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Author: Katherine Foster

I remember back in the early 2000’s when I first started my practice (then called HR Aspects) and commenced market research to compare and contrast my expertise and experiences with competitors of the time; the internet was still in it’s infancy and very few organisations advertised on Google.

Fast forward 15+ years and there are hundreds and thousands of career providers spruiking their services on Google alone claiming to be a Career Counsellor, Career Coach, Professional Resume Writer, Career Development Consultant, Specialist or Expert. Quite frankly, for the average individual looking for someone to help them with their career related queries or concerns it is very confusing – how can you possibly sort out what services you need and want if there are multiple descriptives utilised to describe a field, blurred or outright fabrications in relation to the qualifications of service providers within that industry. In other words, how can you accurately sort the Apples from the Oranges to ensure you are receiving quality career services.

Today, I will focus my attention on the term “Career Counselling”, my insights and process that I utilise to compare and contrast service providers.

Many career service providers claim or promote themselves to be a “Career Counsellor” or to provide “Career Counselling” services when, in actual fact they do not possess a counselling qualification and/or professional membership to one of the peak counselling associations in Australia – whom establish and enforce professional guidelines, codes of conduct and ethics for professional counsellors.

The peak counselling associations in Australia are: –

To obtain membership with one of the above associations, an individual must meet minimum academic requirements, agree to the professional guidelines and codes of conduct of the association.

The Role Of A Counsellor

From a service perspective, the role of a Counsellor is to provide a safe, caring and supportive environment where clients can discuss and explore their historical and current concerns, to help clients’ investigate options and meaningful solutions so they can move forward with confidence.  That is, it is not the role of a Counsellor to advise or tell clients’ what to do; rather it is the role of the Counsellor to provide a sounding board and avenues for exploration thereby empowering the client to make their determinations.

The above, is achieved through what is commonly referred to as Talk Therapy utilising a variety of therapeutic models, techniques and tools for example Gestalt Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Eye Movement Integration Therapy, Person Centred Therapy etc.

As you can see the role of a Counsellor is involved and requires specialist training and skills set; it is not something that you can just say hey – I want to be a Counsellor so tomorrow I will just start adding the work Counsellor to my services and go from there – No –  it takes a huge investment in both time and money.

Tips For Verifying Credentials and Experience

The purpose of this article was to make you aware that there are service providers out there that either knowingly or unknowingly misinterpret their qualifications to the general public to gain an edge or capture a particular audience – target group.

To help you determine if a Career Counsellor is above board I have provided 5 questions for you to answer when conducting your research.

  1.   Does the Career Counsellor have a nationally registered counselling qualification i.e. are they are member of the Australian Counselling Association or Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia?

The Australian Counselling Association has a Find a Practitioner” feature on their website that allows you to type in the name of the Counsellor and to ascertain if they are a current member and what areas they work in.

I am unaware if the Psychotherpay and Counselling Federation of Australia offers a similar service as I am a Member of the Australian Counselling Association; however, you can always telephone the association and confirm if an individual is a member of the association.

  1. If the service provider does not have a Counselling qualification, what is their key qualification? and When studying their key qualification did they undertake a counselling module as part of their study – if so how long did this module run for?
  1. How long has the “Career Counsellor” been in practice or worked in the industry?
  1. How much continual professional development does the practitioner undertake each year

NB there are minimum standards set by each association and if a member does not achieve these then their membership can be revoked.

  1. How much professional supervision does the practitioner undertake each year?

Once again there are minimum standards set by each association for which a member must abide and if a member does not achieve these standards then their membership can be revoked.

If a practitioner can not or will not answer these questions, then they have something to hide.

Remember even if they do provide you with answers to these questions it is always good to verify the information you received by researching the practitioner through the “Find a Practitioner” function on the associations website or by calling the association to ascertain if the individual or practice is a current individual or organisational member. 

Katherine Foster - Blu Ripples Founder; Professional Member CDAA, Member of ACA and Published Author


Katherine is the Founder of Blu Ripples a specialist Career Counselling and Consulting practice located in Port Stephens NSW. Katherine is a nationally registered Career Development Specialist and Counsellor; is a Professional Member of the Career Development Association of Australia, Member of the Australian Counselling Association. Katherine has worked in private practice since 2003 and prior to that worked in the corporate sector for a period of 12 years predominantly in Human Resources and Administration.

© 2018 - Katherine Foster T/as Blu Ripples 
Update 18 Feb 2024; Originally Posted 12 Jan 2018
Katherine's Photograph: 2023

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