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BSc (Hons) Person-Centred Pluralistic Counselling (Advanced Practitioner)

Course Modules

Information about modules for each academic year

The programme is studied over three years, full-time.

In each year of training, you will attend ten teaching weekends. In each weekend, you will learn about a specific aspect of person-centred pluralistic counselling practice. The list of unit topics for 2021-22 is below. This list is indicative, and may change in response to student feedback and preferences.

Year 1

Unit 1: Starting the journey towards becoming a person-centred counsellor

How does my understanding of what it means to be a person shape my approach to counselling?  In what philosophical context did person-centred counselling emerge?  Who is the therapist I am going to be and how will my understanding of growth and change shape that?

Unit 2 and 3: The Six Conditions

At the heart of person-centred counselling is a belief that the presence of a small group of specific conditions are all that is “necessary and sufficient” to enable growth and change. How do I understand them? Where do I experience them? What is their impact upon me? How do I offer them to others and what gets in the way?

Unit 4: Developing Reflective Practice

Being able to reflect on our practice and develop a sensitivity to the impact of ourselves as practitioners is central to the person-centred approach. After all, there are two people in the therapeutic space, responding to each other dynamically. Who is the person that the client is meeting and how might the client experience us? In a variety of exercises we will look at who we believe ourselves to be and what has shaped the process by which we have come to be the person we are in the therapeutic space. This will in turn support our capacity to practice in a way that promotes the autonomy of the client in an effective therapeutic relationship. We will learn the interpersonal process recall method to explore the deeper dynamics in our work.

Unit 5: Person-Centred Personality Theory

What are my needs and how are they met? What supports and what challenges my growth as a person? What has made me the person I am? How do I learn and what do I employ in the process of change? We will explore the theories of Carl Rogers that map out a model for helpful therapy in the context of his understanding of personality and personality development.

Unit 6: Ethical Framework for Counselling and Psychotherapy

This unit provides you with the opportunity to develop your awareness in relation to ethical and professional practice.  We will explore and discuss the BACP Ethical Framework as well as looking at personal values and beliefs and how these support and inform our professional relationships. We will reflect on our own experience of exclusion or unfairness to gain an understanding of how that experience affects us in practice, and how the experience of discrimination and oppression may affect the client in terms of their perspective of themselves and their understanding of the dynamics they experience with you the therapist, in the therapeutic space.

Unit 7: Different Frames of Reference and areas of ‘research enquiry’ in the field of counselling

A residential weekend introducing you to a wide range of approaches and activities designed to help you to explore your own frame of reference, and to bring into more focused awareness the different social, class, economic, cultural, sexual and political contexts from which both counsellor and client come, and in which they meet. We will introduce you to the importance of research enquiry in the field of counselling and psychotherapy. You will build on the basis of your experience so far to further enquire into who you want to be when you step into the therapeutic space. This thread will continue to develop as research relative to your development in each year of the course.

Unit 8: Preparing for working with clients

The counsellor you have been preparing to be will soon be moving into practice. This unit focuses on preparing you to enter your relationship with a placement organization. We will explore the nature of working as a trainee counsellor within an organization, and the creation and maintenance of safe counselling relationships with exploration of the value and uses of supervision in all its forms, and the power of reflective practice in supporting your response to the presentation and assimilation of the new experiences that await you. As you step into practice, what will you use to help you assess the value of the help that you offer to others?

Unit 9: Comparison of Different Theories of Counselling and Different Frames of Theoretical Reference   

How can we assimilate learning from the experiences of other approach into our own work, whilst maintaining our grounding in the person-centred approach? This unit outlines a number of different approaches to counselling, comparing and contrasting the theory, practice and underlying philosophical assumptions within which they operate. Examples from the major schools of the analytical, behavioural and humanistic approaches are presented for discussion along with the available evidence base for each approach. This unit also introduces Feminist and anti-therapy critiques.

Unit 10: Self, Peer and Tutor Assessment and Endings

A time for reflection on the journey you have taken over the past year. As you pass over this threshold it is a time to pause and celebrate, whilst recognising the impact of all you have learned and its interaction with your lived experience. Who is the counsellor that you want to be now? How have you changed? What are your hopes for the next part of your journey into practice? What do you need from yourself, your peers and the course to help you make those steps?


