Course Description

Higher Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy

Dublin Business School (DBS)


The Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy will provide students with a broad graduate-level education and grounding in the theory and practice of counselling and therapy. The course offers students a practical training in therapeutic skills and an understanding of the ethical implications of therapeutic work. During the course, students will be guided in developing a capacity for reflective self-awareness through personal therapy and group experiences.

The Higher Diploma is aimed at non-counselling and/or psychotherapy graduates. It is primarily an academic qualification, but will set its graduates on the path towards becoming accredited members of professional counselling and psychotherapy bodies. The course also prepares students to follow a variety of educational and career paths by helping them to achieve their full critical potential and equipping them with a range of intellectual skills.


Key Features of the Higher Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy

  • Conversion style course for non-Counselling/Psychotherapy Degree graduates
  • Delivered on a modular basis, typically students will attend classes on two evenings per weeks & attend weekend workshops once or twice a month
  • Focused on personal development through personal therapy, process group work and theoretical study
  • Sets graduates on the path towards supervised clinical training at Masters level
  • Central to the course is experiential skills training
  • Of interest to those who would like to learn counselling skills and understand their basis in psychotherapeutic practice
  • Enhances students current work practices e.g. health and social care professionals, teachers, Gardai, community workers, voluntary sector workers and many more
  • Orientation is primarily humanistic/integrative but it also introduces students to the principles of psychoanalysis, family therapy and to research skills.


Entry Requirements

The minimum entry requirements for the Higher Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy are:

  • A Level 8 full award (primary honours bachelor degree) of at least a pass level in a non-cognate discipline from a recognised third level institution, or
  • An equivalent professional qualification and be able to provide evidence of an ability to study at this level.
  • Applicants are also required to submit a personal statement of approximately 400 words outlining why they wish to pursue this particular course.
  • Suitable candidates should be able to demonstrate significant life experience, self-awareness and maturity are ideally required to be aged 23 years or older.
  • Ideally candidates should also have experience either professionally or on a voluntary basis in a role which can be related to the work of counselling/psychotherapy. Candidates are expected to be able to show evidence of having the personal qualities necessary to undertake the Higher Diploma course.
  • For applicants whose first language is not English and who have not previously undertaken a degree taught through English, evidence must be provided of proficiency in English language equivalent to B2+ or above on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL). This must be evidenced through a recognised English Language test such as IELTS, Cambridge Certificate, PTE or DBS English Assessment. Test certificates should be dated within the last two years to be considered valid.
  • Applicants who do not have a Level 8 qualification at a 2.2 award level and who have at least 3 years’ work experience may also be considered through the college’s normal RPL procedures. Relevant professional experience may be taken into account and individuals will be assessed on a case-by-case basis through DBS RPL procedures.



The Higher Diploma is aimed at non-counselling and/or psychotherapy graduates. It is an academic qualification, and incorporates professional psychotherapy skills training and personal development and will set its graduates on the path towards becoming accredited members of professional counselling and psychotherapy bodies.

The Higher Diploma, in combination with our Masters in Psychotherapy, is recognised as a 4 year training by IAHIP (Irish Association for Humanistic Integrative Psychotherapy). The course also prepares students to follow a variety of other educational and career paths by helping them to achieve their full critical potential and equipping them with a range of intellectual skills.


Garda Vetting

The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012-2016 make it mandatory for people working unsupervised with children or vulnerable adults to be vetted by the Garda Siochana National Vetting Bureau. Under the Acts, anyone whose work or activity involves unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults must be vetted. Workers include staff, volunteers and those on student placements working for a relevant organisation where they have access to children and/or vulnerable adults.

DBS offers a number of educational Programmes that require students to undertake placements with external agencies, which will bring them into contact with the public and in which they will assume positions of trust. It is for this reason that students on these type of programmes are required to undergo vetting prior to commencing placements (or visits).

