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Health & Social Care

Counsellor

Job Description

Counsellors help people to overcome their problems and cope with tough situations by providing a safe, confidential and encouraging environment in which to contemplate their emotional state.

A counsellor’s job tends to involve a lot of listening. It’s all about empathy, patience and respect. Rather than offering guidance, counsellors empower service users to make their own decisions. They assist people by offering them a structured and focused way of addressing their problems.

During group sessions and one-to-one meetings, counsellors help people with all kinds of difficulties, from substance abuse and health issues to post-traumatic stress and relationship problems.

As well as talking to people and helping them deal with their problems, counsellors are responsible for referring service users to other organisations where necessary. They’re also in charge of maintaining records and tracking the progress of service users. 

Salary & benefits

Annual salaries for counsellors in the early stages of their careers range from £19,000 to £27,000. Senior counsellors with a wealth of experience, however, can earn up to £42,000 and beyond.

Freelance counsellors can earn considerably more – sometimes up to £50 an hour.

Working hours

Counsellors typically work five days a week, nine-to-five. However, extra evening and weekend work may be required from time to time to accommodate certain service users.

The majority of counsellors work on a freelance or part-time basis.

Entry

Although a degree is not strictly necessary for entry into this line of work, an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as social work, youth work, psychology or nursing, will be useful.

Before you can build a career as a counsellor, you must complete a counselling-related qualification which is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). This could be a master’s degree, a diploma or a certificate.

All counsellors must undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before they can work with young people.

Another way to boost your employability is to get relevant work experience. Volunteering with a relevant health or social care organisation is a great idea.

Training & progression

Counsellors complete the majority of their training through in-house workshops and training sessions.

However, once you have gained a decent amount of experience, it’s advisable to become an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. This will enhance your reputation and give you access to a range of additional training and networking opportunities.

Opportunities for career progression are fairly limited in this area of work. Some counsellors choose to specialise in a particular area of counselling, such as mental health or domestic abuse, and focus on building up their reputation and client base in this niche.

Some large organisations may give counsellors the opportunity to advance into a senior management position. However, this is quite rare. The majority of counsellors eventually choose to go freelance.