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Lend an ear – build a new career

Become a counsellor and give people a safe space to discuss their thoughts and feelings.

The idea of psychological healing isn’t a new one. For example, the ancient Egyptians knew the importance of a healthy mind. They even built temples dedicated to helping people in distress.  

Fast forward a few thousand years and Scotland has 1,500 counsellors and 2,700 counselling psychologists, according to Oxford Economics.

But why has the profession grown like this? Nowadays, people are more aware of their mental health, which is great. Many of us turn to professionals for help with things like bereavement, behavioural problems or relationship issues. 

Could you follow in the footsteps of someone like Sigmund Freud? Let’s find out – your route into a career in counselling may be easier than you think.

What’s it like to work as a counsellor? 

Counsellors give people a safe environment to chat about their problems. You’d listen to your clients and offer them time, empathy and respect to discuss what they’re going through. 

What’s the aim of a counselling session? Basically, you’d use your expertise to reduce clients’ confusion. You’d give them ‘tools’ to cope with challenges and make positive changes to their lives.

Career help/Mental health and wellbeing support

Counsellors are unbiased and never judge their clients. And it’s not so much about giving advice. You’d support people to explore their own behaviour and make informed choices. 

Wonderful working hours 

There’s a reason so many people love working as a counsellor – it’s such a flexible career. 

A full-time role usually includes around 20 hours of client contact each week. Your sessions will usually take place between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. 

Many counsellors choose to work evenings or weekends to accommodate clients. This is also a good opportunity to pick up some extra work. Part-time careers are available as well. 

Ready for the change? Here’s how you can make it happen!

Technically, anyone can work as a counsellor! It’s not a regulated profession, which means there are no set requirements to get in.

Although, most counsellors are accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA).

A lot of clients expect their counsellor to be BACP or COSCA accredited, so it’s a good idea to investigate this. Most employers ask for applicants to be a member of BACP, COSCA or another professional body.

All about Scotland's counselling courses

Most counsellors enter the profession with a degree. To get into a psychology or counselling degree course (SCQF level 9 or 10), you’ll need National 5 qualifications and at least three Highers at grades AAB.

If you want to do a postgraduate course (SCQF level 11), you need to have a relevant degree. Some postgraduate courses also ask for counselling work experience.

Doing an HND or SCQF Level 4/5 course lets you become a registered member of a professional body, like BACP or COSCA. You’d be able to work on a private basis, but many employers look for a higher level of qualification. BACP and COSCA both recommend getting qualified to Diploma/Masters level.

If you need some advice and support at any point of your career change – don’t worry. Our careers advisers are happy to help.