Counsellors are individuals, professionally qualified or not, who provide help to people in overcoming psychological difficulties and the problems in their lives derived from these. There are many different branches of counselling which reflect the huge diversity of the profession. Counsellors often have additional training to reflect their specializations, for example, in dealing with individuals with depression, genetic disorders or unplanned pregnancies. Other forms of professional and volunteer counselling are available, notably religious counselling.
Counsellors typically engage one on one with their clients to help them come to terms with the problems they are facing in life and, where possible, overcome them. They do this through a range of different techniques and skills, requiring them to interact with their patient and earn the trust necessary for them to open up and freely talk about their problems.
Who is a Suited for a Career in Counselling?
Though not strictly determined by age, the life experience that comes from being older is invaluable for many counsellors who will draw upon it in their interactions. Above all, a good candidate for a counseller needs to be:
Approachable: so clients feel safe talking to them.
Reassuring: as patients generally come to counsellors only at a time of vulnerability when something physically, emotionally, or both, has gone wrong.
Trustworthy: as part of the job requires talking to people about their innermost thoughts. This requires a significant leap of faith, often from the patient, and counsellors need to be able to deal with these matters confidentially.
Where Do Counsellors Work?
Counsellors' working environments are diverse, sometimes even within the same job. While many are based in hospitals or other medical practices, some travel to their clients visiting them in their homes, schools and workplaces. Religious counsellors might also work out of churches or other places of worship.
Counsellors in the private sector might operate out of their own practices, which could be located practically anywhere.
What Qualifications & Training is Required?
Officially there is, in the UK, at least no formal requirement for counsellors to hold prior to working or volunteering in the role. However, there are an increasing number of courses open to individuals looking to become a counsellor. Typically it is a second or third career change taken by individuals further into their working lives.
Like with all roles, many employers will want to see prior experience of training and qualification for the role. The exact requirements will vary by employer and position, thus if there is a particular role an aspiring counsellor is interested in, it is a very good idea to check these before commencing training. Furthermore, some professions have counselling skills as a necessary component in delivery, such as for certain types of nurses. In this case, an individual needs the necessary professional qualifications the role otherwise requires.
ADL offers several options for those looking for an online course to learn the basics and fundamentals of counselling.
How much can a Counsellor expect to earn?
Counsellors working full time can expect to earn from £19,000 on an introductory level leading up to about £26,000 per year. Those in a supervisory position typically range from £30,000 to £40,000 depending on position and employer. Those in the private sector working for themselves are typically reported to charge between £30 and £50 per hour.
Many counsellors work part time, or in a voluntary capacity, which will diminish earning potential.