COSCA Counselling Skills

Key facts

  • Cost: £1630
  • Credits: 40


This course provides an opportunity for students to understand the theoretical approaches and reflective practices required to apply counselling skills across various inter-personal and professional contexts. It consists of 4 interlinked units that cover four main strands: listening skills (developed through substantial experiential practice with peers), knowledge of theoretical approaches, self-awareness, and understanding of ethics. Successful completion of all 4 units results in students being awarded the COSCA Counselling Skills Certificate.  

This course aims to:  

  • Introduce participants to the theoretical concepts of a counselling approach, and the to the use of counselling skills  
  • Introduce participants to different theoretical counselling perspectives, including Humanistic, Psychodynamic, Gestalt, Cognitive Behavioural and Transactional Analysis approaches  
  • Set counselling skills within the essential ethical framework of a counselling approach, including the importance of boundaries as the ethical framework for safe practice and the nature of power and vulnerability when using counselling skills 
  • Explore and clarify the nature and importance of professional responsibilities, such as supervision, for the counselling relationship  
  • Provide participants the opportunity to practice counselling skills in a safe and supportive environment  
  • Introduce participants to the concept and experience of self-awareness and personal growth in the context of counselling skills training, including taking responsibility for identifying own personal learning aims and examining how own life events can influence the process of working with others 
  • Encourage participants to evaluate their practice  
  • Provide a suitable foundation for possible further training in the areas of counselling skills and the use of a counselling approach   

By the end of this course students will be able to:  

Unit 1: Knowledge  

  • Explain the difference between formal counselling and using a counselling approach 
  • Describe what attending skills and responding skills are, and why they are essential in a counselling approach 
  • Explain what self-awareness means and why it is essential in a counselling approach   
  • Discuss what constitutes the basic ethical and attitudinal framework that is required for attending and responding skills to become counselling skills or part of a counselling approach  

Unit 1: Competencies 

  • Establish an appropriate, safe and supporting relationship in peer skills practice   
  • Evaluate and monitor self in using a counselling approach  

Unit 2: Knowledge  

  • Discuss the concepts of beginnings, middles and ending and the differences between them in a counselling approach 
  • Identify how feelings are communicated and responded to within a counselling approach 
  • Explain the ways in which the ethical framework is necessary for safe practice 
  • Identify the boundary issues that arise when using a counselling approach 
  • Describe the concept of change in the context of a counselling approach and the factors which facilitate and inhibit this process   
  • Demonstrate understanding of the need for consistent reflective practice when using a counselling approach, and be able to reflect issues including how people interact in a group, and how their own motives and values can influence the helping process  

Unit 2: Competencies  

  • Facilitate the exploration of the Speaker’s concerns in peer skills practice  
  • Help the Speaker identify personal motivators and inhibitors to change in peer skills practice  

Unit 3: Knowledge  

  • Describe different theoretical perspectives commonly used in the counselling field, including Humanistic, Psychodynamic and Cognitive Behavioural perspectives  
  • Describe the ways in which past and present life events impact on using a counselling approach 
  • Describe how own understanding of, and use of skills in, beginnings, middles and endings phases in the counselling approach has increased  
  • Explain the nature of power and vulnerability in the professional/client relationship, and describe how own understanding of the need for ethical practice has developed  

Unit 3: Competencies 

  • Facilitate exploration of the Speaker’s concerns and help the Speaker identity and evaluate various possible courses of action in peer skills practice  
  • Monitor self in the interaction with Speaker  

Unit 4: Knowledge  

  • Describe the distinct characteristics of the Humanistic and Existential perspectives  
  • Describe and Gestalt principles for counselling skills work 
  • Describe the concepts of freedom and responsibility in personal and professional decision making 
  • Discuss the concepts of belonging, social inclusion and social exclusion  
  • Discuss the positive and negative effects of stress on the individual  
  • Explain the use and abuse of power in the Listener/Speaker relationship, and identify contributing factors to, and consequences of, boundary violations from both perspectives  
  • Discuss the COSCA definition of supervision 
  • Discuss the processes, skills and attitudes characteristics of the beginnings, middles and endings in a counselling approach 
  • Identify own experiences in working with the group on this course 

Unit 4: Competencies 

  • Establish, maintain and bring to an end a supportive interaction 

Who is this course for?

Anyone interested in counselling and wants to obtain a COSCA accredited counselling skills certificate.  


40 Credits at SCQF level 8 (level 2 at undergraduate study)  

Mode of study

The course is taught in four 10-week blocks spaced throughout the year. For more information on 2023 teaching blocks, please visit our term dates page. 

Classes are held entirely in-person on the University of Glasgow campus. Please note that 85% class attendance is required in order to fulfil the COSCA requirements for certification. 


There are a number of routes following on from this course. You can develop further skills in listening through courses like Dr Isabelle Kerr's Trauma course, applying to work in the helping agencies or becoming a volunteer with places like Childline, bereavement organisations etc. You can also use the completion of this course to become an accredited psychotherapist by undertaking one of the Diplomas in a range of counselling traditions. Information about all of the accredited courses in Scotland can be accessed via the COSCA or the BACP websites 

Find out more

The University holds open days throughout the year where you can meet with staff to discuss our short course provision. Find out more about University of Glasgow open days