An online counsellor is a trained professional who can provide confidential support, information and therapy to people struggling with personal difficulties or mental health problems. Online counselling uses technology-assisted therapy, encompassing anything from Skype, therapy sessions/chatrooms, to email and even instant chat messaging.
With the rise of social media and an increase in demand for mental health professionals, the world of online counselling and therapy is rapidly rising. This article gives an insight into the industry of online counselling and what it takes to become a full time or part-time online counsellor in Australia.
Check out this article for how to become a life coach.
Skills and Attributes
Counsellors can deal with a wide range of issues; therefore, it is important that counsellors can provide the best therapy and help needed to their clients using the above-mentioned attributes. Professional online counsellors will show these attributes; however, the absence of non-verbal/visual cues and an absence of spontaneous clarification can lead to misunderstandings/interpretations.
Sometimes it’s not only what we say, but our body languages that show the need for further clarification, therefore, is it crucial that these attributes mentioned above are clearly demonstrated during the online session.
How to become a qualified Counsellor in Australia
Australia’s counselling sector is self-regulated meaning the Australian government are not involved in the regulation of the industry. However, many reputable counsellors are members of voluntary peak professional organisations, such as the Australian Counselling Association (ACA).
This organisation requires a minimum standard for membership, compliance with a code of ethics, work experience and ongoing professional development. This is to ensure the public has access to appropriately trained counsellors who meet industry standards.
The ACA accreditation counselling courses, which are assessed as meeting standards for quality counselling education. A Counsellor being registered/accredited with a professional body means they have achieved a substantial level of training and experience approved by their member organisation.
Counsellors and psychotherapists who are registered /accredited with their professional body will have our stamp on their profile. Counsellors who have become registered and accredited will most likely experience increased career development opportunities.
Furthermore, graduates who complete accredited courses are recognised as qualified and are eligible to be listed on the organisations’ national registers. To become a counsellor, you can study courses such as a diploma of counselling, bachelor degree, graduate diploma, masters or undergraduate degree in counselling.
A counsellor’s level of qualifications and experience determines which level counsellors can work within the sector. The ACA defines a scope of practice that defines the role and practices of counsellors ranging from early intervention and primary care to tertiary care and the entirety of mental health issues.
Career Paths of Online Counsellors
A career in counselling can open to door to a wide range of employment opportunities. Counsellors work in a wide variety of settings such as in community health centres, schools and universities, as well as for not-for-profit organisations, commercial organisations, government departments and in private practices.
Most counselling is a referral from schools, doctors and other health professionals and via internet mediums. There are many types of counsellors in all different areas but some of the most common types of counsellors include:
It is not necessary to choose a speciality area or program before starting a degree in counselling. A diploma or short course of counselling and psychology will most likely teach you some of the skills which can be applied to all counselling areas.
The Pros and Cons of Becoming an Online Counsellor
Technology has advanced to a stage where online counselling can be instantaneous, (via platforms such as skype ) or delayed with email and other messenger platforms. Online counselling is a great way to provide care to existing clients or to get into contact with new clients that are seeking counselling services. Working with clients exclusively through technology can present some challenges such as miscommunication, cybersecurity and ethical implications, therefore, it is important to mitigate these issues whenever possible.
There are also benefits that online counselling can offer such as:
The best aspect of full-time online counselling is that its accessible. This is great for clients who live in rural or remote areas or for clients working long hours and cannot leave the house. It is also for clients who are travelling or are based overseas for an extended period.
Another benefit of online counselling is its affordability. Not having to pay for office space or travel costs means the services are more affordable for clients. In addition to affordability, it is also the flexibility that is a huge positive for online counsellors. It allows counsellors to extend hours outside the normal working day for people that are only available at certain times of the day.
Finally, confidentiality is another benefit of online counselling in that clients have an added protection of remaining anonymous if they want to. This can allow for greater transparency and reduces the perceptions of the stigma associated with race, age or physical appearance. This is ideal for clients who have experienced trauma or anxiety and are hesitant about starting counselling.