Counselling Courses in Edinburgh
The Definitive Guide


Are you interested in pursuing or developing a career in counselling?

Discover the range of counselling courses Edinburgh has to offer with our informative guide.

From beginner to experienced practitioner, we’ve got you covered with all the essential details you need to choose the right course for you.

Take the next step on your counselling journey today!

1. Counselling in Edinburgh
2. Qualifications available
3. Edinburgh course providers
4. Classroom Vs Online
5. Why choose Connect?

1. What does counselling in Edinburgh look like?

Join our Edinburgh CPCAB courses!

Manchester Counselling courses
Enrol for our Edinburgh-based CPCAB courses and kick start your journey to becoming a qualified counsellor!

Considering training as a counsellor in Edinburgh? Allow us to share insights into what counselling entails in this historic and vibrant city!

Edinburgh is known for its welcoming atmosphere and rich cultural heritage. The city is home to a diverse population, spanning a range of cultures and backgrounds. As a counsellor here, you’ll have the chance to become a key figure in the community, offering support to a wide variety of individuals, alongside the opportunity to connect with a large network of mental health professionals. And, of course, the breathtaking urban and natural landscapes of Edinburgh provide a great backdrop that promotes calm and introspection.

Here are a few specific reasons why we believe Edinburgh is a fantastic place to pursue training and establish a career in counselling.


The demand for mental health services in Edinburgh is on the rise. As Edinburgh grows in popularity as a place to live, the imperative to enhance mental health support within the city becomes more apparent. The city faces an increasing need for mental health services and a significant level of unmet requirements.

Just recently, the Scottish Government has announced a £30 million budget to boost mental health support. Although numerous initiatives like this one are a step in the right direction to address these issues, there is still a long way to go. There is still a critical demand for skilled mental health professionals, including counsellors, in Edinburgh. This situation presents a unique opportunity for you as a counsellor to effect tangible change through your contributions to the local community.

There is the opportunity to make a difference in local communities. The demand for mental health services in the Edinburgh area is being actively addressed with a concentrated effort on enhancing community mental health care.

For instance, the Public Health Scottland’s new mental health framework is designed to address long waiting times and service gaps, alongside facilitating integrated mental health care in Edinburgh. This makes it simpler for residents to manoeuvre through the mental health care system and access support within their local area. To further these aims, the NHS East Lothian Community Hospital is striving to expand access to mental health services by just launching a new mental health well-being hub.

This concerted effort has led to a growing number of employment opportunities for qualified counsellors in Edinburgh, in addition to offering a rich array of resources and a strong support network for professionals in the mental health field.

Edinburgh offers a diverse array of counselling opportunities. Within the city, a vast range of organisations and charities provide counselling services to individuals from all walks of life. Whether you’re inclined to work in urban, suburban, or rural settings, or with young people, couples, individuals, or specific groups, Edinburgh presents opportunities for all.

Here are some examples of the types of organisations offering counselling in Edinburgh:

  • Mental Health Information Station is a free NHS drop-in and information centre in Edinburgh that supports those aged 18 and over who are affected by mental health issues.
  • Ithrive Edinburgh is a free online space for mental health and well-being in Edinburgh.
  • Change Mental Health is a Scottish mental health charity offering counselling services to a broad client base in the Edinburgh area.
  • Breathing Space is a free mental health phone in service for anyone over the age of 16 in Scotland.
  • Teens+ provides counselling, among other services, to young people with additional needs aged 16-25 in Edinburgh.
  • Streetwork is a charity delivering counselling and other support services to those facing homelessness in Edinburgh.
  • Rowan Alba is a charity in Edinburgh that offers support, including counselling, to adults facing homelessness, substance use, and the risk of homelessness.

In addition to these, numerous local charities, NHS organisations, and private practices contribute significantly to mental health improvement in Edinburgh. There are also several providers of counselling courses in Edinburgh for those looking to start or advance their careers in this fulfilling field. More details on these will follow!

Edinburgh CPCAB Level 4 Course – September 2024

Enrolment for our Edinburgh-based CPCAB Level 4 course is now open!

Become a qualified counsellor in two years with our part-time course, consisting of 60 live sessions spread across two years.

2. What qualifications are available to me?

Now, you might be asking yourself, what qualifications do I need to work as a counsellor in Edinburgh? 


And the answer is… technically, none at all! Yes, you read that right! Unfortunately, counselling has yet to become a regulated profession in the UK, which means anyone can start working as a counsellor in Edinburgh. But before you get too excited, this is certainly not something that is recommended. 

