Counsellor: Job description and activities

Counsellor: Job description and activities

Job description
Counsellors help people to explore feelings about their lives so that they can reflect about what is happening to them and consider alternative ways of doing things. Working in a confidential setting, counsellors listen attentively to their clients and offer them the time, empathy and respect they need to express their own feelings, and perhaps understand themselves from a different perspective, thereby reducing their confusion and enabling them to make changes in their life if they decide to do so.

Counsellors do not give advice, but help clients to make their own choices within the framework of an agreed counselling contract.

Typical work activities
There are a range of models of counselling, each with its own theoretical basis. Differences in approach often relate to the individual practitioner's interests and training, the setting in which the counselling consultation takes place, or the predominant client group. There is also no clear distinction between the terms counselling and psychotherapy. Counsellors working in particular fields (e.g. marriage guidance, addiction, sexual abuse, or health) tend to specialise in the models most used in those areas.

Across most areas of counselling, typical work activities include:

establishing a relationship of trust and respect with clients;
agreeing a counselling contract to lay down 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 effect change based on the issues raised by clients;
keeping records.