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How to train to become a Counsellor

Published: Saturday 1st August 2020

If you enjoy helping people with their problems and making a positive impact on their lives, then counselling could be the perfect job for you. A counsellor works with people who are experiencing personal difficulties. They help them overcome their problems through advising on appropriate changes to their lives. Counselling is not often a first career choice as a lot of individuals enter the profession later in life. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in counselling, here is a guide to learn all there is to know.

Training to be a Counsellor

To be a counsellor you don’t need any formal entry requirements. Life experience in this field is more valuable than anything else. Nevertheless, if you are keen on improving your career prospects and professional development you should work towards becoming a member of a professional body. The most notable British counselling bodies are the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the National Counselling Society (NCS) and the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

female counsellor smiling, talking to female patient, doing therapy and counselling work.

That said, you can train to be a counsellor both with and without a degree. Graduates can enter counselling with a degree in any subject. For those who wish to pursue a counsellor degree, a mature attitude and relevant experience would prove of great advantage. Furthermore, a psychology or social science degree can be equally helpful.

BACP requirements to be a Counsellor

According to the BACP, if you wish to work as a fully qualified counsellor you would have to undertake training, accredited by an awarding body. This training is divided in the following stages:

An introduction – usually a part-time course, covering the basic skills and foundations of counselling. You will complete this introductory course within 10 – 12 weeks.

A certificate in counselling skills – This will introduce you to the theories, ethics, and practices of counselling.

Time To Learn word concept

A diploma or advanced diploma in counselling – In this stage you will study in detail the theory of the practice. At the end of your diploma which usually lasts 2-3 years, you will also get some hands-on experience through a supervised work placement.

However, if university is not really your thing, there are plenty of accredited courses with colleges, training centres or even online.

What kind of Counselling is best

There are many forms of counselling, but the main ones are cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), person-centred therapy, and psychotherapy. If you believe strongly that a person’s past is critical to their healing, then psychotherapy may be the right counselling career path for you to pursue.

Most training courses will at the minimum do a brief overview of all counselling types. Moreover, you can also proceed with specialising further, for instance in couples counselling or family counselling.

young, female working on laptop and making notes.

Gaining Counsellor experience

You can gain counselling experience in various ways. Some of the options could be through directly approaching an employer, through voluntary work, job shadowing or even networking.

However, volunteering as a counsellor has huge benefits to offer for several reasons. Volunteering can help you to decide if counselling is the right fit for you as a career. It can also help you decide on what the best style of counselling for your personal beliefs is. There are countless charities that will provide “free” training. Apart from its benefits on professional networking, you could also use these volunteering hours to satisfy entry requirements to a college or university training program.

All in all, when it comes to training to be a counsellor, there’s a slew of options out there. Training courses vary from certificate and diploma to undergraduate and graduate degree programs, depending on your preferences.

If you’re looking for volunteering opportunities or making your first steps into counselling, visit Zoek today and kick-start your career with a job that fits right into your lifestyle!

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