Counselling is a challenging profession, and you’ll often be dealing with sensitive issues and situations. So, it’s recommended that you undertake training to ensure that you have the right skills and experience to deal with these effectively. Also, these days, counselling agencies and clients are increasingly seeking out counsellors who have a qualification accredited by a professional body, so that they can be sure the counsellor has undertaken the right training.

There are two major professional counselling bodies in the UK, the BACP and the NCS. And fortunately, there is a choice of qualifications accredited by both of these bodies on offer in Edinburgh! Let’s take more of a look at these two options.

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

The BACP is the larger of the two professional bodies. Its members have to undertake rigorous training and adhere to high ethical standards, and, as a result, BACP membership is highly valued and recognised in the counselling world. 

To become a BACP member, there are certain criteria that you have to meet, one of which is taking an approved practitioner course. To demonstrate the amount of training that is required to complete an approved practitioner course, let’s look at a specific pathway that can be used to attain membership to the BACP. This pathway involves taking a series of CPCAB-accredited courses: 

CPCAB Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills. Total qualification time = 170 hours
CPCAB Level 3 Certificate in Counselling Studies. Total qualification time = 196 hours
CPCAB Level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling. Total qualification time = 1,204 hours 

As these courses are typically taught on a part-time basis, you can expect to take at least three to four years to complete a BACP-accredited qualification, such as the one above. Several different providers offer counselling courses in Edinburgh that will allow you to gain membership to the BACP. Hang tight; we’ll come to these soon.

The National Counselling Society (NCS)

Whilst the NCS is smaller than the BACP, it is also seen as a reputable professional body in the UK, and NCS membership is still a great stamp to have as a practising counsellor. Like the BACP, the NCS requires its members to meet certain criteria, which also include comprehensive training via an approved practitioner course. 

There are a few different providers of counselling courses in Edinburgh that offer NCS-approved courses. We’ll come to these shortly. 

At Astranti Connect, we believe a BACP-approved qualification is the best option for those aspiring to become professional counsellors. You can read why this is in our definitive guide to counselling qualifications.

Other options

Finally, a few different counselling course providers in Edinburgh offer qualifications that do not fall into either of the two categories above. 

This includes short courses, which could be a good option if you don’t plan to practise as a counsellor and, instead, you’re just looking to pick up some counselling skills to help with another professional role or for your own personal development. Some of these short courses may also give you a qualification that could contribute towards BACP or NCS membership if you choose to study further in the future.

3. Edinburgh counselling course providers

Edinburgh boasts a variety of counselling course providers, catering to diverse interests, locations, and career aspirations within the counselling field.

Let’s explore the main options available!

Universities and colleges

Several colleges in Edinburgh offer counselling courses, providing a broad educational experience beyond just counselling. These institutions typically feature large campuses and a vibrant student community, offering numerous student events and extracurricular activities. If an engaging student experience is a key factor in your choice, these colleges should be on your list!

Edinburgh College provides SCQF levels 6-7 in counselling, along with a range of other subjects. Queen Margaret University and The University of Edinburgh offer a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in psychology and counselling, utilising a more academic approach to the subject. Telford College, part of the Edinburgh College campus, also offers level 2 courses in counselling.

Specialist providers

In addition to traditional colleges, Edinburgh is home to several specialist counselling training providers. These institutions focus specifically on counselling and therapy training, leading to smaller class sizes and more personalised interaction with faculty, including tutors who often are actively working in counselling. This environment fosters a supportive learning atmosphere and closer connections with the local counselling community, which can be invaluable when seeking placements and job opportunities.

Among these specialist providers in Edinburgh are:

  • First Psychology Edinburgh – Located centrally, it offers post-qualification counselling courses.
  • Chrysalis – Provides counselling courses from levels 3-5 in Edinburgh.
  • Astranti Connect – Offers CPCAB counselling training courses from level 2 to 6 and is known for its certification and diploma programmes in counselling.

These institutions represent the diverse opportunities for counselling training in Edinburgh, from foundational courses to advanced professional development.

4. Classroom vs Online: what should you choose?

That’s a great question, and the answer really depends on what you want to achieve with your counselling aspirations. Just like choosing the right qualification and training provider, it’s important to pick the right type of counselling course to suit your goals.


