Making lives better
Posted February 8, 2012, by Aziza Green
Are you a compassionate and nurturing person with a passion for helping people overcome difficult situations? If you’re looking for a career that allows you to support people in the community while developing your counselling and communication skills, you may find the perfect fit in the ‘helping’ professions.
If you’re a fantastic listener with loads of empathy and a desire to help others, counselling may be your calling. With the help of a counselling qualification, it could be time to use your natural skills and caring to develop a career that you’ll genuinely enjoy and be fulfilled by.
Demand for counsellors and mental health workers will increase in the coming years. With increasing recognition of the importance of mental health and a government investment of $2.2 billion into the mental health sector, there’s no better time to enter the industry.
Alex Fassas is a 47-year-old mother completing a counselling degree at the Jansen Newman Institute, despite initial trepidation about going back to study as a mature age student. ‘It’s really rewarding. I can’t explain the feeling you get when helping someone in crisis. It’s made me a better person,’ says Fassas.
Getting the right training with a recognised provider is essential. ‘You need a degree to counsel people. Clinical hours are also a key factor to getting a job and are an important part of the course. It really gives you confidence with getting into the workforce because you’ve had time with real clients before you start working’, says Fassas.
Counsellors work in a range of contexts such as private practice, community services, schools, government agencies and rehabilitation centres. You could find yourself acting as mediator between couples facing divorce or counselling juveniles in a detention centre. Counselling skills are needed in many other areas as well, such as human resources and education.
Completing a psychology degree will equip you with the specialist skills to work in public, private and not-for-profit contexts as a psychologist. Studying this fascinating subject can open up a range of interesting careers for you in family and community services, human service organisations, personnel management, employment agencies, market research, health and social welfare. To excel in your career, you will need training as well as highly developed listening skills and patience.
With further study in psychology, you will be able to register as a clinical psychologist with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). This will enable you to work in a clinical capacity with government or non-government agencies, private clinics, schools, employment agencies, disability and rehabilitation centres, or in your own practice.
Social workers are committed to protecting the wellbeing of vulnerable people facing challenging situations such as mental or physical illness, disability, abuse, unemployment and grief, and protecting children and the elderly. As a social worker you could find work in hospitals, the police force, government departments such as the Department of Human Services or Centrelink, non-government organisations and more.
To be a social worker you will need to be qualified and equipped with knowledge of psychological principles, as well as resilience to help people through difficult times. In larger organisations which focus on community care, social workers can find themselves in challenging situations which require strong communication skills and assertiveness. The work can be demanding, but also extremely rewarding.
Youth work is a great career path for people who enjoy working with young people and who want to help them pursue better life choices. Working with young people can be challenging and unpredictable, but also incredibly fulfilling. You will need to have loads of energy, a positive attitude and a genuine respect for young people to thrive as a youth worker.
Working as a youth mentor or youth worker, you will get to help young people develop self-esteem and confidence. You will be a role model, guide and counsellor, providing a safe and encouraging environment for growth, practical assistance and emotional support. You can specialise in case management, alcohol and drug support or mental health support.
Coaches help people to overcome areas that are holding them back in life and, using their skills and training, help people set and achieve goals. Coaches offer support, guidance and an objective voice to address the personal or professional challenges that people face. You will need to have exceptional interpersonal skills and be trained in the fundamentals of psychology and counselling.
Potential career paths include working as a community development coach, careers coach, executive coach, life coach, fitness, health or wellness coach, or management coach.
You can study an applied social science degree or a short life coaching course for training.
Start changing lives today
Building a career in the areas of social work, psychology, counselling or coaching can be challenging, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re making a real difference to people’s lives. It’s important that you have the proper training and knowledge to deal with challenging issues and situations that may arise. It’s also vital that you understand and apply the principles of self-care in order to function at your best. If you have a desire to help others overcome their problems and live better lives, then this is the perfect career path for you.