Counsellor job description

What does a Counsellor do?

Counsellors provide support to people experiencing emotional difficulties by helping them to identify and work through their issues.

A Counsellor uses techniques such as talking therapy to assist people to reach their own resolutions or develop strategies to address and remedy their concerns.

Most Counsellors work with clients on a specific issue for a designated period of time rather than a long duration, with a view to fostering the client’s well-being and supporting them through personal problems or life transitions.

A day in the life of a Counsellor

Daily tasks for a Counsellor

As a Counsellor, your daily responsibilities may include:

  • Meeting with clients to discuss their emotional, mental or lifestyle issues.
  • Acting as a facilitator of group counselling sessions or a mediator in a conflict resolution setting.
  • Discussing your clients’ desired goals and outcomes.
  • Providing relevant information or resources specific to the client’s needs.
  • Assisting clients to set goals and adopt strategies to address their issues.
  • Referring clients to other healthcare professionals where appropriate.  
  • Liaising with healthcare professionals as part of a health management team.

To learn about the skills, traits and qualifications recommended for a Counsellor, read our tips on how to become a Counsellor.

Working hours of a Counsellor

Counsellors may be employed in a variety of settings, including community health centres, schools or universities, government departments, not-for-profit organisations or private practice.

The working hours of a Counsellor vary depending on the setting of their employment. For example, a Counsellor working in the healthcare sector may be required to shifts during the evening or weekend. Self-employed Counsellors or Counsellors in private practice may work irregular or extended hours to suit the needs of their clients.

On average, Counsellors in full time employment work fewer hours (35.7 hours) per week compared to the national average for all occupations (41.1 hours/week) (Job Outlook).

What’s the difference between a Psychologist and a Counsellor?

Psychologists are experts in human behaviour and mental processes, and often assist clients in the management of mental illness over an extended period of time, or to attain deeper insight into their personality.

Registration as a Psychologist in Australia requires a minimum of six years of study in the field of psychology, including undergraduate and post graduate degrees along with supervised practice.

Counsellors assist people to understand issues they are facing in their lives and to develop solutions or coping skills. Counselling is usually provided over a short term for a specific problem.

Counsellors are not required to complete the same level of qualifications as a Psychologist, although it is recommended that they acquire formal training, such as a diploma or degree, in order to provide clients with sound advice and accredited counselling techniques.