Subscribe to the Customer Services Department RSS Feed
A career in counselling
Counselling is often taken up as a second career. As a result people are frequently working and training at the same time. For this reason, most courses are part-time, usually in the evening or day release.
The desire to become a counsellor develops frequently from some aspect of a person’s original career. These careers have the welfare of others at heart; for example, nursing, teaching, social and support work. This work naturally benefits from training in counselling skills but may lead to a change to a career as a counsellor.
Paid employment opportunities
While the number of opportunities for paid employment in the counselling field is increasing, this by no means meets the demand from those who are professionally trained and many of these positions are part-time. BACP produces CounsellingJobsOnline, which is available in the members section of this website, in which counselling and counselling skills vacancies are listed.
Counsellor vacancies may be in a variety of settings, such as schools; further and higher education; organisations for people with disabilities, in the workplace; youth work; for alcohol, drugs and AIDS agencies; General Practice and other general counselling services. Many telephone helplines are staffed by people trained in listening and counselling skills and some counsellors are now offering counselling by telephone when a ’session’ will be contracted between the counsellor and client, though this technique requires special training.
Counsellors in these jobs will expect to be dealing with a wide range of presenting problems. Frequently, full time posts are advertised where the counsellor is required to fill a dual role as counsellor and teacher, welfare and advice worker, co-ordinator and nurse.
Voluntary employment opportunities
There is much scope for voluntary work in counselling. Agencies like Relate (relationship counselling), Cruse (bereavement), Phobic Action and many others select and train volunteers for counselling work within their organisations. However, such agencies will expect a commitment from you over several years. It is useful to have a basic counselling skills training before offering your services. People gain valuable experience in these roles and may move on from voluntary positions to further training and paid work. In looking for voluntary work, information is available in the Directory of Volunteering & Employment Opportunities published by the Directory of Social Change (see below). It can be helpful to approach the local branch of the Council for Voluntary Services, which will be listed in the ’phone book.
What you need to become a counsellor
Competence in the practice of counselling skills, counselling and psychotherapy depends on the following:
- Knowledge of theory
- Grasp of practical skills
- Specific personal qualities
A number of different activities contribute to the development of the above:-
- Training courses
- Experience in ’client contact’ situations
- Supervision (reviewing what you have covered during client contact with a more experienced practitioner or your peers)
- Personal therapy (with you as the client - whether one to one or in a group)
Ideally, a counsellor in private practice should have substantial training and experience. As waiting lists for free or low cost counselling grow and the general public becomes more aware of the benefits of counselling, private practitioners are more in demand. This private work can combine neatly with part-time or voluntary work.
All members of BACP who are practising counsellors must be in ongoing supervision (consultative support). If you need a supervisor list, please send an A5 sae to BACP, BACP House, 15 St John's Business Park, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, LE17 4HB. Supervisors’ details can also be found on this website at Find a Therapist by changing the first drop down menu from ’Therapist’ to ’Supervisor’.