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Voluntary Counselling Opportunities

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 10 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
Counselling Voluntary Experience Career

Counselling is often considered as a second career, and due to the training involved many people continue working whilst studying to become a counsellor. Counselling involves the wellbeing and support of others, and this vocation generally appeals to individuals who may already work in a supportive role of some sort – perhaps in teaching, nursing or social work.

Although the amount of paid employment, in the field of counselling, may be on the rise there are still many qualified counsellors seeking full-time positions. There are part-time job options available, for professionally trained counsellors, as well as the opportunity to provide counselling services within the voluntary sector.

Vacancies Available

Counselling openings are available in a wide variety of different areas. These include within education, General Practice, the workplace and organisations offering specialist services like drug addiction or eating disorder counselling. These positions are widely advertised but unfortunately there are not sufficient career opportunities available to provide employment for the growing number of qualified counsellors.

Working within the voluntary sector however, offers an opportunity to develop skills or to refresh them. Agencies that offer specialist counselling services, select and train volunteers who go on to provide voluntary counselling within the organisation. As the training is usually free, the organisation will expect a certain level of commitment from the volunteer, in exchange.

Voluntary Vacancy Requirements

In order to be considered for a voluntary training placement it is important that an individual is able to demonstrate an understanding of the counselling process. It is therefore useful to have basic counselling skills training and an interest in your own ongoing personal development.

Many valuable skills can be picked up through the sort of training programme that a voluntary organisation can offer. These experiences will increase your level of understanding and will help you develop your natural qualities and attitudes. Working on a voluntary basis will also provide you with skills you can use to update a CV, and to gain future employment in the field of counselling.

Valuable Skills

Training for a voluntary position within an organisation will enable you to develop your key skills and will help you increase your counselling knowledge and specific practical skills. The training may also offer an opportunity to experience client contact situations.

Counselling from a community base provides a direct service to those in need of a supportive, trusting relationship. This may involve counselling individuals with specific problems like addiction. Many professional training courses do not cover the set of skills to work within a community, so a voluntary training course may also enable a counsellor to stretch their personal skills and to develop more of an understanding, as well as to open the door to more career opportunities.


Offering your counselling services is easy to do. Volunteers provide a valuable extension to the services an organisation already offers, and so the demand for volunteers is always high. If you contact an agency or organisation direct you will be able to have an informal chat about the placement requirements and training available. You will also be informed of the additional support, and supervision, that is available to volunteer counsellors. Thinking of counselling as a career? Why not take a look at the Career section here.

