Master’s in Counselling
A Master’s in Counselling is a skills-based programme that equips students for a career as a professional counsellor. Source: Cindy Ord/Getty Images/AFP

Do you want to work in mental health? A Master’s in Counselling could be in the books if you’re keen on helping others understand and cope with difficult issues to improve their lives.

It’s a rewarding profession, with the added benefit of job security. 

A study has found that demand for mental health services has spiked. Arming yourself with a credential in the field looks set to be a promising career path if you’re passionate about emotional, psychological, and social well-being.

The McKinsey Global Institute projects that mental health counsellors have a relatively low chance of automation potential in the US (26%). Coupled with the reduced stigma associated with seeking mental health help, this field seems poised for future growth.

What should aspiring counsellors know before pursuing a postgraduate degree in the field? 

What does a Master’s in Counselling entail?

As the name suggests, a Master’s in Counselling is a skills-based programme that equips students for a career as a professional counsellor. It typically balances theory, research and professional practice.

Different counselling programmes may be accredited by counselling bodies of their respective countries. 

Do I need to have an undergraduate degree in psychology?

You do not necessarily need to have a Bachelor’s in Psychology to pursue the degree — many programmes accept students who have successfully completed a bachelor’s degree from a recognised university.

How long will it take to complete the programme?

Typically,  a Master’s in Counselling programme may take about two years to complete on a full-time basis, and four years on a part-time basis.

What will I learn?

Courses may vary between institutions but they may typically include a wide range of subjects such as ethics in counselling; marital and family counselling; research methods and statistics; career development counselling; personality theory; and group counselling skills, to name a few.  

The course may also include a counselling internship or practicum, as well as a research project.

What are some of the skills I can potentially gain from the programme?

Some of the skills you’ll stand to gain include developing good communication skills; cultural awareness and sensitivity skills; as well as an understanding of ethical and professional issues in counselling and psychology. These are highly transferable skills that can be useful across a range of professions.

What about my career outcomes?

Counsellors can work in various settings. They can be found in schools, universities, NGOs and various offices or workplaces. Depending on your interest, you can specialise in areas such as marriage, careers or even child abuse counselling, among others.

It’s worth highlighting that a Master’s in Counselling can be useful for professionals who would like to apply their counselling skills in their profession, be it in their role as an educator or in their work as a human resource professional.