Year 2

Unit 1: The Pluralistic Framework

This unit will introduce you to recent developments in the world of counselling and psychotherapy by Cooper and McLeod. You will explore the philosophy and key concepts of this approach and begin to consider how these might be integrated within your client work. You will also be invited to explore how clients’ relationships can be ruptured and develop skills in how you might seek to repair this and move forwards with your client.

Unit 2: Assessment & Case Formulation

This unit brings you the opportunity to explore assessment tools that are able to be used to support your client work such as Roger’s six conditions and outcome measures including the CORE model. There will be exploration of the impact of these on the Person-Centred counselling relationship and you will have the space to begin developing your own point of view of the assessment process in counselling. There will also be consideration of methods that might be used to assess levels of risk for your clients to assist you in forming your own person-centred strategy to choose whether and how to work with these clients. As online and telephone working has become more prominent in the current word landscape some ideas will be touched upon in how to keep client work safe in these domains.

Unit 3: Working with Risk

This unit will support you in developing an ethical and informed approach to working with risk. We will explore different contemporary views on risk management in counselling and what might be useful for us to look out for and be aware of in our counselling work. We will look into specific risk factors such as suicidal thoughts and the many ways self-harm might present itself within our clients and how to assess, manage and support clients when these arise.

Unit 4: Working with Loss & Attachment Theory

Within this unit you will discover theoretical models for understanding the process individuals go through when adjusting to a major loss or bereavement. The unit will bring you a space to explore you own relationship and reactions to loss, and to facilitate your own understanding of the concepts presented.

Unit 5: Intersectionality and Anti-Racist Practice

This unit will provide a space for you to explore issues of personal power, frames of reference and cultural views in particular relation to race. We will look at our own values, attitudes and beliefs and how these might impact relationships including the counselling relationship. In the context of current world events we will consider what it means to be actively anti-racist with our practice and the importance of being informed in this area of our clients experiencing.

Unit 6: Models of Mental Health & Wellbeing

In this unit you have an invitation to explore your perceptions of mental health and to examine its wider impact on individuals and society. We will explore person-centred thinking around psychopathology, and diagnostic systems such as DSM-5 and ICD 10. We will encourage you to take a holistic approach to the assessment of mental health, and to develop your ability to assess your own competence in this area. The units will provide the opportunity to explore the continuum of mental wellbeing from mild anxiety to severe distress, the relationship between psychological and physical symptoms, medication used in the treatment of psychological and emotional distress, and how their effects and side-effects might impact on the counselling process.

Unit 7: Residential Weekend

This is an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in your development as an independent and unique practitioner. With a focus on phenomenology and research, you will be able to explore and experience different ways you can engage and facilitate therapy with your clients such as walking therapy and sandbox work. You are able to begin to bring together who you feel you are as a therapist, what your interests are and how you might uniquely support your clients with their needs.

Unit 8: Child Development & Transference

In this unit we will revisit Rogers’ personality theory and explore a person-centred perspective on individual development within the context of family. This offers you a vehicle for contextualising the client’s process within the counselling relationship. We will also introduce current developmental theories that will provide a broader framework from which to consider earlier experiences such as transference.

Unit 9: Sexuality, Sex & Gender

This unit offers you the opportunity to explore gender and sexuality issues and what implications these may have for work with clients. Key themes will be the differences between gender and sexuality, personal exploration of gender and sexuality, and the place of sexuality within the counselling relationship. This unit will also provide the opportunity for Feminist critiques to be explored in further detail.

Unit 10: Self, Peer & Tutor Assessments and Endings

A time for reflection on the journey you have taken over the past year. As you pass over this threshold it is a time to pause and celebrate, whilst recognising the impact of all you have learned and its interaction with your lived experience. Who is the counsellor that you want to be now? How have you changed? What are your hopes for the next part of your journey into practice? What do you need from yourself, your peers and the course to help you make those steps?


Year 3

Unit 1: The contemporary branches of the Person-Centred Approach

This unit provides a forum for you to review your understanding of Person-Centred theory and philosophy, introducing you to more contemporary developments within the Person-Centred approach. We set the groundwork here for you to begin to embody a wide range of abilities, such as meta-communication, focusing, process identification, and process direction. We will consider our own goals for the final year of training, and how we can support each other in making this a fruitful and rich learning space.

