How to become a Counsellor: Australian careers in counselling

A counsellor is a health professional that helps their clients work through whatever is bothering them in their life. It is a discussion-based therapy where counsellors can offer advice, a listening ear and provide pathways for their clients to overcome their issues. Many counsellors work with a range of other health professionals including doctors and patient workers, as well as occasionally working with the family of their client. Counsellors connect to other health practitioners to ensure their clients are able to achieve a healthy mental state, which can include directing them to other alternative therapies or medication. It is usually not a requirement to have an official qualification, however most employers prefer you to have completed a study course in mental or social work.

  • Task Career in focus: What a counsellor does

    Being a counsellor means you can help people at all different stages of life or specialise in a particular area of mental health such as those in rehabilitation from substance abuse, helping young people and children or those have gone through a particular trauma. Counsellors are the sounding board for their clients, offering a safe environment for people to disclose extremely intimate information and offering them advice and support for the short and long-term. They will often work with their clients to devise a plan to help them overcome their issues that involves identifying other therapies as required and helping the client establish a strong support network.

    Tasks:

    • Assessing a client’s mental health
    • Planning and implementing individual or group therapy sessions
    • Devising care plans for the client’s physical and emotional wellbeing
    • Provide referral services such as to other medical professionals
    • Workwith families or places of employment and provide conflict resolution where necessary
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a counsellor

    Working with clients who are suffering from emotional distress can be very rewarding when you help them achieve a more stable emotional state, but this often takes some time, meaning you will need to be able to show compassion and patience over the long term. Although you will be privy to intimate, personal information, it is important you remain objective and are able not to become emotionally involved. You must be a great listener, with an ability to show empathy and resist the urge to lecture or judge.

    Skills/attributes
    • Excellent communication skills, including listening and the ability to gently probe for further information and insight
    • Empathetic, compassionate and caring nature
    • Able to not become emotionally or personally involved
    • A patient nature to help clients achieve short and long term mental wellness
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within counselling

    Most counsellors usually chose a specialisation on a particular group of people that they enjoy helping or are passionate about, such as a particular gender, culture, disability, relationship or another type of grief. 

    Drug and Alcohol Counsellor

    As a drug and alcohol counsellor, you will often work with social workers and other medical professionals to help clients who are facing addiction or substance abuse. You will learn to recognise common behavioural traits and help your clients develop strategies to break their addiction habits so they can once again, become a functioning member of society.

    Mediator

    As a mediator, you can work with a range of people to help two parties resolve an issue and come to a conclusion that can be agreed to by these two parties. You may work with families, couples or in workplaces, acting as someone who has no emotional involvement in the matter so as to remain calm and fair.

    Family and Marriage Counsellor

    You will work with couples or families to address issues that have gone unaddressed and resulted in emotional strain or physical abuse. You will act as mediator, to hear all those involved so as to identify underlying issues to be addressed through healthy communication.

  • Pathways The right track: Study options for becoming a counsellor

    As someone who can provide insight and wisdom to a situation, you become an invaluable mental health professional for the good of our community. A study course to back your knowledge and experience can make you an attractive candidate to employers.

    Starting Out

    As you start your professional counselling career, be one step ahead with an entry-level course.

    Building Skills

    A Master of Counselling and Applied Psychotherapy qualification, or something similar, will help you expand on your knowledge and open the door for further job opportunities.

    Developing Your Resume

    A well-developed resume will effectively lie out your experience, which can be bolstered with additional courses.

    Industry Recognition

    Adding a professional counselling association to your resume is a great way to show your high-level of proficiency and give you access to others like yourself. Most associations will require you to have a high-level qualification to become a member. 

    Entering the workforce

    Our sample resumes and cover letters will give you a good basis to start developing your own, polished product that will have you one step ahead when applying for roles.

    Job Prospects in Counselling: Working life as a counsellor

    Over the next 5 years, employment opportunities in this sector are expected to increase. In terms of salary, this varies quite a bit and usually depends on your level of education and amount of experience.

Counselling Career Resources:

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