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Guidance and counselling is an integral part of a school's educational provision. It can be categorised under three headings:
- Personal counselling
- Educational guidance and counselling
- Career guidance and counselling
It has developed from the US model that emphasises counselling the individual, and the European model that focuses on career guidance.
The work of the Guidance Counsellor takes place with groups and also on a one-to-one basis. It consists largely of the following functions:
- Counselling: helping pupils with coping skills for the ever changing circumstances in their personal, educational, and career development; decision-making, problem-solving, behavioural change
- Personal and social development
- Career information management to acquire, store and disseminate useful careers and courses information
- Assessment: using psychological and educational standardised measurements
- Vocational preparation: job search skills, work experience
- Consultation with parents, staff and community
- Referrals: when necessary, students are referred to qualified professionals outside school
- Evaluation of school's guidance needs and services
Personal Qualities and Skills
As a Guidance Counsellor, you must enjoy working with people, and helping them to make important decisions about their personal, education, training and employment options. The ability to put people at ease and give information clearly is important.
Good communication skills are very important. You must be able to listen carefully, and ask the right questions to find out about the client's interests, skills and values. Knowledge of assessment techniques such as as psychometric tests tests and computer guidance software is useful.
The ability to use information technology is important, whether for administrative tasks, searching the Internet for information or demonstrating guidance software.
Pay and Opportunities
Employment is usually with second level schools, universities and Institutes of Technology. Working with a private agency is also an option. Clients from disadvantaged groups are often seen. Part time work and job sharing is usual. Salary scales are the same as those for teachers. See www.publicjobs.ie for salary scales.
Entry Routes and Training
The qualification in guidance and counselling is a postgraduate one. To satisfy the entry requirements one must have a basic degree and a teaching diploma.
Employers place importance on the right personal qualities. Relevant life and work experience are also highly valued. You may have gained this in an area such as teaching, youth and community work, social work, probation work or personnel work.
Relevant courses are available at institutions throughout the country.
In general, the courses involve both study and practical experience. The following gives an indication of the subject areas covered in a guidance and counselling course:
- Counselling theory and practice
- Experimental group work theory and practice
- Career development and behaviour
- Principles and practice of psychological training
- Sociology of education
- Career information management
- Casework/counselling practice
To be eligible for work as a recognised Guidance Counsellor one must be qualified to teach in a second level school, i.e. normally hold a primary degree and a teaching qualification.
In addition, if you wish to work within a school one must have a qualification in guidance and counselling which is acceptable to the Department of Education, e.g. a one-year full-time postgraduate training programme or its equivalent.
Please see http://www.cao.ie/courses.php for more information on course qualifications.
Candidates should check the prospectus of each individual institution for information.
There is no upper age limit for entry to this profession.
Watch local and national newspapers for job advertisements
Contact your local Intreo Centre or Employment Services office for Career Guidance, planning and support that will help you make informed decisions about the best career direction for you
- Careers Working With Children and Young People
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Labour Market Information
Qualifax: Ireland’s National Learners’ Database
A qualification awarded by a university or college of higher education, following a course of study. A degree usually takes three years full-time to complete.
A higher education course or research study, undertaken by a student who has already completed a first degree. Also used to describe a student who has a first degree and is studying for a more advanced qualification.
Psychometric tests can reveal how a person's mind works, their personality and their ability to learn.
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