What is a Counsellor?
As a counsellor, you will be responsible for helping your clients through a wide range of emotional and psychological difficulties. You will help them reflect on their experiences and bring about effective change to enhance their well-being.
As a counsellor, your main duty is to provide clients with a supportive and non-judgmental environment where they can express themselves freely. Your aim is to help clients to reduce confusion and increase their ability to cope with challenges or make positive changes to their lives. You will listen to your clients attentively and offer empathy and respect while they talk about particular issues or problems. The sessions you have with clients will cover a range of issues, such as divorce or relationship difficulties, illness, bereavement, unemployment, or general anxiety.
All counsellors need to take an impartial and non-judgemental position, providing clients with a safe space to feel confident and comfortable talking about their problems. The purpose isn’t to give advice, it’s to guide clients in a certain direction to help them overcome their challenges and see things in a different light.
- Build a trusting and respectful relationship with clients
- Agree on a counselling contract, including confidentiality
- Encourage clients to discuss sensitive issues
- Actively listen to clients and show empathy
- Remain unbiased towards the issues raised by clients
- Help clients gain a deeper understanding of their concerns
- Challenge any inconsistencies in clients’ thoughts or actions
- Support clients in making decisions about their future
- Refer clients to other sources of help if necessary
- Attend supervision and training courses
- Undergo personal therapy as required for accreditation
- Collaborate with other agencies and individuals as needed
- Work towards agreed targets for client contact
- Conduct group and individual therapy as appropriate
- Keep accurate records and utilise reporting tools.
According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a counsellor is £30,239.
- Starting salaries for counsellors vary, but you can expect to earn between £20,000 to £26,000.
- Once you become more experienced, your salary can increase from around £30,000 to £40,000.
- If you are working for the NHS there are set pay rates. Jobs will be advertised at band 5, 6 or 7 – which band you fall into will be based on your experience.
- For private work, you will set your own prices. The typical rate will be between £40 and £80 for an hour-long session.
While you can expect to work normal working hours between 9am to 5pm, you may be required to work additional hours, evenings and weekends to fit around your client’s schedules.
What to expect
- Provide face-to-face counselling, telephone and online counselling
- Work in various settings
- Provide counselling on a one-to-one basis, as well as with couples, families or groups
- Counselling can last from 6 to 12 sessions or for a longer period, depending on the needs of the client
- Sessions typically last around 50 minutes
- Counselling work can be emotionally demanding, and a good support framework is essential
- Professional supervision is necessary to help counsellors work through any difficulties they experience.
There is no compulsory training required to become a counsellor however, there is an expectation that you will have undertaken professional training and be a registered counsellor with a professional body.
BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) suggests a three-stage training route for those interested in pursuing a career as a counsellor.
must have skills:
Here are the key skills that are required for a career in counselling:
Self-awareness, sensitivity and empathy
Excellent observation and listening skills
Non-judgmental attitude and respect for others
Awareness of own attitudes, limitations and responses
Ability to work well under pressure
Strong verbal and written communication and presentation skills
Time management skills
Ability to work well in a multidisciplinary team
Understanding of the importance of confidentiality and its limitations
Understanding of equality and diversity issues
Counselling is usually a career that people choose later on in life after gaining experience in related fields such as nursing, social-work, mental health or teaching. You will also have had previous experience working with clients.
You can gain voluntary experience with basic counselling training which will be valuable later on in your career when seeking paid work.
- Health sector settings
- Statutory and voluntary sector care agencies
- Schools, further education colleges, universities and higher education colleges
- Human resource departments of larger employers
- General counselling services
- Churches and other faith-based organisations
- Youth services and agencies
- Children’s centres
- Citizens Advice services
- Specialised telephone helplines
Upon completing your training (accredited by one of the main professional bodies) and having met all requirements, you will have access to their membership benefits. As you gain experience, knowledge and skills you can progress through the different membership benefit levels.
While the majority of counselling opportunities are voluntary, paid counselling opportunities are becoming less rare.
You may choose to go private and specialise in a certain area such as:
- Children and young people
- Family therapy
- Mental health
- Sexual health
- Sexual violence
- Substance abuse.
If you fancy learning about the inner workings of the mind and human behaviour, the UWS’s BSc Psychology degree is for you. You’ll study the human mind and associated behaviour and develop key skills in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data – which will allow you to apply your knowledge in research and investigation processes to solve problems in real-world settings. UWS’s BSc Psychology programme is accredited by the British Psychological Society, which provides the basis for Graduate Registration.
Study the human mind and behaviour in this professionally accredited Masters’s programme – your first step toward becoming a chartered psychologist. This programme is designed for graduates with an Honours degree in a discipline other than psychology – or a non-accredited psychology Honours degree who wish to specialise in psychology.