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Counselling Do You Have What it Takes?

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 8 Nov 2023 | comments*Discuss
Counselling Personality Career

Contrary to popular belief counselling is not about letting another person talk for hours whilst you sit and nod your head from time to time.

It is not a suitable career for many people – those who actively seek instant rewards or gratification, or anyone who does a job simply for financial gain. Counselling is a profession that attracts people who have a developed understanding of themselves, a higher level of empathy and the basic desire to help other people.

Successfully counselling other people requires that you have a combination of traits and skills that enable you to provide the level of counselling that the individual seeks.

Ideal Traits

You must have the ability to offer appropriate advice in a manner that another person can comfortably understand. In order to do this effectively you must be able to acknowledge the way in which your advice is accepted. For instance, does the person respond well to positive reinforcement or direct blunt-ness? Being in tune with the person you are counselling increases the level of confidence they have in your skills, and in you as a counsellor.

If you are sensitive to the needs, feelings and problems of others you will find that this natural trait provides you with a positive advantage. Being comfortable with emotional issues is the foundation from which your own personal skills can grow. Being able to focus your full attention on someone seeking advice, or counselling, will encourage that person to open up to you. To do this effectively you must be able to make them feel that they are important to you, even though you may have only recently been introduced. You must also be non-judgemental.

The ability to empathise with other people is a trait that may people fail to explore. Empathy is something that everyone has, in varying degrees. Some people possess only a basic understanding, whilst others can feel the mood of another person with ease. The more experiences you have personally gone through in your own life, the easier you will find it to relate to another person’s way of thinking, mood or personality. Understanding your own life experiences, whilst acknowledging other new experiences, will enable you provide effective, supportive counselling.

Not-so Ideal Traits

Clock-watching is not a particularly positive trait. In most environments it can be tolerated or modified. In a counselling situation however, your complete focus must be on the other person at all times. You cannot build rapport and trust if you are the type of person who is constantly actively thinking whilst listening to someone else. Counselling requires that you temporarily give up your own thoughts in order to focus on the needs of another person.

You Are the Right Man/Woman For the Job if:

  • You enjoy helping other people and have the ability to empathise with, and care for another person.
  • You have a good level of personal understanding and life experiences from which you can draw from.
  • You are able to actively listen and put the welfare of another person at the top of your list of daily priorities. You are also non-judgemental.
  • You are able to build rapport and trust with ease, and have confidence in your own personal abilities, as well as an understanding of a wide range of personal experiences and issues.

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Hi - I am a 57 year married man who has worked in the City since 1989.A combination of nature (bipolar/depression) running down my late father's side of the family and nurture (a variety of adverse childhood traumas) have contributed to my experiencing periods of depressive illness.Like many "successful" people outwardly I am confident and engaging, but inwardly I sometime struggle badly.I have been hospitalised twice (Priory Roehampton) and have received counselling and psychotherapy on and off over the years.People who know me say that in addition to being highly empathetic I also have a lot of insight into the issue of emotionaland mental health (from my experience everything is always about something else...).Now that I am taking a career break I am keen to be able to use my experience in a constructive way to help others, so I am keen to explore volunteer counselling.Would you be able to help me?Many thanks Jonc.
Jonc - 8-Nov-23 @ 12:42 PM
Hello, I would like to join the volunteering team.
YoYo - 9-Mar-23 @ 7:05 AM
I hold level 3 BACP in councelling. What next please to qualify as a counsellor? Thanks!
Annie - 12-Apr-18 @ 11:57 PM
Myself Kundan Kumar G,  I work in Chennai in a petro Chemical Company as  a Marketing Executive. I find difficultiies to do sales and marketing to sell any product. So want to do some respectable study and at the same time to earn money. pl help.
Kundan - 8-Feb-18 @ 9:57 AM
I gained my accredited Diploma in Psychodynamic Counselling in 2010 although I have not been involved in counselling, as such, for some years. I do use my counselling skills on a daily basis as I am a member of the Post Adoption Team in Northamptonshire. I work primarily with vulnerable adults all of which have/are experiencing loss. These include biological families who have lost their children through adoption and adopters who have experienced loss through their experiences of infertility. I also work with biological families who have/are experiencing mental health difficulties, anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder and abuse. I am interested in becoming a voluntary counsellor and would appreciate some advice.
Mags - 1-Jan-18 @ 4:19 PM
Hi. I have a BA (hons) in Early Years and I am interested in becoming a School Counsellor. What would I need to do course wise to enable me to do this?
Emma - 13-Nov-17 @ 9:05 PM
curious - Your Question:
The counsellors guide is a great idea to promote counselling however it would be very useful I thihnk for a lot of people to receive counselling placement information through this site to support the premise that there are a lot of voluntary counselling placements available! It appears there isn't and I myself am also looking for voluntary counselling work to complete my Masters sucessfully. Is there any kind of (centra) counselling placement database/list of agencies to enable this process? Thank you

