What they do

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. They may need to consult with clients to develop rehabilitation plans, as well as assessing client needs in relation to treatment for drug and alcohol abuse.

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.

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.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a counsellor, you usually need to gain a qualification in counselling.

The Diploma of Counselling is offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. To find a training provider near you, browse the Jobs and Skills WA website or visit the My Skills website.

You can also study a degree in counselling, psychology, social work or a related area. All universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.