You can become a qualified counsellor these days through a level four course, a foundation degree (level five) an undergraduate degree (level six) or a postgraduate degree (level 7). There may be other ways- these are just the ones I’m immediately aware of.
At first, I thought I would do the level four course and be done in 18 months. But doing the level two and then three on the only course available near enough for me to get to, made me realise that I wanted more depth than the level four could probably offer me. I wanted conversation about theory; I wanted to be with people who felt equally passionate about person-centred therapy. Most likely it was just my particular level 3 cohort that I was struggling with- not anything else, but as most of the cohort were planning to go to the level four I felt I had to look for something different.
And wow, did I find it! I chose to do the master’s qualification as it was a) weekend-based so I could still work full-time and b) I had an undergrad degree so I was qualified.
Some people on master’s courses across the country have struggled with the ‘intellectualisation’ of the courses, but I love it. I feel that we get lots of experiential learning that we just wouldnt have *time* for on an 18month level four, and also lots of ‘book’ learning.
For me another positive is that the course is 4 years long. This means I got a bit more time to learn more before seeing clients than some level 4 courses have time to allow for (a year in my case) and also I know that I have the support of my institution behind me for 2 years more than most level 4 people get. It feels like a nice security blanket to have. If you don’t feel the need for that, and you’re not big into theory- you just want to learn how to do what you need to do, then probably the masters isn’t for you, although the foundation degree or the undergrad might prove a happy medium. But if you do like the indepth stuff, a masters (or again the foundation or undergrad) might well be the way to go.