“Doors of the future are open to those who know how to push them.” - Coluche.

School counselling is a challenging and rewarding career choice that will allow you to help and shape many young people’s lives.

In this article, we’ll look at how to become a school counsellor, the qualifications you can get, the different types of counselling you can offer, and how teachers can move into counselling or use counselling skills.

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Qualifications for School Counsellors

Counselling and therapy are important for school students’ mental and emotional wellbeing.

What qualifications do school counsellors need?
There are specific qualifications for those wanting to provide guidance and mental health counselling in schools. (Source: StartupStockPhotos)

The knock-on effect of good mental health is usually better academic performance, too, but before you can qualify as a counsellor, there are some qualities every counsellor needs:

  • Listening skills
  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Neutrality
  • Observation skills
  • Knowledge of child psychology

Ideally, before studying counselling or child psychology, you’ll want to finish your A Levels. If you’re considering moving into school counselling, you’ll probably want to pick related A Levels, especially as they’ll help you get accepted into university courses.

As with other academic careers, you’ll probably have to get used to doing exams as throughout your GCSEs and A Levels, you’ll sit quite a few exams and complete a fair number of projects. By the time you’re studying counselling, you’ll be pretty used to them.

After A Levels, a lot of students opt to study a university degree and a psychology degree or counselling degree are good places to start. A typical degree course lasts 3 years and you’ll have the option to continue onto a Master’s Degree afterwards. It will take 4 or 5 years in total if you decide to do a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and a work-placement year or year abroad.

You can also get other qualifications in counselling that won’t take as long to complete and since a school counsellor can help students with a wide range of issues, there is a wide range of qualifications available, too.

The qualification you choose will depend on your level, aspirations, etc. so think about which type of counselling you’d want to offer and also the types of jobs available and look at the requirements for each job.

There’s no need in spending 5 years of your life studying when you can get the qualification you need within a year.

Find out more about becoming a school counsellor

Specialising in School Counselling

School counselling is a career that allows for quite a bit of specialisation as many different types of school counselling can be offered.

How can you specialise in school counselling?
While a teacher may need to learn a lot of the same skills as a school counsellor, there are specific qualifications that counsellors will need. (Source: 14995841)

Some counselling is purely based on academic guidance whilst other counselling services have a greater focus on mental and emotional health. In either case, counsellors will work with students to help them in certain aspects of their life at school. They can also help students in the event of abuse, difficulties at school, and refer them to specialists if needed.

They may also be tasked with liaising with parents concerning their child’s wellbeing so having an open and regular dialogue between the parents and the child can help.

Counselling is also really important for pupils with special educational needs, too.

Learn more about where counsellors can work

Specialising in Guidance Counselling

With career guidance and counselling, the focus is more on the academic decisions a student makes. Guidance counsellors will usually work with older students as they’re the ones who have more choices to make concerning their career and education.

How can you specialise in guidance counselling?
There are specific governing bodies offering recognised qualifications for counsellors. (Source: cvpericias)

Beyond helping students with their mental and emotional wellbeing, you can also help them with choosing the right subjects and courses for their future career, but you may also want to ensure that the choices they make are right for their career and their mental health.

Some counsellors may also provide support to students with managing projects, homework, and classwork, and:

  • Interviews
  • Observations
  • Appraisals
  • Projects
  • Special educational needs
  • Guidance

They may even put together personal goals, objectives, and learning plans. Some work with the students’ teachers in a lot of these areas. This support aims to help students with their mental well-being as well as their prospects.

School counsellors often have roles broader than just psychoanalysis. They can often be involved in several aspects of the student's well-being.

Find out more about what counselling entails

School Counselling for Teachers

There’s no reason that a teacher can’t also act in a similar capacity to a school counsellor or guidance counsellor.

Can teachers offer counselling?
Teachers can provide guidance, but counsellors will have specific qualifications. (Source: steveriot1)

Teachers may be interested in changing careers or acting more closely with students’ mental and emotional wellbeing so there’s no reason that a teacher can’t retrain if that’s what they’re interested in doing. Throughout their time teaching, they may have seen students struggling and wish they could have done more to help them. Sadly, with most of their time spent planning and teaching lessons, they mightn’t have been able to do as much as they’d have liked.

Not only will teachers have a lot of the necessary skills, but they will also be rather good at detecting specific special educational needs such as dyslexia, learning disabilities, or signs that a student is being bullied or harassed. It can also help that a teacher will already be familiar with the staff at the school. The retraining can go the other way as well, with school counsellors choosing to become teachers.

Depending on the training they go through, this might mean that they’re out of work while they complete a given qualification. While there are qualifications in counselling, if you want to keep your options open, you might want to study broader subjects like psychology.

With a degree in psychology, you could end up working as a:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Counselling psychologist
  • Educational psychologist
  • Forensic psychologist
  • Further education teacher
  • Sport and exercise psychologist

You could easily spend 8 years in post-secondary education if you choose to also do a Master’s degree or a PhD and carry on working in universities after that.

As you can see, there are a lot of career options.

Learn about how much counsellors can earn

If you're interested in learning more about counselling, psychology, or psychiatry, consider getting help from one of the many excellent private tutors on Superprof. There are tutors in a wide variety of subjects and skills offering face-to-face, online, or group tutorials to those looking to learn new things.

Each type of tutoring comes with pros and cons in terms of pedagogy and cost so make sure that you think carefully about which one would be right for you and your budget before you start your lessons.

Face-to-face tutorials are the most common and are probably what you'd imagine private tutorials to be. These are one-on-one sessions with a tutor and a student and can take place anywhere both parties are happy to meet, though they often take place in either the student's or the tutor's home. With every minute of the session dedicated to the student, these are often the most effective type of tutorials, but you can expect to pay a premium for all the extra planning and travelling the tutor will do. However, it still tends to be the most cost-effective type of tutoring available.

Online tutorials are an excellent choice for those unable to find any tutors in their local area as you can enjoy these types of tutorials from tutors all over the world. While online tutoring isn't ideal for certain hands-on subjects and skills, it can be just as effective as face-to-face tutorials with more academic subjects like counselling, psychology, or psychiatry, for example. Furthermore, since the tutor doesn't have to travel to their students, they often charge less than face-to-face tutors.

Group tutorials are great for those on a tighter budget. While you won't get to enjoy one-on-one tuition, you will end up paying less since the cost of the tutor's time and expertise will be shared amongst the students in attendance. Group tutoring is a great opportunity to learn from one another both during and outside of your tutorials.

Before you start contacting tutors, it's always wise to have a clear idea of what you're looking for in a tutor. Make a list of requirements before you start browsing for tutors on the Superprof website. Once you've found a few tutors that are what you're looking for, you can start getting in touch with them, discussing what kind of tutoring you're after, and arranging sessions.

Don't forget that a lot of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson for free so you can try potential tutors out before deciding upon which one is right for you and your budget.

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Joseph

Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.