A counsellor helps people talk about their feelings. This could be because of relationship difficulties, grief or to help them deal with everyday life.

This page has information on the role of a counsellor, the entry requirements, skills needed and how to apply. 

Working life

You’ll hold sessions with individuals and groups in a safe and confidential environment. You'll encourage them to look at their choices and find their own way to make a positive change in their life.

Psychologist and patient

In the NHS, many staff will have counsellor in their job title, usually in a specific area and depending on the needs of the local population and the employer. For example, you may:

Your role will be to build a relationship with your clients. You’ll do this by:

Where will I work?

You could work in various locations like schools, GP surgeries, hospitals or advice centres. You may also counsel people over the phone or on the internet.

Entry requirements and training

You are likely to need a recognised counselling qualification. There are different types and levels of course available including at diploma, degree and postgraduate level. Some are available on a part-time basis, others full-time. Many can lead to registration on a voluntary basis, with a number of organisations

If you are considering a career as a counsellor in the health sector, employers may expect you to be on one of these voluntary registers. The Professional Standards Authority accredits a number of voluntary registers against its standards including governance, setting standards for registrants, education and training, managing the register. These include several voluntary registers for counsellors including:

(List updated 6 April 2017)

Find out more about Accredited Registers and a list of voluntary registers that have been accredited

For some counselling roles, employers may also ask for a clinical/professional qualification, such as being a registered nurse, occupational therapist or social worker. Or you may need a scientific background for some roles in genomic counselling, for instance.

Each employer will indicate their individual requirements so make sure to check the person specification for the role.

Skills required

You’ll need:

Experience or skills in a particular area may also be required, such as the ability to speak in multiple languages or working in mental health.

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