New entrants on to these programmes will receive the relevant form and information in their orientation packs and will need to complete the process before their final registration on the course can be completed. At the time of application, students will be required to declare as to any previous convictions. Students can start on the course before their Garda clearance is completed but may be withdrawn if the vetting does not produce a satisfactory finding.

Where a vetting process identifies a previous conviction the case will be referred to an internal College Vetting Committee. This committee will consider all relevant information in relation to a disclosure from the vetting process and make a determination on the case on behalf of the College.

If a student has started on the course and is withdrawn because of a conviction that was not declared at the time of application, any fees paid will not be refunded.

DBS will charge a fee of €25 to each student for the administration and costs of obtaining Garda clearance. This fee is payable at the commencement of the programme and is non refundable.


Course Content

The Higher Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy programme has the following content:

    • Counselling and Psychotherapy Skills 1
    • Stress Response 1
    • Process Group
    • Traditions of Psychotherapy
    • Theories of Development
    • Psychoanalysis
    • Group Psychotherapy
    • Counselling and Psychotherapy Skills 2
    • Stress Response 2
    • Psychopathology and Case Histories
    • Research Methods and Minor Dissertation
    • The Family and Psychotherapy


Assessment Methods

The Postgraduate Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy combines experiential learning, academic lecturing and personal development. The Theory and Practice modules in each year of the programme as well as the Stress Response modules consist of experiential learning taking place in training groups with no more than 15 students. The other modules on the programme are delivered in lecture format. Assessment is approached creatively with a range of assessment strategies including essay writing, in-class presentation, group discussion, self-reflective writing and examination. Instructions and guidelines for all assessment are clearly communicated to students.

There is no assessment related to personal psychotherapy and process group work. These components of the programme are mandatory and entirely confidential. The cost of personal psychotherapy is not included in the programme fee.



The Higher Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy is run on a modular basis during evenings and weekends and will normally take students two years to complete. During that time students will take academic lectures as well as experiential training groups. Research methodologies and the range of contemporary issues that face professional Counsellors and Psychotherapists will also be amongst the topics studied.

Students attend and participate in process group work on one evening a week throughout each year, as well as attending academic lectures one/two evenings a week for two 12 week terms and approximately 12 Saturdays over the academic year. Each year students participate in two feedback meetings with their trainers to assess not only their skills and academic knowledge but also their suitability for progression on to supervised clinical training at MA level.

Students are required to be in their own personal psychotherapy for the duration of the Higher Diploma. This confidential arrangement, including the time of sessions and fee, is arranged with the therapist.



Career Opportunities

The Higher Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy is not in itself full professional training but should enhance employment prospects in the following areas:

  • The Voluntary Sector
  • Primary Care settings
  • Social Care settings
  • Educational settings

It is envisaged that the course will appeal to those interested in bridging their undergraduate qualification with further postgraduate study, such as our MA in Psychotherapy. Please note that professional suitability assessment forms part of a pre-enrolment interview, and also continues throughout this programme.

A combination of the Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy and the MA in Psychotherapy at DBS should fulfil current requirements of a four-year training that is expected by the professional bodies in the field of psychotherapy.



The course fees for the next academic year are €4,250 per annum for EU students. This covers the cost of tuition, registration and examinations. A full list of DBS Postgraduate fees will be available shorty.


Visit Us

Open days are a great way to help you make your decision about DBS and learn more about the Higher Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy. As well as experiencing our outstanding facilities, you’ll have the opportunity to received personalised advice from academics from your subject area, meet current postgraduate students and also have your questions answered on general subjects such as entry requirements, student support and the admissions process.

College Name Dublin Business School (DBS)
Course Category Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Type Classroom Based
Course Qualification Higher Diploma
Course Location Dublin, Ireland
Location Postcode Dublin 2
Delivery mode Classroom based
Course Fee €4,250 p/a
Course Duration 2 Years
Title of Awarding Higher Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy
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