What are the steps to becoming a licensed counsellor?

If you’re interested in psychology and are sensitive and patient in nature, you could have a successful career as a counsellor.

After completing your training, you’ll use your extensive knowledge of psychology and psychological therapies to support your clients through difficult times and help them find strategies to cope. 

Counselling is challenging yet extremely rewarding work. However, becoming a licensed counsellor isn’t something you can do overnight. There’s training to complete and experience to gain as you navigate your career path. Whether you’re preparing for your final years of school, or you have an established career but fancy a change, the journey to becoming a counsellor is the same. 

In this article, we explore the steps to becoming a licensed counsellor. 


As a qualified counsellor, you’ll be supporting people through difficult times. Your work will therefore sometimes pose a risk to you and your business. Obtaining counsellors’ insurance will help protect you financially and reputationally. 

Your insurance should cover public liability and professional indemnity at a minimum. Public liability will offer protection if someone is hurt because of your business, such as being injured while on your property. Professional indemnity insurance will protect you and your business if you’re accused of malpractice. 


Becoming a professional counsellor in the UK requires certain qualifications. You will need to complete a bachelor’s degree in counselling or psychology and your course must be accredited by a relevant industry body, such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). 

The job market for counselling is extremely competitive, so consider getting a master’s degree to improve your chances of finding employment. 


Counselling is a practical skill, so having real-world experience will be crucial when applying for jobs or further education. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find a paid work experience opportunity. Don’t expect this to be the norm, though, as many businesses providing opportunities for experience will not offer remuneration. 

Volunteering is a great way to obtain practical skills if you can’t find work experience. Get in touch with counselling bodies to see if they have any volunteering opportunities or sign up to volunteer for a listening or support service. 

Important skills 

You’ll need to have a variety of skills to be a successful counsellor. Being able to actively listen to people when speaking is crucial, as well as taking a non-judgemental approach. You’ll also need to be calm and patient, as going through counselling may be a stressful and emotional journey for those you support. 

A deep understanding of psychology and the theory behind different psychological techniques will also be vital. As time goes on, these theories may adapt and new ones will be discovered, so staying up to date on the latest research will be another important aspect of your job.