Thinking of a career in counselling?
Delrose Bowes, one of our counselling staff at City Lit, recently shared with us her experiences of counselling training.
What course(s) are you currently teaching at City Lit?
I currently teach on the accredited Diploma in therapeutic counselling course at City Lit, as well as ‘Counselling: an introduction’, and courses looking at careers in counselling and setting up private practice.
How did you develop your interest in counselling?
I’ve always been a people person, and I’ve always felt people have naturally gravitated towards me in terms of sharing their personal issues.
It made me realise I had something I could offer, which made me want to explore if counselling could be a potential career option.
I was also interested in the benefits offered by counselling training as I was aware even before starting that it could lead to lots of personal development, growth and a deepening of my own self-awareness.
Even if I hadn’t taken up a career in counselling, the training in itself is rich and rewarding, as it helps you to become a better you – improving your own self-awareness and awareness of others.
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer to any student starting on a counselling course?
Be prepared to get to know yourself, which takes courage, and can be more uncomfortable than it might first appear.
Often I find when people think about counselling careers, their first thoughts are naturally directed towards helping other people.
However, an important thing to keep in mind is that a lot of counselling training is about you, and it’s about authenticity.
That can be challenging for some people, and doesn’t come without risks, but is an important hurdle to overcome to succeed in a career in counselling.
What work would you suggest someone interested in becoming a counsellor should undertake outside of class?
Counselling is a really broad field and there are various specialisms to consider, so it’s worth developing a passion for a particular area.
We find a lot people tend to develop an interest in a certain field linked to their own personal experience.
Think about what is important to you, and think about elements of your philosophy of human nature, and how that can be applied to a counselling career. Consider what works for you.
What’s the most demanding aspect of counselling training that any prospective student should consider?
Training as a counsellor can be incredibly emotionally draining, so anyone thinking of embarking on a counselling career needs to be realistic in understanding the emotional demands involved.
It also involves a certain level of financial commitment to complete the training, so it’s better to go in with your eyes open about this prior to enrolling.
Time is also a factor – as with any training process, it takes every student time to develop both personally and professionally, so be prepared for unexpected additional demands on your time, especially as the training process can have more elements to it than you might initially expect.
What skills do you think are needed for someone to succeed as a counsellor?
I think there are four key skills anyone thinking of taking up counselling training needs to exhibit.
You need to be an active listener; be empathic (and have the patience to develop this ability); be warm and personable in all situations; and finally be authentic and genuine – if you’re not, it will be obvious.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of working in counselling?
For me, the most rewarding aspect of counselling is to be able to come alongside someone and be very present in their circumstances.
This is true despite knowing you cannot provide answers to the person you are speaking with.
It’s just important to share their experience, enter into their world as if it were your own, and be there for them.
One of the most frequently asked questions we hear from students is ‘Does counselling work?’ – what would you say to this?
As a talking therapy, counselling can help with a wide range of concerns including:
- Anxiety and stress
- Bereavement and loss
- Major life changes
- OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)
- Phobias and fears
- Redundancy and work issues
- Relationship difficulties