How to become a Counsellor

If you’re interested in becoming a Counsellor and assisting others to live happier and more fulfilled lives, there are specific skills and qualifications you’ll need to work professionally.  

The healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing in Australia right now, and there are plenty of counselling opportunities in the private and public sector for you to make a difference. Read more about the job description of a Counsellor.

What technical & professional skills do I need to become a Counsellor?

Before working as a professional Counsellor, you will need to gain a sound level of knowledge around psychological theories and mental health problems.

Associate Professor Denis O’Hara, Head of School of Counselling at the Australian College of Applied Psychology, explains that the minimum training required to be registered as a fully qualified Counsellor is either a graduate diploma or three-year bachelor’s degree in counselling.

“Substantial education and training is required to help people presenting with such a wide range of life issues, from practical questions about life transitions and personal growth to more severe problems like major depression and anxiety disorders,” adds Denis.

A course such as the Bachelor of Counselling or Graduate Diploma of Counselling meets the requirements you’ll need to apply for full registration as a Counsellor. As part of your course, you’ll also complete the amount of counselling practice hours (or work placement) needed for registration.

What areas can I specialise in as a Counsellor?

There's a wide range of specialisations that a Counsellor might choose to focus on, such as:

  • Relationship counselling
  • Crisis & trauma counselling
  • Counselling children & young people
  • Drug & alcohol counselling
  • Conflict resolution
  • Stress management
  • Career counselling or coaching
  • Grief & loss counselling

Considering moving in a slightly different direction? A counselling qualification can also prepare you to work in the community services sector in a variety of roles. A vocational course such as the Diploma of Counselling (CHC51015) will introduce you to the field of counselling while qualifying you to work in a support role such as a Case Worker or Project Worker in community service organisations.

Counsellors may also choose to continue their training and education to become a Psychologist.

Should I become a Counsellor?

To be a successful Counsellor, you will need to have:

  • good communication skills
  • patience and empathy
  • effective listening skills
  • a trustworthy nature
  • passion for understanding human behaviours

When speaking to people seeking a career in counselling, SEEK Learning Consultant Sasha Jurac says that an innate care for others is what really shines through as their motivation.

“When I ask what has captivated them about counselling they will usually say it’s because they really want to help people,” she explains.