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Summary of occupation

Counsellors provide assistance and support to people experiencing emotional, social and/or educational difficulties or issues. Rather than giving advice or imposing solutions, counsellors encourage clients to talk through their issues, clarifying the causes and effects, and then to find their own resolutions. Most counselling takes part on a one-on-one basis, though sometimes counsellors can work with couples, families or small groups who are experiencing similar difficulties.

ANZSCO description: Counsellors provide assistance and support to people experiencing emotional, social and/or educational difficulties or issues.
Alternative names:
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A counsellor needs:

  • excellent communication skills
  • to be broad-minded and non-judgemental
  • patience and tolerance
  • to be mature and supportive
  • to relate to people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures
  • the ability to keep information confidential
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Working conditions

Counsellors often work in offices or specially prepared counselling rooms, though they may also visit prisons, schools, hospitals, community centres and client's homes. They work with clients from a wide variety of backgrounds, who can be experiencing intense and difficult emotions, such as anger, grief and anxiety. This work can be difficult and emotionally draining on counsellors, so they may be required to take regular breaks, debrief with a supervisor at the end of the day or be involved with a peer support group. Counsellors often work irregular hours, which can include evenings and weekends.

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Salary details

On average, counsellors can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a counsellor develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Counsellors often take notes during counselling sessions, in some cases they may also record sessions using either tape recorders or video cameras. During initial counselling sessions they may use written and verbal tests to assist them in making assessments. Some counsellors, particularly those working with children, may use puppets, toys, cushions and art materials to help clients express themselves.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a counsellor without any formal qualifications. However, you are more likely to improve your prospects in the industry if you have completed a formal qualification in counselling or a related area.

The Diploma of Counselling is offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a degree in counselling, psychology, social work or a related area.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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