How to Gain Counselling Experience in 2023

So, you’re considering becoming a counsellor! With qualifications, insurance, and professional memberships to consider, you have a lot on your plate. But once you’ve conquered these, there’s one more battle to face: gaining relevant counselling experience and client hours.

For many, this is the most exciting step in their counselling journey so far, but the question remains: Where can I get experience? In today’s blog post, we’ll be breaking down all the ways you can gain relevant experience in 2023. From volunteering to working, and everything in between.

Ways to Gain Volunteer Counselling Experience


Many organisations offer counselling for their clients, while others operate helplines. If it’s important to you to gain face-to-face experience, aim for the former. Organisations such as:

All have opportunities for aspiring counsellors to get involved and help. Find an organisation or charity that aligns with your values, and reach out to them, letting them know any qualifications or professional memberships you hold.

Helplines and Samaritans 

If you find you’re good under pressure at calming people down and offering a listening ear, you can find great experience working at a crisis hotline. Samaritans, Crisis Text Line, CALL Helpline, and Barnardo’s all have their own hotlines where you can help people in crisis. Listening volunteers take calls and respond to messages from people who really need a listening ear and a friendly, calm response.

Working in Your Community

While on your hunt for volunteering opportunities, why not look in your own area? You might find that organisations local to you are crying out for mental health support. Organisations like Heads Together are a great starting point for finding volunteer opportunities local to you. Also, look into your area’s charities. Hospices, housing charities, and elderly outreach programmes are often looking for volunteers to help their users.

Ways to Gain Paid Counselling Experience

Hold a Professional Membership 

If you haven’t yet looked into it, gaining a professional membership in a counsellor’s or therapist’s organisation is an excellent way to open doors. Many act as bodies where counsellors, therapists, psychologists, and coaches can claim membership and show that they have achieved a national standard. Joining a professional body can offer several benefits:

  1. Credibility: Being a member adds credibility to your professional profile. It shows that you’ve met recognised standards and undergone vetting, enhancing trust between yourself and your clients.
  2. Access to a trusted network: You’ll become part of a community of accredited professionals, potentially opening doors for collaboration, referrals, and networking opportunities!
  3. Enhanced visibility: Being a member of a professional body provides a platform to showcase your qualifications, skills, and practice to a targeted audience, aiding in marketing yourself correctly.

Internships or Residencies

Look for organisations in your area that offer internships or residency programmes for newly qualified counsellors, such as counselling centres, clinics, hospitals, or community groups. Some of these jobs may not pay at all or pay only a small salary, but the experience and connections you gain are priceless.

Private Practice Assistant

Consider working as an assistant or associate in an established counsellor’s private practise. This could involve things like light administrative work, session observation, or even minor caseload management.

Contract Work 

Contractually offer your counselling services. This could entail providing counselling services on a freelance basis to specific organisations, schools, or community groups.

Further Training and Specialisation

If you’re struggling to find work, consider specialising or adding additional certifications to your repertoire. Some popular specialist courses include:

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, we’ve given you some food for thought when it comes to gaining counselling experience this year. Whether you’re volunteering, working contractually, or working as an assistant, you’re well on your way to making a difference in the world of mental health.

Keep in mind that the pursuit of experience requires persistence, flexibility, and a proactive approach. Try to think of each opportunity as a stepping stone towards the career you want.

Explore our counselling courses here.

Any questions about becoming a counsellor? We can help! Get in touch, and our friendly advisors will get back to you. 

Check out what our students have to say about us. 

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