Our Response:
I'm afraid there is no voluntary counselling database, you would have to do an online search to come up with opportunities such as the NSPCC link here or Cruse Bereavement Care link here or Anxiety UK here. I hope these suggestions help.
TheCounsellorsGuide - 3-Sep-15 @ 12:34 PM
The counsellors guide is a great idea to promote counselling however it would be very useful i thihnk for a lot of people to receive counselling placement information through this site to support the premise that there are a lot of voluntary counselling placements available! It appears there isn't and I myself am also looking for voluntary counselling work to complete my Masters sucessfully. Is there any kind of (centra) counselling placement database/list of agencies to enable this process?Thank you
curious - 2-Sep-15 @ 7:28 PM
Hi, I am going to start my level 3 in counselling (CPCAB), and would like to know what level I need in counselling to be able to work within an organisation. Many thanks.
Lunalite1 - 21-Jul-15 @ 1:01 PM
Hi im currently working towards my deploma level 3 and I have been Volenteering for a local sure start centre. I need to find a counselling placement or volenteer role to gain the relevant experience as an effective counsellor do you know of any organizations many thanks
niklie - 19-May-15 @ 10:41 PM
@Mila - I can't find any direct voluntary organisations in London that deals with children's CBT. I suggest you register and look on the Do-It site here. I hope this helps.
TheCounsellorsGuide - 30-Jan-15 @ 12:22 PM
Hello I did an online course on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and I would like to do a voluntary work go help people and for me to gain experience. I am also doing Child Behaviour course.Is there any organisations that offers work placements? I am in Cambridge during the week and in London for the weekends. Thank you and I am looking forward to hearing from you. With kind regards Mila
Mila - 29-Jan-15 @ 10:30 AM
@A - of course there is always the Samaritans helpline if you wish to speak to people directly, the Samaritans will train you up through your local branch, using its standard training. Alternatively, the Campaign to End Lonliness website may be of use,link here. I hope this helps and good luck.
TheCounsellorsGuide - 8-Jan-15 @ 12:51 PM
Hi, I have a desire to help and support people so i would like to volunteer in some sort of counselling capacity but I'm not sure what. I am not qualified at all to be a counsellor but I am 50+ with a family but i have several friends that suffer from loneliness and i recognise this as a huge challenge to for anyone to advise on.Over the years i have considered training to help me help them more but I work full time and don't want it to lead to paid work but I would like to think that I can help and support people. Is volunteering an option? Kind regards
A - 7-Jan-15 @ 10:49 PM
Hi I would like to do the chrysalis counselling course however I need to know are these qualifications recognised and if I volunteer will ibe able to practice as a trained counsellor on completion of course?
jeanna - 7-Sep-13 @ 10:29 AM
I have done counselling course in family and marriage counselling. I would like to join your group for counselling people. Please let me know the prospects:-)
Navneeta - 25-Apr-13 @ 2:31 AM
Hello, I'm really considering about doing a hypnotherapy and counselling diploma with chrysalis. And reading the comments above there are a lot of people asking for volunteering work, I'm not sure if this it to help them with there course, and if so is it hard to find volunteering work in counselling? Thank you for your time.
Charlie wells - 22-Feb-13 @ 12:59 AM
Hello, I am studying for a diploma in counselling currently and am interested in volunteering in a counselling environment. Can you please direct me as to where I can go forward with my query. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you
Tombola - 5-Feb-13 @ 9:54 PM
