School of Health in Social Science. Counselling and Psychotherapy MASTER OF COUNSELLING (INTERPERSONAL DIALOGUE) INFORMATION BOOKLET,

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1 Introduction School of Health in Social Science Counselling and Psychotherapy MASTER OF COUNSELLING (INTERPERSONAL DIALOGUE) INFORMATION BOOKLET, The Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) at the University of Edinburgh is a twoyear full-time professional postgraduate qualification in counselling. It is an accelerated version of the well-established Master of Counselling (MCouns), which is offered over four years part-time. The Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) is specifically designed for international students, with significant professional experience in related fields, who are seeking to gain a fully accredited professional qualification in counselling in the United Kingdom. Combining academic rigour with high quality professional training, the programme provides unique opportunities for training, learning and research in the field of counselling and psychotherapy. The award of this degree allows graduates to practise as counsellors or therapists in the UK and in other countries with equivalent professional and academic standards. Academically, the MCouns is an enhanced professional postgraduate programme, consisting of 360 postgraduate credits and is on a par with other professional programmes, such as the MEd (Education), MSW (Social Work) and MBA (Business Administration). The Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) is also the entry route for students wishing to proceed to the three-year full-time Professional Doctorate in Psychotherapy and Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue). Students may apply to transfer to the Professional Doctorate at the end of the first year of the Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) if they have passed all their courses to date and secured an average mark of at least 65. The first year of the Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) and the first year of the Professional Doctorate are identical. The second year of the two programmes also overlap considerably, but whereas those on the Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) complete a dissertation, those on the Professional Doctorate do not and instead prepare a proposal for their doctoral theses. Professional Accreditation The Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue), professionally accredited by COSCA, the professional body for counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland. Students successfully completing the academic and practice requirements of the full-time MCouns will automatically meet the training requirement for COSCA individual practitioner accreditation. While this constitutes a substantial part of the accreditation process, full accreditation as an individual counselling practitioner in the UK involves further post-qualifying requirements related to practice hours and personal and professional development. The Master of Counselling has also been designed to meet the professional and academic requirements for counselling training laid down by BACP, the British Association of 1

2 Counselling and Psychotherapy, the UK-wide professional body for counselling and psychotherapy. There is significant correspondence between the accreditation processes of COSCA and BACP and it is a matter of individual choice whether MCouns graduates seek accreditation through COSCA or BACP or another professional association. For more information on accreditation requirements, please contact COSCA or BACP directly. Their web addresses are and respectively. Aims The overall aim of the Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) is to provide a generic professional training in counselling at postgraduate level, and to foster the development of critically reflective practitioners who are able to work in a variety of settings with a broad range of client groups, both in the UK and in other countries. Students who successfully complete the Master of Counselling will: be reflective, self-aware, safe, accountable and competent counsellors have a sound knowledge base of theories and research on the development of the person, group process, therapeutic relationships and processes, and the role of counselling in society possess highly developed and transferable interpersonal, conceptual and analytical skills, including critical thinking, self-evaluation and research skills. Core Orientation Counselling and Psychotherapy degree programmes are founded on a dialogue between the person-centred approach, located within the humanistic tradition, and psychodynamic perspectives, located within the psychoanalytic tradition. Open exploration and dialogue permeates all aspects of the programmes, including structure, content, process and methods of teaching and learning. This stance characterises the relationships between tutors and students. Through an active engagement with the dialogue, students are encouraged to experience, experiment with and integrate insights, values and practices drawn from each perspective. Overall Programme Structure and Content The MCouns professional training programme offers a comprehensive pathway of personal and professional development leading to qualification as a counsellor or therapist. It has been specifically designed for international students with significant professional experience of helping relationships in related fields, allowing them to transfer their skills, knowledge, personal resources and professional expertise to therapeutic practice in the field of counselling and psychotherapy. Year 1 (September 2015 to August 2016) commences with a set of courses providing an intensive introduction to therapeutic practice and relationships, and the research and evidence base which underpins counselling and psychotherapy. Through the autumn semester students undertake on-course practice development workshops to prepare for beginning placement practice with counselling clients, which commences after the completion of the readiness for placement assessment. The Professional Practice Manager assists students to identify a suitable placement from a network of approved counselling agencies and a clinical tutor is appointed to provide individual tuition in relation to clinical practice. Most full time students start their first placement at our in-house Hope Park Counselling Centre. The second semester comprises a set of courses designed to support students in the initial stages of their practice, including courses which focus on narratives of self, person-centred understandings of the self in relation to others, and difference and diversity. Through all courses, alongside their professional development as trainee 2

