Higher Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Structure
  • Career Opportunities
  • Fees
  • Next Steps


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.


All learners are expected to attend in person in class.

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.

  • It is a requirement that all applicants are interviewed to assess professional suitability.

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.

Core Modules

Counselling and Psychotherapy Skills 1 

Stress Response 1

Process Group

Traditions of Psychotherapy

Theories of Development


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.

Awarding Body and NFQ Level

The programme is also currently recognised by the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy (IAHIP) as part of an overall 4 year training programme in conjunction with the MA in Psychotherapy, to allow learners to meet the accreditation criteria in IAHIP Bye-law 11.

As part of our ongoing obligation to quality assurance for QQI and IAHIP, DBS will carry out reviews and submit the programme for re-approval as required. This means that there may be changes to programme content or delivery during your programme of study. If this does occur, DBS will carefully consider all transition arrangements to ensure consistency for learners.

CORU Recognition

CORU is Ireland's multi-profession health regulator whose role is to protect the public through regulating the health and social care professions listed in the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (as amended). It includes the Health and Social Care Professionals Council and the Registration Boards established under the Act 2005 (as amended).

CORU confirmed the establishment of and appointment of members to the Counsellors and Psychotherapists Registration Board in 2019, under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 (amended) to separately regulate the professions of Counsellors and Psychotherapists.

Currently there is no date for the opening of the CORU registers for Counsellors and Psychotherapists. Please refer to the CORU website for more information.

DBS will make an application for programme approval to the Registration Board when CORU opens the process.


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.

All learners are expected to attend in person in class.

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.

Click here to view international fees.  

Click here to view EU fees.

You can also contact our admissions team who would be happy to discuss the options available for you.

Please note also that there is tax relief for Irish income tax payers at the standard rate of 20% on all fees exceeding €1,000 and up to €7,000. 

All QQI accredited programmes of education and training of 3 months or longer duration offered by Dublin Business School (DBS) are covered by arrangements under section 65 (4) (b) of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012 whereby in the event that DBS ceases to provide the programme, for any reason, after learners have started on that programme, Kaplan Inc., as guarantor, will refund the moneys most recently paid by or for the learner.   More details are included in the terms and conditions of learner admission to DBS (https://www.dbs.ie/terms-and-conditions) and on programme handbooks provided at induction.

Improve your employability

All of our postgraduate courses offer strong links with industry and the professional world and often carry accreditation from professional bodies. By choosing to study at postgraduate level, not only do you gain valuable skills and experience but you also demonstrate your determination to succeed in a chosen career.

Far from being a postponement to employment, postgraduate study can help you progress further and faster in your chosen career. And, if you're not certain what direction you would like your future to take, further study can provide a secure and structured space to help you find out through exploring your strengths and interests.

Get your foot on the career ladder

A large number of our postgraduate programmes include a work placement option, giving you the opportunity to gain vocational experience, make valuable contacts and gain transferable skills. It is also worth considering that some postgraduate qualifications are essential requirements to getting on the career ladder.

Gain skills for success

During your undergraduate degree you will have developed a strong foundation of transferable skills. Postgraduate study will build on this base, giving you the opportunity to put these highly valuable skills in to practice. You will also gain invaluable practical working examples that you can go on to use at interview to set you apart from other candidates.

Next Steps

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.

EU Applicants

Applicants should complete the appropriate application form and return it to the Postgraduate Admissions Office along with the following documentation:

  • Academic Transcripts (Original & Official English Translation where issued in another language). Applicants who have previously attended DBS need not provide this documentation. 

  • Proof of Identification (Birth Certificate, Drivers Licence or Passport) 

  • Detailed Curriculum Vitae

  • Proof of English (i.e. IELTS, TOEFL or equivalent) where full time study has been conducted in a language other than English or applicants whose first language is not English 

  • Personal statement of approximately 400 words outlining why you wish to pursue this particular course.

Please see programme content for any course-specific additional application procedures. In addition to the above, in the instance of Non-EU applicants who have residency in Ireland:

  • A copy of your GNIB (Garda National Immigration Bureau) Card, Work permit (if applicable) & Passport 

  • The letter that was issued to you by the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform stating why you were provided with the above documentation.

Please note that copies of all documentation must be submitted, and that it must be translated into English where issued in another language. Please do not send original documents as these will not be returned.

Dublin Business School has a number of overseas offices and representatives worldwide. Please contact us if you wish to receive further details on your closest DBS representative.

  • Psychology & Social Science
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Course overview

Awarding Body: 
Quality & Qualifications Ireland (QQI)

Award: Postgraduate Diploma
NFQ Level: 
Level 8
Award Title: Higher Diploma in Counselling & Psychotherapy
Award Type: Major
Duration: Part-time: 2 Years
Next intake: September 2024

Contact Us

We are now accepting applications for programmes taking place in 2024. Contact our admissions team for more information

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 01 417 7500
Opening times:
Monday to Friday
8:45am to 5:15pm