What to Expect When You Start Working as a Counsellor

Start Working as a Counsellor

If you are the kind of person who likes to help others, then working as a counsellor can be a very rewarding choice of career path.

Currently, there are estimated to be around 30,000 counsellors practising in Australia.

All of whom work with clients to help them manage mental issues and psychological traumas they may be experiencing in their lives.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in this field, outlined below is an overview of what to expect when you start working as a counsellor.

We hope this will give you more of an idea of what you would be getting yourself into, should you decide to choose this as your vocational path.

What exactly does a counsellor do?

Counsellors are trained professionals who assist individuals to manage and deal with a range of psychological issues.

This can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Personal growth and development
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Relationship problems
  • Sexual, physical or psychological abuse
  • Sexuality and gender identity
  • Suicidal thoughts

They strive to resolve their clients’ issues in a positive and meaningful way by identifying the cause of them, exploring and developing coping strategies, and also increasing self-awareness within their clients. 

Counsellors usually see clients on a short-term basis and provide a safe, confidential and non-judgemental environment in which to process their thoughts and emotions.

Sessions are held on a one-to-one basis, or with other individuals like your partner or children as required. Sometimes they even take the form of group counselling too.

What is the difference between a counsellor and a psychologist?

You could be forgiven for thinking that a counsellor is just another word for a psychologist. But in fact, the two roles are quite different.

Psychologists are highly trained individuals who are experts in human mental processes, especially when it comes to behaviour and emotion.

During the course of their work, they use evidence-based practices and scientific methods to evaluate, diagnose and treat mental illness in a non-medical way, over a prolonged period.

To qualify in Australia as a psychologist, you’ll need to partake in a minimum of 3 years of tertiary study in Psychology. You will also need to engage in several years of supervised practice prior to being awarded registration with the Psychology Board of Australia.

By contrast, counsellors tend to help clients cope with, and resolve their issues via short-term treatment on a conscious level.

They can help their clients to manage big and powerful emotional processes like anger, fear, grief or jealousy, as well as overcome difficult moments in their life or relationships.

Surprisingly, counselling is unregulated in Australia. However, in order to gain registration with the Australian Counselling Association, there is a minimum level of tertiary education required.

Typically, this tends to be either a Diploma of Counselling with TSA or a Graduate Diploma in Counselling. Which you can generally compete over a 1-2 year full time course.

Types of counsellors

On a daily basis, counsellors work with various individuals, as well as couples, families and groups in relation to many different issues

Counsellors offer a range of services, with the most common types being as follows: 

  • Carers’ counselling
  • Counselling for young people i.e., children, teenagers and young adults
  • Counselling for seniors
  • Ex-servicemen counselling
  • Family therapy
  • Financial counselling
  • Rehabilitation counselling (for those who are disabled, have health conditions or are socially disadvantaged).
  • Relationship counselling
  • School counselling

Aside from these services, counsellors often help clients to cope and manage with issues like:

  • Alcohol or drug addiction 
  • Anger management
  • Dealing with eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia
  • Grief and loss

Depending on the counsellor they might offer their clients one uniform approach, or a selection of them to deal with their issues.

What day-to-day activities does a counsellor do?

While counsellors may choose what type of service they want to specialise in, they all generally engage in the same daily activities.

If you are keen to find out what it’s like to work as a professional counsellor, here is an overview of the regular day-to-day activities you may perform if you decide to become one.

Reviewing notes and prepping for forthcoming sessions

For many counsellors, their day begins with a quick check of their phone and email messages, as well as completing admin duties like invoicing and confirming future appointments.

Once these tasks have been squared away, they will turn their attention towards their scheduled appointments for the day. This initially involves reviewing the notes from previous sessions they have had with their clients.

The counsellor will also monitor the progress of their clients, over the course of their previous meetings, as well as develop a plan of what to cover in the upcoming session. (That said, counsellors must always allow for flexibility, as clients often come into sessions wanting to relate new emotions, experiences or information).

If you are employed as a counsellor at a health care centre or facility, as opposed to an independent practice, you may also have to attend organisational meetings with your colleagues.

Some practitioners also take the opportunity to update their knowledge base, by reading the latest reports and findings of various pieces of industry research. As well as professional development via online educational courses.

Meeting with clients face-to-face

Generally, most counsellors spend a significant part of their day in meetings with clients.

Sessions could last anywhere from half an hour to an hour, although sometimes they can run over time a bit. Particularly if the client is very upset or emotional, or significant progress is being made.

As a rule, on a full day, counsellors could run up to 10 individual sessions or more per day.

Usually, this is on a face-to-face basis. However, since the Covid pandemic, an increasing number of counsellors now run online sessions for their clients via video conferencing.

Addressing no-shows

If you are running a private practice, then unfortunately no-shows and cancellations are a part of the job.

As no-shows cost counsellors money, in that they won’t be able to schedule in another paying client at short notice, they then have to spend part of their working day chasing up the absent client in an attempt to reschedule.

In some circumstances, they might even impose a charge for missed appointments, which they will have to process using the credit card details they have on file. Or by chasing up the client for payment.

Writing notes after each session

At the end of each client session, counsellors devote some time to making notes about what happened within them.

Generally, these notes will record observations and thoughts about how the client acted and what concerns they expressed during the meeting.

Accurate recording of these notes is vital. As they will significantly help with the development of coping strategies, as well as addressing their concerns in future sessions.

