Are you thinking of becoming a counsellor?

Counsellors help people to deal with their feelings and responses, and decide on actions they can take to solve problems and create change in their lives.

What you will do

Counsellors may do some or all of the following:

  • encourage clients to express their feelings and talk about what is happening in their lives
  • listen, respond to, and reflect with clients
  • help clients understand themselves, their needs and how to meet them
  • discuss changes that clients could make, and the consequences of those changes
  • support clients in making decisions
  • research ways to help deal with specific client problems
  • run workshops and courses for clients.

Skills and knowledge

Counsellors need to have:

  • counselling skills and up-to-date knowledge of different counselling theories and techniques
  • research, communication and listening skills
  • skill in analysing and evaluating human behaviour
  • an understanding of human development and relationships
  • knowledge of social and cultural issues
  • knowledge of self-care strategies.

Working conditions


  • generally work regular business hours
  • work in offices and counselling rooms but may travel to visit prisons, schools, marae, clients' homes and other counselling centres.

What are the chances of getting a job?

Chances of getting a job as a counsellor are currently poor for those looking to enter the occupation but good for those with experience.

Despite growth in the number of counsellors, current government strategies have led to a reduction of funding for counselling-related work. This has meant less work is available and competition is high for positions that arise.

As a result, some graduates are struggling to achieve the number of counselling hours required to qualify for New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) membership.

Where to study

A number of tertiary institutes around Aotearoa/New Zealand offer counseling education. 

The best courses offer theory and practice that matches the NZAC requirements (see

Currently the minimum requirement to become a Provisional Member of NZAC is a Level 6 diploma course with 200 hours of supervised clinical practice.  A further 300 hours supervised clinical practice may lead to full membership (see the application pack for the full requirements).

Please note that by 2019 the planned minimum will be a Bachelors degree

(Please also see:

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