How to Become a Counsellor

Counsellors work with clients to create positive change within their lives. They are important members of the community who assist people in identifying, managing, and resolving their mental, social, and psychological issues. If you enjoy making a difference in people’s lives, and you are an excellent, nonjudgmental listener, counselling is a career you may want to consider. There are necessary educational qualifications to become a counsellor as well as desirable skills and traits that you will need to obtain employment in this field.

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Why should you become a counsellor? 

Counselling focuses on positively and meaningfully impact the lives of other people by helping them develop strategies to address their problems. However, there are a variety of different reasons why you should become a counsellor, including the following:

  • Work-life balance and flexibility
  • Counsellors average 38-hour weeks and determine their schedule, especially if they work for themselves. This flexibility works well with other life goals and responsibilities.

  • A variety of specialisations
  • As a counsellor, you may decide to specialise in certain age groups or areas of social and mental health. You may work in hospitals, schools, workplaces, or religious organisations, amongst other options.

You may also decide to become a counsellor because of the multiple opportunities to continue professional growth and development. Also, if you want a sense of purpose and meaning in your work, counselling is the right field for you.

What are the qualifications needed to become a counsellor? 

Initial enrolment and completion of a diploma in a counselling major is the first step toward becoming a counsellor. Online distance learning courses, such as ICI’s Counselling & Psychology courses, can help you earn your basic and advanced diplomas in as little as a year. 

Initial diploma classes provide an introduction to counselling and psychology, including counselling techniques. Advanced degrees focus on developing counselling skills and core practitioner training, primarily in professional counselling practises. 

After you have completed these qualifications, you can advance your studies and pursue additional degrees in psychology or counselling specialities. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs will help you to recognise and implement the standards of quality accepted by counsellors as well as learn about ethical and competent practices. These programs typically run one year full-time or two years part-time in length and often require a minimum number of hours in supervised placements.

Further professional development and certification as a counsellor can happen through membership to UK professional organisations, such as the National Counselling Society (NCS), the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), and the British Association for Counselling (BACP). These bodies offer registration and accreditation to a series of approved courses.

What skills are needed to become a counsellor? (200 words)

To be a successful counsellor, you need to have the professional expertise to identify a client’s problems. Personal traits, such as empathy and compassion, are also vital to this career. Here are other skills that counsellors need to do the best job possible:

Observational skills

An effective counsellor will be able to read a person’s body language and social interactions during the session to understand their feelings and behaviours. 

Verbal and auditory skills

Counsellors need to communicate clearly and comfortably with their clients. A counsellor should have the verbal skills to communicate with a variety of people. Moreso, counsellors need listening skills to be able to hear what a person is and isn’t saying out loud. 

Problem-solving skills

Identifying a person’s struggle or problem is only the first step a counsellor takes when working with someone. You need problem-solving skills to solve problems as they develop and to devise and implement alternative strategies to address the client’s issue.

Patience and compassion 

Above all, counsellors must have the patience to work with people long-term and understand that it may be years before results appear. You need to be a person with compassion and empathy for others and an ability to put them at ease in your presence. 

How can you land a job as a counsellor?

Once you’ve completed your qualifications, you’ll be ready to start your career. There are a few ways to locate job openings for counsellors and some tips to better your chances of becoming employed in this field. Competition is high for these jobs, so you want to use every advantage you can to get a counselling position.

Browse UK job websites for new employment opportunities in counselling, such as Relate and Community Care Jobs

Consider joining a UK professional counselling organisation like the British Association for Counselling (BACP). This group, as well as other professional bodies, often list job openings available only for members on their sites.

Optimising your resume is another critical step toward getting that counselling job. Develop a resume that highlights your core qualifications. Include a summary statement and use action verbs throughout the document. Emphasise the professional and personal skills that will help you succeed as a counsellor.

Start a career full of purpose and meaning today

Don’t wait to begin a career that will give you purpose and motivation every day. Enrol in ICI’s Counselling & Psychology courses today and start making a difference in people’s lives.

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Gladys is the Associate Director of Admissions & Student Services with over 10 years of experience at the International Career Institute.