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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Minimum qualification for counselling

    I've been told by someone doing so, that you do not need a specific counselling qualification to call yourself a counsellor (legally). I have a BA, and have worked extensively in drama and art modes which encourage self-reflection, situation analysis, reframing past occurrences, and assessing the behaviours of self and others. I have extensive experience working with young people in crisis, and people of all ages living with mental illness. I have undertaken much personal research and training, guided by friends who are psychologists. I am also a highly experienced teacher and coach. I am interested in counselling but would prefer to avoid further formal study. Do I need a minimum qualification to refer to myself as a counsellor?
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    Marina Levez

    Counsellor, Psychotherapist

    Marina specializes in working with mental health and addictions by addressing values, core-beliefs and root causes using modalities suited to the individual client. Marina is ... View Profile

    I firstly commend you on your past studies and completely empathise with you regarding having to do more study. However, I strongly believe that counselling must be done by those who are fully qualified. Life experience is but one part of being a good counsellor, the rest must be backed by study. The reason I say this is that there are different modalities, e.g. ACT, EFT, Gestalt, Person-centered, etc etc and the list goes on, that have specific skills involved and more importantly research and theory behind them. If one does not correctly use these theories and skills then how as a counsellor are we being professional and or ethical?

    The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) and Australian Counselling Association (ACA) have been working for the past few years with the government in getting counsellors recognised as allied health professionals. Although provider numbers are still not available, hopefully, this will be achieved soon.

    I pose this question, would you go to a doctor without qualifications? Would you go to a dentist without qualifications? Would you go to a psychiatrist or psychologist without qualifications? I believe not. So as you can probably tell I feel strongly that all counsellors must be qualified and further endorsed and accredited by appropriate counselling bodies, similar to doctors being on the AMA and Psychiatrists being on the APS.

    Counselling someone is not just about listening and being there with them, it is about helping and guiding and facilitating them to make changes to better their lives and themselves. Again I reiterate specific skills and knowledge are required to do this.

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