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Dear counsellor, I'm a level 4 Diploma Counselling student at the Leeds city college. I'm in my final year.  I'm just wondering if it possible to offer me the opportunity to do my placement with your organisation. My approach is person centred. Please kindly let me know if this is possible and what I need to do. I've a copy of my DBS online update. Many thanks. Favor Alexander
N/A - 10-Nov-18 @ 6:53 PM
Hi, I am enquiring in regards whether the service takes on student counsellors for placement. I'm currently studying level 4 Diploma in my final year at Manchester Counselling, Training Centre. I am a member of the BACP, and have my own indecency insurance. I also have an external supervisor who handles all my paper. Could someone please advise me further? Thanks Kiran Roud
kiran - 30-Aug-18 @ 11:20 PM
SEEK ADVICE PLEASE - TheCounsellorsGuide I am Liz from New Zealand, currently studying Diploma in Psychology majoring in Coaching psychologist.I have a pen pal living in Clonmel and have learnt about the lovely serene peaceful city.I am hoping to be settled in my forties as in my early teenagers years I enjoyed social life very.I learnt of nice and naughty people of all nationalities.I wish I had stuck to my studying!I now have two grown teenagers, both achieving academically, thriving in sports and technology activities.Unfortunately, I am only at beginner stage of course in psychology but have experience in supportive attributions through web site interactions (tarot guidance readings) and positive friendship support Fbook :) Thank you all response much appreciated. Love & Light From Liz
Lizzie - 7-Jul-18 @ 10:41 AM
What can I do in the counselling sector with my current skill set? I currently have an NCFE Level 2 Award in Helping Skills and will receive a NCFE CACHE Diploma in Counselling Skills Level 3 on completeion of the following course.
Chev - 22-May-18 @ 12:38 PM
I wish information about conseulling. Thank you.
Lisete - 25-Jan-18 @ 9:14 PM
@Jane - I'm sure the likes of MIND or the Samaritans would welcome your experience. Well done you for getting yourself out of your situation and rising above it!
Mickey\G - 11-Jan-18 @ 3:45 PM
I have done 1-2 counciling and diploma would love to be able to talk to people voluntary . With mental health probs was rock bottom after divorce took overdose came from rock bottom to we’re I am today studied got my life back but been through hell back . Had alcoholic partner so been through it all abuse as a child like to give something back
Jane - 11-Jan-18 @ 7:40 AM
I am looking for a volunteer trainee counselling role and wondered if anyone knows of any vacancies in Surrey (Guildford/Esher/Leatherhead or region) at present? A brief outline of my skills: I am year 1 of an MA in Art Psychotherapy (UKCP/BACP). I have a Certificate in Counselling (30 hours), a Certificate in Arts in Therapy and trained Level 2 Listener. I am an Art Teacher, Certified Family Links Parent Group Facilitator, and I am ASD and SEN trained. CV available on request.
Sandtray - 6-Dec-17 @ 7:40 PM
@van - volunteering is the best way to begin. You may not begin as a volunteer counsellor, but you can help out and then begin doing some courses. The best counsellors are most often people who themselves have been through the issues they are helping to support. Best of luck.
FranG - 13-Nov-17 @ 3:33 PM
I'm a person who has been the victim of a sexual crime long ago and I've had my own trouble with the law. My road to recovery has been filled ups and marred with bleak. The best of witch and most relieving is coming to grips with my sexuality... yes. as a result of being victimized. Along the way I've done some bad. However I am proud of the person I havebecome today. If the road I traveled can help someone else then maybe it's all been worth it... ... but how do I start and where do I begin?
Van - 11-Nov-17 @ 3:15 AM
I did a Ba hons Psychosocial Studies degree with 2 counselling modules in my 3rd year, would this be enough to apply for a counselling masters degree or would I have to do a separate introductory counselling course for entry requirements sake?
Piwi - 18-Sep-17 @ 11:47 PM
I am on my 3 rd year of counselling diploma in chelmsford I'm looking for a placement for 100 hours to finish my counselling and need the placement for training . Looking to do 4 hours a weekonce a week maybe . Please could you met me know if it's possible to do a placement with you . Thankyou kind regards . Linda Lewellen .
Sweets - 18-Sep-17 @ 7:33 PM
@dolly - why don't you try the school you are working at. You could offer yourself as a voluntary child mediatior :)
SarHa - 5-Sep-17 @ 12:25 PM
Hi I am about to start my level 3 in counselling skills and currently work as a teaching assistant but would like some voluntary work to improve my counselling skills. Us there anywhere I could try. Many thanks
Dolly - 4-Sep-17 @ 8:19 PM
Hey Everyone, I'm in my final year of studying for my Degree in Psychology and Counselling and I'm looking for a voluntary student placement in the Manchester area. I have my Level 3 Counselling Diploma and would love some pratical experience to support my studies idealy focusing around areas such as mental health, LGBT issues or sexual health as this is the topic of my dissertation.
Roberto - 4-Sep-17 @ 1:26 PM
Hello. I am looking for a trainee counsellor placement. I have just completed Level 4 of a BACP accredited degreein Humanistic Counselling based on Transactional Analysis (in Winchester).I have also been a listening volunteer with the Samaritans for 20 years and worked in Health and Social Care as a Qualified social worker for 12 years. I live in Southampton and am willing to travel. I hope that you can help. Thank you. julie
julie - 30-Aug-17 @ 2:21 PM
Hi... My name is Matthew and I'm interested in a Volunteer Counselling position. I have recently completed my Level 3 Counselling course at SGS College and am now looking for some experience within the field before I continue with a Level 4 course... Anything that you could offer me regarding this request would be greatly appreciated.
Matt - 15-Aug-17 @ 5:24 PM
Please try Cruse Bereavement Care. Their training is very good
Kev Lees - 3-Aug-17 @ 7:18 PM
Guls - Your Question:
Does anybody know if it is illegal to set up as a counsellor without any qualifications?

