Want to become a Counsellor in Ireland? This rewarding profession can be an ideal choice for many, but how can you get started in this area?
Learn more about the day-to-day schedule of a Counsellor and find out the skills and qualifications you’ll need to start working as a Counsellor in Ireland.
What does a Counsellor do?
A Counsellor works with clients to discuss problems they may be facing in their life. Typically, these can be related to common areas, such as bereavement, marriage or relationship issues, issues with loneliness or depression or those who have gone through a traumatic experience.
The role of the Counsellor is to listen to the thoughts and feelings of a client and help them to work through and gain clarity over those thoughts and feelings. Counsellors generally don’t give clients definitive advice but offer a space for clients to come to conclusions or changes in their way of thinking that can have positive outcomes.
Day-to-day, a Counsellor will meet with different clients, spend time outside of sessions transcribing notes or recordings of the sessions, and reflect on emerging themes that could be topic areas to explore with a client.
What qualifications are needed to become a Counsellor in Ireland?
If you want to know how to become a Counsellor in Ireland, it’s important to research the knowledge areas that are commonly associated with this profession.
You will need to have a background in a related higher education degree, such as Psychology. After becoming qualified in this area, you can take on a Counselling course, which can give you the skills and knowledge needed in order to practise counselling professionally.
Look for further information before you enrol, such as the course fees and whether the course has an accreditation from a professional body such as the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or the International Association for Counselling. Make sure you can fit the course into your schedule or explore part-time courses if you need to learn in a flexible way. Check if a course needs to be administered in person and if it’s based in a major, close-by city, such as Dublin or Galway, or if you can take the course remotely.
What skills are needed to become a Counsellor?
Although courses in Counselling will equip you with many of the hard skills you need, there are many soft skills that Counsellors will use on a daily basis and skills that you’ll need to ascertain on your journey to becoming a counsellor in Ireland.
When speaking with clients, employing outstanding communication skills will be key to developing your relationship with the client and effectively discussing topics with them.
Often, sessions only last for a limited amount of time, so being able to manage conversations in a polite and professional way is key. It’s vital that your client feels listened to and that they get value from each session.
For those working in marriage counselling, strong communication skills are even more important, as you may need to manage conversations between two parties and ensure that both clients in the session can communicate effectively.
When working with clients, it is important to understand how they might feel discussing certain topics. The goal of a Counsellor isn’t to upset or aggravate a client but to ensure that they have a space to express their feelings in a productive way.
With this in mind, being empathetic to your client’s thoughts and feelings is an essential part of being a Counsellor. Understanding how your client feels or may react to different things allows you to give suitable advice or guidance regarding a specific situation. Having a good sense of your own self-awareness and understanding how clients might react to questions in their personal therapy or counselling sessions is essential.
Particular reactions or patterns of thought that might be different to a typical person’s may come from clients in sessions, so it’s important for Counsellors to understand how behaviour may be linked to trauma or other factors whilst being empathetic to how the client’s reaction to situations may be unique to them.
Working as a Counsellor requires you to keep track of notes and recordings from clients, and each client will expect you to have a good understanding of their situation, particular events or individuals, or feelings and thoughts they may be experiencing.
Keeping track of this information takes a lot of organisation. Much like any other role, taking and organising notes is an important part of a Counsellor’s job.
Being organised in this way will allow you to have free-flowing sessions with your client and not spend time re-treading topics or information you’ve already covered in previous sessions.
When speaking with clients, a Counsellor is there to help guide them through certain topics, and sometimes, it’s not necessary to reach a particular conclusion. However, some clients may want to get to the bottom of why they are feeling a certain way or unpack uncontrollable emotions they are experiencing.
This is where analytic skills can come in handy as a Counsellor. Although it’s not a good idea to speculate or make claims without evidence, suggesting particular causes for emotions or reactions can help the client better understand how to get back in control.
Therefore, having an analytical mind can be a helpful skill as a Counsellor, as it can help you to assist the client with understanding their triggers, reactions and overall approach to sensitive issues.
What is the difference between a counsellor and a therapist?
A Counsellor is well-suited to listening to more straightforward, commonly experienced issues, such as relationship issues, grief and general anxiety. Therapists can be used for those with more serious mental health issues or for clients who are struggling to function in their daily lives.
Therapists can also administer psychiatric treatments, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and may have a deeper background in Psychology or medicine. Counsellors may work with clients on a short-term basis to help them get through a particularly difficult period, whilst Therapists can work with clients for years and form a key part of an individual’s management of an ongoing mental health issue.
Typically, Therapists can work as both Counsellors and Therapists, but those who are only qualified in Counselling may need to seek additional qualifications in order to become full-time Therapists. Through a professional training course, an undergraduate degree, postgraduate qualification or a master’s degree, you can use your knowledge and counselling skills to pivot into becoming a psychotherapist and launching a career in psychotherapy more generally.
Does becoming a Counsellor need any work experience?
After undertaking a Counselling course in Ireland, you will be ready to step into a professional role without work experience. However, working alongside a Counsellor can be a useful way to understand how your theory is applied in a professional setting.
Career prospects for a Counsellor in Ireland
Counselling is a great career choice for those with a qualification in Psychology, especially when aligned with a specialist course in Counselling. Learners with a background in this area will be well-placed to access jobs in Ireland, either working in a private capacity or within the HSE.
With a well-developed mental health sector through the HSE and many private services in the country, Counsellors in Ireland will be split for choice when looking for exciting career opportunities. Those who are offering counselling services can also specialise in family therapy, counselling psychology or offer specialist client work that’s related to personal development.