally validated may still provide high quality training but the level of qualification may be unclear. We would advise checking the course against national level indicators to make sure it will provide you with a suitable qualification. You can find more information on the gov.uk website – Compare different qualifications.
Online and distance learning
We believe that practising counselling skills under supervision, and with feedback from staff and fellow students, is an important aspect of training. Online and distant learning courses can offer an introduction to the use of counselling skills and theory, but do not have this staff/student or student/student contact.
Any courses you take through online or distance learning will not count towards the training hours you require for BACP membership or accreditation.