#Counsellor: Job description
Counsellors help people to explore feelings and emotions that are often related to their experiences. This allows their clients to reflect on what is happening to them and consider alternative ways of doing things.
Counsellors work in a confidential setting and listen attentively to their clients. They offer them the time, empathy and respect they need to express their feelings and perhaps understand themselves from a different perspective. The aim is reduce their confusion and enable them to cope with challenges or to make positive changes in their life where necessary.
Counsellors do not give advice, but help clients to make their own choices within the framework of an agreed counselling contract.
There is also no clear distinction between the terms counselling and psychotherapy, and both can encompass a range of talking therapies.
Typical work activities
There are various models of counselling, each with its own theoretical basis. Differences in approach can relate to the individual practitioner’s interests and training, the setting in which the counselling consultation takes place, or the predominant client group. Counsellors working in particular fields (e.g. relationship guidance, addiction, sexual abuse or health) tend to specialise in the models most used in those areas.
Work carried out across most areas of counselling includes:
- establishing a relationship of trust and respect with clients;
- agreeing a counselling contract to determine what will be covered in sessions (including confidentiality issues);
- encouraging clients to talk about issues they feel they cannot normally share with others;
- actively listening to client concerns and empathising with their position;
- accepting without bias the issues raised by clients;
- helping clients towards a deeper understanding of their concerns;
- challenging any inconsistencies in what clients say or do;
- helping clients to make decisions and choices regarding possible ways forward;
- referring clients to other sources of help, as appropriate;
- attending supervision and training courses;
- undertaking personal therapy (mandatory for accreditation);
- liaising, as necessary, with other agencies and individuals to help make changes based on the issues raised by clients;
- working to agreed targets in relation to client contact;
- undertaking group as well as individual therapy on occasions;
- keeping records and using reporting tools.