We had one of our counselling students contact us regarding what options and opportunities he will have once he completes his Counselling Diploma. He was a bit lost as he was finding mixed information on the internet and there is the ever-present debate if a degree in Psychology is a better option etc. Unfortunately, there is very little concrete information on this subject and the information which is present can be very contradicting and confusing.
So, with our counselling tutor’s input into this, I thought I will present some facts about what options you can have on completion of the Diploma of Counselling which is a nationally recognised government accredited qualification. We will also cover the pro and cons against a psychology degree.
Diploma of Counselling is a comprehensive 18-unit diploma which takes 1 year full time or 2 years part time to complete. It is a challenging diploma and is the highest level of qualification you can gain on a vocational level in counselling.
On completion of a diploma, graduates in the past have successfully been employed in positions including:
• Private practice counsellor
• Lifeline counsellor
• Poisons advice counsellor
• Parole officers
• Child Protection Officer
• Correctional officers
• Court & Custody Officers
• Domestic Violence Officer Family Court
• Men’s support counsellor
• Men’s workshop provider
• Centrelink interview officer
• Gender specific and trans sexual support counsellor
• Same Sex Relationship counsellor
• Community Visitor
• Home visitor’s community service assessor
• Youth Pathways Officer
• Special Needs Officer
• Welfare Officer/Counsellor Level 3
• Truancy Officer Education Queensland
• Kids Helpline Counsellor
• Emergency Services Operator 000
• Police call dispatch Coordinator
• Hospital Bereavement counsellor
Our counselling trainer qualified with the Diploma of Counselling and is also a practicing counsellor with an extremely busy practice. Our trainer has personally given employment coaching to graduates to secure some of the above positions and finds that graduates of the diploma have much better opportunities (please note employment training is part of her services and is not included with the diploma).
Employers highly value the communication skills and ethical training of a counsellor for many positions that are not traditionally seen as counselling, hence would rather employ trained counsellors in these roles.
As per our counselling trainer’s feedback:
“The only valid issue counsellors struggle with is that if we choose to go into private practice, the lack of Medicare Claim item number is a very real issue. However, it’s up to the individual to build relationships with the community including local doctors to raise your profile and if you consistently do good work, you will have no issue. Doctors want their patients to get good help and if you do great work, you will get the referrals because doctors will push clients towards you. Once a doctor recommends them clients are happy to pay the unsubsidised fee.
Good mental health counselling and relationship counselling does not go unnoticed and word of mouth will see a practice thrive. Often a good counsellor will see the same family for years from different life events. For instance, you may meet a couple for premarital counselling and then for family planning and then they bring their children to you with school anxiety and often refer their respective family members. Good practices are built on good practice.”
Do bear in mind a psychologist’s fee is never fully covered by Medicare or private insurance either and there is always a gap fee ranging from $40-$70 depending on the psychologist’s fees.
A Degree in Psychology is definitely a great option to become a psychologist, however graduates of psychology and masters will tell you not to do a 4 year degree as you are under supervision for literally years and are considered over qualified for many of the well-paying and secure jobs offered to the diploma level graduates of counselling, youth justice, community services and the like. If you are wanting to work as a psychologist and are willing to take up the 4 years degree and then supervised training required, then by all means, a degree is a good option. However if you are wanting to become a counsellor then the diploma is an excellent qualification.
Another question which get asked is should we be doing a degree in counselling instead of the diploma?
The only difference between the degree and diploma is the level of qualification. The employment opportunities, Medicare claims remain the same. So, it is just choice of qualification.
Finally, at the end of the day any course just gives you an entry into that particular industry and what you can achieve beyond that is totally up to your initiative, hard work and good practice.
Hope this article helps those who are unsure. We also run many short courses in counselling if you are wanting to do something shorter and test if this area is for you.
You can check all out at this link: Counselling Courses.