How to become a counsellor

Are you passionate about mental health and supporting others through challenging times? If so, a career as a counsellor may be the perfect fit for you.

This guide will explore the steps necessary to become a counsellor. We will also answer frequently asked questions and provide insights into specialised fields such as school counselling and bereavement counselling.

WHat is a counsellor?

A counsellor is a trained professional who provides a safe and confidential space for individuals to explore their thoughts, emotions, and experiences.

They use their knowledge and skills to support clients in addressing personal challenges, improving mental well-being, and fostering personal growth.

Counsellors employ various therapeutic approaches and techniques to help clients gain insight, develop coping strategies, and make positive changes in their lives.

WHat does a counsellor do?

The primary role of a counsellor is to provide empathetic and non-judgmental support to individuals facing a range of issues. Here are some common tasks and responsibilities of a counsellor:

  • Conducting assessments: Counsellors engage in initial assessments to understand clients' needs, concerns, and goals. This helps them tailor their approach and determine the most appropriate course of treatment or intervention.
  • Establishing therapeutic relationships: Counsellors build a trusting and collaborative relationship with clients. This rapport allows clients to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and emotions, facilitating the counselling process.
  • Active listening and empathy: Counsellors actively listen to clients, providing a safe and compassionate space for them to express their feelings and experiences. They demonstrate empathy and validate clients' emotions, fostering a sense of understanding and support.
  • Providing guidance and insight: Counsellors offer guidance, helping clients gain insight into their challenges and identify potential solutions. They may employ various therapeutic techniques and interventions to facilitate personal growth and positive change.
  • Developing treatment plans: Counsellors collaborate with clients to develop individualised treatment plans that address their specific needs and goals. These plans may include setting objectives, implementing strategies, and regularly evaluating progress.
  • Maintaining professional boundaries and confidentiality: Counsellors adhere to ethical guidelines, ensuring client confidentiality and maintaining of professional boundaries. This establishes a sense of trust and safety for clients.

How to become a counsellor

  1. Obtain the necessary qualifications: To become a qualified counsellor, it's essential to obtain the necessary qualifications. For example, our Level 3 Diploma in Counselling Skills provides a solid foundation in the principles and techniques of counselling.
  2. Gain practical experience: Practical experience is a crucial component of becoming a successful counsellor. Seek opportunities for supervised counselling placements, volunteer work, or internships that apply your theoretical knowledge and develop your therapeutic skills.
  3. Join Professional Associations: Joining professional counselling associations, such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), can provide valuable networking opportunities, resources, and ongoing professional development. Being part of these associations demonstrates your commitment to ethical practice and helps you stay updated with industry standards.
  4. Continual professional development (CPD): Continual professional development is essential for counsellors to enhance their skills, stay updated on the latest research, and improve their effectiveness in helping clients. Engage in regular CPD activities, such as attending workshops, conferences, and additional training courses.

Why choose counselling as a career?

Counselling is a noble profession that allows you to make a positive impact on people's lives. Becoming a counsellor gives you the chance to help people dealing with mental health problems, relationship dilemmas, and personal crises. There are even more possibilities to assist them.

The demand for qualified counsellors continues to grow, making it a fulfilling and stable career choice.

How to become a counsellor without going to university

While many counselling careers require a university degree, there are alternative paths to consider. One such option is pursuing a vocational qualification or diploma in counselling.

Open Study College offers various flexible and accredited counselling courses that don't require a university degree, allowing you to gain the skills and knowledge at your own pace.

Counsellor salary UK

Understanding the earning potential in the field of counselling is crucial. While salaries can vary depending on factors such as experience, qualifications, and location, counselling offers a fulfilling and financially stable career.

According to National Careers Service, the average salary for a qualified counsellor in the UK ranges from £27,000 to £47,500 per year, depending on experience.

Additionally, as you gain experience and additional training, there is the potential to establish a successful private practice, which often brings higher earning potential.

WHat skills do I need to be a counsellor?

  • Active listening: Counsellors must listen attentively and empathetically to clients, demonstrating understanding and validating their experiences.
  • Empathy and compassion: The ability to empathise and show compassion towards clients is crucial for creating a supportive and non-judgemental environment.
  • Communication skills: Counsellors need strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills to effectively convey their messages, interpret clients' expressions, and facilitate meaningful dialogue.
  • Emotional resilience: Counselling can be emotionally demanding, so counsellors must have the ability to manage their emotions and practice self-care to prevent burnout.
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking: Counsellors should possess strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills to help clients explore alternatives, analyse situations, and develop effective coping strategies.
  • Cultural sensitivity: Being culturally sensitive and aware of diversity is important to ensure respect and understanding when working with clients from different backgrounds.
  • Ethical and professional conduct: Counsellors must adhere to ethical guidelines, maintaining confidentiality, respecting boundaries, and acting in the best interest of their clients.
  • Continued professional development: Engaging in ongoing professional development activities, such as workshops, trainings, and supervision, helps counsellors stay updated with the latest research and best practices.

By developing and honing these skills, aspiring counsellors can create a positive impact in the lives of others while fostering their own personal and professional growth.

How to become a school counsellor

Becoming a school counsellor requires a specific skill set and understanding of educational environments. Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Obtain a relevant counselling qualification: Start by pursuing a counselling qualification, such as our Counselling Children and Adolescents Level 4 course. This course provides the necessary skills to work with children and teenagers effectively.
  2. Gain experience with young people: Seek opportunities to gain experience working with children or teenagers, such as volunteering at youth organisations or schools. This practical experience will help you develop the skills and insights needed for a career as a school counsellor.

How to become a bereavement counsellor?

Bereavement counselling requires specialised training to support individuals experiencing loss and grief. Follow these steps to pursue a career in bereavement counselling:

  1. Acquire a foundation in counselling: Start by obtaining a relevant counselling qualification, like this Grief Counselling Level 3 course.This course is designed to equip you with a real depth of knowledge in grief counselling.
  2. Pursue specialised training in grief counselling: To become a bereavement counsellor, it's important to pursue specialised training in grief counselling.

Becoming a counsellor offers a fulfilling career path, where you can make a positive impact on the mental health and well-being of others. Whether you choose to pursue a counselling qualification without going to university, specialise in school counselling or bereavement counselling, or aim to establish a private practice, our flexible and accredited courses provide the skills and knowledge you need to succeed.

If you're ready to pursue a rewarding career in counselling, Open Study College is here to support you. Our range of counselling courses provide comprehensive modules, allowing you to study at your own pace while receiving guidance from an experienced tutor. Take the first step towards a fulfilling career in mental health and counselling by applying for one of our courses today!

Interested in our courses?

Use the search box below to find your course.

Open Study College

Open Study College (OSC) have been leading the way in distance learning since 2007. Our team comprises of expert tutors, knowledgeable student advisers and a friendly student support team. Between us we have decades upon decades of experience in education and remote learning. Our blog is designed to help and guide you along the right path for you, by providing information, helpful tips and inspirational student success stories.

How to become a counsellor