Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu


John Cowley (Head of the Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service)

John Cowley, Head of Cardiff University Counselling Service, gives BACP Innovation Award winning speech.

John Cowley's acceptance speech after Cardiff University Counselling Service is awarded the BACP Innovation in Counselling and Psychotherapy 2010 Award.

John Cowley is Head of the Counselling Division at Cardiff University. He has over 30 years of experience counselling in different settings such as, RELATE, General Practitioners, Schools, Colleges of Further Education and manages Cardiff University Counselling Division. The Counselling Division works with approximately 1000 staff and student clients annually. He has an MA in Guidance and Counselling, is a British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Senior Accredited Counsellor and a Fellow of BACP

Under his leadership, the Counselling Division, which includes provision for both staff and students at the Cathays Campus and Heath Park Campus offers a comprehensive range of counselling interventions, including individual counselling sessions and workshops, bibliotherapy, online counselling and online resources. He believes that diversity of approach provides the maximum opportunity to meet the varied needs of our clients and is committed to striving for best practice in equality and diversity.

The service delivers an innovative and managed care model for student counselling using a solution focussed approach “The Cardiff Model”. Many other counselling services and primary care providers from the UK and internationally have expressed interest in this development and have adopted or adapted the model for their local circumstances. The model provides rapid interventions with minimum waiting times and a therapeutic process designed to start with the first contact. This business model ensures rapid responses with low waiting times and most importantly high client satisfaction. In 2010 the Cardiff Model was awarded the BACP Innovation Award.

John's counselling approach is primarily psychodynamic. However, he has a range of other training and approaches that he uses when appropriate.

He has a particular interest in the difficulties faced by ex-offenders post release, and has co-produced a powerful video and training materials "Freedom Pack. ®" using the experience of male re-offenders themselves describing the barriers on release. There are significant differences for female offenders and John was involved the “Going Home Project”. He has an interest in developing ways of supporting those touched by the criminal justice system including those affected during their time at University.

John has had a long and active involvement with his professional organisation BACP which was recognised in his Fellowship Award in 2006.

  • He is past Chair of BACP's Equality and Diversity Forum. 
  • In 2001 John was elected by members of the Association for University and College Counselling (AUCC) to the position of Chair, a post he held until 2004. AUCC is a major division of the BACP.
  • John was regularly included on national consultations relating to aspects of mental health and counselling and has spoken at a number of national and international conferences.
  • From 2005 -2008 he was Deputy Chair of BACP, counselling’s lead body with over 37,000 members. During this time John represented the counselling profession both nationally and internationally.
  • John was awarded a Fellowship of BACP in 2006.
  • He was a Board member of BACP until November 2011.
  • Chaired BACP's Criminal Justice Forum supporting counsellors and psychotherapists who work with offenders, ex offenders, those at risk of offending and victims. 
  • John is a member of BACP's Criminal Justice Expert Reference Group.
  • Since taking on the post of Head of Counselling in 1998, the Counselling Service has flourished under John's leadership not only in the range of services offered but has earned a very positive reputation within the University, the region and nationally.
  • John had his personal profile published in Therapy Today in July 2011

His reputation and involvement with both AUCC and BACP resulted in him being engaged as a consultant for the University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka in September 2005. This four-week project was set up to enhance student support in particular to develop a counselling service, train doctors to work as student counsellors and develop mentoring skills for academic staff in the medical faculty.

He writes regularly and has had several professional articles published

Quality of service provision is paramount, and he is always interested in receiving comments on any aspect of counselling service provision.

Please send any queries to John via his Personal Assistant Rose Terpstra.

Mr John Cowley

Telephone:(029) 2087 4966
  • Accredited(TM) vountary register. BACP registered member 002144. Member MBACP (Snr Accred).