Unit 2: Relational Depth

Relational Depth is described as ‘a feeling of profound contact and engagement with a client, in which one simultaneously experiences high and consistent levels of empathy and acceptance towards the Other, and relates to them in a highly transparent way’ (Mearns and Cooper 2018:36). We will explore this phenomenon, and consider how we might make ourselves more available to it. We also look specifically at forms of metacommunication, to promote transparency in our work with clients.

Unit 3: Working safely and ethically with trauma

Trauma is a significant factor underlying, and resulting from emotional distress. To protect ourselves from intensity of pain, we are able to separate off from the experience through dissociation. Because dissociation limits or even prevents psychological contact, it is important that we learn how to support clients to stay within a safe window of tolerance for traumatic feelings and memories. In this unit, you’ll learn how to understand and work with trauma. We will experience relaxation and grounding methods. We also explore process identification and direction, as ways to make trauma-informed work explicit and agreed within the counselling relationship. We will look carefully at the ethical principles (BACP Ethical Framework 2018) that underpin this important and at times difficult work.

Unit 4: Thinking systemically, and organisational cultures

The counselling relationship is inevitably influenced by the context in which it is offered. This unit focuses on how the different organisations and time frames in which counselling takes place may impact the Person-Centred relationship. We will pay particular attention to working in organisational settings such as employee assistance programmes, educational institutes and medical settings. We consider organisational cultures, organisational power-structures, and the impact of policy on practice. We use sandtray techniques to represent systems, and explore the dynamics within them.

Unit 5: Configurations of self

A ‘configuration of self’ was first described as, “a hypothetical construct denoting a coherent pattern of feelings thoughts and preferred behavioural responses symbolised or pre-symbolised by the person as reflective of a dimension of existence within the self” (Thorne and Mearns, 2000). We can understand these aspects or parts of ourselves as parts that we have hidden or separated from, perhaps to meet external conditions of worth. In this weekend we explore our own configurations, and consider how to work with clients’ configurations. We revisit the concept of ‘prizing’ as it relates to all our configurations and clients – even the apparently ‘not for growth’ parts of ourselves.

Unit 6: Working with difference and social oppression

This unit offers the opportunity to develop deeper insight into the issues raised in trans-cultural counselling relationships. We will emphasise the need for you to increase your awareness of your own and your client’s cultural identities in order to enhance your capacity to work effectively in transcultural counselling relationships. We explore what anti-oppressive practice looks like, in a decolonialised curriculum. We explore our intersecting oppressions and privileges, opening ourselves up to go deeper into a person to person relationship with others.

Unit 7: Residential weekend – reflexivity and research

In this unit, you will consider your own relationship to the theories and principles underpinning the Person-Centred Approach, so that you can articulate your own position in relation to the contested and subtle dimensions of the work. We will invite you to reflect on the variety of practices and assumptions within the tribes of Person-Centred and Pluralistic counselling, and to begin to draw together your own use of self and your values, in relationship with clients. You will also undertake your oral exam, in the company and support of your group and tutors.

Unit 8: Working with groups

Here we prepare for working with groups. We explore several models of group identity and cohesion, we examine the theory underpinning groupwork, consider the political and social purpose of transformative group experiences, and we practice facilitating different types of groups. We reflect on our experience of being a member of a group, our typical ways of being, and what we bring to groups. We also reflect on what we have gained from the interplay of group dynamics, reflecting across the life of the training. We consider the idea of rupture and repair, in particular in the context of group conflict and building trust.

Unit 9: Starting in private practice

Within this unit we look to one of the areas you may wish to develop within a future counselling career: your own private practice. We will consider the importance of maintaining legal and ethical compliance and how to achieve this along with the implications for working from your home, renting a room, offering counselling online or working for an EAP or agency. We explore how to employ a suitable consultative supervisor, and how to get the best from supervision. We also touch upon marketing strategies to attract clients into your practice and what might be important for you within this as well as exploring whether developing a ‘niche’ area of your offering might have value to you. Finally we look at how you are able to maintain your momentum and the importance of self-care, support and connection when working by yourself.

Unit 10: Self, Peer & Tutor Assessments and Endings

As we draw your training to a close, this is a time for reflection on the journey you have taken over the past three years. As you pass over this threshold it is a time to pause and celebrate, whilst recognising the impact of all you have learned and its interaction with your lived experience. Who is the counsellor that you are now? How have you changed? What are your hopes for the next part of your journey into practice? What do you need from yourself, your peers and the course to help you make those steps? What are you carrying with you, from the training, your peers, your tutors, and your own growth?