3 counsellors, students also undertake significant personal development work. While formal course teaching ends for the summer, students continue in their placement through the summer months and attend clinical tutorials and practice support groups. Year 2 (September 2016 to August 2017) comprises courses which immerse students in psychodynamic ideas and experiences, and consolidate the dialogical orientation of the training. Students undertake a second research training course designed to assist them in the preparation of dissertations and theses (for those who have transferred to the professional doctorate). Once they have confirmed their research focus, a member of academic staff with suitable research interests and experience will be appointed to supervise their research.. Practice development is supported through further courses which focus specifically on the students therapeutic practice with clients. The programme is completed with the successful completion of a minimum of 150 hours of counselling practice and 30 hours of professional supervision and of the Masters Dissertation, which is submitted in August. In the first semester of the first year students on the Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) take intensive, dedicated courses, designed to support their accelerated training. Beginning in the first semester of the first year, students on the Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) also join with students in the second and third years of the part-time Master of Counselling to form a combined group that operates as a closed cohort over the full two years. This enables students to develop a significant level of trust which in turn facilitates personal and professional development at all levels. A minority of courses, notably the research-focused courses, are shared with students on other Counselling and Psychotherapy programmes. Further Information on Individual Courses and Components Year 1: Specific Courses Introduction This four day intensive course provides a comprehensive induction to the Master of Counselling and focuses on students preparation for starting their counselling placements. The counselling relationship: theory, practice and process This course develops the dialogue between the theoretical, practice and process perspectives offered by the person-centred approach and psychodynamic traditions in relation to the counselling relationship. It introduces the concept of narrative, which is used to explore what is going on within and between the client and the counsellor in the counselling endeavour, and the embeddedness of these in the wider world. Central to the dialogue is the emphasis on the relational dimensions of counselling and how these are conceptualised and expressed in practice. The course introduces some current debates about professional and ethical practice. Developing narratives of self This course explores the development of selves and of persons-in-relationship. It considers person-centred and psychodynamic accounts of human development, and draws on current research and debates in developmental psychology and neuroscience. Narratives and metaphors concerned with human development and distress are discussed in relation to therapeutic processes. The relationship between psychological and socio-cultural approaches is central to the course. 3

4 Beginnings in counselling practice This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the theme of beginnings in counselling practice, examining the essential skills and knowledge which new counsellors need to commence therapeutic practice and introducing the substantial corpus of research related to the therapeutic alliance. The course explores the range of professional approaches to contracting, assessment and goal-setting, including the debates around these issues within contemporary social and political contexts. The course focuses intensively on clients experience of making themselves vulnerable to another in commencing therapy and the implications of this for counsellors-in-training. Ethics in counselling practice This course is designed to introduce key debates about ethics in the field of counselling and related practices grounded on social theories of power. Relevant codes of ethics will be examined and discussed in relation to ethical issues, dilemmas and difficulties. Understandings and theories of boundaries within the person-centred approach and psychodynamic perspectives will be discussed. Theories and approaches used in counselling supervision will also be examined. Difference, diversity and power in counselling practice While issues of difference, diversity and power are integrated into every element of the MCouns programme, this course provides a separate opportunity to focus on this important practice theme in detail. The course examines these issues in contemporary social and political contexts, exploring theories of power and how it is exercised, societal and interpersonal processes of exclusion, inclusion and promoting equality, with a focus on the student s own personal experience in relation to these issues. The course focuses on how counselling practitioners work effectively with these issues in their practice with clients. The group in the development of self and others: a person-centred approach The person-centred approach identifies the experience of being in an unstructured group as a significant place to learn about self in relation to others. The group experience provides a rich context in which students can become aware of familiar patterns, experience new and different ways of being and of shared facilitation. Within the group the core conditions can be powerfully felt, reflected upon and developed. The person-centred group is a place of learning about group process and experience. Working without agenda or leadership, students have the opportunity to make their personal process available to others, to develop their self-awareness and reflexivity and to think about the application of their learning for their work as a counselling practitioner. Between Counselling and Research 1: Approaches, Issues and Debates This course provides students with an overview of key approaches to research relevant to counselling, psychotherapy and related practices. Emphasis is given to critical social science perspectives on knowledge and research, to the role of subjectivity, inter-subjectivity and context in research, and to the relationship between research and reflective counselling practice. During the second half of the course, sessions also include presentations by individual students about their proposed research. 4

