030 – Levels of Qualification – Tuckman’s Team Development Model – Self-Actualisation versus the Actualising Tendency

030 – Levels of Qualification – Tuckman’s Team Development Model – Self-Actualisation versus the Actualising Tendency

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In episode 30 of the Counselling Tutor Podcast, Rory Lees-Oakes and Ken Kelly explain the levels of counselling qualification in the UK. ‘Theory with Rory’ takes a look at Dr Bruce Tuckman’s team development model. Last, the presenters examine the difference between the actualising tendency and self-actualising.

Levels of Qualification

There is a wide range of counselling qualifications on offer, and it can be very confusing to know which to choose. In the UK, qualifications can currently be mapped to levels, as follows:

  • Level 2 – GCSE level
  • Level 3 – A level
  • Level 4 – first year of degree
  • Level 5 – foundation degree
  • Level 6 – bachelor’s (honours) degree
  • Level 7 – master’s degree
  • Level 8 – doctorate

Courses that allow you to qualify as a counsellor could be at any level from 4 to 7. Which level is right for you depends on your background, interests and goals. For example, Level 4 is perhaps the fastest way to get in front of clients, while an ambition to work in the NHS would make it advisable to study for a degree.

Ken and Rory advise that in general it is best to avoid online courses in counselling, as this is a subject area where interaction with people really matters, to develop both skills and personal awareness.

Whichever level you choose as the qualifying stage of your counselling training, always check that the course requires you to get at least 100 hours’ practice with clients, as this is required to become a member of the BACP. For information on BACP accreditation of courses, see Podcast 7.


Tuckman’s Team Development Model

Personal development (or process) groups are an important part of counselling training. Students’ emotional (affective) and academic (cognitive) development is enhanced when group members work cooperatively together. This facilitates students’ application of counselling theory to themselves and others (both peers and, in turn, clients).

It can feel like personal development groups have no real structure, but in fact tutors often use the model developed by Dr Bruce Tuckman, a US psychologist, to assess how the group is developing. This model describes four stages, each of which must be done through for the group to be fully effective:

  • Forming – in which members try to work out what they should be doing, often looking to the tutor for guidance or trying to appoint a leader; common feelings here include uncertainty, anxiety, confusion, fear and helplessness
  • Storming – where the group grows in confidence and perhaps rejects tutor input; members challenge each other, and may feel angry, frustrated, hurt, wary and resentful
  • Norming – at this stage, members accept each other and individual differences, and are open to input; feelings often include hope, courage, relief and mindfulness
  • Performing – the group tries to solve problems and misconceptions, feeling empathic, relaxed and confident.

In 1975, Tuckman added a fifth stage: adjourning. This describes the stage of ending, which happens at the final stage of counselling courses. A range of feelings may be experienced at this stage, including loss, sadness, happiness, excitement and gratitude.

It is important to remember that not every group is going to fit this model, but it can be a useful guide to how many groups evolve as their members learn to work together. You can read more about Tuckman’s model in Rory’s handout, which is free to download.


Self-Actualisation versus the Actualising Tendency

The actualising tendency describes the idea, developed by Carl Rogers, that humans have an innate ability to grow and develop in spite of their circumstances, however difficult. Rogers used to illustrate this concept using the analogy of potatoes (see Podcast 22 for the full story and a useful handout).

Self-actualisation, meanwhile, describes the pinnacle of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, representing the ‘nirvana’ of human living. Very few people achieve this level; Maslow used to cite Eleanor Roosevelt as an example of one who had.