- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- knowledge of psychology
- the ability to understand people’s reactions
- active listening skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- sensitivity and understanding
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- excellent verbal communication skills
- customer service skills
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
You might use one particular type of therapy or a combination of methods to:
- build non-judgemental relationships of trust and respect
- agree what will be covered in sessions
- help clients to talk about their feelings, think about their choices and find ways to cope
- listen carefully, ask questions and check your understanding
- empathise but challenge when necessary
- help clients to see things more clearly or in a different way
- keep confidential records
You could work one-to-one, or with couples, families or groups. Counselling can be done face-to-face, online as well as over the phone.
You could work in a therapy clinic, at a GP practice, at a school, at a college or from home.
Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.
Competition for full-time paid work is strong and many counsellors do a mix of part-time, voluntary and private work.
It's important for newly qualified counsellors to get peer support to develop their skills, so it's unusual to go straight into working for yourself.
Counsellors often specialise in a particular area, for example bereavement support, relationships or addiction. With experience, you could set up your own practice.
You could choose to train as a counsellor supervisor or trainer. You could also move into a management or consultancy role.
You can find out more about careers in counselling from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the UK Council for Psychotherapy.