Training to be a counsellor: what you need to know

Training to be a counsellor: what you need to know

If you’ve ever considered training to be a counsellor, you could be on the path to a rewarding career helping people to navigate life’s challenges.

Counsellors provide a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment where people can understand their feelings, reflect on their past decisions and work towards making changes.

So let’s take a look at how to become a counsellor in the UK, the qualifications and training counsellors need to undertake and how to get into counselling as a career.

What does a counsellor do?

Counsellors help people to explore their feelings rather than directly offering advice. Counsellors can work in either the public or private sector in settings that include hospitals, care homes and schools. Some counsellors work with clients over the phone or online.

Counsellors may work with clients of all ages, and help them to deal with a wide range of issues such as addiction or stress.

Working as a counsellor offers plenty of opportunities for specialisation. Some counsellors focus on specific issues such as substance abuse or bereavement or specialise in specific therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Humanistic therapy.

Opportunities for career progression include becoming a team leader within your workplace, focusing on a specific area of counselling or even setting up your own practice.

The responsibilities of a counsellor

A counsellor’s responsibilities include establishing trust with the client, facilitating discussions about their client’s feelings and helping them find ways to cope. Counsellors also work closely with other healthcare professionals and must maintain confidential client records.

Being a counsellor is extremely rewarding but it can also be very demanding and stressful at times, with multiple caseloads and emotionally draining situations to manage.

What skills do counsellors need?

Successful counsellors need to have a range of interpersonal skills including:

  • A caring attitude
  • Empathy
  • Patience and sensitivity
  • Excellent listening skills
  • Good communication

You should also be comfortable working alongside other healthcare professionals.

What qualifications do you need to be a counsellor?

Becoming a counsellor requires a relevant degree or diploma in a subject such as counselling or psychotherapy. Some university degree courses combine counselling with areas such as psychology or criminology.

You can train as a counsellor while working in your current job, and practical experience is also highly valued. Volunteering for organisations like the Samaritans, Mind, Relate, and Cruse would be an advantage when applying for qualifications and jobs.

How to get into counselling

You can find counselling jobs vacancies on websites such as NHS Jobs, BACP Jobs, LinkedIn and Indeed. It’s also worth looking at recruitment agencies and professional body websites.

If you’re aiming to work in the NHS, registration on a counselling or psychotherapy register accredited by the Professional Standards Authority is mandatory. Joining professional bodies like the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is also recommended.

Training to be a counsellor

There are no mandatory training requirements to become a counsellor. Alongside your counselling qualifications, you might like to take additional courses in non-clinical areas such as health and safety or safeguarding.

Social care training courses are a convenient way to fit your training around your current schedule and can be studied online.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an integral part of the role, as counsellors must stay up to date with the latest advances in their field. Caredemy health and social care courses are CPD-approved, so they are an excellent option for your CPD training requirements.

Counsellors have to undergo a criminal record check, as they may work with children and vulnerable adults. A clean driving licence may also be a requirement for some roles.

As you can see, counselling careers can be very rewarding, and they allow you to make a significant difference in people’s lives. If you have the necessary qualities and are ready for the challenges along the way, becoming a counsellor could be the perfect career for you.

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