This qualification has two stages, each comprising 120 credits.
- You’ll gain the 120 credits required for Stage 1 from successful completion of the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling.
- Next, in Stage 2, you can complete your diploma with 30 credits of further CPCAB Level 5 study plus 90 credits of OU study or, alternatively, complete the diploma with 120 credits gained entirely from OU modules.
We recommend you study the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling on a part-time basis over two years before registering for this OU diploma.
The CPCAB diploma provides the basic theory and practice of counselling. You’ll explore different counselling approaches; and ethical, safe work with a diversity of clients. You’ll gain practical counselling experience as a trainee in a supervised placement; and undertake required personal therapy (or alternative personal development). For further information about this CPCAB course and where you can study it, see Entry requirements
|You’ll study the following CPCAB course:|
|CPCAB Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling||120|
In Stage 2 there are two routes to completing this diploma. The first route requires studying a Level 5 CPCAB Diploma and an OU module that looks at mental health by focusing on the brain’s functions. In the second route you'll choose one from a range of our psychology and mental health modules.
With both routes you’ll study an OU module that combines counselling approaches and theory with a critical approach to controversial debates around mental health and illness.
You can choose the order of study but note:
- we recommend that you only take the Level 4 CPCAB Diploma alongside the knowledge-based OU modules if you are able to study full time
- if you choose to move on to a Level 5 CPCAB Diploma you must have completed the Level 4 CPCAB qualification.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 23 September 2019.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The Diploma of Higher Education in Counselling uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- undertaking practical work
- working in a group with other students.
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment
This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:
- Knowledge and understanding
- Cognitive skills
- Practical and professional skills
- Key skills
The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.
Read the detailed learning outcomes here
You cannot count credit for study you have already completed elsewhere towards this qualification other than the specified CPCAB courses required for this qualification.
Please download and complete this application form to have your CPCAB study linked to your Open University record.
On completion of this undergraduate course, we'll award you the Diploma of Higher Education in Counselling.
Recognition in your country
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
Although students can begin the Diploma of Higher Education in Counselling without prior qualifications, we recommend that you complete the CPCAB Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling before registering for this qualification. You can transfer the 120 credits from the CPCAB diploma when you register for this OU qualification.
There are also entry requirements for the CPCAB level 4 course. You need to have:
- completed the CPCAB Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills or its equivalent, plus
- completed the CPCAB Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies or its equivalent, such as the OU module, Introduction to counselling (D171) (now discontinued),
- a successful interview with the training provider.
This qualification is limited to areas where the CPCAB courses are delivered. The 'Find a Centre' link on the CPCAB website can help you find where your closest learning provider is located.
How much time do I need?
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Skills for career development
This diploma course will provide you with knowledge and understanding of the major theoretical perspectives employed within counselling; the historical and cultural context of this profession; and the appropriate professional principles required for effective counselling practice. You’ll also acquire professional skills that are transferable to many other roles in health, social care and education – including the ability to:
- practise safely and effectively in a recognised model of counselling
- act in accordance with the relevant legal, ethical and procedural boundaries
- make professional judgements and interventions
- reflect on, review and audit your professional practice.
This diploma of higher education in counselling allows you to:
- practise as a professional counsellor in a wide range of settings, from the statutory to voluntary sector
- work with a diverse range of people and issues such as mental health problems, relationship problems, physical illness and trauma.
It also provides the required hours of specified learning which – with appropriate practice, supervision and personal development – will enable you to apply for individual accreditation with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). You can also use it as a staging post for further professional development, including the possibility of topping up to an honours degree.
Exploring your options
Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice. This includes online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.
In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience):
- professional counsellor
- counselling psychologist
- clinical psychologist
- educational psychologist
- health psychologist
- occupational psychologist
- sports and exercise psychologist
- social worker
- advice worker
- careers adviser
- retail manager
- adult guidance worker
- human resources officer.