Counsellor

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would help people understand their feelings and choices so they can find their own ways to make positive changes to their lives.

You would spend time with people - your clients - and help them talk about their feelings in a safe and confidential environment. You wouldn’t tell people what to do but you’d help them look at the choices they have made and change their future behaviour.

People could come to you for many reasons including relationship difficulties, the death of a loved one, or to improve the way they deal with everyday life. You might help with a wide range of issues or specialise in an area such as eating disorders or addiction.

You’d need to build trust with people, make them feel relaxed and know that they’re not being judged.

You would:

  • Build a relationship of trust and respect with a clients
  • Agree what will be covered in the sessions
  • Encourage clients to talk about their feelings
  • Listen carefully, ask questions and check that you understand a client's situation
  • Empathise with a client’s issues but challenge them when necessary
  • Help them to see things more clearly or in a different way
  • Refer clients to other sources of help if suitable

You’d also go to regular meetings with your counselling supervisor and keep confidential records of your cases.

In most cases you would counsel clients on their own and face-to-face, but you could also work with couples, families or groups, or counsel people over the phone or on the internet.

Working conditions

Hours

In many full-time jobs you would work standard office hours Monday to Friday, and would see clients for around 20 hours a week. Part-time work is also very common. You might see clients in the evenings and at weekends as well as during office hours.

Environment

You could work in various locations like schools, colleges, GP surgeries, hospitals or advice centres. If you work for yourself (private practice), you could work from your own home or an office.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Listening to people
  • Caring for people
  • Being tactful
  • Coping with pressure

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role but most employers ask for a counselling qualification accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA). 

The professional bodies offer introductory counselling courses and qualifications such as a Diploma, Advanced Diploma or Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling.

To get into a psychology and counselling degree (SCQF level 9/10) you will need National 5 qualifications and at least three Highers at AAB. Entry to a counselling postgraduate course (SCQF level 11) requires a relevant degree and some courses will also ask for relevant experience.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Social studies such as philosophy
  • Health and wellbeing subjects such as psychology and care

You will also need

A Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) certificate from Disclosure Scotland.

Helpful to have

You can improve your prospects for getting a job by working towards membership of a professional body like the

  • British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)
  • UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • National Counselling Society (NCS)

beginning with an introductory counselling course and working up to a Diploma, Advanced Diploma or Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling.