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Our upcoming Diploma in Relationship Counselling uniquely prepares qualified counsellors to work with both couple and individuals. Our Course Director, Prentice Smy, offers her thoughts on the five key questions people need to ask themselves before embarking on the training:

Why would you want to train as a counsellor?
This is a question many experienced counsellors ask themselves throughout their career. Often people begin their journey with the flimsiest of starts –by helping a friend through a painful divorce or feeling they are a well experienced graduate of the School of Life and can use this to help others’ through life’s lessons. Sometimes, though, it’s not your experience of tragedy which helps you engage with others in distress but the ability to learn from this and ’hold’ others without needing to find the ‘answer’ or ‘solution’ that will make all their problems disappear. Few other professions offer such worthwhile opportunities to make a difference to others’ lives and well-being or meet and engage with others’ from such a wide diversity of backgrounds.

What qualities make a good student counsellor?
We look for evidence that you have learned from your life’s experience – what insight you have about yourself, how you function internally and in relation to others, what you have come to understand about how other people function, and how these things might make you a better counsellor. It is not a requirement of this course that you have counselling, but we are interested in your attitude to counselling for yourself and encourage you to experience being a client. The course will encourage you to reflect on your personal history and gain insight of how issues from the past currently influence your view of the present.

Some of our students’ feelings having completed the training:
“ Initially I felt the self development was a smaller part of the course than the stated one third, now at the very end of the course how wrong was I. I believe that the self development part is where I see the change in me and in my life.”

“ The theoretical concepts taught on the course supported my journey of self discovery and helped me learn more about myself, my attachments and losses, family background and their patterns as well as the defences that had evolved over the years of my life from my childhood. I gained a better understanding of myself and how family patterns etc had helped form me as well as an acknowledgement from me that I am a good enough counsellor and person.”

What personal qualities does a student counsellor need?
We try to ascertain, from your personal statement in the application form, from your references and the interview, whether you have the qualities one would expect in a person who wishes to become a counsellor, for example: openness to experience; an accepting attitude (sometimes called ‘non-judgemental’) towards others; some understanding of the nature of prejudice; the ability to reflect on life experience; the ability to cope with the academic demands of the course and the practical and emotional demands of counselling practice.

Is this the right time for me?
Counselling training is a huge commitment. It’s important that you have enough time to attend training, complete the academic work, undertake counselling hours on a weekly basis with clients at your practice placement and attend supervision monthly. You need to ask yourself “what else is going on in my life right now?”

What can I expect at the end of my training?
Some graduates will already be in paid employment where counselling skills are a part of their job. Some will use counselling skills in formal voluntary work, whilst some will use them in more informal settings. Former graduates have obtained paid work within their Local Service or other counselling organisations and others now teach on counselling courses or are in private practice.


If you’d like to chat to Prentice about becoming a relationship counsellor get in touch today: 0131 514 2053 | prentice.smy@relationships-scotland.org.uk

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