How to become a counsellor

Discover how to become a counsellor in Australia. Help people navigate life’s challenges with the right coping strategies.

Begin your counselling career

  1. Complete a Diploma of Counselling or a relevant undergraduate counselling degree. You can study your counselling course online. 
  2. Develop your knowledge even further by earning a postgraduate degree in counselling or mental health. 
  3. Apply for registration with the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) or the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) to be listed on the Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (ARCAP).
  4. Gain relevant work experience in an industry setting or through volunteer roles.
  5. Meet ongoing professional development requirements as determined by your industry registration (25 hours a year for ACA members and 20 hours a year for PACFA members). Abide by the ethical guidelines of the profession.

Discover online counselling courses

Postgraduate TAS-COU-GDI

Graduate Diploma in Counselling

Undergraduate ECU-COU-DEG

Bachelor of Counselling

Postgraduate TUA-MOC-MAS

Master of Counselling

Discover online counselling subjects

Postgraduate TAS-KHA501

Counselling Skills 1

Undergraduate USA-BEHL1026

Counselling Concepts

Postgraduate TAS-KHA619

Relationship Counselling

What does a counsellor do?

Counsellors support people facing all sorts of personal issues, including stress, career changes and divorce. Many counsellors choose to specialise in a single area, like grief and trauma, family violence or First Nations youth counselling.

After earning your qualification and becoming  accredited, you’ll be able to teach clients the self-management skills they need to make positive life changes. 

Duties and tasks

  • Meet with families, couples and individuals to discuss the issues they’re facing
  • Identify effective strategies that will help clients address their challenges and set achievable goals
  • Facilitate group counselling sessions or mediate conflict resolutions
  • Refer clients to outside healthcare services and liaise with other healthcare professionals 

Industry bodies

Australian Community Counselling Association (ACCA)

ACCA supports professions that promote wellbeing services within the community. Through the organisation, members can earn clinical supervision experience and access professional development courses.

Australian Counselling Association (ACA)

With over 9,000 members, ACA is Australia’s largest industry body for counsellors and psychotherapists. The not-for-profit connects its members with training, professional development and employment opportunities.  

Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (ARCAP)

Established by the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia and the Australian Counselling Association, ARCAP is an independent register of qualified counsellors and psychotherapists.

Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA)

PACFA is an industry-leading association for counsellors and psychotherapists in Australia. Practising members operate within PACFA’s ethical standards and demonstrate an approved level of training, experience and competence.

Counselling jobs

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander counsellor 
  • Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) counsellor
  • Art therapist
  • Community support officer
  • Education counsellor
  • Family and marriage counsellor
  • Guidance officer
  • Mental health support worker
  • Refugee counsellor
  • Rehabilitation counsellor
  • Sexual assault counsellor
  • Student counsellor
  • Suicide and grief counsellor
  • Telephone counsellor

Student stories and study advice

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The stigma associated with mental health issues is quickly disappearing—what a relief! But with more people seeking help, we need more specialists (future you) in the sector.

5 mental health short courses to pivot into counselling

A short course can be a great way to upskill and become more competitive for a position as a counsellor. Learn more about what courses can help get you job-ready. 

Counsellor vs psychologist: Which career is right for you?

Are you fascinated by the inner workings of the human mind? Do you want to help people understand their emotions and behaviour? Find out if you’re made for a career in counselling or psychology.  

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