How To Become A Counsellor In BC

Last Updated on August 27, 2022 by Smile Ese

A BC Registered Counselling psychologist can take care of clients with a wide variety of issues through psychotherapy and counselling. When looking for how to become a counselor in BC you may be wondering if it is possible as with formal education, individual clinical experience, and university training all play an important role. Working as a counselor requires more than just academic knowledge and gaining the immense experience needed to work in this field can be difficult for some.

Are you interested in a rewarding career in Career counselling? If your answer is ‘Yes’, then you need a program that will provide a real-life experience working with clients. As a counsellor in BC, you have to have a Masters Degree in Social Work or a Masters Degree in Counselling from a recognized university. This MSW program provides the necessary pre-requisites to begin your career as a great team builder and social worker/counselor.

Becoming a professional counselor in British Columbia is easy with the accredited, college approved counseling program from Mount Royal Academy. The counselling program has been developed by Anthony Eke who has over 15 years of experience in the field. His online Counselling Degree program will provide you with the skills and knowledge you’ll need to become a professional counselor in BC.

Going through the article below means gaining access to the best information on how to become a counsellor in Canada, how to become a school counsellor in BC, registered clinical counsellor Canada and so on.

Not just that, you will also discover related posts on counsellor salary BC, clinical counsellor salary BC, how do I become a registered clinical counsellor in BC and so much more right here on Collegelearners.

What Is The Difference Between Counselling and Psychotherapy

There are so many variants in the field of counselling and psychotherapy. The two terms are often confused by individuals, who presume them to mean the same thing. This article explains in detail how both these fields are different from each other.

The roles of professional counsellor and psychotherapist overlap in several contexts.  Both interact with clients using knowledge and skill to produce predictable therapeutic results. Interactions by the counsellor and psychotherapist are based upon ethical and recognized treatment strategies to help clients alleviate cognitive and emotional distress.  Both professionals may qualify for designation as mental health providers through various professional associations and regulatory colleges.

How to Become a Professional Counsellor in Canada | Rhodes Wellness College

Counselling tends to be concerned with pressure management and improvement of every day motion . With the intention of helping men and women cope with their problems, counselling addresses psychological concerns , people’s emotions, issues, griefs and worries. Counselling may also contain development of mental assets or an enhancement of one ‘s capacity to react to demanding occasions.

Counselling and psychotherapy are both ways of helping people by talking to a trained professional. People who come for counselling or psychotherapy often want to discuss a certain problem in their life, such as a relationship problem causing distress, a personal crisis, a health issue which is beginning to have an impact on their life, or a problem with work or study affecting their mental wellbeing. Counsellors and psychotherapists can help them learn more about themselves and other people, think more clearly about what they want from life, develop strategies for solving problems and take action to improve their situation.

Counselling is a way of helping people sort out their issues and problems. It can be done on a one-to-one basis, but sometimes a group of people go to a counsellor together. There is no such thing as the ‘correct’ style of counselling, and it is best defined by what works for the person doing the counselling. Different counsellors use all sorts of different ways to help people, but most often it involves supportive listening, or talking in order to help clarify thoughts or feelings.

The differences between the two disciplines are based primarily on severity of clients’ symptoms; length and depth of treatment; and level of the practitioner’s training and clinical experience. A counsellor typically treats mental health issues that are less severe and shorter in duration than those that require psychotherapeutic interventions.

How To Become A Counsellor In BC

For some, becoming a counsellor has been a life-long calling that has been beckoning to them since their childhood, while others find themselves drawn to it later in their life.

I’ve been practicing for many years, and I believe the work is fulfilling on a deep level. Here’s a walkthrough of how you can follow in my footsteps and join the world of professional therapy.

What is a Counsellor?

The counsellor role is trained to provide counselling services to clients, focusing on acting within ethical guidelines, and meeting specific competency standards. They treat clients who are experiencing symptoms that cause cognitive, emotional, or behavioural impairment in their lives and those who want to improve their personal growth and general productivity.