Final Thought

We hope this article has given you a firmer understanding of what to expect when you start working as a counsellor.

At the end of the day counselling can be a very challenging and often tough career to undertake. Not least because you get to see people, every single day, that are struggling to deal with some very harrowing situations that life has thrown at them.

That said, if you are into helping people, there is nothing quite as rewarding as assisting someone to overcome an issue that was causing them severe emotional stress and pain.

For those people, you will for sure leave an indelible impression on them, and could even be the catalyst to what changed their life, forever, for the better.


— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

— Follow Us —

Up Next

Top Ways To Shop The Best Kratom Products For Mental Wellbeing

Best Kratom Products For Mental Wellbeing

In recent years, Kratom has emerged as a popular botanical supplement known for its potential to enhance mental well-being. With its origins in Southeast Asia, where it has been used for centuries, it is being rediscovered worldwide as a natural aid for relaxation and mood management. However, the surge in Kratom’s popularity comes with a critical responsibility: ensuring that you are sourcing and using this substance in a way that is safe and effective.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through multiple aspects of selecting the highest quality Kratom products to support your mental well-being. The importance of always checking (take the time to read the) “labels for multiple products from the manufacturer” and understanding its effects on

Up Next

Exploring Alpha Brain’s potential for refreshing aging minds

concept of brain diseases mental health alzheimers

As we grow older and  time goes on inevitably, many changes occur inside our organism, including our brain. With age, people often realize that they don’t remember certain things as they did in the past. Recalling and memorizing things is also becoming problematic. Our biological clock is ticking like a bomb, and, from a biological perspective, aging leads to changes in brain size and mental functions slowing down. Today’s world proposes different solutions for brain aging – Alpha Brain.

Unique supplement on the market

With a wide selection of brain-boosting supplements, Alpha Brain has gained a great deal of attention in the world of measures supporting and optimizing our cognitive functions. Based on the product description on many supplement store’s pages, Alpha Brain is defined as a di

Up Next

What to Expect from Generative AI In the Fintech Industry

Generative AI In the Fintech Industry

The FinTech sector is on the cusp of a revolution, spearheaded by the integration of generative AI development solutions. This transformative technology is set to redefine the landscape of financial services, offering unprecedented levels of personalization, efficiency, and security. Generative AI capability to analyze and generate data-driven insights presents a great opportunity for FinTech companies to innovate beyond traditional boundaries.

Geniusee is at the forefront of this technological advancement. It has positioned itself as a pioneer in leveraging generative AI to create sophisticated solutions tailored to the FinTech industry. With a deep underst

Up Next

Opioid Effects on Mental Health

Opioid Effects on Mental Health

The opioid epidemic emerges as a growing challenge, casting profound shadows across the mental landscapes of individuals affected.

This narrative explores an insight into the deep psychological consequences of opioid dependency, weaving through the complex relationship between substance abuse and mental health. It’s a quest for awareness, understanding, and, ultimately, a pathway to healing.

The Hidden Connection: Opioids and Mental Health

Opioids, often perceived as a remedy for physical discomfort, conceal a darker truth beneath their surface. The solace they provide is fleeting, unveiling a terrain scarred by psychological strife. The journey into dependence is a quiet one, laden with promises of relief that gradually en

Up Next

How Exercising With Your Dog Improves Your Mental Health

How Exercising With Your Dog

In the intricate landscape of mental health management, the integration of physical exercise with canine companionship emerges as a distinguished method for augmenting psychological wellness.

This scholarly discourse aims to elucidate the complex mechanisms through which engagement in physical activities with a dog serves not only as a catalyst for improved physical health but also as a significant boon to mental and emotional well-being. Through a detailed exploration of this symbiotic relationship, we uncover the nuanced benefits that canine-assisted exercise bestows upon human psychological states, thereby offering a refined understanding of its value in a comprehensive mental health strategy.

Up Next

From Therapy Room to Boardroom: 10 Steps for Psychologists Transitioning to HR

Steps for Psychologists Transitioning to HR

So, you have done your time in the therapy room, and you are now considering applying the training and knowledge you’ve acquired as a psychologist to the field of Human Resources. It is a big, brave and possibly scary step. Therefore, we reckon you might welcome a bit of guidance.

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in HR, it’s important to understand what skills, experience and qualifications employers are looking for. Therefore, knowing how best to transition from your current position to one in human resources will go a long way towards helping you to secure job interviews and more confidently embark on your new career path.

In this guide, we’ll shine a spotlight on the human resources industry, highlighting some of the advantages of transitioning to a role in this field, and revealing ten of the best pathways to make your career change as succ

Up Next

A Beginner’s Guide to Sigmund Freud’s Theory of Dream Interpretation

Sigmund Freud's Theory of Dream Interpretation

Freud is more than the oddball father of psychoanalysis we know him as but has become a cultural phenomenon. Everyone has heard of Freud, from the stranger to psychiatric science to the Master of Mental Health graduate, and with good reason. Before Freud, most psychotherapy simply consisted of getting the mentally ill and psychotic out of the way of “normal” society. This involved shipping them off to asylums where they were largely ignored and left to degenerate. It was Freud’s works and early studies of psychoanalysis that paved the way for the modern therapy and counselling we have today. Among the most famous, was Freud’s contribution to dream analysis, as published in his 1899 work “The Interpretation of Dreams.”