301 – Skills-First Learning for Counsellors

301 – Skills-First Learning for Counsellors

Interview with Renee McDonald – Preparing for the Ending of Your Counselling Course

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In Episode 301 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, your hosts Rory Lees-Oakes and Ken Kelly are back with this week’s three topics:

  • Firstly in ‘Ethical, Sustainable Practice’, we look at why skills-first learning is the future for your professional development as a counsellor.
  • Then in ‘Practice Matters’, Rory speaks with Renee McDonald about her book Rising with Butterfly Courage: Flipping the Script and Slowing Down to Speed Up.
  • And lastly in ‘Student Services’, we look at preparing for the endings of your counselling course.

Skills-First Learning for Counsellors [starts at 03:10 mins]

This segment of the Counselling Tutor Podcast is sponsored by


  • WebHealer are the go-to provider of websites for private practitioners in the UK.
  • Established over 20 years, WebHealer offers a non-technical and fully supported service to help therapists grow their private practice.
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It’s so important to know the theory behind your counselling – but it’s just as important that we know how to apply this knowledge practically through our counselling skills. In this section, Rory and Ken discuss the importance of skills-first learning for counsellors:

  • Can you apply your learning? Are you able to put your knowledge into practical skills?
  • Within sessions, every client and every session might present something new:
    • Do you know when to break confidentiality?
    • Are you able to recognise when a client may require referral to a specialist?
    • Are you able to contract competently?
  • Consider how you’d set up your counselling room to accommodate an autistic client, e.g. are there any sensory distractions such as a ticking clock?
  • It’s easy to get lost in theory – but in practice it can be the little considerations and actions that matter most.
  • Ask yourself what’s next – how do you need to adapt to this new knowledge you learn?
  • One size won’t fit all, sometimes theory needs to be tweaked within practice.
Theory to Practice is sponsored by

Counselling Skills Academy

Learn counselling techniques by seeing counselling skills used in real sessions by qualified therapists.
Real sessions – real-life presentations – real skills.

Interview with Renee McDonald [starts at 25:16 mins]

In this week’s ‘Practice Matters’, Rory speaks with Renee McDonald, a therapist, counsellor and psychotherapist in Australia, to talk about her new book Rising with Butterfly Courage: Flipping the Script and Slowing Down to Speed Up.

The main points of this discussion include:

  • Renee’s book is an inspirational tale of somebody overcoming difficulties in their life, taking on challenges, and developing a growth and business mindset.
  • Coming back to reality can be useful – don’t get too caught up in the future.
  • Having struggles doesn’t mean you can’t/won’t be successful.
  • Travel your own road, you can’t follow the exact same path as someone else.
  • Change your own mindset – flip the script.
  • You're not on your own, have good people around you when you're just starting out.
  • Sometimes you have to pay to get the right support and relationships.

Counselling Study Resource:

Assignment Guidance & Study Support for Counselling Students

  • Academic Lecture Library - Lectures that cover key theory, skills and professional development linked to your counselling study.
  • Assignment Guidance - Complete assignment exemplars and portfolios of work that have been passed by both tutors and awarding bodies. 
  • Theory Decoded, Skills Mastery and More - Counselling theories and skills are broken down into easy-to-understand ‘chunks’, with clear examples to guide you.

Preparing for the Ending of Your Counselling Course [starts at 45:18 mins]

As some of you come to the end of your counselling studies, it can be useful to look at some things to consider as you come to the end of this chapter:

  • Take the time to reflect on your journey and what’s changed for you.
  • Think about the joy of embracing the next steps.
  • Do you feel yourself wanting to hang on? Are you okay with letting go?
  • Evaluate your own relationship with endings – are you the last one to leave a party?
  • Have no regrets and get clarity before things end. Is there anyone on your course that you felt you clashed with? Can you wish them well?
  • Will you be able to find motivation and discipline within yourself without the support of peers and tutors?
  • Could you meet up with them via video platform? Sticking to time slots you would have been working in anyway can be a good way to complete any outstanding work.
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Counsellor CPD Library

  • Over 150 hours of on-demand CPD lectures to help you stay current with your CPD ethical requirements
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Counsellor CPD Library - computers and mobile phone showing what is inside the CPD library for counsellors

Free Handout Download

Why Skills-Based Learning Is the Future for Professional Development

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