In this role, you will apply recognized psychological theories, respond to outcomes and shifts in clients, and address each of your clients with a customized treatment plan, often through communication and overview of existing frameworks for mental health.

Education

One of the key elements for entering this profession is a strong theoretical and practical foundation, obtained from intensive and relevant schooling. Whether you want to work with “mini-adults” or adults.

Certificate and Diploma

One option in this area is to take a counselling certificate or diploma program. Certificates can be less than a year of study, while diplomas may range from 1-2 years. The topics they can cover can be broad and general or more specialized to a specific area, like complex trauma or child and youth counselling.

Some examples of programs in the BC area where you can get registered clinical counsellor training are the Kelowna College of Professional Counselling, which offers customized certificates and diploma programs, or the Vancouver Community College course in foundational counselling skills.

Bachelors and Masters

This path is significantly longer and more expensive than a certificate, but it provides more in-depth education and a smoother pathway into the industry. Bachelors programs that specialize in counselling psychology are generally non-existent. The real specialization will take place once you enter your master’s program.

But before that, you will have to do four years, or five. Any university degree will do, meaning you can take the time to study some other interests or focus on adjacent fields. For instance, a bachelor of arts or science in psychology may give you a starting look into counselling, or you might seek out a bachelor of social work. As long as the prerequisites are met.

Regardless it would be best to do well and boost your extracurricular portfolio to set you up for acceptance into the more focused masters program. One downside of going this route is that bachelor’s degrees are often focused entirely on theory, avoiding more practical counselling skills in most cases.

If you want more hands-on education before you hit your masters, it can make sense to look for a co-op program that offers real-life professional engagement. Do your research here.

Now that you’ve found yourself at the end of a fruitful four years, it’s time to go for your masters, a prevalent option when it comes to training counsellors. It’s optimal because it offers a wealth of deepened theoretical knowledge and the chance to acquire and develop field skills. Often graduate counselling students will have to decide on a specific area of intense study for their thesis.

Researching schools here is essential, as the type of courses you take on will have a significant impact on what you learn over the next two to three and a half years (which is on top of the years you’ve already dedicated to a bachelor’s degree).

The Masters in Counselling program at the University of Northern British Columbia is one such choice with courses available for working with parents and families or indigenous communities. Another option is the Counselling Psychology MA at Simon Fraser University, which offers studies in ethics and assessment procedures. The most specialized of these schools is City University of Seattle, with the location in downtown Vancouver. 

PhD

While the other two paths are the most popular, the Ph.D. route is another one you can take if you don’t mind being in school for an extended period. However, if you go this route, you may still do counselling work but will likely find yourself working in research or other fields. You wouldn’t necessarily call yourself a counsellor with this sort of educational backing, which makes sense since you’ll qualify as a doctor.

Many of the same concerns for the master’s program apply here. One example of a Ph.D. program is the Counselling Psychology degree at the University of British Columbia. It offers in-depth training using the scientist-practitioner model, building on your research skill and your ability to be a professional psychologist.

Online Courses

With the advent of COVID-19, many courses have moved online, so if you were to go to school now, you’d likely find yourself working remotely. However, once this pandemic has gone by, there will still be the question of whether you should pursue online courses vs. physical ones.

The advantages are apparent. It’s much more convenient to reach your classes when they can be accessed with the touch of a button, and with video-conferencing technology, it becomes more comfortable than ever to feel like you’re in the classroom. However, you will have trouble networking with your classmates, and some people may find online courses not to suit their temperament and learning style. It also makes it more difficult to get hands-on experience.

If you decide to go with the online route, make sure that the program is legitimate and recognized by the province. Also, check the curriculum to make sure it offers the education you need and the type of courses that best suit your interests as a counsellor.

