Counsellors help people identify, understand and work through their emotional issues through different types of therapy.
A counselling career can be very rewarding, as you are providing help to those who need it most. You’re also making an important contribution to the health and well-being of your community.
Seeing patients move in the right direction and meet their goals can be incredibly rewarding. With an average salary of over $70,000 in Australia and ongoing industry growth, a counselling career is also financially promising. But it’s also important to consider the realities of the job.
Ask yourself: Are you willing to put in the hard yards?
To become a counsellor, you will need to complete several years of formal schooling, which can be lengthy and expensive. Once you have graduated, it will still be important for you to stay up-to-date with research and trends in the field.
In being available to your clients, you will sometimes experience long hours and a demanding schedule including evenings and weekends. Even during ‘time off’ it can be hard to stop thinking about work, or to deal with the concept of being unavailable to your patients in times of need.
Are you emotionally mature and strong?
Supporting and helping people who are going through emotional or personal hardship is at the heart of counselling. At times, this is a consuming and frustrating process. Often it can take months – or even years – to develop therapy techniques that work for individual patients, and find solutions to patients’ emotional problems or situations.
To be a counsellor, you must prepare for times when you won’t find an answer, or people will simply refuse to work with you. It can be a very interesting and rewarding process, but it can also be emotionally draining and can impact upon your home life.
Are you a good listener?
Do you tend to get bored or drift off when friends or family are telling stories? Then chances are, you will not be able to sit and listen to people’s stories for hours at a time in a therapeutic context. You need to be able to build trust and help people relax by listening carefully and doing so without passing judgment.
If listening doesn’t come naturally, you may find that by the end of the day, you don’t have any time or energy left because you are so emotionally and mentally exhausted. You may face issues where time devoted to your family and friends shrinks considerably – especially when they want to use you as a sounding board for their own problems! This is not a challenge for everyone – but consider whether it may apply to you.
If you think a counselling career might be the right fit for you, make sure you do plenty of research before committing to a counselling course. Give yourself a trial run and complete a short course first. Ensure that you embark upon your course, confident that you really do want to be a counsellor – and enjoy all the rewards that come along with it.