5 Skills Needed to Become a Counsellor

Are you hoping to pursue a career where you can have a positive impact on your community? Do you enjoy working with people? Do you have empathy for others and strong listening skills? If your answer to these questions is yes, then a career in counselling might be the right option for you. Counsellors work every day to promote constructive change in people’s lives through valuable interaction with individuals in emotional need. Learn more about how you can get yourself into this demanding yet flexible field below.

What’s the role of a counsellor?

A trained counsellor engages in confidential and conversational therapy with clients. This involves listening carefully to their clients and establishing processes to help them identify and work through emotional issues. A counsellor should be committed to improving their client’s emotional wellbeing and exhibit a genuine interest in the client’s individual circumstances. Through these means, a counsellor establishes a trusting and productive client-counsellor relationship.

Counsellors set appointments with clients where, for an agreed period, they listen to the client’s concerns without criticism or judgment. As a counsellor, you won’t tell your clients exactly what to do or provide them with definitive advice. Instead, you’ll guide them through the resolution of their issues or situation using healthy methods.

Top 5 skills counsellors should have

A career in counselling offers an opportunity to impact someone else’s life in a meaningful way. Through care and concern for others, you can make a significant difference in your community. With this in mind, here are five of the most valuable skills needed for a successful and fulfilling career as a counsellor.

1. Active listening and communication

In counselling, active listening and communication are critical for establishing trust with clients. This is because clients need to know they’re heard and understood by a counsellor who’s genuinely listening and sensitive to their feelings and fears.

A counsellor must be able to assess what’s being said, why it’s being said, and how it’s being said. This approach helps a counsellor to comprehend exactly what the client is sharing with them. Active listening also means hearing “between the lines” and assessing what isn’t being said at all, as sometimes what the client avoids saying speaks loudest of all.

2. Empathy for others

Empathy is a quality and skill that develops naturally from active listening and communication with others. As counselling involves working with clients, sometimes over the long-term, having empathy gives you the care and patience needed to guide them on the long road to self-realisation.

Having empathy for your clients involves understanding and connecting with the client’s situation. It doesn’t mean to sympathise with them or feel sorry for them. Rather, empathising means having the willingness and ability to see a situation from the client’s perspective and understand their feelings.

3. Being non-judgmental

It’s important that a counsellor approaches any relationship with a client without judgment, evaluation, or criticism. This is because clients will bring a variety of challenging and complicated situations to you, so they’ll need the space to share whatever is on their mind without fear of an adverse reaction.

A good counsellor will put their feelings to the side even if the client makes comments that are against the counsellor’s own beliefs. The focus should be on creating a space and relationship where the client isn’t ashamed or afraid to speak plainly with you during sessions.

4. Self-awareness and openness to growth

Counsellors must be self-aware and open to growth in their profession. Knowing your weaknesses in your communication skills is essential to help you learn to not react negatively to a client’s remarks. Self-assessment also prepares you for meeting your clients and staying focused on them without letting your personal concerns interfere.

Additionally, a counsellor should learn to accept that they’re always capable of learning more about their field. A commitment to professional and personal growth can be found through continuing education. Psychological and therapeutic advances happen rapidly, and modern counsellors need to know the latest changes in therapy to use with their clients. Studying advanced degrees and online courses can keep counsellors aware of new methods being employed in therapy.

5. Commitment to confidentiality

A counsellor must understand that confidentiality with clients needs to be strictly observed. As a counsellor, you’re obligated to be aware of and remain updated on legal and ethical responsibilities you have towards your clients. Discretion is necessary to maintain confidentiality so your clients can place their trust in you.

Make a difference in your community through counselling

Considering these skills needed for a career in counselling, do you think you have what it takes to help people identify their issues and develop strategies to overcome them? Counselling is a job full of meaning, purpose, and inspiration, so enrol in the International Career Institute’s Counseling and Psychology course today to promote positive change in your community.

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Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.