Counselling as a Late Life Career

It’s a tumultuous time in the job market.  On the one hand, the “great resignation” continues with millions globally quitting unsatisfying jobs in search of something they find more meaningful.  Others are finding the escalating cost of living difficult to manage.  It is derailing retirement plans and forcing them to postpone plans to quit work – or return after retirement. Perhaps the answer is counselling as a late-life career.

Older folks in particular can find themselves in a harder position than most.  Many of the more accessible jobs are extremely physically demanding.  Shelf stacking and care work are easy for a young person fresh out of school or college, but perhaps not ideal for someone who has already put decades into the workforce.

Becoming a counsellor is an increasingly popular vocation for those looking for a new direction later in life.  Not only do you not have to stand up all day, but it’s a job that really provides an opportunity to help distressed and troubled people.  Best of all, it’s a job that hugely benefits from life experience and the wisdom that comes from having been there and done that.  Even if you think you haven’t, by virtue of having lived longer you’ll have gained a greater understanding of life’s trials and tribulations.

How to Become a Counsellor

It’s not just age that makes a great counsellor, however.  It’s a vocation and one that involves providing care to people at vulnerable stages in their lives.  Most will be suffering from some degree of mental illness or personal tragedy that has led them to seek help and that is why training and learning are fundamental to getting into the profession.

In the UK for example, it isn’t required to have a degree.  However, you should have some form of training to at least a diploma level in counselling and should be on a professional register for clinicians working in your field of expertise.  UCAS, the body for university applications in the United Kingdom says that:

“Your core practitioner training should be at the minimum level of a diploma in counselling or psychotherapy at a minimum of level 4, but could be a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate”

Academic and Vocational Routes

It is possible to become a counsellor following an academic route or a more vocational one with study alongside.  Many counsellors come to the job following careers in other roles that involve supporting others such as care or social work.  In this way, they are able to leverage the experience from their prior career to get a head start in the new. It remains a popular choice for second or third careers.

Another essential aspect of becoming a counsellor is getting training under a supervisor.  Many mental health charities that offer counselling services are willing to help up-and-coming counsellors gain the experience they need in exchange for the trainee undertaking the provision of care under their purview.  For the safety of patients, only those who are close to completing their studies are allowed to do this and only under the supervision of a more experienced counsellor who can advise as needed.

More and more people are turning to therapy for help managing their lives.  That makes counselling a great choice for those with life experience.

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