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What is a counsellor?

A counsellor is a trained professional who provides guidance and support to people experiencing emotional or psychological challenges, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, grief, or difficult relationships. Unlike other therapists, counsellors cannot prescribe medication. Their main role is to help clients talk through their difficulties and encourage them to bring about positive change and healing through the use of various techniques and modalities. 

Counselling could be the right career if you love helping people and are passionate about creating positive change in people’s lives. Your career as a counsellor would involve listening to people, encouraging them to discuss their feelings, and suggesting solutions. 

What does a counsellor do?

The main role of a counsellor is to provide objective emotional and psychological support to people experiencing various difficulties in their lives. These may be in relation to career, relationship, stress, health, crisis, or drug addiction. On any given day, a counsellor may come across clients with unique problems that require personalised and careful attention. 

Their primary duties include: 

  • Assessing clients to gather information about their background, concerns, and goals 
  • Providing individualised counselling and therapy using various approaches, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, or solution-focused therapy, depending on the client’s needs
  • Creating a safe and non-judgemental space for clients to express their feelings and concerns easily and openly
  • Working with clients one-on-one or in a group 
  • Active listening to show compassion and understanding to clients
  • Developing practical solutions to client’s issues and helping them set realistic & achievable goals
  • Providing support and intervention to clients in severe distress or crisis 
  • Teaching clients various coping skills, stress management techniques, and personal growth strategies to aid them on their journey to better mental health
  • Scheduling meetings with clients to check in on their progress 
  • Referring clients to other medical professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists
  • Maintaining confidential client records and writing reports 

What is the best counselling course?

There are many different counselling courses available in Australia. The field of counselling is diverse and you can specialise in a field that appeals to your interests and skill level. The best counselling course will be one that targets the particular area of counselling that you want to work in. For example, you may choose to become a:

  • Mental health counsellor to help people manage stress and depression
  • Drug addiction counsellor to help people with substance abuse issues
  • Youth counsellor to help children or teenagers work through various challenges. 

Whichever area you choose to specialise in, counselling is a rewarding career. However, it’s important to complete a counselling course that equips you with essential skills and knowledge so you can offer the best services to those in need. The best counselling courses in Australia are:

  • Diploma of Counselling
  • Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs
  • Certificate IV in Mental Health

Diploma of Counselling

This nationally recognised qualification covers various techniques and skills required to serve your clients efficiently and professionally, including:

  • Working with diverse people
  • Providing loss and grief support
  • Selecting and using counselling therapies
  • Identifying and responding to crisis situations
  • Working with people suffering from mental health issues
  • Recognising and responding to domestic and family violence
  • Promoting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander cultural safety.

A minimum work placement of 160 hours is included in the course. This prepares you with practical real-life experience so you can start your counselling journey with confidence. 

After the Diploma of Counselling you can apply for jobs like Case Worker, Counsellor, or Intake Counsellor. 

Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs

If you want to work with people struggling with drug addiction or substance abuse, this is the best counselling course for you. You will be equipped with all the necessary skills to change lives by helping people through their struggles with alcohol and drugs, including:

  • Working in trauma informed care 
  • Providing services to people with co-existing mental health and alcohol and other drug issues Increasing the safety of individuals at risk of suicide 
  • Providing interventions for people with alcohol and other drugs issues 
  • Working with clients who are intoxicated
  • Developing and reviewing individual alcohol and other drugs treatment plans. 

A mandatory work placement of 120 hours is included in this course, allowing you to gain valuable real-world experience before embarking on your drug and alcohol counselling career. 

After the Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs you can apply for job roles like Detoxification Worker, Community Support Worker, Drug and Alcohol Worker, Outreach Worker, and more.

Certificate IV in Mental Health

The Certificate IV in Mental Health prepares you with the essential skills required to provide recovery-oriented mental health services. It’s the ideal course for those entering the community services sector with an interest in promoting mental health. You will learn valuable skills such as: 

  • Working in trauma informed care 
  • Collaborating with the care network and other services 
  • Establishing self-directed recovery relationships 
  • Providing recovery oriented mental health services 
  • Assessing and promoting social, emotional and physical wellbeing 
  • Increasing the safety of individuals at risk of suicide 
  • Promoting and facilitating self advocacy.

The course includes a 120 hour work placement to help you develop your practical skills in a real community setting. 

