Management & Leadership

A counselling course could fast-track your career

Sep 27, 2017
Career Counselling

Training in counselling and psychology is an area of growth for our curious society

Key takeaways

  • From marriage to mental health counsellor, there are many different kinds of careers you can practice with a counselling qualification
  • A career in counselling offers a wide selection of potential work environments, including schools, hospitals and private practice
  • A knowledge of psychology, and applied counselling and communication skills, plus the ability to work with individuals and groups, is highly valued today

Where once people might have sought help from their priest or a trusted relative, many now turn to qualified professionals for focussed, structured guidance and self-exploration.

Indeed, the burgeoning demand for counselling in society has led to a steady expansion in the number of training courses available for would-be counsellors. And those graduates who have studied counselling can build meaningful careers in areas where having a robust understanding and knowledge in psychology, as well as applied counselling and communication skills and an ability to work effectively with individuals and groups, is highly valued.

“Counselling” itself is a very broad category that encompasses many opportunities in any number of counselling subfields. Counsellors work in schools, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, among other locations, or they can maintain a private practice, and there are many ways in which to specialise during your counselling career.

Here, then, are five of the most popular counselling careers explained:

1. Marriage or family counsellor

What they do

Family counselors and couples therapists treat many of the same issues as other psychologists, such as depression and anxiety, addiction, and PTSD, but their work focuses on issues that are specific to their target group, the family. Marriage and family therapists observe how people behave within the family, and identify relationship problems. They then come up with treatment plans so that each individual has his or her needs met and the family unit can work for the benefit and happiness of all. Common issues that they encounter include marital conflicts, adolescent behaviour problems, domestic violence and issues related to infertility.

Consider this career if you have…

  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Clear boundaries
  • High ethical standards
  • The desire to collaborate
  • Goal-setting skills

2. Mental health counsellor

What they do

Mental health counsellors offer guidance to individuals, couples, families and groups that are dealing with issues that affect their mental health and wellbeing. They may encounter many of the same problems as other psychologists: depression and anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, personality disorders, and just about any psychological issue you can think of. Their approach depends largely on their educational qualification and their professional experience.

Consider this career if you have…

  • Empathy and a desire to help
  • Clear communication skills
  • Goal-setting skills
  • Clear boundaries
  • High ethical standards
  • Motivational skills

3. Substance abuse counsellor

What they do

Substance abuse counsellors diagnose and assess addiction problems, and treat clients in a variety of ways. Because individuals struggle with addiction in different ways, addictions counsellors customise treatment plans for each client. They teach clients how to alter their attitudes and false beliefs, and develop strategies to overcome denial and rationalisation in the hope of achieving full recovery. Because clients are susceptible to relapse, many substance abuse counsellors work with clients on an ongoing basis.

Consider this career if you have…

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Critical thinking abilities
  • High tolerance for stress
  • Integrity
  • Good communication skills
  • Adaptability
  • Ability to maintain composure

4. Educational counsellor

What they do

Advocates for students’ wellbeing, school counsellors and educational psychologists work with students at all levels and are a valuable resource for their educational and personal and social development. They help students work through issues such as bullying, disabilities, low self-esteem, poor academic performance, social anxiety, problems with authority or problems at home. They may do one-on-one therapy with students, or work in groups with family members or peers to understand and overcome psychological problems.

Consider this career if you have…

  • Motivational skills
  • Good listening and communication skills
  • Goal-setting skills
  • Clear boundaries
  • High ethical standards

5. Rehabilitation counsellor

People with disabilities face challenges that require creative solutions. Whether a person has a physical, mental or emotional disability, rehabilitative counselling helps them achieve personal and professional goals, and lead their lives more freely. Rehabilitation counsellors work in a variety of state departments and community programmes. They are also employed in the private sector in for-profit and nonprofit organisations, such as schools, colleges, residential care facilities and drug rehabilitation centres.

Consider this career if you have…

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Compassion and a desire to help
  • Motivational skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • High tolerance for stress

A career in counselling

The minimum requirements for registration with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) as a Registered Counsellor are as follows:

  • A four-year Bachelor of Psychology professional degree approved by the HPCSA, including a 720-hour practicum
  • Successful completion of the National Examination of the Professional Board for Psychology in the Registered Counsellor category

SACAP’s Bachelor of Psychology professional degree is approved by the HPCSA for the education and training of Registered Counsellors. Graduates of this programme will be eligible to sit the National Examination of the Professional Board for Psychology in the Registered Counsellor category in order to register with the HPCSA as registered counsellors. As a four-year NQF8 degree programme, the BPsych has a ‘built-in’ Honours equivalent. Graduates are therefore also able to articulate into a Masters programme with a view to becoming a psychologist. To find out more, enquire now.

Previous post

Next post