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Counselling Studies & Health Communication

The overall aim of this programme is to provide students with a comprehensive and rigorous academic grounding in a range of counselling and health communication theories, approaches and practical skills. The programme offers students an opportunity to learn about the conscious and unconscious psychological and biopsychosocial factors that underpin individual feelings, thoughts and behaviours across the lifespan, and within the context of the couple, the family and the group.

The programme is underpinned by a number of research-informed approaches to practice, designed to facilitate the development of analytical skills, selfawareness and insight, which will enhance students' professional development.

This course has been awarded Advanced Training Status from the National Counselling Society (NCS).

The Postgraduate Diploma is a 'Professional in Practice' approved programme for the NI Specialist Award in Social Work, awarded by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC).

The MSc meets three requirements for the 'Professional in Practice NI Leadership & Strategic Award in Social Work', awarded by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC).

Graduates will be in a strong position to apply for PhD study in the fields of counselling, psychotherapy, health communication, psychoanalysis and psychosocial studies.

While this course is not formal counsellor training, it does provide a solid academic grounding for students who wish to pursue professional counselling or psychotherapy training and accreditation following graduation. It also facilitates professionals extending and deepening their understanding of their own profession, e.g. counselling, psychotherapy, healthcare communication, psychology, social work, health and social care, and nursing.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements

Requirements for admission as detailed below:

(i) Hold an honours or non-honours degree or equivalent or demonstrate ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior experiential learning;


(ii) Be currently employed in or have recent experience (within the last five years) of employment either professionally or voluntarily in a role involving the use of counselling skills;


(iii) Attend for interview to show evidence of having the personal qualities necessary to undertake counselling training.

The closing date for applications is normally 31st July, with interviews for potential applicants scheduled in May and August. Late applications may be considered until 31st August (with applicant interviews in early September). However, where possible applicants should apply before the July deadline.

English Language Requirements

The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5.

Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.



This programme is available both full-time and part-time

Morning, afternoon and evening classes.

Careers or further progression

Career options
What areas of work are previous students now engaged in?

Previous students have developed their work activities in Counselling and associated areas. Additionally, past students have used the programme themes to support their existing work in areas including community work, youth work, education, and health care.

Will completion of the course qualify me as a counsellor?

The course would not enable you to practice as a qualified counsellor. However, the course can contribute towards accreditation with professional bodies.

What steps would I need to take to become a fully registered counsellor?

Professional bodies such as National Counselling Society (NCS) and British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) can provide details on the eligibility criteria for counsellor accreditation. Please contact these professional bodies directly for further information.

National Counselling Society (NCS)

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

Would the course provide me with the necessary training and accreditation to become a qualified counselling psychologist?

No, there are specific qualifications required to become a qualified counselling psychologist, for example you would need to have an undergraduate degree in Psychology. (Please see the BPS website for further details:

Further enquiries

Dr Anne Moorhead
T: +44 (0)28 9036 8905

Subjects taught

Year one

The Counselling and Therapeutic Framework
The module examines the Egan problem management model of counselling in depth and develops competence in practical skills. It examines the fundamental nature of counselling practice and explores key ethical and professional issues. The historical and cultural background to contemporary practice is considered and skills in ethical decision making developed.

Humanistic Counselling Perspectives
This core module offers an in-depth exploration of the Humanistic approach; it's origins, development, key concepts and popular expression in the Person-Centred Approach (PCA) to counselling. Viewed as a radical movement, the course presents the PCA as a coherent counselling model, which may form the basis of an integrated way of working effectively with people. Through deeper understanding of the work of key theorists, students consider a response to common critiques of the Person-Centered Approach, appreciate the importance of relationship, develop critical reflective ability and hone existing interpersonal and communication skills. Such knowledge of self and impact on Others will be useful those whose work relies on effective inter-personal communication.

Psychodynamic Approaches
This module will introduce students to psychodynamic approaches to counselling. In order to look at how psychodynamic therapists work, the module will explore the therapeutic concepts they use within the context in which they are formulated and developed: clinical psychoanalysis. The module will explore a number of key psychoanalytic concepts, and will use case materials from clinical writings and examples drawn from the arts and culture to link theory to practice.

Year two

Human Growth and Transition
This module draws upon a range of developmental and transitional psychological theory and seeks to relate it to personal learning and the counselling process. Theoretical learning and practical applications will be facilitated through a combination of lectures, student-led seminars and presentations focusing on personal experience.

Introduction to Counselling
This module will introduce students to the field of counselling, how it has developed as a profession and its components, including clinical assessment and case formulation. The module will focus on three approaches to counselling: person-centred therapy, psychodynamic therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy. Students will read a range of clinical writings in the field of counselling, and discuss a number of case studies to link theory to practice.

Research Methods
This module aims to provide information that will enable students to make appropriate and considered research decisions. It is designed to develop students' understanding of the nature of research, key research traditions, the research process and the range of methods available to the researcher, including qualitative and quantitative approaches. It also aims to help students acquire a critical understanding of the issues and methods in the generation and analysis of data and in the communication and evaluation of research findings.

Cancer Counselling and Communication
This module is optional
This module provides students the opportunity to improve their counselling skills for working with patients with cancer and their families. A range of theoretical perspectives across the domains of context, theory and practice are introduced. A variety of teaching strategies is employed including lectures, seminar discussion and workshops. The module is assessed through presentation and write-up a personal case study and application of an Integrated Humanistic model to a case study.

Fundamentals of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Theory and Practice
This module is optional
This module is designed to develop a basic knowledge of the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of cognitive-behavioural approaches to counselling. The functional analysis process and treatment options are evaluated in relation to current research and future developments in clinical practice identified and evaluated. Teaching methods include lectures and student led seminars. Formal lectures will provide students with an overview of theoretical and empirical underpinnings of the model and practice sessions will enable students to develop basic CBT skills relevant to the practice of counselling for mild to moderate presentations. Comparative models of counseling will be assessed in relation to the theoretical and empirical basis of CBT in order to develop critical thinking skills and promote reflective practice. Asssessment is by coursework which incorporates individual research and analysis of current issues.

Trauma management
This module is optional
This module aims to provide a conceptual understanding of psychological trauma, significally focusing on early trauma. The module also aims to equip students wity evidence base therapeutic techniques in working with clients manifesting sighns of trauma.

Working with Children and Young People
This module is optional
This module provides students the opportunity to improve their counselling skills for working with adolescents and young people. A range of theoretical perspectives across the domains of context, theory and practice are introduced. A variety of teaching strategies are employed including lectures, seminar discussion and workshops. The module is assessed through presentation and write up of a real life case study

Introduction to Counselling for Depression
This module is optional
This module provides students with an introduction to CfD. It will enable students to develop an in-depth understanding of its evidence base, the development of the model based on person centred and experiential counselling approaches and the specific skills and techniques that are characteristic to this way of working with clients presenting with mild to moderate depression.

Year three

The Communication dissertation aims to enable students to design and carry out an independent piece of research. It is intended that this will strengthen their ability to interpret and apply research data to a work environment. The research will focus in depth on one area of communication.

Application date

Application is through the University's online application system.

Enrolment and start dates

Year of entry: 2020/21

Postgraduate Information Session 20 February 2020
Register at:

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