How to Become a Counsellor
Counselling is a rewarding career path for those interested in bettering the lives of individuals facing mental health issues or those going through a rough patch. If you are a good listener and have an interest in psychology, a career as a qualified counsellor could suit you beautifully.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Counsellor?
While completing your A-levels is sufficient for entering counselling, further training courses are still recommended for your professional development.
An introductory course at a further education college is recommended to cover basic counselling skills and give you a taste of counselling before committing to a lengthier counselling course. A certificate or diploma in counselling will provide you with greater skills training and credibility.
When looking for counselling training, make sure to choose accredited courses offered by professional bodies such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and the National Counselling Society (NCS). While it isn’t legally required to join a professional body, doing so will demonstrate your commitment to the code of ethics.
As a Beginner, Where Should I Start in Counselling?
Many counsellors will begin their careers in related fields such as nursing, teaching, social work, careers advice or coaching. Developing work experience is the most essential component of becoming a professional counsellor, with voluntary work being a great way of gaining life experience and developing the personal qualities necessary to provide mental health and social care.
Voluntary or work experience is typically a satisfactory entry requirement for taking an introductory course in counselling.
Skill Set Required for a Counsellor
Due to the sensitive nature of this job, you must possess a specific set of skills in order to be able to do the job well and provide people with the help they need. Required skills include:
Excellent listening and empathy skills
Self-awareness of your own attitudes and responses
The ability to remain objective and unbiased
An understanding of confidentiality and boundaries
What Does a Counsellor Do?
Counsellors work with clients in a safe, confidential environment to help them make positive changes in their lives. Counsellors are not to give advice, but rather help clients feel empowered to make their own decisions. Professional counsellors may work with a broad clientele, or specialise in issues such as eating disorders, addiction, trauma, grief or working with young people.
Typical Duties for a Counsellor
Popular Career Pathways for Counsellor
By developing counselling skills, you can enjoy a number of different career paths from going into private practice versus working with the NHS to working for a helpline. Further training can also be pursued to become a psychotherapist, such as a psychology degree.
Most counsellors are employed on a part-time basis, while some also work on a volunteer basis. Employers might include schools, the health sector, youth agencies, HR departments, or faith-based organisations.