"where ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference"

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What philosophy informs your training?

We train in the integrative humanistic model of counselling.  This means that we draw from all the major counselling and psychotherapy theories. However, we are most strongly influenced by the principles of the humanistic therapies, mainly Person-centred, Gestalt and Existential.

To work within this model, the counsellors needs to be willing to undergo the same awareness training and deep self-exploration as they are expecting of their clients. They also know that nothing they do takes precedent over the building of a safe, trusting relationship with these clients.

Subsequently, the main aim of our professional training is to create learning conditions which foster healthy relationships and personal and professional development, give meaning to life, and helping to realise potential. These very same aims will be part of every counsellor-client relationship.

What does it mean that your training is experiential?

The primary mode of our training is experiential learning. People learn best from experience. Oscar Wilde once said that “Education is an admirable thing but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught“. We kinda get what he means. In our training we look to facilitate experiences of therapeutic relationship rather than bore you with lectures on it. “If a picture is worth a thousand words then an experience is worth a thousand pictures” (Woldt & Tolman 2005, p. xvii). Or there’s a poem by Jennifer Farley that states “Before he went to school, he could read the barks of trees, leaf veins, footprints and the touch of fingers, now he goes to school and he can only read words“. That’s the very kind of school we don’t want to run.

To work as an integrative humanistic counsellor requires a commitment to lifelong experiential and reflective learning, not powerpoint learning. In order to be able to form, develop and maintain relationships, counsellors need to be self-aware and to engage in self-reflective learning, taking into account every aspect that informs their identity. The aim is to be able to offer open, authentic communication with clients, identifying and responding to issues and to complex relationship dynamics with immediacy, spontaneity and creativity. Trainees also learn about what blocks awareness and how to manage these blocks in themselves and others. In summary, experiential learning in counselling is learning about oneself and others while in relationship.

This is a holistic way of being in the world and not comparable to training that produces expert technicians. Although counselling and psychotherapy work is very rewarding, it is also personally demanding and challenging.

Is this reflected in the places you train?

Because our teaching method is experiential, we look to train in environments where counselling is relevant and active. “The Centre” at 7, Fr Mathew St, is a busy counselling practice in Cork City. Marymount on the west side of Cork City is a modern and easily accessible hospital and hospice with state of the art learning facilities. Northridge House on the east side of Cork City is attached to St Luke’s Home for the elderly. We hold residential training in Kerry and Wexford in tranquil and comfortable surroundings where we are known to train in the garden and on the beach aswell as in the conference rooms!

What does it mean that your training is practice-based?

Cork Counselling Services operates a busy city centre counselling centre. First and foremost, our training is led by trainers who counsel as much as they teach. Your initial client work will be done in our busy centre, accompanied and supervised by our team. This level of student support at a crucial training stage is unparalleled by other colleges. We also offer in-house placement opportunities when you need to build up your practice hours in order to qualify. In this case, you do not have to find your own clients or find a premises from which to work.

We are confident that the fully co-located integration of therapy, training and research in Cork Counselling Services leads to better therapy, better training and better research.

Are there placement opportunities?

No other training school in Ireland integrates training and practice as tightly as we do. All students attend sit-ins with clients in our own counselling practice, which means they are fully supported by our own staff. Case Studies take place here also, with inhouse supervision, giving every student a direct experience of a successful counselling practice. Practice hours can be completed either within our service or with an external practice depending on various factors. We only place a student in an external practice if we are certain of the standards of counselling and supervision there. All placements follow IACP Guidelines.


Could I start with a Cert to see if I like it?

Lots of students are unsure as they embark on a new course. That’s why we encourage them to enrol on our Certificate course. Upon completion of the Certificate Course, they are then invited to apply for the honours degree and all of their Certificate work counts towards its achievement.

Is your training well accredited?

Our BSc (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy degree is accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy, Ireland’s largest and best recognised accreditation body for counsellors and psychotherapists. The top-up course is also validated by Coventry University in Cork’s twin city, one of the UK’s top universities according to The Guardian University Guide 2019. Our honours degree course is FHEQ Level 6 (equivalent to NFQ Level 8 in this country). Our academic standards are set in conjunction with the University and monitored by them on a continuous basis. As the Government progresses towards statutory regulation in the coming years, an NFQ Level 8 honours degree, from a University or QQI is expected to be the minimum standard. Already the IACP has moved to Level 8 as a minimum standard for accredited courses and our honours BSc course has been accredited by them.

Coventry is in England. Brexit?

A qualification from Coventry University is recognised both within the EU and outside the EU, and certainly by IACP, the current guardian of professional standards. When the government regulations kick in, it seems certain from the Department of Education and Skills advice, that they will also.

Whats happening with regards to state regulation of Counsellors?

The state body CORU has the role of protecting the public by promoting high standards of professional conduct, education, training and competence through statutory registration of health and social care professionals. Corú have recently named the thirteen members of its Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board. Consultations have taken place with professional bodies, training providers, the HSE, Department of Health and other agencies. The legislation when passed is expected to require that counsellors achieve a minimum of Level 8 Honours Degree to become qualified. Psychotherapists will have a separate register and will be required to achieve a minimum of Level 9, it is predicted. The IACP (Irish Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy) – the largest professional body – have already said that they would require all training courses to be a Level 8 (NFQ) Honours degree, from 2018 onwards to meet their accreditation criteria. The Cork Counselling Services Training Institute course is a Level 8 (NFQ) Honours degree course.

Does my course enjoy “Learner Protection”?

‘Leaner Protection’ refers to the processes that are put in place to refund last fees paid in case a training institute is unable to complete a training course or programme of education.

‘Learner Protection Insurance’ will apply to learners who have paid monies to enrol on any course in Cork Counselling Centre which is accredited by IACP or Coventry University.

‘Learner Protection’ in Cork Counselling Services is based on insurance. This means each learner gets a credible insurance policy document in their own name. Each learner receives a certificate with their own personal policy number accompanied by a designated customer service hotline to contact in the event of a claim. Our Enrolled Learner Protection insurance policy seeks to meet the needs of the Educational Act 2002. Our policy is provided by Hiscox, a multi-national “A” rated insurance company, though an Irish insurance broker.

‘Learner Protection’ is currently included in the price of your course.

What if English is not my first language?

If English is not your first language and we are not sure about your level of competence, we may ask you to submit an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Certificate at Level 5.5, or equivalent. IELTS is an English language test that measures the ability to communicate across listening, reading, writing and speaking in English. It is for people who intend to study through English and skills are assessed on a scale from 0 (non-user) to 9 (expert user). The tests are held in Cork City, see https://ieltscork.com/ for example. There are two types of IELTS test. They are Academic and General Training. We recommend the Academic.

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Is creativity part of your training?

Is it what?! Because conversation is but a single means of self expression for clients, we like to develop your repertoire as a counsellor. This is why in most of our training events you’ll find the active encouragement of art, drama, music, mime and other creative means of getting your point across.