How to Become a Counsellor

Trained counsellors are empathetic and non-judgmental, helping people from all walks of life. With active listening skills, confidentiality, and strong communication skills, a counsellor can make a significant impact on their clients’ lives. If you’re considering a career as a counsellor, there are some important steps you need to take to get there.

Why become a counsellor?

As a counsellor, you can have a career with a definite purpose that allows you to contribute positively to your community. You can assist individuals in identifying the source of their troubles and establish methods by which to improve and resolve them. Counsellors don’t directly instruct or advise their clients on what to do to improve their situations. Instead, the goal is to help them employ healthy and positive means to achieve positive growth for the client.

A career in counselling is one that’s fulfilling because you’re helping people improve themselves. There’s something special about the process of listening and assisting another person in naming, addressing, and resolving their pain.

The rewards associated with this career field lie in having an active role in helping someone grow and succeed. Counselling is also a flexible career, giving you more control over your weekly schedule. With demand for counsellors increasing and a shortage of applicants, counselling is also a growing field that offers rapid professional advancement.

Qualifications needed to become a counsellor

There are specific qualifications you need to become a counsellor in Australia. First, you need to attain a diploma for initial qualification for entry-level counselling positions. Distance education courses, such as the Counselling & Psychology Course offered by the International Career Institute, provide excellent opportunities to complete a diploma in your own time. Coursework includes learning about critical components of being a counsellor, such as interpersonal communication and crisis management.

After completion of the initial qualification, you might want to consider enrolling in an undergraduate degree program that’s focused on one or more specific specialisations. Popular areas of speciality include alcohol and substance abuse, marriage and family relationships, and grief counselling.

Skills needed to become a counsellor

Counsellors require both soft and technical skills to succeed in this profession. Some necessary soft skills include:

  • Empathy, which is an ability to identify with and understand a person’s feelings and experiences, even if you don’t explicitly share them or disagree with them.
  • Patience, as therapy takes time and requires persistence, both for the client and the counsellor.
  • Experience with personal challenges and struggles increase a counsellor’s ability to connect with and establish trust with clients.

Technical skills are just as relevant as soft skills for a counsellor. The following are some technical skills that a good counsellor should possess:

  • Organisational and business management skills are needed for running a practice, managing a schedule and workload, careful record-keeping, effective note-taking during sessions, and professionally conducting oneself.
  • Communication skills are critical to effective counselling, which involves active listening for both verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Critical thinking skills are necessary to make diagnoses and determine treatment methods and plans. These skills help a counsellor to assess practices and make changes if original plans aren’t successful.

Both of these types of skills combined make for a successful counsellor who can evaluate a client without prejudice and isn’t afraid to ask tough questions to assess the client’s situation critically.

Joining counselling associations

In becoming a counsellor, you should also acquire a membership with a professional counselling association. Professional organisations, such as the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) and the Australian Counselling Association (ACA), offer a wealth of resources concerning professional and ethical standards in this field and the latest research.

A membership with one of these organisations can also provide access to workshops, training courses, and conferences, usually at a discounted rate. Additionally, association and affiliation with professional counselling groups lets prospective employers know you’re serious about your career.

Work with purpose and make a difference in the lives of others

Do you have empathy and an ability to connect with people? Would you like to make a difference in other people’s lives? If you want to begin building towards a career in counselling, start by enrolling in the International Career Institute’s Counselling and Psychology Course today.

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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.