5 Year 2: Specific Courses Psychological vulnerabilities and distress in counselling practice This course examines human psychological vulnerabilities and distress, as they present and are worked with, in therapeutic practice. Theories of psychological vulnerability and distress are explored, including concepts from neuroscience, normal and abnormal psychology, trauma studies and attachment. The recovery model is also examined, as are the social and political contexts in which debates around mental health and emotional well-being are conducted. The course focuses on how counselling practitioners make sense of and use such understandings in their practice with clients. From two person to three person to the group: a psychodynamic perspective This course examines ideas about the development of the relational self between two persons, three persons and the family available in contemporary psychoanalytic ideas and practices. A primary focus will be on the links between feeling and thinking, experience and knowledge, and phantasy and reality. These ideas will be linked to the concepts and uses of transference and counter-transference in therapeutic processes. Transitions, endings and beginnings This course explores the theme of negotiating identities in transition as students are deepening their knowledge and experience of therapeutic practice, coming to the end of their professional training in counselling and preparing themselves for working as qualified counsellors. Students consolidate their knowledge of the central tasks of counselling in facilitating change and growth in clients and examine the process of the formation of new and altered identities through integrating personal experience with professional counselling practice. Theories of attachment, separation and loss, endings and beginnings, change and transition will be revisited. The course analyses counselling as a contemporary social phenomenon, locating counselling within specific social, cultural and political contexts. Students are required to define their own professional, theoretical and political orientations as practising counsellors. Components Across Both Years Counselling Practice and Process Courses Through both years of the programme, students participate in Practice and Process Courses through a small facilitated group which focuses on their developing practice as counsellors. The Practice and Process Courses evolve with students professional experience, moving from initial high levels of support to a peer group supervision model over time. Students present client work in different formats including spontaneous recall, written session notes and audio recording of counselling work. Interpersonal Learning Group Through both years, students also participate in an Interpersonal Learning Group which offers a facilitating environment in which students can explore and reflect upon how the themes and issues of the Programme impact upon their experiencing of self and others, and what implications this may have for their personal and professional lives. It provides a primary opportunity for the experience of congruence and for learning how to offer the immediacy of self in relationship to others. The Interpersonal Learning Group is a powerful environment for experimenting with, and learning about, intra-personal and interpersonal relationships. 5

6 Counselling Placement At the heart of the Master of Counselling programme is a graduated progression of training in professional practice corresponding to the stage of development of the individual student. Each course and assessment activity has a substantial focus on therapeutic skills and the integration of practice with theory, reflection and personal development. In the first semester, students undertake intensive counselling skills practice in groups of three, using digital recording to analyse and reflect upon individual skills development. This process culminates in a student-centred assessment of readiness to practise. Once readiness to practise is achieved, students are assisted to find a counselling placement to begin direct work counselling clients. One of the unique strengths of the programme is the placement opportunity provided by the Hope Park Counselling Centre where all full-time students begin their counselling practice placements. Part of Counselling and Psychotherapy, the Centre is a public generic counselling centre offering individual therapy to adults over the age of 16. It is a practice and research centre for counsellors in training and for qualified counsellors also, some of whom are members of teaching staff in Counselling and Psychotherapy. In addition to Hope Park, the programme has a network of practice placements within a variety of counselling agencies both within Edinburgh and further afield. Placement providers work closely with the programme in order to offer a supportive and flexible practice learning experience for counsellors in training and many full-time students take second placements within this network. The Professional Practice Co-ordinator assists students to identify placements which meet their individual learning needs, skills profile, professional experience and personal interests. There are opportunities to work in a wide range of settings with a variety of client groups with placements in generic and specialist agencies, in health care, the voluntary and independent sectors, with individuals, couples, children and young people. In total, students complete a minimum of 150 supervised hours of counselling practice accompanied by 30 hours of professional supervision. Many placement providers arrange individual and/or group supervision for students. When this is not the case, programme tutors assist students to identify a suitable supervisor. When not provided by their placement agency, students may also arrange their own supervision on condition that the supervisor is suitably qualified and experienced. Learning Methods and Assessment Teaching and learning methods include experiential learning, small group work, supervised practice, theory seminars and independent study. A distinctive feature is the system of clinical tutorials providing an intensive focus on the development of the individual student s counselling practice. Assessment methods combine essays with seminar presentations, self and peer assessments, placement-based assessment, professional portfolios and the dissertation. Assessment criteria are included in the programme handbook and tutors provide guidance for the preparation of each assessed task. 6

