Counselling and Psychotherapy

By Aedín Dunne - Last update

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Counselling and Psychotherapy is an area that many people benefit from and that a lot, if not most, people will seek at some point throughout their lives. Are you an empathetic, caring and understanding person?

Do you want to help people to improve, cope or even overcome their difficulties in life? If so, you sound like you might have some of the important qualities of counsellor and/or a psychotherapist. 

What is counselling and psychotherapy?

Counselling and psychotherapy involves the provision of professional assistance to those who may be experiencing some personal issues in an effort to make the effects of those issues less severe.

Psychotherapy assists with different mental health conditions including stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, bipolar disorder and more. Counselling tends to deal more with immediate issues that have risen as a result of issues such as relationships and grief. 

What courses are available?

Universities and college in ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas:

Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy – The pluralistic approach engages with clients and looks for their input in decision making in relation to the processes and activities that might work for you. 

Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy – The integrative approach involves combining different elements of psychological theory and research to find more inclusive and less traditional treatments. 

Holistic Counselling and Psychotherapy – Holistic approaches to treatment take into account all human difficulties and look at them as opportunities for growth and development.

Counselling and Psychotherapy – some courses take all aspects into account and provide a more general outlook of counselling and psychotherapy. 

Studying counselling and psychotherapy in college

There are many options to study either part time or full time. Like most courses, the first year will give you an overview of what is involved and touch on the basics in understanding exactly what counselling and psychotherapy are as well as their impact and effect of the clients. These courses can mostly be lecture based while tutorials/workshops are also implemented into the student’s experience. 

As your course progresses, you will look at the subject in greater detail and gain a greater grounding and understanding of personal development through personal therapy. Strong focuses include developing the relevant skills needed to work in this area as well as learning and gaining an insight into certain situations you may be faced with and how to deal with them. 

Throughout a course in this area, students will explore different treatments, methods and different ways to help clients and learn what works for each individual. You will also gain an understanding of the human mind and become more aware of the reasons behind particular mental issues and how to help those experiencing these issues. You will gain an understanding of human behaviour based on their personal circumstances. Particular course content will differ from course to course and university to university so it is important to research your course in detail to ensure it meets your needs in order to take you in the direction you want to go in. 

Some people who take these undergraduate courses in this area will use it as a stepping stone to get into postgraduate study to specialise in particular areas. Diplomas and undergraduate degrees are a strong foundation and are helpful across a range of careers where you will be working with people (See list of related jobs below). 

Career Options

Mostly, a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy will allow you to be a fully qualified counsellor or psychotherapist. As previously explained, should you want to specialise in a particular area, a postgraduate degree will be required. 

There are a number of options you can explore with an undergraduate degree in counselling and psychotherapy. If that is the route you’d like to take then it is important you are accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP). In this role you will work in a confidential setting with individuals who are going through difficulties in their personal lives. Your role is to listen, understand, empathise, encourage, empower and suggest certain treatments or changes that can be made in order to improve their lives.  

While working in this role it is important to have strong communication skills, interpersonal skills, a friendly and welcoming manner, be empathetic, understanding, a good listener and to be both encouraging and motivational.

Depending on your desired career, further study and experience may be required. 

Related Jobs



Healthcare professional

Social worker



Community worker

Psychiatric nurse

Further Study

If you would like to specialise in a particular area under the counselling and psychotherapy umbrella, there are postgraduate courses available. 

For example, Maynooth University offers a course in Adult Guidance and Counselling while PCI College, Dublin offers a course in Child and Adolescent Counselling and Psychotherapeutic Skills, to name a few. 

Should you want to use it to go in another direction, there are also postgraduate degrees to choose from. 

Visit for more information.


What points and entry requirements do I need to study Counselling and Psychotherapy?

The simple answer for this is, every course could differ so it is important that you know exactly what you want and check with the higher education institution which can be found on university and college websites. 

For most courses in this area, a minimum of 2 H5 & 4 O6/H7 grades in six Leaving Certificate subjects, including English or Irish. Mathematics is not a subject requirement for most programmes in this area but check to be sure. 

Mature students (Over 23) will be assessed in an interview based on their qualifications, experience and achievements. They will also undergo Garda vetting. 

In some courses, those who have a relevant QQI Level 5 qualification with a distinction in atleast three modules can qualify for entry. This may differ depending on the course.

Where can I study Counselling and Psychotherapy?

You can explore your options here

Did you know?

In a survey carried out by Mental Health Ireland in 2018, 93% of people reported that there are a number of things we can do to improve our mental health. These included: 

  • Exercise (39%)
  • Talking to a family member (28%)
  • Eating health food (13%)
  • Speaking to a counsellor (10%)
  • Practicing yoga/mindfulness (10%)

The same survey also said that higher positive mental health is more likely among men than women and among 15-24 year olds than over 25 year olds. 


Aedín Dunne

Care Assistance
Mental Health


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