Management & Leadership

Could You be an Effective Counsellor?

Sep 26, 2016

There is an ever-increasing awareness that our country must respond adequately to rising mental health disorders and provide a variety of services at all levels of society. In an effort to scale up the range of professionals trained and equipped to provide psychological services the Registered Counsellor category was created.

Do you have what it takes to be a Registered Counsellor?

Counselling is a profession that is well suited to an individual who is approachable and confident and who has a strong desire to help, support and guide people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives”, says Laura Fisher, Director of Academic Affairs at SACAP (the South African College of Applied Psychology). Some of the top qualities and skills of effective counsellors include:

  • A strong interest in the wellbeing of people
  • Empathic respect
  • Good communication skills, especially when it comes to listening
  • A high degree of comfort with, and enjoyment in cultural diversity
  • Emotional maturity and intelligence
  • A passion to commit skills and energy to make a positive difference in the lives of others
  • Effective personal stress management
  • An ability to champion and help facilitate social coherence

While personal attributes such as these form the bedrock of a successful counselling career, having a Registered Counsellor qualification is essential. In order to become a Registered Counsellor you have to enrol for programme such as SACAP’s Bachelor of Psychology.

Registered Counsellors register as professionals with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the career of a Registered Counsellor in South Africa is overseen by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). This qualification allows students to be self-employed as a Registered Counsellor in a practice and is also a notable stepping-stone for those aiming at a career as a Clinical or Counselling Psychologist.

Work opportunities for Registered Counsellors

Once qualified, Registered Counsellors may seek employment and work opportunities in a wide range of fields, including:

  • Non-Government Organisations
  • Community programmes and support facilities
  • Schools and other educational institutions
  • Rehabilitation and addiction treatment centres and programmes
  • Crisis and trauma centres
  • Hospitals and hospices
  • Consumer organisations
  • Corporate Wellness Programmes
  • Support services for South African Police
  • Correctional Services

“One of the most common reasons people decide to enter the field of psychology is because they want to understand human behavior and make a difference in people’s lives,” says Fisher.

“Registered counsellors are professional practitioners who make primary psychological services available in diverse community contexts, thereby enhancing psychological wellbeing of the public at large,” she explains. “They may work with individuals or in groups, with a focus on prevention and primary intervention for psychological difficulties rather than providing psychotherapeutic interventions, which is more the realm of the clinical psychologist.”

The scope of the Registered Counsellor’s work includes:

  • Being the first-line of community-based psychological support;
  • Providing preventative and developmental counselling services;
  • Performing supportive psychological interventions to enhance wellbeing;
  • Performing basic psychological screening for the purpose of mental health (in other words, as a preliminary screening tool in order to refer appropriately);
  • Designing, implementing and monitoring preventative and developmental programmes;
  • Provide counselling in conjunction with interdisciplinary support teams;
  • Report-writing and providing feedback to clients on interventions.

Do you have what it takes to be a Registered Counsellor? SACAP’s Bachelor of Psychology professional degree, is approved by the HPCSA for the education and training of registered counsellors. Graduates of this programme are eligible to sit the National Examination of the Professional Board for Psychology in order to register with the HPCSA as Registered Counsellors. SACAP’s BPsych degree has a ‘built-in’ Honours equivalent. Graduates are therefore also able to advance into a Masters programme if they aspire to be a registered psychologist. Find out more here.

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