7 Masters Dissertation Research is an integral component of the MCouns training and students attend research training courses in both years which assist them in the preparation of their Masters Dissertation submitted at the end of Year 2. The dissertation is approximately 15,000 words in length. Students can choose between a dissertation which focuses on their therapeutic work with clients or a dissertation centred around a theme or issue in counselling or psychotherapy which is of particular interest to them. Students begin thinking about their research ideas in the first year. After the second research course at the start of Year 2, students draft a research proposal and this is used to appoint a suitable supervisor from the Counselling and Psychotherapy staff group who has a particular interest and expertise in the student s research topic. The supervisor offers regular individual support and supervision sessions through the remainder of the year. Counselling and Psychotherapy also offers monthly Dissertation Workshops to assist students in the preparation of their dissertations. Students are also expected to attend and contribute to Counselling and Psychotherapy and other research seminars throughout their studies, including the annual Counselling and Psychotherapy Student Research Conference in May. Students Master of Counselling (Interpersonal Dialogue) students come from different backgrounds and nationalities, and with diverse experience and motivations. All have significant experience of working in the helping professions and are now seeking to qualify as counsellors or therapists. With this diversity in age, experience, motivation and outlook on life, the student group provides a rich and stimulating learning culture for the study of counselling and the development of therapeutic practice. Career Prospects The Master of Counselling allows students to gain employment in a variety of contexts where this unique combination of interpersonal, therapeutic, self-reflective and analytical skills is highly valued. Students gain employment as counsellors and therapists in a wide range of settings in the statutory, voluntary and private sectors, or use their counselling training to enhance their career in a related profession, such as health care, social work or education. Entrance Requirements As an accelerated professional training programme, this programme requires entrants to be both personally and professionally suitable for counselling training and ready to begin counselling practice within six months of programme commencement. The entrance requirements therefore combine personal suitability requirements with professional experience and academic requirements. The entrance requirements are: 1. Academic: EITHER an undergraduate degree equivalent to an upper second class honours degree in a subject relevant to counselling and psychotherapy OR an undergraduate degree equivalent to a good lower second class honours degree in a subject relevant to counselling and psychotherapy AND references confirming aptitude for study at postgraduate level OR cognate professional qualifications equivalent to an honours degree OR, 7

