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First for North-East as Masters degree with ‘wild therapy’ launched

First for North-East as Masters degree with‘wild therapy’ accredited by Open University

If you go down to the woods today, you could be in for a big surprise…you might just stumble across a counselling session among the cedar and chestnut trees.

For Bishop Auckland College is launching a first for the region – a Masters Degree in Psychotherapy Studies which includes a ‘wild therapy’ module.

Students on the course won’t be just joining lectures in the classroom – they will also be undertaking part of their studies at outdoor locations including the woodland scout camp at Windlestone Hall, near Rushyford in County Durham.

Described as a ‘contemporary higher education programme’ which will provide an ‘extraordinary learning experience’, the Level 7 MA course promises “experiential learning, lucid conversation and reflective practice within creative, contemporary and natural ‘wild’ environments”.

It includes weekend outdoor residentials where the students will explore their relationship with the wild – the weather, cosmos, animals, birds, trees, plants, rocks, water – and consider how they might harness these experiences therapeutically.

Programme leader Lindsey Moses explained:

“Wild therapy is a relatively new theoretical concept which challenges the mainstream model of psychotherapy and counselling being solely associated with a room and a couch.

“Therapy is instead taken outdoors where the client can spend time in nature in direct contact with the world through their senses, which can help them to feel less alone, less inhibited, less anxious and more relaxed. Later the outdoors is brought back into the therapy room where the therapist and client can reflect on the wild experience.”

Other modules include a 12,000-word thesis, research methodologies, personal & professional development and contemporary approaches in psychotherapy.

The unique curriculum, developed in accordance with the QAA Counselling & Psychotherapy Benchmark 2022 and British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy guidelines, is subject to final validation by the Open University.

It is believed to be the only Masters Degree in a counselling discipline offered by any further education college in the North East and Cumbria and is thought to be the only course of its kind in the country to offer the ‘wild therapy’ module.

The nearest alternative providers of an MA in Counselling & Psychotherapy are the University of Cumbria in Lancaster and Leeds Beckett University.

(l-r) Tutor Lindsey Moses (second left) with BA (Hons) Integrative Counselling students Sandra Dodds, Nicola Williamson, Karen Bell, Claire Preston and Craig Preston at the woods at Windlestone Hall.

Lindsey added: “This unique programme has been developed in response to the current market demand for highly skilled advanced practitioners in both private and organisational therapeutic work, which has been mirrored by demand from our own undergraduate counselling students.

“Our Masters graduates will have a huge advantage in terms of professional status and
recognition – we have already had several applications for our first intake this September
and can’t wait to get started.”

The two-year part-time course runs on Mondays, starting on September 11, so is suitable for
people in employment. The £6,000 per year course fee is eligible for a Student Finance loan
covering the full cost. Applicants will need a 2:1 degree in counselling and to have
completed 100 hours of therapeutic placement.

Natalie Davison-Terranova, Principal and Chief Executive of Bishop Auckland College, said:

Natalie Davison-Terranova, Principal and Chief Executive of Bishop Auckland College, said: “It is extremely rare for a further education college to offer a Level 7 programme so it truly is a ‘first’ for the college.

“It’s an amazing milestone in our higher education growth strategy and Lindsey and her team will be rightly proud when they see their first graduates pass out at Durham Cathedral in 2025.”

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