Published January 28, 2021
Is the Future Secure for Counselling and Mental Health Careers?
In this post
Counsellors and mental health professionals have and will continue to experience ongoing career development as technology advances. With the correct knowledge and qualifications, your dream career in this sector will continue to be central to our healthcare industry.
The thought of turning your affinity to people and their wellbeing into a career choice, such as counselling, may be causing you to ask some hard questions. Is counselling a viable career pathway right now? Will it continue to be in 5 or 10 years time? What will it look like?
In this article, we’ll be exploring the reasons why counselling and mental health professions will continue to be pivotal to our society. As well as how counselling practises have changed and will continue to change due to technological advancements.
What is a counsellor?
Counsellors and other mental health service workers and educators provide support, therapy and guidance to those struggling with mental health issues or situation-specific difficulties. Their training qualifies them to help people through numerous hard times, including:
- Anxiety and stress
- Relationship and family issues and violence
- Negative behavioural and attitudinal inconsistencies
As we continue to develop and change with the modern way of life, so too will counselling. What it’s like to be a counsellor will change, as well as what counselling specialisations will thrive in the upcoming years. For now, let’s look into how public discourse around mental health has changed and influenced counselling methods.
The shift in Australian mental health services
There are numerous types of counselling and mental health careers in Australia. However, these professions and their methods have shifted over time.
Since emerging in Australia as a recognised form of talk therapy in the 1970s, the methods counsellors use to help support their clients through short or long term times of difficulty have shifted immensely.
Much of this change can be accredited to technology.
Technology is a wonderful thing. It’s also an unpredictable, kind of scary thing. Technology has created a grey area for many industries as to how they’re going to progress. When looking at the mental health sector and counselling, technology can help future counsellors as you communicate with patients anytime, anywhere.
As a future counsellor, you can always access up-to-date studies, discussions, and methods to better personalise your clients’ care. You can also collaborate, discuss and question other professionals or coworkers to form better, more informed consensus.
Most importantly, however, counselling has become and will continue to be, a more well-rounded service due to the almost unlimited ability to communicate with clients. For example:
Social media, social norms and their effect on industry growth
Mental health difficulties are prevalent in Australia‘s population. According to a national survey on mental health and wellbeing:
- Almost half of Australians aged 16-85 will experience a mental disorder at some point during their life
- 1 in 7 people will experience anxiety or depression in their lifetime
- 4.3 million people received mental health-related prescriptions 2018-19
The concept of mental health and seeking support has become more openly spoken about in recent years.
A huge factor in this shift in public conversation can be attributed to the agency provided by social media platforms for people to speak out about their experiences. Some studies argue that social media can — and has — helped decrease the prevalence of stigma and social isolation of those suffering from mental health issues.
Ways in which social media can do this are:
User-generated content on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Facebook, has a more personable, relatable effect on viewers than organisations’ content. Hence, it is more likely to adjust the viewers’ thought processes.
Questions and answers that may not fit the guidelines or privacy restrictions that other mediums have to follow can be answered by choice online. This can provide more real and raw exposure to mental health.
More in-depth, more exposed discussion on these topics can lead to shared experiences between groups, promoting mental healthcare-seeking behaviours.
Due to increased awareness, technology advancements and general education about the importance of mental healthcare, the psychotherapy industry is growing.
Job prospects within counselling alone are looking to grow from 31,200 (2019) to 38,900 (2024).
Furthermore, demand for counsellors exists all across Australia, with the majority of work lying in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
Working as a counsellor or mental health support person is a strong career path choice if you want to earn a stable yet flexible living. Both full time and part-time opportunities are in abundance, with the current workforce split down the middle. The average annual salary for a mental health counsellor sits at approximately $62,000.
projected counselling job growth
average annual counsellor salary
New therapies and their administration now and in the future
Psychology and counselling are slowly moving away from a scientific-rooted cause and effect diagnosis and treatment process to a more holistic approach.
By focusing on encouraging the client to reflect on their thoughts and feelings surrounding disruptive or maladaptive behaviours, mental health professionals can better tailor their clients’ treatment to their specific situations.
This form of counselling suggests that if you can work with your client to understand what processes (thoughts/feelings/reactions) are presently leading up to, during and after unwanted behaviours, you can better help your clients navigate their way to forming healthier decision-making processes. This has been suggested to better help people avoid negative behaviours. This is why talk therapy or cognitive behaviour therapy is vital to the future of mental health support.
The ways in which professionals are communicating with their clients is also continuing to shift.
The future of counselling will continue to move online. As a future mental health professional, you’ll need to be well versed in your technology. Your ability to adapt and learn about technological advancements will be essential to your professional development.
Your clients will want constant online access to support, whether it be via an app or website. As the online world continues to grow, your ability to communicate via the written word on forum posts, blogs, apps and emails, will become very important.
Telehealth conferencing will continue to be popular as your clients choose to conduct their sessions via phone or video calling. So, your ability to convey your compassion and professionalism through the camera, or purely through audio, will be vital to your success in building a rapport with your future clients!
How to start your counselling career
If you’re ready to take the next step in your research on working in the mental health industry, you’re probably thinking about what qualifications you need to enter the workforce.
There are numerous educational opportunities and training programs available to help you get started.
Discover the differences between counselling degrees, diplomas and certificates, and learn which pathway would be right for you in this comprehensive guide.
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