Counsellors are a vital part of the community with a passion for helping others and care to listen to everyone around them. As a counsellor, your mission is to help make positive changes to the client’s life.
They are active listeners, empathetic and keen to make a difference within society by helping various people with their life problems.
What is a counsellor guide?
Counsellors assist various clients to identify their life problems and be a listening ear to understand what they're going through. You will work with them to reflect on what is going on in their lives, and help find a solution to make positive changes.
There isn’t compulsory training to become a counsellor, however, professional training and registration with a professional body are expected by most employers.
Counsellors can work on several issues including illness, general anxiety, bereavement, relationship difficulties, unemployment and more. As a counsellor, you will provide a safe and confidential environment for your clients to open up. You will take a non-judgemental approach, not offering advice, but providing support to help clients explore behaviour patterns and make their own choices. It can be a similar role to a psychotherapist because it includes a range of talking therapies.
Counsellors are a haven and support system for their clients.
As a counsellor, these will be your everyday responsibilities:
- Accept various client issues without giving your opinion. li>
- Ask questions and check understanding with clients when discussing their problems. li>
- Be an active listener to client’s concerns and emphasise with them. li>
- Build a solid and trusting relationship with various clients. li>
- Challenge clients with any inconsistencies. li>
- Collaborate with other professionals and organisations such as hospitals, community health teams and GPs. li>
- Continue your training through courses and undertake personal therapy. li>
- Help clients have a deeper understanding of their problems and support them in how they can move forward. li>
- Refer clients to other professionals when appropriate. li>
- Set a contract determining what will be discussed in the sessions. li>
- Work on the client's agreed targets. li>
- Work with clients and encourage them to open up to their issues, and think about their choices. li>
- Work with individuals and within groups for sessions. li>
- Write up confidential records and report on client’s progress. li>
The counsellor's salary depends on who you work for and your skill level. You also need to factor in location, whether it’s a private practice and your experience.
If working within the NHS therapy sector, you will be paid via the Agenda for Pay system. NHS counsellor jobs are paid band 5, band 6 or band 7 on a trainee counsellor position, based on their skill level and experience. Band 5 starts at £27,055, band 6, £33,706 and band 7, £41,659. The more you progress in your role, the higher the salary within those bands. On average, a counsellor's salary is around the £34,628 mark for experienced counsellors. Entry-level salaries begin at around £29,244, and the most experienced can earn up to £46,000+.
There isn’t compulsory training to become a counsellor, however, professional training and registration with a professional body are expected by most employers. Even though it isn’t essential, studying for degrees in counselling or psychotherapy degrees can help you enhance your understanding of the subject and provide supervised placements, to help you gain on-hand experience of the job.
You can study for your professional counselling qualifications at a further education college (FE) or adult education centres. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) recommends various training.
The introduction to counselling course provides you with an overview of counselling training and basic skills before going into a full training course. It takes around eight to twelve weeks to complete and helps you understand if counselling is the right career move. This is when you can study for your level 3 certificate for counselling skills.
This course, lasting a year offers a deeper understanding of counselling and develops your counselling skills. There are further qualifications you can then take including the core practitioner training which is a level 4 diploma, providing you with the competence, skills and knowledge to work as a counsellor.
This course takes between one and two years and you will need to work a minimum of 100 hours in supervised placements. Completion of your level 4 diploma will allow you to apply to join the professional body's register of practitioners.
Counselling jobs for many is a part-time or voluntary role as the competition is high, however, the need for counsellors is growing.
When looking for counselling courses, you will need to ensure they’re accredited by a relevant professional body such as the BACP, National Counselling Society (NCS) and UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
Training and development
When qualified, you can join one of the professional bodies including BACP, NCS or UKCP. This membership can help you gain experience, skills and knowledge as you progress through your career.
For additional training and connections, joining a professional body’s register of practitioners, accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) for Health and Social Care is a huge advantage. This registration shows your commitment to ethical practices and high standards of conduct.
Registration requires you to work on continuing professional development (CPD). Your CPD can involve short courses for new therapeutic approaches, or working towards a higher level of qualification, you will need to have a set plan to record and reflect on your progress with the relevant body.
Depending on who you work for, can also aid your level of development. Many organisations run in-house training schemes to further your knowledge in specific specialisms. There’s also the opportunity of being supervised and presenting your work to a supervisor to develop your skills further.
As a counsellor, you will take on a crucial and collaborative role to help various clients with their problems.
These are the required counsellor skills:
- A belief that people can change and develop. li>
- A positive approach to your work. li>
- A resilient attitude. li>
- An open mind, non-judgemental attitude and respect for others. li>
- Being aware of the importance of confidentiality. li>
- Collaborate well with other professionals. li>
- Good knowledge of people’s reactions. li>
- Great time management skills. li>
- Have an understanding of your thoughts and limitations. li>
- Sensitive and understanding of client’s needs. li>
- Strong knowledge of psychology and counselling. li>
- Strong observational skills. li>
- Strong skills in active listening. li>
- Strong skills in using a computer and software fiercely. li>
- Strong written, verbal and presentation skills. li>
- The ability to be self-aware and have an empathetic approach to clients. li>
- The ability to work with various people from different backgrounds. li>
- Work well and calmly under pressure. li>
Relevant work experience in counselling is useful when beginning a career in the field. You can gain volunteering opportunities through counselling bodies or charities such as the Samaritans which need people for their listening services. Volunteering can be valuable as it can lead to training and paid work.
There’s also the option to find any relevant experience within the helping profession. This can include teaching, being a mental health advisor, social work or nursing. Your best bet is to search around to see if there are any available internships in the sector to gain hands-on experience.
Counselling jobs for many is a part-time or voluntary role as the competition is high, however, the need for counsellors is growing. Part-time counselling jobs can be easier to find than full-time positions.
Counsellors assist various clients to identify their life problems and be a listening ear to understand what they're going through.
When it comes to progression, you can go up the ranks, into a team leader or management-type role. This focuses on supervising a team more and working on policy strategy rather than focusing on clients.
Alternatively, you can develop your studies into working in a specialised areas such as family therapy, sexual health, bereavement, mental health and more. You could move overseas and work for an international charity or into the research side of counselling.
There’s also the option to establish yourself as a self-employed counsellor and work for yourself, you can do this as a freelancer or set up your practice. This can offer the opportunity for flexibility in your job and work for yourself.