So you want to be a Counsellor?

woman smiling at the camera

Hundreds of hours of study, lots of volunteering, receiving counselling and more are some of the things those that want to be a counsellor will need to do. If this still makes your eyes go wide with excitement and you feel ready to meet all these challenges, then congratulations! It looks like you might have the makings of a future counsellor! 


Many people go into counselling as their 2nd or 3rd careers and often find themselves at the foot of a four to seven-year journey before they can begin to see a return for their investment of time and money. While this change in career will require a long-term goal in mind, there are certainly many things you can do now if you know you want to be a counsellor.  


To Start


If you are not able to throw yourself into a new course, there are some skills that you can build now that will greatly help you in your journey. Some of these are building up your listening skills which include being able to listen without judgement. Report writing is also a key part of your role as a counsellor and having basic I.T. skills will also help you a great deal. Finally, if you struggle with time management, practising good time management will help you both meet your study goals while training and then fulfil your career obligations once you qualify.  


If you can commit to a counselling course straight away, but this is not an area you have any real experience in, then consider taking an Introduction to Counselling course in order to give yourself a good foundation for further study. A further Certificate in Counselling is then recommended in order to establish an understanding of the theory aspect of Counselling. Once this is completed, then you can consider taking a Diploma in Counselling. The Diploma in Counselling is where the meat of your study will take place and should include scope to take a supervised placement. You should expect your Diploma in Counselling to take at least 400 hours of study.  


Next Steps


Now that you’ve done several hundred hours of study, it’s time to think about your placement. Supervised placement will incur extra costs; however, it is a key and integral part of a counsellor’s training as it fosters a valuable mentor/mentee relationship where a trainee counsellor can learn from an experienced counsellor 


You may also need to undergo personal therapy as you work through your studies. This is an added cost both financially and emotionally but can help you understand the client/counsellor relationship better and give you insights that will be beneficial when work or placements begin. 


After all this, you may be required to do more volunteering or extra study in specialist courses depending on what sort of counsellor you are aiming to be. And there are several; Marriage Counsellors, Child Counsellors, Family Counsellors etc.  


And to Finish


Finally, if you wish to work for an organisation such as the NHS, you will be required to join a professional body that will recognise your qualifications and give you membership. While there is no formal requirement to becoming a counsellor, being part of a professional body will also give you perks such as access to job databases available through the professional body. If you are looking to set up your own private clients instead, the ACCPH will accept courses from an online institution. Other institutions may accept prior training via distance learning for the introductory aspects, such as Counselling Skills I, but will only accept face to face study for their required hours.  


So, if you want to be a counsellor, there is a long, rewarding road ahead of you. Why not get started today!




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