How to write a counsellor CV (With definition and examples)
Updated 30 March 2023
Counsellors require important qualifications and essential core skills to work in this role. When applying for counsellor jobs, it's vital to highlight these elements on your CV to ensure that employers can quickly identify whether you're a suitable candidate. If you've recently qualified as a counsellor, you might be writing a CV for the first time and wondering how to structure it. In this article, we explain what counsellor CVs are and outline how to write a CV for counselling jobs, alongside looking at some examples.
What are counsellor CVs?
Counsellor CVs are professional documents that counsellors use when applying for jobs in their field. Counsellors are professionals that work with clients to assist them with their emotional and psychological difficulties, such as depression and anxiety, and try to encourage them to make positive changes in their life to improve their wellbeing. Like most CVs, it's helpful to split this type of CV into the following sections:
education and qualifications
Some people also choose to include the following optional sections in these CVs:
website and social media
Good CVs are relatively short and succinct, so aim for no more than two pages in length. If you're relatively new to the workforce and have little experience, a single page is adequate. Using bulleted lists, columns, bold text, line breaks and subtle colours can help to break up the different sections of your CV. It also highlights the most important information and makes the document easy for hiring managers to scan.
How to write a CV for counselling jobs
Below, you can find out how to write a CV for counselling jobs, alongside some examples:
1. Contact details
A contact details section is typically the first section to include in a CV for counselling jobs. Put your name, location, phone number and email address at the top of your CV to make it easy for hiring managers to contact you. To save space, you can put this in the document's header. Example:
Manchester, M11 1MM
2. Professional profile
The professional profile is a short paragraph that summarises your most relevant skills, qualifications, achievements and personal attributes. It can also briefly explain what your career goals are, which can help a hiring manager to understand why you're interested in a particular role. These profiles are typically 50-100 words in length and are usually written in straightforward language.
Try to tailor your professional profile for each individual job you apply for to highlight your experience or specialist knowledge that's most relevant for that particular role. Additionally, avoid using cliches or mentioning too many personal attributes in your professional profile as you can list these in a separate section.
Example: Professional profile: Committed MA-qualified and BACP-registered counsellor with four years of experience supporting young people in clinical settings. Extensive expertise in theoretical approaches to counselling with specialist knowledge of dialectic behavioural therapy. Strives to utilise experience in dealing with depression, emotional regulation and self-destructive behaviours to support patients with personality disorders.
3. Key skills
Including a key skills section is another important element to include for these types of CVs and can be a great way of tailoring a CV to a specific role. One way of structuring this section is to lay out your key skills in a bulleted list that's split into two or three columns to save space and make it easy to scan.
Although it may be tempting to list every skill you can think of, instead, highlight those which are most relevant to the role. To do this, check the job description and include 5-10 of your strongest skills that you think are most desirable to the prospective employer. Try to limit each skill to just 1-3 words and include relevant memberships, qualifications or attributes, such as the type of BACP membership you have and your counselling specialisation. For example, you might mention that you have a driver's licence if the job you're applying for involves travelling to patients' homes.
dialectic behavioural therapy
current and full DBS check
Related: 10 essential counsellor skills
4. Employment history
Next, list your employment history, starting from your current or most recent role and working backwards through your previous positions. If you've had many different jobs, focus on those which are most relevant to the position to which you're applying. You can include placements you had during your counselling training and any relevant voluntary work you've undertaken. If you have space, list your oldest and least relevant jobs and only include basic information, such as dates, employer and job title, to give a full outline of your employment history.
When writing this section, start each role with the date of employment, the name of the employer and your job title. Then, write a brief overview of the job that's no more than one or two lines. Beneath this, write bulleted lists of your key responsibilities and achievements. Try to include lists in this section as they're easier to read than paragraphs and they help the reader to focus on the role's key responsibilities. In these lists, mention who you worked with, the skills and knowledge you gained, details about the work environment and your positive work results.
November 2018-present: Manchester High School, Counsellor
Assisting students, teachers and parents in developing coping mechanisms and providing mental health management in a busy inner-city secondary school. Key responsibilities:
assessing client needs and developing counselling intervention plans
listening to clients, analysing complex issues and finding solutions
referring clients to other health care professionals and support services as necessary
monitoring client responses to counselling and adjusting intervention plans appropriately
liaising with teachers, parents and other relevant individuals to arrange additional support for clients
attending training to continue professional development
maintaining thorough records and delivering reports to senior staff where necessary
completing weekly audits to ensure quality assurance
attending supervisory sessions
I developed a mental health awareness campaign to draw attention to counselling services and saw an increase in new clients who were previously unaware of the support available.
I created a self-guided stress management workbook for teachers and staff, with 95% of staff reporting that they found it helpful in reducing stress levels.
5. Education and qualifications
For this section, list your education and qualifications succinctly so that they're easy to scan. Start with the highest-level qualification first and work backwards. Ensure that you include any additional training courses you've completed to develop specialist knowledge in a particular area of counselling. Employers may not be particularly interested in low-level qualifications like GCSEs, so only mention them if you have space and avoid listing every subject individually.
MA counselling, merit: Manchester University, 2018
BSc psychology, 2.1: Leeds University, 2015
A-levels in psychology (A), sociology (A) and English literature (B): Leeds College, 2012
10 GCSEs, grades A*-B: Leeds Secondary School, 2010
Most employers request references at some point during your application, either when deciding which candidate to offer the job to or after offering you the job and pending the signing of contracts. Although you can include references on your CV, many people prefer to include a simple References available upon request statement instead.
Not only does this save space on your CV, but it also means that you can select referees that are most relevant to the role when the prospective employer asks for them. It also gives you the chance to get in touch with referees and let them know that a prospective employer is going to contact them.
Including a short section on your interests can help you to demonstrate some of your personal attributes that are relevant to the role. For example, if you do charity work, this demonstrates your caring nature and willingness to sacrifice your time to help others. If you're applying for a job as an art therapist, you can mention your involvement in relevant clubs or societies or any personal achievements you've accomplished as an artist.
Interests: In my spare time, I organise community charity events to raise money for a local youth club. I also enjoy reading, creative writing and painting.
8. Website and social media
Some counsellors have a website or social media pages that are relevant to their work and they include the links to these with their contact details. In this section, only include links that are genuinely relevant to your profession and the role to which you're applying. For example, if you create informative blog posts or videos that offer support and coping mechanisms for people that are struggling with stress or other mental health issues, a link to your website or social media profile can be valuable.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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