Counsellors help people to explore their feelings in a confidential setting. They support their clients to examine their negative thoughts and behaviour patterns with a view to finding solutions.
The majority of employers seek counsellors with counselling qualifications recognised by a professional body, such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Such qualifications may include a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling, a Masters Degree in Counselling or a BPS Qualification in Counselling Psychology. Employers may also request their staff to follow an in-house training programme that focus on the specific requirements of their clients. In additional to formal qualifications and training, counsellors should have excellent listening skills and feel confident working with people from a variety of backgrounds. They should be patient, tolerant, sensitive and non-judgemental.
Employment opportunities for counsellors can be found in health centres, colleges, universities and schools. The NHS is the main employer of trained counsellors. Full and part-time counselling jobs are available and while the number of job opportunities is stable, there is strong competition for full-time work. Counsellors who wish to work for themselves can set up their own private practices.
Yearly starting salaries for trained counsellors range between £15,000 and £24,000. Experienced counsellors with specialised training in areas such as drug misuse, bereavement or child abuse may receive higher salaries. Experienced counsellors may have the opportunity to move into supervisory or teaching jobs.