The Role of The Guidance Counsellor


The Role of The Guidance Counsellor




Adult Guidance5

The Role of the Guidance Counsellor7

Vocational, Education & Personal Guidance8

Labour Market Education & Training14
Equality & Diversity15
Managing A Service & Programme Delivery15
Information & Resource Management16
Counselling Skills17
Ethical Principles & Professional Practice18
A Model of Practice of the Guidance Counsellor20
Who is entitled to access Guidance & Counselling Service? 21 Locations & Settings23
Referral Services24

Welcome to the IGC

The Institute of Guidance Counsellors established in 1968, is the professional body representing over 1300 practitioners in second level schools, third level colleges, adult guidance services, private practice and in other settings. On behalf of it’s members and their clients the Institute has a liaison and advocacy role with government departments, management and trade union organisations, national parent bodies, higher and further education institutions, employment and training agencies.

Introduction to the Role Document

Members of the Executive of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors have prepared this document. This document seeks to reflect ‘best practice’ for Guidance Counsellors. This document is not prescriptive. Its primary purpose is to provide useful information for those interested in the profession of Guidance Counselling and to assist existing Guidance Counsellors in planning and fulfilling their role and function, in the context of the ethos, culture, and environment in which they work. The Institute of Guidance Counsellors wishes to promote the highest standards of professional practice. This document should be read in conjunction with the current Constitution & Code of Ethics of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors.


The role of the Guidance Counsellor is to engage in personal, educational, and vocational counselling with clients throughout the lifespan, in the particular circumstances of their life.


Membership of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors is open to those individuals, who have successfully completed a programme of study, recognised by the Institute, for the purpose of admission to membership. The Institute recognises two strands, through which individuals can obtain

1. The first of these strands admits to membership graduates of professional training programmes, constituted to prepare individuals to work as Guidance Counsellors in second level and further and higher education

2. The second strand admits to membership graduates of programmes constituted to work with adults in a guidance and counselling role. Both strands admit suitably qualified applicants to full membership of the Institute of Guidance Counsellors, upon successful completion of their separate courses. Such membership does not of itself confer any employment rights, in specific Guidance and Counselling roles, given that employers of Guidance and Counselling graduates may lay down a range of other qualification requirements, for employment in their specific sector.


The institute recognises at the time of publication of this document, the following Irish Guidance and Counselling programmes, currently being offered by third level institutions, as meeting its entry requirements, for those seeking employment in education settings. An up to date list of recognised qualifications is always available on the Institutes website at

▪ Higher Diploma in School Guidance and Counselling (NUI Maynooth) Higher Diploma in Guidance and Counselling (NUI Cork)
▪ Graduate Diploma in Guidance and Counselling (University of Limerick) ▪ Masters of Education – Guidance and Counselling (Trinity College Dublin) ▪ M.Sc. in Educational Guidance and Counselling – Mode B (Trinity College) ▪ Postgraduate Certificate/Diploma/MSc in Counselling and Therapeutic Communication (University of Ulster) plus (DAS)

Adult Guidance

The Institute recognises the following Irish Guidance and Counselling programme, currently being offered, by NUI Maynooth, as meeting its entry requirements, for those seeking employment in an adult guidance role. All courses currently accepted for membership of the IGC, will be reviewed every three years. Individuals presenting qualifications obtained from colleges in other jurisdictions will have to fulfil a basket of entry requirements, which must include the following generic core components.

|COMPONENT |HOURS | |1. Knowledge | | |Role and functions of the guidance counsellor (managing the guidance service) | | |Career development and the nature of work |24 hours | |The Psychology of Human Development and Behaviour |24 hours | |Counselling theory |24 hours | |Professional issues (e.g. ethics, record keeping) |12 hours | |Multicultural, Special Educational needs and equality issues |6 hours | |Guidance programme planning / Whole school planning |6 hours | |2. Skills Development | | |Guidance skills development |24 hours | |Counselling skills development |24 hours | |Experiential group work |24 hours | |Psychometric testing |30 hours | |Information management and systems |12 hours | |Personal growth/development, which should include personal counselling. |12 hours | |3. Field Practice | | |Guidance practice and supervision.
|24 hours | |Counselling practice and supervision. |24 hours | |Appropriate placements |48 hours |

The Role of the Guidance Counsellor

The seven areas of professional practice of the Guidance Counsellor are as follows:

The practice of vocational, educational, and personal guidance across the lifespan.

The Guidance Counsellor has the competency:
▪ To facilitate career/life choices through the lifespan ▪ To facilitate educational choices through the lifespan ▪ To facilitate personal choices through the lifespan ▪ To assess through the lifespan

Facilitation of career/life choices through the lifespan

The Guidance Counsellor will have knowledge of the major vocational guidance theories, understand the theoretical origins of career development work, and use a theoretical framework, through which to understand individual career development.