Our Response:
Counselling is not a statutorily regulated profession and/or protected by law. This means anyone can call themselves a ‘counsellor’. However, there are recognised qualifications which qualified practitioners take years to gain. If you practice without qualifications it is unlikely you would be employed or recognised as a qualified practitioner by another organisation. Practising without qualifications could also impact upon your professional reputation.
TheCounsellorsGuide - 6-Jul-17 @ 12:43 PM
Are there any volunteering as a counsellor positions available? I come from a teaching background and have always been interested in human behaviour. Please contact me with any possible opportunities. Many thanks.
Guls - 5-Jul-17 @ 4:52 AM
Does anybody know if it is illegal to set up as a counsellor without any qualifications?
Guls - 5-Jul-17 @ 4:48 AM
Hello, I'm looking for volunteer counsellors for our organization. I'm looking for Spanish or Portuguese speaking, latin american (no spanish or portuguese nationalities) women counsellors. We work with women survivors of gender violence, mainly DV. We work with the trauma approach. If interested please write me to Camila@lawadv.org.uk We are recruiting all year so please feel free to contact at any time of the year.
CD - 13-Jun-17 @ 4:15 PM
Good morning I am a counselling student in my final year and am looking for a placement. I wonder if your organization offers placements and if so, how to submit an application. I would like to send you my CV and have a chance to meet you Best regards Marc
Marc - 3-Jun-17 @ 4:00 PM
I am currently coming to the end of my first year of a foundation degree in counselling. Can anyone recommend any organisations to contact for a counselling placement as I am struggling to organise one. I'm in the East Lancashire area. Many thanks.
Tisme - 1-Jun-17 @ 5:44 PM
Am a Kenyan and would wish that you offer me a free councelling training because i am interested.
abuyamum - 21-May-17 @ 4:25 AM
Hi I'm looking for a placement and I am just struggling to find one. I was wondering if there are any websites or job sites specifically for finding placments? Or what are the big charities/organisations to try contacting. I'm located in Manchester
JAMES - 5-May-17 @ 12:17 PM
Bl??dy auto correct!I spelled your name correctly, Florise, and didn't spot the auto correct changed it.Also - it's "unwaged" not "unwanted" in the text.
Kells - 21-Mar-17 @ 12:07 AM
Florine I can only say how sorry I am that you weren't given better guidance and support with your choices.Have you thought about e.g. The Samaritans, as a place where you can use your training to date and hopefully build towards the "right" course?Many of the great schools (e.g. The New School- existential, founded by the wonderful Emmy van Deurzen, Regent's University's School of Psychotherapy - also founded by Emmy, and then led by the brilliant Ernesto Spinelli), have bursaries and grants to help the low income and unwanted applicants who want to study for the MA.They are also flexible if you've got great experience with regard to entrance requirements. You are so right about the "Jack of all trades" approach...I have been studying the integrative approach this term, and we can see how easy it would be to "learn the techniques checklist" and just throw in stuff, without having a truly integrated theoretical understanding which then gets applied "in the room" with the client.A friend told me a howlingly funny story about her therapist announcing "this week we shall do Gestalt.Let me explain how 'the empty chair' works."Talk about cherry-picking!I told her to run away from that therapist ASAP! Good luck with progressing your career and your learning.
Kells - 21-Mar-17 @ 12:01 AM
Thank you so much for the commentary you have written Kells. It really resonates with aspects of my own training journey where I have felt the experiential learning, which of course has been essential, has however been delivered at the expense of appropriate theoretical study, which has been delivered as sound bite introductions to a range of theories none of which formed a cohesive whole to underpin the psychological purpose, benefit or risk to the client behind it, nor did it highlight the natural contradictions that different theories pose, if working from too many sources, (likened to becoming a Jack of all Trades) and did not provide for me a sense of sufficient grounding or clarity to really feel that I am standing on Terra-Firma and can call myself a