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Would like to train to be a counsellor - anyone have any experiences of this and subsequent careers ?

(16 Posts)
tyres Wed 07-Oct-09 13:03:35

I am excited that I have finally hit upon 'what I want to be when I grow up' (I am 42). I would love to become a counsellor.

Has anyone studied for this and what are your job experiences afterwards ?

I am thinking of initially doing a 'taster' with the OU to see if I fit the bill, but would really like to go on and do a PGDip.

Any experiences - good or bad - would be interesting to hear.


SmallScrewCap Wed 07-Oct-09 13:08:20

A number of charities can offer training and BAGS of experience in counselling, if you are prepared to volunteer for a year or more. Samaritans & ChildLine spring to mind - see if any are in your area & running a recruitment meeting soon, both have them fairly regularly.

I think a taster is a good idea before you splash significant cash - courses can be very expensive. You probably know this if you've looked into it, but you're usually required to undergo extensive counselling yourself.


SenseAndSenility Wed 07-Oct-09 13:13:20

Snap! I realised that I wanted to be a counsellor a few years ago, but it has taken me a few years short while to get off my arse on with it!

I have just started my Certificate in Counselling Skills having done a taster course last term. I'm loving the course and the people I'm meeting, but I'm also interested in finding out about how things are likely to develop as I go forward. I think a taster course is great in helping you decide whether to study or not.

I'm 37 and my youngest has just started full time school.

Watching your thread with interest!

tyres Wed 07-Oct-09 13:14:00

hi SSC. Thanks for your reply. I was indeed thinking of approaching charities - would they give basic training though ? and yes, I have seen that I will need couselling myself - a bit nerve wracking but would be open to it.

Niecie Wed 07-Oct-09 13:15:10

I have no advice - I am the same as you (except I am 43).

I am currently in the middle of an MSc in psychology and wondering what to do with it. People tell me I would make a good counsellor but I haven't any experience.

Have you done a 10 week introduction to counselling course or do you have any real experience?

The OU is great (am doing my MSc with them) but if you don't have any experience I would query doing the counselling course with them as you won't get any experience that way either. You are very much on your own with them unless you get tutorials or a summer school. They have a new foundation degree in counselling though don't they? Don't know how they deal with this issue.

tyres Wed 07-Oct-09 13:16:58

S & S. Good luck with your course. Do you know which area you would like to 'specialise' in ?

TwoManyFallsAndYouGetABadScore Wed 07-Oct-09 13:17:50

watching thread with interest as I know I am going to want a career change in the next 3-5 years (probably when DC2, due in March starts pre-school).

I was a Samaritan - I'm surprised they offer training in Counselling because they don't really counsell as such, just listen. Twas a long time ago I volunteered though.....

tyres Wed 07-Oct-09 13:18:17

I think voluntary might be the way to go in the first instance Niecie. I haven't looked into it yet, but of course, experience is going to be key.

SmallScrewCap Wed 07-Oct-09 13:22:53

Hi tyres, yes they do, have a look at the Samaritans and ChildLine.

Neither course is accredited, but some courses will allow hours spent at a charity to count towards your qualification.

There's nothing like throwing yourself in at the deep end to see if it's really for you. Charity courses will also give you very clear feedback about how you're getting on, as they want to make sure they are spending their training budget on people who will be good at it. I know that sounds a bit scary, but it's actually invaluable.

justanothertenminutes Wed 07-Oct-09 13:23:24

Tyres I just wandered over to this section to ask this exact question myself.

<continues lurking>

Niecie Wed 07-Oct-09 13:24:37

Yes, volunteering is probably the way to go but I think I need to fit in the Intro to Counselling course at my local college (couldn't do it this term due to an exam in 2 weeks which needs my attention).

I would hate to do more harm than good by not even knowing the basic 'rules'!

And I may turn out to be absolutely rubbish too!

SenseAndSenility Wed 07-Oct-09 13:28:45

Thanks Tyres. I am not sure about a specialism - my course is general. When I
move on to the next stage (which in my local college is a Foundation Degee rather than a Dip)I will need a work placement, so I guess I may need to have some idea by then.

TwoManyFalls - I think the listening skills you learn at Samaritans are useful experience and are valid on the early stages of a counselling course. Some of my colleagues have had that experience too.

SmallScrewCap Wed 07-Oct-09 13:29:07

Niecie, the people who start off thinking they might be rubbish often make the best counsellors, precisely because they are more prepared to listen and to learn

tyres Wed 07-Oct-09 13:30:48

Niecie - I think the intro to counselling will obviously be useful for basic theory and techniques, but there's nothing like hands on experience. It's a bit scary but I do feel fired up by it. good luck !

Niecie Wed 07-Oct-09 13:37:01

Tyres - I'm not suggesting that you need to do the basic course just that I personally wouldn't feel comfortable without one because of my fear I might be rubbish and I would like a bit of structure to work with.

I identify with scary though! Good luck to you too.

Smallscrewcap smile

MadreInglese Tue 20-Oct-09 14:03:38

Samaritans will train you to be a listener, not a counsellor

Please don't use them just as a step in your career, a lot of time, effort and resource goes into the training and they are always very short of enough volunteers

You might be best to go to an OU centre if you have one nearby (or any other uni) and have a chat with a tutor/adviser there

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