The Guidance Counsellor will demonstrate the ability to:
▪ Describe change and transition in the context of lifespan career development ▪ Help individuals adapt to and manage change and transition ▪ Help individuals understand and accept that change and transition are normal parts of life

The Guidance Counsellor will demonstrate the ability to describe work/life balance in the context of lifespan career development ▪ Understand the need to balance the multiple roles assumed by individuals throughout their career development ▪ Understand and integrate into practice that making a living is only one component of one’s identity ▪ Understand that individuals, their values and the environment are interdependent ▪ Can foster career management strategies by helping individuals develop the skills to effectively manage their careers ▪ Helping individuals understand that career management is a lifelong process ▪ Helping individuals understand how societal trends play a major role in career management ▪ Promoting individuals’ independence and self-confidence ▪ Increasing individuals’ awareness of opportunities and options ▪ Understanding and agreeing on possible outcomes

▪ Working out steps needed to make and implement a decision so individuals achieve goals

Can refer individuals to the appropriate sources by

▪ Assisting clients in selecting services and resources to meet their needs ▪ Helping individuals to develop skills for research ▪ Assisting individuals in obtaining services outside the boundaries of the Counsellor’s expertise ▪ Facilitating case management

Can conduct a needs assessment by

▪ Assisting individuals identify their career development needs holistically in the context of their lives ▪ Determining whether individuals’ needs are within the scope of practice of the Counsellor and, if not, determine appropriate referral ▪ Providing a context for the career development service ▪ Assisting the Counsellor and individual to negotiate and contract the service to be provided ▪ Assisting individuals to identify their work-related interests, skills, knowledge and values ▪ Helping individuals to become self confident, self reliant, resilient, enterprising, and prepared to match the demands of knowledge based economies and fluid societal change.

Facilitation of Educational choices through the lifespan

This requires the ability to:
▪ Foster an appreciation of the value of, and a commitment to engage in, Life Long Learning (that is) supportive of life/work goals. ▪ Guide individuals and groups of individuals to develop educational plans. ▪ Create and maintain a developmentally appropriate ‘Personal Profile’ and ‘Education Portfolio’. ▪ Assist individuals in their decision making process. ▪ Assist individuals to build and maintain a positive self-image. ▪ Assist individuals to improve their self-awareness and self-knowledge. ▪ Guide individuals in their educational course selection. ▪ Assist individuals to overcome learning difficulties. ▪ Motivate and help individuals to see the benefit of taking part in international exchange programs.

When working with young people, have the ability to:
▪ Consult and collaborate with parents in relation to their children’s educational progress and development. ▪ Where appropriate to assist teachers/tutors to enhance their formal and non-formal methodologies in the use of guidance resources in a school/adult setting. ▪ Facilitate teaching colleagues in implementing appropriate aspects of guidance programme within the curriculum.

When working with adult clients:
• Facilitate their successful engagement, with appropriate education/training. • Support the individual in long term planning and the guidance of a personal portfolio. • Provide continuity of support across modules and tutors / trainers. • Facilitate Adult Education Colleagues to implement appropriate aspects of guidance within the adult education programme.

Facilitation of Personal Choices through the lifespan
The guidance Counsellor is involved in Personal/Social Guidance. This requires the capacity to:

▪ Assist clients to develop self-awareness of their personal values, attitudes, beliefs and those of others. ▪ Help clients identify strategies for building self-esteem and that of others. ▪ Facilitate clients in identifying and expanding existing coping strategies. ▪ Assist clients to understand the importance of emotional expression and develop appropriate ways to express feelings in different contexts. ▪ Assist clients develop their communications skills

▪ Help clients in understanding the importance of positive thinking and help clients develop the ability to use this life skill effectively. ▪ Assist clients in understanding the impact of stress on emotional and social health and assist them in developing personal skills for managing stress.


▪ Assessment involves the integration and evaluation of data inventories, tests, interviews, scales, and other techniques, which measure an individual’s abilities, aptitudes, barriers, life roles, interests, personality, values, attitudes, educational achievements, skills, and other relevant information. ▪ The Guidance Counsellor identifies when the use of an assessment is appropriate, which test instrument to use, test interpretation, which is, interpreting, and explaining to a client the results of an assessment and the implications thereof. ▪ The one to one personal interview is a necessary first step in attempting to establish an understanding of the client’s present circumstances, as well as an appreciation of his/her personality, values, attitudes, interests, ambitions, motivations and barriers or perceived. The interview will also afford an opportunity to establish information as to client’s educational achievements to date. ▪ The guidance counsellor is responsible for the maintenance of professional standards in the administration, interpretation, and dissemination of tests and results.

