Competence framework

The competence framework identifies the competences required for delivering effective humanistic counselling with children and young people.

The humanistic approach emphasises a relational way of working, placing less emphasis on technique than other therapeutic orientations. The key counsellor competences are sustained empathic relating, openness, receptiveness and maintaining a fundamentally accepting stance.

Humanistic therapists also tend towards interventions which support and validate immediate client experience, facilitating the integrity of the self and a sense of personal authenticity. Humanistic approaches encourage self-awareness, including awareness of experience itself, of emotional reactions, and the experience of interactions with others. The counsellor's role is to help children and young people extend their awareness of their subjective world and support their natural striving toward self-awareness, self-acceptance and personally-determined solutions.

The framework was updated in August 2022 to incorporate competences for online and phone therapy (OPT).

Counsellors' guide

The counsellors' guide describes the competence framework and explains its uses, how practitioners should apply it and its advantages for clinicians, trainers and commissioners.

Training curriculum

The Counselling children and young people (4-18 years) training curriculum is underpinned by these competences. It can be used by training providers delivering courses in a variety of contexts, to a diverse student audience. Training providers can use the curriculum to inform training for work with children and young people (4-18 years), children (4-10 years) or young people (11-18 years).

Update November 2022

We’ve now updated the training curriculum to include OPT as a new subject area in Stage 3. The aim is to enable counselling practitioners to develop the fundamental knowledge, understanding and skills needed to practise safely and effectively with children and young people online and over the phone.

Some or all the subject areas included in Stage 3 can be included within CYP training courses that are more advanced awards, or later for top-up awards. These subject areas can also be delivered separately as CPD training to support the ongoing development of post qualified children and young people’s counsellors.

Please see the course delivery, placements and supervision sections and subject area 34 in the curriculum for more information.

For more information about CYP placements for students on adult focused training courses please see Student placements with children and young people.

Further information

If you have any questions or feedback about the Coaching competence framework, user guide or training curriculum, or if you need these documents in a different format for accessibility reasons, please email Professional Standards at

BACP competences and curricula

Our competences and curricula are based on the latest research evidence into effective practice. They can be used by practitioners, trainers, supervisors and services to ensure practitioners have the skills and knowledge needed to work in a particular setting, or with particular clients.

Copyright and permissions

All our competence frameworks, user guides and training curricula are copyrighted with all rights reserved. We have developed these resources to help BACP members in their practice development and to support the development of training courses. Permission to use these resources is defined under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

You can find information about when you are permitted to use works without having to apply for permission in Exceptions to copyright.

If you're not sure and would like to seek permission to use any of BACP’s competences, curricula and user guides, please email Professional Standards at