All this being said, this first step of education is a core part of how to become a registered clinical counsellor in BC. However, there are issues with existing training due to the scarcity of expertise and the costliness of undergoing education. Keep an eye out for new training strategies and procedures coming in the future.

Professional Associations and Certifications

An excellent way to boost your career and improve networking is by joining professional associations. Similarly, it can make sense to get counselling certifications to stand out from the crowd and hone your skills in different ways.

Associations

One particular association of note is the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. Being able to join their ranks means that you can classify yourself as a Registered Clinical Counsellor. This designation guarantees to your clients that you’ve met the educational and training requirements suggested by the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors.

This eligibility requires that you first have a master’s degree from an accredited institution and that you have completed the counselling course requirements in each of the six areas:

  • Normal development and/or abnormal Psychology
  • Ethics
    Basic research design
  • Counselling and personality theories
  • Family therapy theory and practice
  • Group therapy theory and practice

You also need to have had 100 hours of clinical supervision as verified through a legitimate reference. As long as you meet all these requirements and send in an application, you can be a member of the association, providing you with connections and qualifications that will benefit your career.

Another association that you might consider joining is the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association. This national non-profit will similarly provide a registered status as well as access to events and training. Membership with them requires a minimum of 450 training hours, 90 of which are practicum hours with an accredited education provider, and provision of various supporting documents

Certifications

Certifications can refer to the certificates previously mentioned and can include any number of specialized certificate courses, like those focused on counselling women or minorities. The more qualifications you have in this area, the better you are angled to get a position in a field of counselling that interests you.

Another way to obtain a certification is through the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. Rather than just membership, it requires that you fill out an application that will ask you questions about direct practice experience as well as the type of coursework you’ve completed.

With a combination of education, association status, and certifications, you’re well on your way to becoming a counsellor.

On Careers

While the nitty-gritty details may be necessary, even more critical is your broader motivation and long-term goals within the counselling field. You want to make sure before you jump in that it’s the right fit for you and that you won’t burn out or become disillusioned.

So ask yourself, what is your motivation for going into this field? Is it something genuine and authentic? Also, consider whether you’re self-aware enough to make it and, if relevant, whether past counselling experiences (as a client) have shaped your perspective and understanding of the field.

You may want to think about whether you will jump into private practice. You will still need extensive clinical supervision and counselling experience before making the jump to independent work, but it is something to contemplate as a long-term milestone.

Another crucial element is whether you’re ready for an intensive schooling regimen. Make sure you can succeed in your courses and that you’re willing to sacrifice years and thousands of dollars into pursuing this dream.

Lastly, ask yourself whether you love the profession, whether you want to help people, and walk others through the most challenging parts of their lives. Counselling, regardless of focus, is all about helping people in a variety of ways, and you have to love doing that if you want to succeed. If you can answer all these questions with confidence, then you may be cut from the right cloth to have a long and fulfilling career in the field.

Components of Success

If you’ve decided, all there’s left to do is focus on being successful. You must have good listening skills and the ability to engage and emphasize actively. Encouragement, open-mindedness, and creative problem-solving are particularly relevant as well. It would be best to develop an intuitive sense of problems and how you can best help resolve them.

You should also have a firm grasp of technology. Computers and tablets, digital audio equipment, and word and spreadsheet processing software will all be used regardless of what study area you decide to work in, making the capability to handle all these moving parts another hidden part of being a good counsellor.

Closing Thoughts

Jumping into the field of therapy and social support is not a decision to be made lightly. As you can hopefully see from the above, there is a lot to consider when making this choice, and even pursuing education alone could take many years and a lot of money.

Think deeply about your passions, your qualifications, and your strengths before diving into this world. Counselling may be hard to define but the rewards are concrete and lasting. If you still think it’s for you, then there’s no time like the present to get started.

If you’re passionate about becoming a counsellor in BC, a profession which I wholeheartedly recommend, it makes sense to talk to someone in the field first. You can contact Well Beings Counselling by booking a session with one of our head clinicians who can give you the insight and expertise you need to make the best decision possible.

