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Course Content

Course content

Developed in reaction to the dominance of behaviourism and psychoanalysis, the humanistic paradigm emphasises the human capacity for self-determination.

It holds that we have the freedom to shape and give meaning to our own lives, and helps clients to regain their independence.

The humanistic paradigm draws on concepts and ideas from phenomenology and existentialism and is a philosophy of mind. 

The postgraduate diploma helps to ground your understanding of humanistic counselling in the relevant literature, clinical practice and your developing self-awareness.

It is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and therefore recognised as preparing students for work as a professional counsellor. The university itself is an organisational member of the BACP as well as the Universities Psychotherapy and Counselling Association (UCPA).

Course structure

The course consists of seven modules taught over a period of two years. Study involves one day per week at the university, seven non-residential weekends, two two-day blocks in September of the second year and two further study days.

In addition to academic study, you need to complete 100 hours of supervised counselling practice in an approved clinical placement, for example at the South Downs NHS Primary Care Trust, the Youth Advice Centre or Brighton and Sussex University counselling services.

You also need to undertake a course of personal therapy that lasts for the duration of the course, from October of year 1 to June of year 2, and we recommend that you factor in the cost of this therapy before your application.

Assessment consists of three written essays and two audio-taped assignments; one case study and a research proposal. You will also be asked to keep a reflective journal during the life of the course that focuses on academic and professional studies; clinical practice, training supervision and personal growth and development. 

Areas of study

The course contains four major elements: academic and professional studies, clinical practice, training supervision, and personal growth and development.

The course is designed to:

  • provide a sound base of theory and practitioner skills for persons practising counselling;
  • illuminate theory and practice by drawing upon students’ personal experience;
  • promote personal growth and self-awareness essential to successful counselling.

The philosophy of the course is based on the principle that there is no single presiding theory or model of counselling that commands widespread agreement and support, and that the practice of counselling cannot be separated from underlying values, theoretical assumptions and hypotheses concerning the nature of human experience and change.

Successfully completing this postgraduate diploma makes you eligible to apply to continue your studies on our Psychotherapy MSc

Year 1


  • Humanistic Counselling Theory
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Humanistic Counselling Practice and Personal Development
  • Themes in Professional Practice
  • Process Groups

Year 2


  • Research Methods for Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Critical Perspectives in Humanistic Counselling
  • Applied Humanistic Counselling Practice
  • Process Groups

Careers and employability

The postgraduate diploma has an excellent reputation in the locality and our students have gone on to hold counselling posts across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Others have progressed to further training or used their counselling skills in their existing professions.

If you enjoy the course and are interested in further study, you may want to consider our Psychotherapy MSc, to which all successful graduates of the PGDip are eligible to apply.

Visit the Humanistic Psychotherapeutic Counselling (PGDip) page on the University of Brighton website for more details!




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Recipient: University of Brighton

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