Counsellor Kaitohutohu

Counsellors help people to deal with challenges and manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviour.

Counsellors can apply to become members of a professional organisation such as the:

  • New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC)
  • New Zealand Christian Counsellors Association (NZCCA).

Professional organisations require members to meet quality standards, including qualifications and practical counselling experience. For example, NZAC and NZCCA require:

  • at least a Bachelor's degree in counselling
  • 200 hours' relevant work experience for provisional membership, and further counselling practice for full membership.

Counsellors may do some or all of the following:

  • provide counselling face to face, over the phone, or online
  • encourage clients to discuss challenges in their lives
  • help clients to talk about their feelings and find ways to cope
  • discuss changes that clients could make and help them to make decisions
  • research ways to deal with clients' specific problems 
  • keep client records
  • run workshops and courses.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for counsellors includes:

  • volunteer work with organisations such as Lifeline and Youthline
  • social or community work
  • work that involves helping or caring for people
  • research or study in fields such as psychology
  • life experience.

Personal Qualities

Counsellors need to be:  

  • mature and professional
  • caring, empathetic and positive
  • good listeners and communicators
  • patient and persistent
  • able to keep information private
  • able to relate to people from a range of cultures and backgrounds.

Skills

Counsellors need to have knowledge of:

  • counselling theories and techniques
  • human behaviour and thought patterns
  • grief, addiction and sexual abuse, and how these problems can affect people
  • social and cultural problems
  • research in their area of counselling.  

Conditions

Counsellors:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may do shift work
  • work in private practices, clients' homes, schools, hospitals or prisons
  • may travel locally to visit clients.

Counsellors can earn around $51K-$72K per year.

Pay for counsellors varies depending on their employer, qualifications and experience.

Counsellors working for district health boards

  • Graduates with a counselling qualification usually start on $53,000 a year.
  • Counsellors with up to five years' experience usually earn $53,000 to $72,000.
  • Counsellors with over five years' experience usually earn $72,000 to $85,000.
  • Senior counsellors with over 10 years' experience and more responsibilities can earn between $85,000 and $113,000.

Guidance counsellors working in secondary schools

  • Guidance counsellors without teaching qualifications in secondary schools usually earn between $51,000 and $62,000 a year.
  • Guidance counsellors without teaching qualifications and over five years' experience can earn between $62,000 and $75,000.
  • Guidance counsellors with teaching qualifications in secondary schools usually earn between $56,000 and $75,000 a year.
  • Guidance counsellors with teaching qualifications and over five years' experience can earn between $77,000 and $87,000.

Self-employed counsellors may earn more than this, depending on the success of their business.   

Sources: Auckland Region District Health Boards/PSA, 'Allied, Public Health and Technical Multi-employer Collective Agreement – Expires 31 October 2020,' 2020; and Ministry of Education, 'Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement 2019-2022', 2021.

Experienced counsellors may progress to set up their own private practice, or move into management roles.

Counsellors may specialise in:

  • drug and alcohol counselling
  • family counselling
  • sexual abuse counselling.

Years Of Training

3-5 years of training usually required.

To become a counsellor you usually need to:

  • have a Bachelor's degree, or higher qualification, in counselling
  • be registered with one of the professional organisations for counsellors.

The New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) requires new members to have a minimum of a Bachelor's degree in counselling.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children. 

Counsellor

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