Professional Counselling: What's Involved? - International Career Institute  Australia

What Are Professional Counsellors Trained To Do

The entry-level counsellor is trained to provide counselling services consistent with the ethical guidelines and competency standards set by the profession.  Counsellors treat clients who are experiencing symptoms that cause mild impairment in cognitive, emotional or behavioral function, but are still marginally functional in most areas of life; and clients who wish to enhance their personal growth or productivity.  The entry-level counsellor selects and applies appropriate treatment strategies based on recognized psychological theories, anticipates the outcome, and responds competently to each client’s unique situation in areas such as:

  1. depression and anxiety related disorders
  2. addictions: prevention, recovery and follow-up treatment
  3. youth, family and couples conflicts
  4. suicide and emergency intervention
  5. loss and grief
  6. abuse and domestic violence
  7. career planning
  8. group and workshop facilitation
counselling therapist courses in BC | Rhodes Wellness College

Professional counsellors are trained to help you explore your personal issues, life, family or relationships. They will provide you with options and advice on how to cope with difficult situations. They will assist you in identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and help you create a roadmap for how to deal with specific issues in your life. Professional counsellors work one-on-one and in groups most of the time. They may also work with groups or communities.

Professional counsellors are trained to listen. They help people develop understanding, ask appropriate questions and may suggest ways of looking at a situation from a different perspective. They also help people gain a sense of determination and control over their lives. Counselling focuses on increasing a client’s self-understanding and awareness of feelings, thoughts and behaviours. It helps clients to resolve problems, deal with the stress of change, cope with life transitions and to enhance their own personal growth.

Professional counsellors are trained in the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders. They are masters level clinicians who have graduated from accredited training programs in counsellors’ education, have extensive clinical experience under supervision, and have gained the educational background needed to best provide evidence-based treatment.


Characteristics of the effective counsellor include:

  1. A comprehensive education in counselling theory and experience in a clinical setting.
  2. A basic curiosity to learn and understand human dynamics.
  3. Self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses. Knowing who you are is the most important instrument you possess as a helper.
  4. A genuine caring and nonjudgmental acceptance of others.
  5. Willingness to stick with clients through the sometimes slow process of change without imposing your own visions and values on them.
  6. The ability to instill hope in disillusioned clients.
  7. Flexibility in applying strategies for change and adapt your techniques to the unique situations of each client.
  8. Respect for clients from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds.
  9. Ability to take care of yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, socially, and psychologically.
  10. When confronted with problems, take the initiative to deal with them.
  11. Continue to engage in self-examination of your own needs, issues beliefs, and values.

For some, becoming a counsellor has been a life-long calling that has been beckoning to them since their childhood, while others find themselves drawn to it later in their life.

I’ve been practicing for many years, and I believe the work is fulfilling on a deep level. Here’s a walkthrough of how you can follow in my footsteps and join the world of professional therapy.

Registered Counsellor BC

What Is A Counsellor

A counsellor provides confidential, professional support to people experiencing problems in their lives. Counselling can help you understand your past or current situation in a new way that allows you to accept your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. This may lead to changes in your behaviour or goals for the future. Counsellors are licensed professionals who can help you deal with personal problems, family stresses, marital difficulties, or work-related issues. They can also help people who have drug or alcohol problems.

The counsellor role is trained to provide counselling services to clients, focusing on acting within ethical guidelines, and meeting specific competency standards. They treat clients who are experiencing symptoms that cause cognitive, emotional, or behavioural impairment in their lives and those who want to improve their personal growth and general productivity.

In this role, you will apply recognized psychological theories, respond to outcomes and shifts in clients, and address each of your clients with a customized treatment plan, often through communication and overview of existing frameworks for mental health.

counselling therapist courses in BC | Rhodes Wellness College

Education

One of the key elements for entering this profession is a strong theoretical and practical foundation, obtained from intensive and relevant schooling. Whether you want to work with “mini-adults” or adults.