8 exceptionally, where an applicant s undergraduate degree is in an area not considered relevant to counselling and psychotherapy, they may be admitted at the discretion of the programme director so long as they meet the personal and professional suitability requirements stipulated below AND 2. Personal and professional suitability and relevant experience: a) Suitability requirements are laid down by the UK professional bodies for counselling and psychotherapy as follows: Self awareness, maturity and stability Ability to make use of and reflect on life experience Capacity to cope with the emotional demands of the programme Ability to cope with the intellectual and academic requirements Ability to form and sustain helping relationships Ability to be self critical and use both positive and negative feedback Awareness of difference, diversity and power Capacity for psychological thinking and engagement Understanding of the principles and practices of counselling b) In addition to meeting the suitability requirements, applicants are required to have substantial relevant experience of working in helping roles in counselling or a cognate area, such as education, social work, nursing, mental health practice, applied psychology or equivalent. Personal and professional suitability and experience will be established through: AND 1. The completion of a separate application statement detailing how the applicant meets the personal and professional suitability and relevant experience requirements; 2. References which address how the applicant meets the personal and professional suitability and relevant experience requirements; 3. An interview, by telephone, webcam, video-conference or in person, designed to determine personal and professional suitability and relevant experience; 4. Clearance by Disclosure Scotland (a criminal record suitability check). 3. Language If English is not the first language an IELTS score of at least 7.0 is required. This English language requirement is higher than the standard College requirement of 6.5, as language skills are particularly pertinent in counselling and students will be required to communicate verbally and in writing at a high level from the commencement of the programme. The general requirements for admission to postgraduate study are outlined in the University of Edinburgh postgraduate prospectus, which can be accessed at It is also available from Postgraduate Admissions Tel.: +44 (0) College of Humanities and Social Science David Hume Tower (First Floor) George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JX 8

9 Application Process The application to the Master of Counselling is a two stage process. Stage 1 is an academic application and Stage 2 is a personal and professional suitability assessment. Applicants are requested firstly to complete an academic application for the programme via the University s online application system. These applications must be submitted and complete by 28 February Applicants who are selected to proceed to stage 2 are invited to complete a personal and professional suitability application which assesses the applicant s suitability to work as a counsellor or psychotherapist. This stage 2 application consists of a personal statement together with a professional reference that addresses the applicant s relevant experience, followed by an interview which may be conducted in person, by telephone or webcam / skype. A full stage 2 application pack is ed to applicants who are selected. Interviews are scheduled after stage 2 written applications are received. The personal statement and professional reference are required within 4 weeks of receipt of this application pack, subject to a final deadline of 27 March 2015 Applicants are informed within a week of the interview whether or not they are considered eligible for training. However, places are limited and therefore no offers are made until all interviews are completed, which is expected to be in early May. Offers may be for places or for a place on the waiting list. Some applicants considered eligible for training may be declined if demand for places is very high. Fees Fees are posted annually on the University of Edinburgh Registry website at: The fees for have not yet been announced. In the annual fee for the programme was 13,550. Please note that fees are payable for each year of study and are subject to annual increases. Consequently the total fees payable for the programme in and will be in excess of 27,500. 9

10 Possible Additional Costs Supervision of Placement Practice Students are required to undertake 30 hours of professional supervision in relation to their placement practice. While some placement agencies, including Hope Park Counselling Centre, meet most or all of the costs of supervision, others are not in a position to do so, and students may have to pay for their own supervision. Some counselling supervisors offer reduced rates for counselling students. Full supervision rates are in the region of 40 to 45 per hour. Personal Counselling or Therapy Counselling training, touching as it does on the inner life and personal relationships of each student, is likely to stimulate awareness of vulnerabilities and opportunities for personal growth. While the programme s interpersonal groups and individual tutorial system offer significant support and opportunities for development, students may wish to seek opportunities for personal work outside the programme, including counselling or therapy for themselves. Students may also find the experience of being a counselling client invaluable in understanding the counselling relationship and process. Undertaking personal therapy is not, however, an essential requirement of the programme. Counsellors wishing to pursue individual accreditation with COSCA or BACP are required to demonstrate the personal development work they have undertaken. If students do choose to access personal counselling, there may be an associated cost. Students may access time-limited cost-free counselling at the University of Edinburgh Student Counselling Service and at various community-based counselling agencies. Many other counselling services charge clients, either on a sliding scale or at a standard rate. Further Information General information may be obtained from the Counselling and Psychotherapy office, as follows: Sue Larsen Postgraduate Administrative Secretary Counselling and Psychotherapy School of Health in Social Science The University of Edinburgh Medical School Teviot Place Edinburgh EH8 9AG Tel. +44 (0) If you have a specific or more complex query and wish to speak to an academic member of staff, please contact: Liz Bondi Programme Selector Tel: +44 (0) Mailing address as above Further information about Counselling and Psychotherapy at the University of Edinburgh may be obtained at: 10

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