Counselling placement guide

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Training to be a counsellor involves practicing your counselling skills in class with other students, and then going out into supervised practice. On the BA (Hons) Counselling and Therapeutic Practice you undertake at least one placement each year. 

Placement key points

  • You are responsible for finding your own placements, with the support and guidance of tutors and the Course Placement Officer
  • It is recommended you change placement each year of the course to provide you with a varied range of experiences 
  • The University and academics have excellent contacts with a wide range of local agencies  
  • USW can provide on campus placements for both adults and children through our counselling clinics, including South Wales Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • The University, placement providers and the BACP will expect you to behave professionally in and out of placement at all times  

Year one – Orientation placement
You will have an orientation placement in which you will be working in a counselling service, mental health service or another suitable agency, taking part in what goes on and understanding how it works. You will interact with service users and make links with local agencies. We will support you to start looking for this placement at the beginning of the academic year and to continue it throughout the year. The minimum time spent at the placement agency is 40 hours. Towards the end of year one, you will begin to look for your year two placement. 

Year two - Counselling Adults and Counselling Children and Young People placement*
You need to find one or two placements as a counsellor. One will be with adults, and you will also be recommended to start your placement with children and young people.

Year three - Counselling Adults and Counselling Children and Young People placement*
We recommend that you introduce at least one new placement in year three. For example, you might want to carry on with your children and young people work and change your adult placement. This provides you with a broader range of experience and more links with potential employers.

*Your placements in years two and three involve you starting to practice as a counsellor in an agency. This needs to be work that is clearly defined as counselling: not support work, drop-in, help-line work or other ways of using counselling skills. You will meet with your clients for booked appointments for short to medium-term work. For these placements, your required 100 hours are actual hours of counselling/client work and can be spread across Years two and three flexibly, based on the needs and capacity of the agency; guidance from your Supervisor and an appropriate pace of your professional and personal development. You will also spend other time preparing for your counselling sessions, writing up case notes, getting specialist training from the agency and meeting the agency’s other requirements. We expect you to spend between a day and a day and a half in practice throughout your second and third years on the degree. 

Before starting placements 

  • It is a condition of entry to the BA Counselling and Therapeutic Practice that you have a current enhanced DBS check which ensures that you are not been barred from working with children or vulnerable adults. Contact Enquiries and Admissions about applying for a DBS check. You will need to keep your DBS up to date, and are required to inform the University and the BACP if anything occurs which might impinge on it.
  • You will need to join the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy as a student member once you have joined the course. 
  • Depending on your placement arrangements and choices, you are likely to need to provide your own Professional Indemnity Insurance.