Certificate and Diploma

One option in this area is to take a counselling certificate or diploma program. Certificates can be less than a year of study, while diplomas may range from 1-2 years. The topics they can cover can be broad and general or more specialized to a specific area, like complex trauma or child and youth counselling.

Some examples of programs in the BC area where you can get registered clinical counsellor training are the Kelowna College of Professional Counselling, which offers customized certificates and diploma programs, or the Vancouver Community College course in foundational counselling skills.

Bachelors and Masters

This path is significantly longer and more expensive than a certificate, but it provides more in-depth education and a smoother pathway into the industry. Bachelors programs that specialize in counselling psychology are generally non-existent. The real specialization will take place once you enter your master’s program.

But before that, you will have to do four years, or five. Any university degree will do, meaning you can take the time to study some other interests or focus on adjacent fields. For instance, a bachelor of arts or science in psychology may give you a starting look into counselling, or you might seek out a bachelor of social work. As long as the prerequisites are met.’

FACTBC Update on the College of Counselling Therapists in B.C. | Rhodes  Wellness College

Regardless it would be best to do well and boost your extracurricular portfolio to set you up for acceptance into the more focused masters program. One downside of going this route is that bachelor’s degrees are often focused entirely on theory, avoiding more practical counselling skills in most cases.

If you want more hands-on education before you hit your masters, it can make sense to look for a co-op program that offers real-life professional engagement. Do your research here.

Now that you’ve found yourself at the end of a fruitful four years, it’s time to go for your masters, a prevalent option when it comes to training counsellors. It’s optimal because it offers a wealth of deepened theoretical knowledge and the chance to acquire and develop field skills. Often graduate counselling students will have to decide on a specific area of intense study for their thesis.

Researching schools here is essential, as the type of courses you take on will have a significant impact on what you learn over the next two to three and a half years (which is on top of the years you’ve already dedicated to a bachelor’s degree).

The Masters in Counselling program at the University of Northern British Columbia is one such choice with courses available for working with parents and families or indigenous communities. Another option is the Counselling Psychology MA at Simon Fraser University, which offers studies in ethics and assessment procedures. The most specialized of these schools is City University of Seattle, with the location in downtown Vancouver. 

BC Association of Clinical Counsellors

PhD

While the other two paths are the most popular, the Ph.D. route is another one you can take if you don’t mind being in school for an extended period. However, if you go this route, you may still do counselling work but will likely find yourself working in research or other fields. You wouldn’t necessarily call yourself a counsellor with this sort of educational backing, which makes sense since you’ll qualify as a doctor.

Many of the same concerns for the master’s program apply here. One example of a Ph.D. program is the Counselling Psychology degree at the University of British Columbia. It offers in-depth training using the scientist-practitioner model, building on your research skill and your ability to be a professional psychologist.

Online Courses

With the advent of COVID-19, many courses have moved online, so if you were to go to school now, you’d likely find yourself working remotely. However, once this pandemic has gone by, there will still be the question of whether you should pursue online courses vs. physical ones.

The advantages are apparent. It’s much more convenient to reach your classes when they can be accessed with the touch of a button, and with video-conferencing technology, it becomes more comfortable than ever to feel like you’re in the classroom. However, you will have trouble networking with your classmates, and some people may find online courses not to suit their temperament and learning style. It also makes it more difficult to get hands-on experience.

If you decide to go with the online route, make sure that the program is legitimate and recognized by the province. Also, check the curriculum to make sure it offers the education you need and the type of courses that best suit your interests as a counsellor.

All this being said, this first step of education is a core part of how to become a registered clinical counsellor in BC. However, there are issues with existing training due to the scarcity of expertise and the costliness of undergoing education. Keep an eye out for new training strategies and procedures coming in the future.