Hey, I'm a college student who has been rethinking what I would like to do as a career, i've had no previous academic experience such as psychology but am planning to take it at AS Level next year in order to begin understanding the basic scientific theories that cover Psychology. Despite my lack of academic knowledge, I have past lifetime experiences from the point of view of a client and am also very in tune with people's feelings and have a willingness of listening to and helping people. Although I have not officially counselled people, I have listened to and given advice to a number of online friends with varying sometimes quite serious problems. To my point however, I'm wondering what sort of education and qualifications I will need to get in order to become a professional psychologist or counsellor and how I would get into a counselling workplace, can anyone help?
Raven - 15-Jan-13 @ 7:45 PM
I am currently studying at home for a diploma in counselling and would like some advice on how to find opportunities to volunteer in a counselling enviroment.Thanks.
jacqui - 1-Nov-12 @ 2:22 PM
Hi, I have completed my post graduation and have worked with a company for two years as an administrator. But somewhere I feel that I always like to help people, make them happy, listen to them carefully, trying to make them cool and calm by talking to them and trying giving them some solution for their problems. Thus if you could tell me which courses or the right procedure to understand counselling in the right way then I can make a career in it and help as many people as I can. Thank you.
Gauri - 6-Oct-12 @ 1:34 PM
Hello my names Sharon, I would really love the chance to be able to help others who are feeling very vulnerable and lonely. I believe that I can help others and I am a good listener and I enjoy being with people and talking to others. I am currently volunteering with children who have multiple disabilities and love and enjoy what I do. I have been volunteering for 6 years. I would so much like to have the opportunityto help and give advise to others. We are living in a world where so many people currently have stress related jobs or home life problems trying to cope with so much. I am a very positive person and believe that we can heal and achieve by talking and communicating this opens the doorto so many things and we have to start somewhere so many people feel lost and feel nobody cares, people feel isolated and trapped, and I just want to help and do what I can I feel that it is my duty to help. I very much do care. Please contact me to discuss further. Kind Regards. Sharon
gigglehoney - 26-Sep-12 @ 3:57 PM
Hi, I have just finished my Diploma in counselling although I need to resit my exam. I would love to find a voluntary position to gain more experience in the Belfast , Newtownabbey area do you have any suggestions. Regards Leeanne
Lee - 10-Sep-12 @ 2:09 PM
Hi Looking to start a new career in counselling iwould appreciate it if you could give me some advice on the right courses and any volunteer work that i could do. Thankyou
jo - 2-Sep-12 @ 1:35 AM
Hi, I am currently studying to become a therapeutic counsellor having completed two years of a four year training route and I am now looking for relevant volunteer opportunies and/or a volunteer work placement as part of my course. I currently reside in AylesburyI do drive and have my own transport. Could you please give me any details you may have about any agencies that may be able to offer me a work placement (volunteer) and how I may contact them. Thank you for my our help in this matter Kind regards Allison Day :-))
Ally - 25-Aug-12 @ 12:19 PM
Hi, I am wanting to start a career in counselling. And was hoping to start that by volunteering within a counselling environment. Would you be able to point me in the right direction? Many thanks!
Ana - 20-May-12 @ 7:18 PM
Hello I'm interested in volunteering in a counselling environment and came across your organisation. please direct me as to where I could go forward with my query. I look forward in hearing from you thank you
SIMONE - 7-May-12 @ 9:02 PM
Hi, I would like to join your team
d - 5-Apr-12 @ 7:39 PM
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