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Is it possible to make a living as a counsellor?

(11 Posts)
wem Wed 14-Sep-11 16:00:21

Or is it a 'pin money'/voluntary occupation?

It's been my plan for the last couple of years to retrain as a counsellor while my children are small, with the view to working once they're in school.

However, I'm just about to start a course and I'm having a bit of a wobble. This course isn't a major step, but I'm already looking at the next one, which is a two year part-time diploma. There's a choice between the local FE college, which would be a lot of money, but do-able, or the BACP accredited university, which at the moment seems out of reach, money-wise, but I guess would lead to greater employability.

I've also heard a few times how competitive it is to find work as a counsellor, there are so many people choosing to retrain and not enough jobs.

So I've got two thoughts running round in my head

- Is it worth stretching to pay for the university course in order to have a better chance at a job?

- Will it all be a massive waste of time and money when I can't get a job at the end of three years training?

breatheslowly Wed 14-Sep-11 16:44:54

I don't know a lot about counselling, but I would be wary of assuming that you could work school hours as I imagine that a lot of clients would be in work and unable to attend then - they might want evenings or weekend.

wem Wed 14-Sep-11 17:04:21

Thanks, I've assumed there will be some childcare involved, it was more a point in time to aim for when thinking about starting work again.

wem Wed 14-Sep-11 19:44:38

small bump

WinduhPAYNE Wed 14-Sep-11 20:03:36

I think it is probably better to do the BACP course as that is the qualification recommended people look for when looking for a counsellor.

I think training to be a counsellor is a very expensive thing to do, as you are expected to have counselling during your training and throughout your career as a counsellor in addition to paying courses/training.

Obviously the finding a job at the end of all the training is another matter altogether.

wem Wed 14-Sep-11 20:43:10

I was told by a counselling tutor that it is possible to do an unaccredited course then give the full details of what you have studied to the BACP and they would accredit you, and that colleges only got the accreditation so that they could charge more for the course. But still, easier to have confidence in the course when they've done the work for you and you already know it's accredited.

I know it's expensive to train as a counsellor, that's why I'm trying to find reassurance that it'll be worth at the end! smile

leicestershiregirl Wed 14-Sep-11 22:23:34

I believe it is quite difficult and time-consuming to have previous study accredited by the BACP so I would go for the BACP accredited training.

An alternative might be doing some sort of specialised counselling training e.g. breastfeeding counselling (if you do it with the National Childbirth Trust they'll pay for it but you have to commit to working for them afterwards for three years and it is a pin money occupation) or drugs and alcohol counselling. The Institute of Lifelong Learning at Leicester University does a Foundation Degree in Drug and Alcohol Counselling by distance learning, which is cheaper than their general (BACP-accredited) counselling courses and doesn't require you to have personal therapy, an added expense as WinduhPayne pointed out. Possibly more work in drugs and alcohol?

blabalalalablabla Wed 14-Sep-11 23:36:30

I don't want to burst your bubble but I think you'd find it pretty difficult to earn a serious living from counselling - unless you went down the couples route. (higher turnover/more demand)

Having previously worked in a counselling charity I can tell you that all of the counsellors/psychotherapists worked in a pt capacity - and that included their own private practice. Most of the counsellors had their own private practices, but generally only had 5-6 clients a week (evenings).

They then also worked 1/2 days a week for the charity at reduced rates with a caseload of 6-10 clients.

All counsellors also had regular (monthly) supervision which had to be paid for and whilst you're training you'll also need to stump up for individual counselling for yourself (weekly from memory). Don't forget that once you're practising you'll also need to pay for your insurance, room hire if you don't have a suitable space for your own practice etc.

wem Thu 15-Sep-11 06:46:59

Thanks, good to have a dose of reality. However, to reconstruct my bubble a bit, I have always thought I might head towards couple/family work, so it's heartening that you make that exception. Do you know anything more about that side of things?

I'd suspected that getting accreditation myself would be difficult. Guess I'd have to take a year off between this first course and the diploma and start saving.

leicestershiregirl Thu 15-Sep-11 09:20:40

There used to be detailed information on how to train as a relationship counsellor on the Relate website. As you may have guessed I've considered doing counselling training myself and looked into the various possibilities. Another thing you want to check out is the orientation of courses i.e. whether it's psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural, person-centred, integrative etc. and make sure you're comfortable with that - you should do some reading about the different orientations if you haven't already.

wem Sat 17-Sep-11 11:02:55

Thanks, I've has a read of the Relate website and feel I've got even more to think about now. It only really gives details about their own training programmes. I'd dismissed them when I first looked a couple of years ago as I thought it was better to do a more general course and then specialise, but now I'm not so sure.

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