Professional Associations and Certifications

An excellent way to boost your career and improve networking is by joining professional associations. Similarly, it can make sense to get counselling certifications to stand out from the crowd and hone your skills in different ways.

Associations

One particular association of note is the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. Being able to join their ranks means that you can classify yourself as a Registered Clinical Counsellor. This designation guarantees to your clients that you’ve met the educational and training requirements suggested by the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors.

This eligibility requires that you first have a master’s degree from an accredited institution and that you have completed the counselling course requirements in each of the six areas:

  • Normal development and/or abnormal Psychology
  • Ethics
    Basic research design
  • Counselling and personality theories
  • Family therapy theory and practice
  • Group therapy theory and practice

You also need to have had 100 hours of clinical supervision as verified through a legitimate reference. As long as you meet all these requirements and send in an application, you can be a member of the association, providing you with connections and qualifications that will benefit your career.

Another association that you might consider joining is the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association. This national non-profit will similarly provide a registered status as well as access to events and training. Membership with them requires a minimum of 450 training hours, 90 of which are practicum hours with an accredited education provider, and provision of various supporting documents

Certifications

Certifications can refer to the certificates previously mentioned and can include any number of specialized certificate courses, like those focused on counselling women or minorities. The more qualifications you have in this area, the better you are angled to get a position in a field of counselling that interests you.

Another way to obtain a certification is through the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. Rather than just membership, it requires that you fill out an application that will ask you questions about direct practice experience as well as the type of coursework you’ve completed.

With a combination of education, association status, and certifications, you’re well on your way to becoming a counsellor.

On Careers

While the nitty-gritty details may be necessary, even more critical is your broader motivation and long-term goals within the counselling field. You want to make sure before you jump in that it’s the right fit for you and that you won’t burn out or become disillusioned.

So ask yourself, what is your motivation for going into this field? Is it something genuine and authentic? Also, consider whether you’re self-aware enough to make it and, if relevant, whether past counselling experiences (as a client) have shaped your perspective and understanding of the field.

You may want to think about whether you will jump into private practice. You will still need extensive clinical supervision and counselling experience before making the jump to independent work, but it is something to contemplate as a long-term milestone.

Another crucial element is whether you’re ready for an intensive schooling regimen. Make sure you can succeed in your courses and that you’re willing to sacrifice years and thousands of dollars into pursuing this dream.

Lastly, ask yourself whether you love the profession, whether you want to help people, and walk others through the most challenging parts of their lives. Counselling, regardless of focus, is all about helping people in a variety of ways, and you have to love doing that if you want to succeed. If you can answer all these questions with confidence, then you may be cut from the right cloth to have a long and fulfilling career in the field.

Components of Success

If you’ve decided, all there’s left to do is focus on being successful. You must have good listening skills and the ability to engage and emphasize actively. Encouragement, open-mindedness, and creative problem-solving are particularly relevant as well. It would be best to develop an intuitive sense of problems and how you can best help resolve them.

You should also have a firm grasp of technology. Computers and tablets, digital audio equipment, and word and spreadsheet processing software will all be used regardless of what study area you decide to work in, making the capability to handle all these moving parts another hidden part of being a good counsellor.

Kelowna College of Professional Counselling

how to become a counsellor in canada

A minimum requirement for becoming a certified counsellor in Canada is to have a master’s degree in counselling or a related field. Other fields can include art therapy or specialty counselling in school, addictions, community and agency, vocational, rehabilitation, trauma, or aboriginal. A master’s degree program is an additional two years of post-secondary education. Graduate-level coursework includes:

  • theories of counselling
  • communication skills
  • counselling techniques
  • professional ethics
  • electives in four areas, including human development, lifestyle and career development, learning, psychological education, research, diversity, gender issues, and individual, couples, family, or group counselling
  • supervised counselling practicum totalling 150 to 800 hours depending on education and experience

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