particular type of counselor. This has since led me to now pursue a rigorous scholarly training path provider, accredited by the UKCP, which includes the essential developing of the inner self of the counsellor / emerging psychotherapist, and is underpinned with the essential knowledge and ability to one day allow me to state with congruence and confidence that this 'particular model' resonates with my way of being and desire to work with others in a manner that I fully understand.When starting out in counselling training, there was an emphasis that stated the candidate does not have to be academic, yet as the years have passed, I realise this is not the case at all, and for those whose sensing skills are inherent and feelings based, clearly their journey will personally rewarding, but potentially be limited to mostly unpaid skilled helping / counselling work, (complex mental health issues require considerable extra training and knowledge about, yet more people who suffer with this are not being diagnosed and are attending counselling agencies with trainees, as I experienced) and although I feel that my training and experience with working with clients has certainly allowed me to work safely with the 'worried well', and within areas of feelings that I have experienced myself such as grief, loss and bereavement, it has not qualified me to be more than a volunteer, when I wish to be employed, as I do not have a high enough qualification, (as you highlighted) and quite rightly I now realise, where I have wanted to apply for a position, I see that it requires two years post qualifying experience, hence more volunteering. (I am CPCAB L4). Buyer beware. Not all counselling courses are the same, neither are the placements, and the journey does not end at Level 5 either.
Florise - 18-Mar-17 @ 12:03 PM
The issue which many of those who are posting questions is going to be that the heavyweight clinical placements are usually only open to trainees on courses with UKCP-accredited training organisations.Being on one of these courses means that you are studying at Master's degree level as a MINIMUM, that you (the trainee) are in long-term personal psychotherapy yourself, so that you don't bring your own psychological baggage into the therapy room and your personal therapist must be fully-accredited with the UKCP. UKCP is the highest level organisation for properly trained and experienced therapists- as well as a Master's degree in Psychotherapy, you must also have then undertaken a further two year Advanced Diploma in a specialism/ specific school of psychotherapeutic theoretical approach. Additionally, to be a UKCP- registered therapist, you must remain in Supervision for your entire career as a therapist, to ensure that your supervisor (who will be a senior, highly experienced UKCP-registered psychotherapist who has done additional specialist training in supervising other therapists) is available to support and challenge you about your dealings with your clients. Finally, after all this, you have to clock up 450 hours of actual therapy sessions with clients to register. I'll be honest- some of you are following a dangerous path in thinking that lower-level diplomas which lack: (i)the academic theoretical rigour; and (I) the Skills training (so that you're fit to get a placement); and (iii) the emotionally demanding work of personal psychotherapy; are safe for your potential clients.If you don't grasp everything from Freud to Yalom, Rogers to Jung and back again (via Nietzsche and Heidegger for all the Existentialist theory and practice), and deal with your own issues and develop meaningful skills, then you are basically messing about with people's minds and emotional well-being while having not much of a clue about what you are really doing. Even with all that UKCP- focused training, support and personal therapy, we all start out feeling as though we know so little. I'd really urge many of you to consider these points and issues with integrity and open-mindedness.My lecturers and tutors have been deeply humble individuals but with vast training and complex experience of practising as therapists with the everyday issues and issues of severe trauma.One of them likened these diplomas as being akin to letting a healthcare assistant perform open heart surgery.Not fair on the assistant or on the patient.But at least the healthcare assistant would know that he or she was out of their depth.
Kells - 16-Mar-17 @ 1:35 AM
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