After completing the Certificate IV in Mental Health, you can apply for roles like Community Support Worker, Mental Health Intake Officer, Mental Health Outreach Worker, or Community Rehabilitation and Support Worker.

How much you can earn after counselling courses

According to current resources, the average annual salary for a counsellor in Australia is $94,489, or $48.46 per hour.  Entry-level counsellors can earn $84,631 while more experienced positions can offer up to $114,745 per year. 

How to become a counsellor

This is an example of a career pathway to becoming a counsellor in Australia:

  1. Earn your Diploma of Counselling, either online or in-person. This course prepares you for entry-level roles in the counselling industry. 
  2. If you’d like to be registered as a fully qualified counsellor, consider expanding your education with a counselling degree like a Bachelor of Counselling.
  3. Register with the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) or Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) to enhance your credibility.
  4. Find a role in the community services industry or start your own counselling practice. 

What are the skills you need to be a counsellor?

Counsellors play an important role in promoting happiness and wellbeing in their clients by helping them work through various challenges. To be effective in their roles and provide a high degree of support, they’re required to have specific skills and attitude. These include: 


Good communication is essential for a counsellor, as counselling is a form of ‘talk therapy’. You must be able to communicate your thoughts and explain concepts to clients clearly and easily. It’s also important to be able to listen carefully and make clients feel heard and understood. 


This is more of an attribute than a skill, but it’s vital for counsellors to display objectivity and be non-judgemental in all their sessions. Counsellors accept people for who they are and in their existing condition without judging them for their choices.  


Empathy is an important skill for clients. This means you can feel what your clients are going through. This helps foster compassion and understanding and allows clients to feel understood. 


As counsellors exist to assist clients in working through their issues, problem-solving is essential. It allows you to develop strategies to help clients overcome their problems and choose the right modality to serve their unique needs. 

Is it hard to be a counsellor?

Counselling is an extremely rewarding job, but it can also be very challenging for some people. It is an extremely emotionally demanding job and you must have the patience, compassion, and emotional space to help your clients navigate through crisis, trauma, or distress. It’s important for counsellors to know how to manage the emotional toll of the work they do and stop it from affecting their life outside of work. 

What are the benefits of counselling courses?

It’s essential to take a counselling course as it prepares you with all the essential skills and knowledge to offer personalised, effective care to your clients. You will learn how to work with people from various diverse backgrounds, how to manage crisis and stressful situations, how to apply different counselling theories, and help people navigate mental health issues. 

Should you study a counselling course online?

Yes! Online study is the best way to study counselling. There are many benefits to online counselling courses, including:

  • Flexibility: Study from anywhere, anytime. You don’t have to wait for course dates to begin and can start your course as soon as tomorrow. 
  • Self-paced: Complete assignments in your own time. This means you can finish the course as quickly or slowly as you like, provided it is within the course dates.
  • Work/life balance: Start studying for your counselling career without having to take time away from your current work or life responsibilities. 

Is a counsellor a good career?

Counselling is such a rewarding career that has a positive impact on people’s lives. If you are passionate about helping create a better world, then counselling is an excellent career for you. 

Counselling courses online

There are many online counselling courses available in Australia that will prepare you to be a professional counsellor. Browse these courses on our website and study online as soon as tomorrow! 


  1. How do I become a counsellor in Australia?
    Start with a Diploma in Counselling. This prepares you for entry-level roles in the community services sector.

  2. How long is a counselling course?
    This depends on the course you choose. A Diploma of Counselling takes around 24 months to complete and includes 160 hours of work placement.

  3. How much is a counselling course?
    This depends on the course you enrol in, the institution, and the payment method you use. Many institutions offer payment plans and may even offer a discount for some students. Browse our courses and ask for a free class pack to learn more about pricing.

  4. Is being a counsellor a hard job?
    Counselling is a rewarding but emotionally challenging job. You must be able to handle situations where clients are suffering mental health issues, trauma, crisis, addiction, and other difficult issues. This is why a course is so important, it helps you to prepare for these situations.

  5. What is the next level after being a counsellor?
    If you’d like to continue your education after counselling, you may consider becoming a clinical psychologist.

  6. What is the difference between a counsellor and a psychologist?
    Counsellors and psychologists have different educational backgrounds and skill sets and work in different environments. Counsellors often work in community services, schools, and non-profit organisations, while psychologists tend to work in their own private practice, hospitals, and other mental health services.