How to Know If a Counselling Career is Right for You

If you like the idea of having a career in which you can help others, counselling is worth considering. As relational beings, people experience a range of emotions and as a counsellor, you can help people to make sense of them.

In the UK, one in eight adults seeks help for their mental health. Common mental health problems include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and panic disorder. Yet it’s estimated that 75% of people with mental health issues don’t get access to the help they need.

Opportunities for paid counselling work are increasing. As a career field, counselling has grown steadily and is projected to continue. Counselling professions include a range of different titles and specialisms, with practitioners working in settings ranging from healthcare and education to corporate workplaces and voluntary groups. No matter what the counselling profession you choose, as a counsellor you’ll play a crucial role in the health and wellbeing of society.

How to know if a counselling career is right for you

Your journey to becoming a counsellor starts with understanding the qualities of a good counsellor and the right counselling course. It can be personally and emotionally challenging to counsel others and you need to think about how it will affect you and your family. Studying counselling also requires time and dedication and some social engagement such as surveys, questionnaires and role play. The good news is that the rewards and satisfaction once you have qualified will outweigh any initial hardships.

To be a counsellor there are certain traits you’ll need to possess. You’ll need to:

  • Work with and communicate with people from all backgrounds
  • Be warm, open, empathetic and able to gain people’s trust
  • Be patient, tolerant and non-judgemental of other people’s attitudes
  • Be confident to set boundaries, communicate ideas and provide guidance
  • Look for ways to continually improve your skills and learn new counselling techniques
  • Use your powers of observation to fill in the gaps when clients aren’t being transparent
  • Demonstrate respect at all times
  • Be self-aware and aware of your own struggles and able to separate your own experiences from theirs

5 reasons you should become a counsellor

Counsellors help people who are doing it tough every day. They help by being an active listener for their clients, by providing advice and by giving people a voice when they need it most. If you’re not sure whether being a counsellor is the right career for you, here are 5 reasons why you should consider it:

1. You’re a people person

A people person is someone who is skilled in influence, interpersonal facilitation, relational creativity and leadership. You’re a person who enjoys interacting and talking with others and you often find your friends and family turning to you to talk about their feelings or when seeking advice. As a people person, you’re not just a smooth talker; you demonstrate attentiveness, care and eagerness to listen.

2. You’re a problem solver

When working as a counsellor, no two clients are the same. What works for one might not work for another, which means you will need to come up with fresh ideas and think creatively when tackling a problem. If you have the ability to think on your feet and respond to difficult or stressful situations in a calm manner, you’re well-placed to be a counsellor.

3. You’re patient

Patience is the ability to remain calm and self-possessed when confronted with delay or resistance. In counselling, it is a willingness to “trust the process” rather than try to move too quickly and it is the state of tolerating frustrating or difficult circumstances. A good sign that you’re a patient person is if you can suppress your annoyance when things aren’t going exactly as you’d hoped they would.

4. You’re a strong communicator

How you communicate with others will determine how good a counsellor you will be. If you can articulate your thoughts in a clear and concise way, you’ll establish a good rapport with others. Good communication requires you to be empathetic and to put yourself in other people’s shoes. This way you can relay information and advice that’s relatable and easily understood.

5. You’re resilient

Empathy in validating other people’s suffering makes a counsellor vulnerable to vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue. This can result in negative changes in your view of self, others and the world. Being able to praise yourself for your achievements and reward yourself for what you have accomplished is a good sign that you’re a resilient person. Having interests and hobbies and close relationships with friends and family who can support you will also make you more resilient.

How to become a counsellor

Initial enrollment and completion of a diploma in counselling is a great first step in your journey to becoming a counsellor. An advanced degree will help you to develop counselling skills and professional counselling practises. From there you can seek further professional development through membership in UK professional organisations, such as the National Counselling Society (NCS).

Once qualified, your skills open you up to a range of career options. You can choose a rewarding career as a relationship counsellor, financial counsellor, youth worker, family support worker or private practitioner. You can work in disability support, schools, workplaces and rehabilitation. Your options are near limitless.

Get started and enrol today.

Online, career focused education that suits your lifestyle.

See our courses
Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.