A Day in the Life of a Counsellor

Due to the wide variety of clients a counsellor meets with daily, no one day in a career in counselling is like another. Most counsellors work with clients short-term to address a specific issue, while other clients may require longer-term therapy. Some counsellors also accept walk-in clients, meaning every day is different due to the diversity of people walking through the door. Despite this, there are some activities a counsellor will consistently engage in every day. Learn more below.

What does a counsellor’s job involve?

A counsellor engages in confidential therapy where they actively listen to a client and assist them in creating strategies to overcome their challenges. Counsellors must have a genuine desire to help clients improve their emotional and mental health, as well as their quality of life. As a counsellor, you’ll assist people struggling in a variety of areas, including any of the following:

  • Major life events such as separation, divorce, bereavement, family planning, retirement, and job change or loss
  • Emotional health issues including anger, aggression, and low self-esteem
  • Struggles with gender identity or sexuality
  • Physical conditions such as chronic and terminal illness, infertility, weight and body image
  • Emotional, sexual, and physical abuse, as well as substance addictions
  • Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, and PTSD.

Counsellors set appointments at mutually agreed-upon times with clients. During these appointments, the counsellor will listen to client’s concerns and offer support without judgment. A counsellor’s job is to offer practical and healthy options for resolution and personal growth.

What day-to-day activities does a counsellor engage in?

Counsellors may choose what type of counselling they wish to specialise in, but regardless of their speciality, they’ll have to engage in the following activities daily.

Reviewing notes and preparing for upcoming sessions

Many counsellors begin their days by checking emails and messages, and addressing any administrative duties. These duties can include billing, appointment setting, and responding to messages.

A counsellor will then check the appointments they have scheduled for the day and review their notes from the clients’ previous sessions. The counsellor will also check their client’s progress and create an outline of what to cover in the upcoming session. However, flexibility must be allowed as many clients come into their sessions wanting to share new information or experiences.

For counsellors who are employed at a centre or health care facility rather than an independent company, the beginning of their day may be dedicated to meetings, focusing on continuing education through online courses, or improving their awareness of new counselling methods.

Meeting with face-to-face clients

Depending upon the schedule the counsellor has set, the next few hours of their day may be dedicated to meeting with clients. The counsellor may work with individuals, couples, or entire families, and should strive to offer a safe environment for clients to discuss personal matters in confidence.

Some clients can run late, so counsellors may need to adjust their schedules accordingly. The same can be said for sessions where the clients become upset and emotional. The counsellor should also provide new clients with information concerning pricing, cancellation fees, and confidentiality.

Meeting with online clients

Some counsellors provide online therapy which means they must be ready during available hours for both pre-booked clients and drop-in chat sessions. Offering online counselling is an important way to connect with young clients who are more comfortable communicating anonymously through technology or feel they can’t access counselling in person.

Addressing no-shows

For private practitioners, clients who don’t show up for their appointment are a reality of the job. No-shows cost the counsellor money, as they can’t schedule in another client to take their place at such late notice. A counsellor in this situation will need to contact the missing client to remind them of the no-show and cancellation policy. Often, a charge applies for missed appointments, so the counsellor will also have to charge the client’s credit card if it’s on file or follow-up the client for payment.

Writing notes after each session

After each session or at the end of the day, a counsellor will record their notes for each client. These notes will contain thoughts and observations about the client’s concerns and experiences expressed during that day’s meeting. Those notes will be used to prepare for the next session with the client to further assist them in addressing their concerns.

Start your counselling career today

Does a day in the life of a counsellor appeal to you and your interests? If so, you might want to consider enrolling in a Counselling Course, like the one offered by the International Career Institute, to kick-start your career. With a diploma in counselling, you can make a difference in the lives of others every day.

Online, career focused education that suits your lifestyle.

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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.