Counselling With COSCA

Care Appointments learns about the counselling skills courses accredited by COSCA…

COSCA is the national body for counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland and they define counselling and psychotherapy as follows: Counselling and psychotherapy are ways of responding to a wide range of human needs. These include distress ssociated with what are sometimes called “problems in living”, and deeply felt need to make changes in one’s life.

The kinds of issues that prompt people to turn to counselling and psychotherapy for assistance include lack of self-confidence or self-esteem, relationship difficulties, work-related stress, bullying, difficult transitions, problems associated with one’s own or someone else’s drinking or drug use, bereavement, mental health problems, vague feelings of unease, desire for personal change, and many more.

The aim of both counselling and psychotherapy is to provide opportunities for those seeking help to find their own ways towards living in more satisfying and resourceful ways. Although the range of issues is very great, what is common is that people seeking counselling and psychotherapy feel distressed, confused, uncertain, unhappy or in turmoil, in ways that can be alleviated and transformed by confidential, therapeutic methods. These include attentive and active listening, the use of art materials and drama, therapeutic play and movement, and other ways of communicating.

Respect for the autonomy of the client is a core principle of counselling and psychotherapy. This means that counsellors and psychotherapist approach their clients as unique individuals with unique needs, bringing their skills to bear in flexible ways.

Underlying counselling and psychotherapeutic responses to distress is a commitment to deepen our understanding of ourselves in order to enable us to harness our diverse and considerable energies. Counselling and psychotherapy are, therefore, not only ways of healing distress and enabling change, but also democratising processes that aim to empower people by fostering self-awareness.

Counselling and psychotherapy require highly developed skills on the part of practitioners. Listening attentively and empathically to others is demanding work, as are the other methods that practitioners use. Being able to respond sensitively and effectively to clients who may be deeply distressed, or who may disclose powerful and disturbing feelings and fantasies, requires a high level of self-awareness on the part of practitioners, as well as specific therapeutic skills and theoretical knowledge. Consequently, counsellors and psychotherapists undergo lengthy training, often lasting several years. Their work is always supervised by another practitioner who helps them to process and reflect on the issues of concern to their clients.

Counselling Skills

COSCA have designed and tested a generic Certificate in Counselling Skills, which has become a ‘gold standard’ for counselling skills training in Scotland. It has also been exported and used in other countries. Counselling Skills are essentially good interpersonal or communication skills, based on active listening which involve using verbal and non-verbal skills e.g. paraphrasing, asking questions in a helpful way, summarising, attending and responding to the speaker.

Counselling skills insert the qualities of acceptance, genuineness and empathy into a helping relationship and are underpinned and informed by an understanding of counselling theory.

Counselling skills can be used in the context of any kind of helping relationship as part of a counselling approach. The use of counselling skills does not necessarily require privacy and confidentially, unless this is specifically negotiated.

What is the COSCA Counselling Skills Certificate?

The COSCA Counselling Skills Certificate provides a COSCA certificated 120 hour training programme in counselling skills which is normally delivered over 4 Modules of 30 hours each. It can be accessed across Scotland via an expanding network of over 40 COSCA Validated Training Providers.

The Certificate contains four strands: skills, knowledge, self-awareness and ethics and uses experiential learning .e.g. students practise skills in groups of three. It is mainly designed for people in helping or caring professions and helps the individuals who complete it to develop and apply counselling skills to non-counselling settings The Certificate gives a professionally recognised qualification in counselling skills and provides an excellent starting point for those who wish to train as a counsellor or psychotherapist.

What is the purpose of the Certificate?

There is a growing awareness that counselling skills can enhance performance in various inter-personal contexts that require people’s voices to be heard including: nursing, teaching and social work contexts; personnel work; welfare services; staff development appraisal; management relations; residential and non-residential care.  

COSCA believe that the Counselling Skills Certificate will help many workforces to carry out their roles and responsibilities more effectively. Who can deliver the COSCA Counselling Skills Certificate? The COSCA Counselling Skills Certificate can be delivered by COSCA Validated Training Providers. Organisations interested in applying to become a validated provider can download the validation guidelines and application form from COSCA’s website.

Who can apply for a place on the Certificate?

Anyone who has an interest in learning counselling skills, and who has an opportunity to practice the skills learned on the course, can apply for a place on the COSCA Counselling Skills Certificate. The cost and delivery times of the course varies, depending on the provider.  

Taking The Course

Rowan Consultancy, based in Perth, have been running the course since 2003 and Care Appointments caught up with Rachel Weiss, lead trainer at Rowan:

“Over the years participants from a wide range of backgrounds – including social work, health, complementary therapies – have completed the course to expand and improve their skills-base. The course is the first step towards a career in counselling and would then be followed by a diploma. But most participants use the counselling skills to enhance their existing role,” Rachel said.

“We find a variety of people applying for the course and using it in their work. They are also pleasantly surprised to find that the skills learnt have a positive impact on their relationships with work colleagues and their partners or children at home too” she added.

Various training organisations throughout Scotland have been validated by COSCA to run the certificate. This means that their trainers have reached a required standard in both use of counselling skills and in training and that the delivery of the course is monitored by COSCA.

Rachel Weiss explained some of the aspects of the Certificate that students find attractive: “The course is modular, which makes it very flexible for participants. They can stop after Module One, if that is all they need or want for their job, or they can continue onto Module Four to gain the Certificate. Each module lasts for six days, usually spread over six weeks.

“Our last cohort included people working with drug and alcohol users, housing, children who were truanting from school, women’s aid, young people’s centre. We also had some self-funded individuals who wanted to improved their counselling skills to complement their other work or for personal development.”

Self-awareness is a key component of the course, which is based on the premise that more that we understand our own issues, blind spots and strengths, the better placed we are to help other people.

One Community Learning Project Worker with Perth and Kinross Council was particularly impressed the practical applications of with the COSCA course she attended: “The counselling course has had a fairly immediate impact on my professional life. The self-awareness ‘journey’ has been difficult but rewarding, and has made me consider how I interact with people – both professionally and with friends. The skills I have picked up will help me to be a more effective worker/person.”

For further information click here to visit the COSCA website