If your aim is to join a professional counselling body like the BACP or NCS, you should know that a significant amount of your training hours will need to be in person. For instance, with the CPCAB pathway to BACP membership that we discussed earlier, you can take the Level 2 and Level 3 courses online, but 75% of the Level 4 course has to be taught in person.

This means that to qualify for BACP or NCS membership, you will need a mix of both online and classroom training or just classroom training if that’s what you prefer. Whilst some course providers offer online-only Level 4 courses, these won’t qualify you for BACP or NCS membership – something to watch out for!

It’s also important to note that any online courses you take must be live, such as over Zoom, in order to contribute towards BACP or NCS membership. This is because these professional bodies do not believe self-directed learning will allow you to develop the practical skills you need to be successful as a counsellor. Instead, it’s important that you can interact with your tutors and fellow students.

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of online-only or blended online-and-classroom counselling courses?

The advantages of online counselling courses:

  • More flexibility 
  • Location less of a barrier
  • Could save some money

The disadvantages of online counselling courses:

  • Possible technical difficulties
  • Potential for greater distractions
  • Limited social interaction
  • Don’t always lead to membership of professional bodies

There’s no “right” decision when it comes to the choice between online, in-classroom and blended counselling courses. You should make your decision based on your preferred learning style and personal circumstances. If you’d like more information to help you with your decision, you can read our definitive guide to online counselling courses.

5. Why join a Connect course?

So, why do we think you should study with us? 

We have experienced tutors

Connect tutors are all qualified counsellors with experience in teaching. Many are also practising counsellors and, when they aren’t teaching our classes, they continue to work with their own clients. Our tutors have a wealth of relevant, real-life experience and strong ties with the local counselling community.

We specialise in counselling

We have over 15 years of experience in counselling training and, unlike universities and colleges which offer a broad range of courses, our expertise and knowledge are focused on a small number of subject areas.

We are a national provider with centres across the country

If you’re not set on completing your counselling courses in Bristol, but you’d like to take part in one of our classroom counselling courses, we also have counselling hubs in Devon, Wiltshire, Norwich, Sheffield and Manchester. This also means you don’t have to be tied to one area throughout the course of your studies! We also have online options for Levels 2 and 3 and our post-qualification courses, offering additional flexibility. You can check out our full range of courses here.

We have a high Trustpilot rating

We are renowned as a high-quality training provider, as you can see from our excellent Trustpilot rating and reviews!

We have limited class sizes

Both our online and in-person courses have a maximum size of 16-18 people. This offers a great balance between plenty of tutor interaction and support and working and practising with a diverse range of people.

You will get access to our online community

We have an active online community, allowing you to learn from other students and support each other in your studies.

Our students must pass pre-course assessments

This helps to ensure our courses run as smoothly as possible, and you can rest assured that you and your fellow students are well-suited to the course.

We provide courses for Levels 2 to 6

This means once you pass one course, you can move on to another! Completing our Levels 2, 3 and 4 courses sets you up to apply for BACP membership to become a qualified, professional counsellor.

Our Connect courses 

Whether you’ve decided a classroom or online course is best for you, we have lots of course options available to suit your needs!

We offer the following in-person courses at our Edinburgh hub: 

Level 2 Certificate in Counselling Skills 

We plan to have both level 3 and level 4 courses following the level 2 courses that are currently scheduled – this will offer anyone who completes the level 2 course the opportunity to continue their journey towards becoming a qualified counsellor, without the need to switch course providers.

All of our courses are approved by the CPCAB, and completing the Level 4 Diploma provides a pathway to BACP membership. It also forms part of the CPCAB Open University Foundation Degree if you’d like to come away with a degree at the end of your studies. 


Looking for more flexibility? Then we also offer live daytime and evening online courses for Levels 2 and 3 (remember, these can be done online as long as they’re live, but the majority of Level 4 must be completed in a classroom to qualify for BACP membership!). 

Once you’ve completed level 4, we also have a Level 5 Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling and a Level 6 Certificate in Therapeutic Counselling Supervision – because many counsellors want to progress to run their own practice, or become supervisors, and these courses give you the skills to achieve both of these ambitions.

If you’re unsure you want to complete your counselling courses in Edinburgh, we also have counselling hubs in Devon, Bristol, Norwich, Sheffield, London, and Manchester.  You can find our full range of courses here.

Want to talk to someone about your next course options?

If you have any questions about Astranti Connect’s counselling courses in Edinburgh, you can have a free 1-2-1 call with one of our Connect student advisors!

Head to your relevant course page below to book yours:


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