"where ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference"

Frequently Asked Questions

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 counsellor needs to be willing to undergo the same awareness training and deep self-exploration as they are expecting of their clients. I can only take my client as far as I have been myself. Our courses allow students to safely learn in relationship with each other so that they learn to know and experience more about themselves from others. And then they can better relate to client experience. Welwood (2006) offers that a counsellor’s wounding is not a fault or defect, rather a guiding compass that can lead to greater connectedness.

Subsequently, the main aim of our professional training is to create learning conditions which foster healthy, safe trusting relationships. We facilitate personal and professional development, which 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, where its feasible 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. Nano Nagle Centre in Cork City and Crann Centre in Ballincollig are other not-for-profit locations we use. We hold residential training in Castletownbere 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!

Give me a sense of the subject matter on the course?

While the course is tightly defined by modules and learning outcomes, we find students are more interested in understanding the broad direction of the course at the outset. So we put together this diagram for the degree programme which we call the “Road to Readiness”. You’ll see that the initial emphasis is on personal and group development, this moves to an emphasis on the client and finally to developing high quality therapeutic relationship with clients. There is an emphasis on integrating the learning, rather than learning techniques or learning by rote.

Will I need to attend counselling myself?

In our counselling approach, the therapist’s best tool is the self and so we guide students through an educational process that helps them identify, evaluate and integrate parts of themselves in order to develop their own unique style of counselling. A student must, therefore, undertake the essential work of sifting through their own conditioned responses to understand how these impact clients for better or worse. Growth in their awareness helps them to know what aspects of themselves to express more fully with a client and which aspects to watch in order to optimise the client relationship. Towards this end, and to be fully supported, students undertake therapy by attending their own personal counselling

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 facilitate placements 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 Certificate 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, representing over 4, 500 members. The IACPs role is to maintain professional standards of exc.ellence in the field

The 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. We are part of the university’s School of Health and Care. 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”?

Cork Counselling Services has approval to offer students Learner Protection Insurance. Learner Protection Insurance is only in place when each student receives their insurance policy. Each student should ensure that they receive a Learner Protection Insurance policy in their name (cost included in course fees). Learner Protection Insurance is provided by Arachas and underwritten by Aviva Insurance Ireland (DAC) trading as Aviva and regulated by the Central Bank Of Ireland. The learner protection policy provides for a refund of fees as specified in the 2012 Act. In some circumstances, it may be possible for a learner to transfer to a similar programme in another provider. In such circumstances, the learner may opt to receive the cost of an alternative similar academic programme. Transfer to another programme is always only a second option. The Learner Protection Insurance policy is governed by 65(4)(b) of the 2021 Act.

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 6.5, 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. Here’s what famous therapist Irving Polster (with whom our founder trained) has to say about the topic….

Am I eligible for €1000 government grant on these courses?

Unfortunately the 1000 euro government grant for further education only applies to full time study so does not apply for these courses.

What’s the time commitment in Year 1?

This course is designed so you can hold a job and find time to attend workshops and study.

You will get a full course schedule for your academic year before your course starts. Heres what the calendar for 2019-2020 looked like and this will give you an idea of the time commitment for workshops for Year 1.

During Covid-19 restrictions, workshops tend to be held online. It looks like it will be a blend of both for the next academic year, but this will be decided based on government advice.

Sample Timetable

17 Oct 2019Induction (evening)Northridge House, St Luke’s Home, Mahon, Cork  
18 – 20 Oct 20193 Day WorkshopNorthridge House, St Luke’s Home, Mahon, Cork  
26 Oct 2019 Academic Writing Tutorial (1 day)  
CCS Library, Hannover St, Cork    
  15 – 17 Nov 2019  Weekend Workshop  Nano Nagle Centre, Cork
  13 – 15 Dec 2019  3 Day Workshop    Ballyvaloo, Co. Wexford (Residential)  
15 – 19 Jan 20205 Day WorkshopNorthridge House, St Luke’s Home, Mahon, Cork  
14 – 16 Feb 20203 Day Workshop  The Centre, 7, Fr Mathew St, Cork  
04 – 08 Mar 20205 Day WorkshopBallyvaloo, Co. Wexford (Residential)
27 – 29 Mar 20203 Day WorkshopDzogchen Beara, Castletownbere (Residential)  
23 – 26 Apr 20204 Day WorkshopCrann Centre, Ballincollig, Cork  
5 – 7 June 2020Weekend WorkshopMarymount Hospice, Curraheen, Cork  

1 Day Workshops 09:30 start and finish at 17:00

Weekend Workshops start on the Friday evening and finish lunchtime Sunday

3 Day Workshops 09:30 start on the Friday morning and finish lunchtime Sunday

4 Day Workshops 09.30 start on the Thursday morning and finish lunchtime Sunday

5 Day Workshops 09:30 start on the Wednesday morning and finish lunchtime Sunday

Accommodation cost at Residential workshops covers full board and is payable directly to the venue at the time of each workshop. It is not included in course tuition fees but the costs are very reasonable in comparison to market rates.