The guidance and counselling process aims to help clients to grow in self-knowledge and self-esteem by assisting them to:

Understand personal emotions, abilities, interests and special aptitudes Acquire information about education and career opportunities within a changing society Make and carry out appropriate life choices and plans and achieve satisfactory adjustments in life

Labour Market Education and Training

▪ The Guidance Counsellor will have knowledge of the range of educational training opportunities and an awareness of the sources available. ▪ The Guidance Counsellor will have an understanding of how the labour market operates, its trends and likely future direction ▪ The Guidance Counsellor will maintain up to date labour market information ▪ The Guidance Counsellor will have the skills to facilitate individuals in their labour market preparation and job search explorations which could include interview preparation, CV preparation and letters of application ▪ The Guidance Counsellor will have a knowledge of organisational and employment structures.


Equality and Diversity

▪ Guidance Counsellors recognise, understand, and respect diversity and conduct their work in sensitive ways. ▪ Counsellors should pay attention particularly to the language they use in conversation with clients and avoid outdated words or terms which may stereotype or cause offence to individuals.


Managing a Service and Programme Delivery

Guidance Counsellors maintain professional standards in delivering and managing their service to clients by ▪ Maintaining client records
▪ Using planning and time management skills
▪ Follow appropriate procedures and policies within their employment ▪ Establish and maintain collaborative work relationships ▪ Evaluate the service provided
▪ Liase with the appropriate relevant bodies


Information and Resource Management

Guidance Counsellors:
▪ Recognise the need for systematic, efficient, and effective information and resource management in their work ▪ Have a knowledge of legislation governing freedom of information, data protection etc. • Have a responsibility to ensure that current information is gathered, organised and disseminated to provide clients with the widest range of options. • Must keep up to date with ICT (Information and Communications Technology) • Assist clients in accessing and interpreting information effectively. The effective management of information and resources should provide for the following: ▪ Access to information technology including Internet and e-mail ▪ Research

▪ Outreach work
▪ Careers exhibitions
▪ College open-day visits
▪ Work-place/industry visits
▪ College Open Days
▪ Guest Speakers
▪ Development of publications and resource material relevant to the client base ▪ Newsletters
▪ Effective use of notice boards and information points ▪ Up-dating careers library


Counselling Skills

Counselling is central to the work of the Guidance Counsellor. Guidance and counselling is an interactive process between counsellor and client, which can involve working with the individual in a one-to-one or group setting. The skills of empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard facilitate clients in identifying options, making decisions, and resolving difficulties. These skills also include: active listening, clarifying, paraphrasing, setting boundaries, contracting, challenging, focusing, motivating, utilising non verbal communications, probing, questioning, reflecting feelings, prioritising issues, structuring and summarising a session and reviewing progress.

Counselling participation can be categorized under three integrated areas of activity: 1. Educational Guidance and Counselling
2. Career and Vocational Guidance and Counselling
3. Personal Guidance and Counselling

Guidance and counselling may involve facilitating and assisting clients with the following: • Emotional issues
▪ Social issues
▪ Cultural issues
▪ Relationship and developmental issues
▪ Developing self management skills
▪ Coping with transitions
▪ Coping with crises
▪ Promoting and developing personal awareness, working with feelings, perceptions, and internal or external conflict. ▪ Economic and labour market issues

Ethical principles and professional practice

Guidance Counsellors operate according to the Ethical Principles and Professional Practices as laid out by the Institute of Guidance Counsellors Code of Ethics.

Guidance Counsellors:
▪ Respect the dignity, integrity and welfare of their clients ▪ Set and maintaining appropriate boundaries
▪ Adhere to appropriate confidentiality and legal limits ▪ Safeguard the storage, retrieval and disposal of clients’ records both written and electronic ▪ Develop and maintain their professional competence ▪ Engage in professional supervision of their work

▪ Interpret instruments for which they are qualified ▪ Recognise the limits of their training and experience and make appropriate referrals

▪ Membership of the IGC is maintained by adhering to the Code of Ethics of the Institute. Failure to do so could lead to loss of membership.

A Model of Practice of the Guidance Counsellor
in a Guidance and Counselling Service

Who is entitled to access a Guidance and Counselling Service?

The entitlement of citizens of the European Union to Guidance is outlined in the Resolution “Guidance throughout life in Europe”, adopted on the 28th May 2004, during the Irish Presidency. The resolution states, “All European citizens should have access to guidance services at all life stages, with particular attention being paid to individuals and groups at risk.”

The Council states that:
1. In the context of lifelong learning, guidance refers to a range of activities1 that enables citizens of any age and at any point in their lives to identify their capacities, competences and interests, to make educational, training and occupational decisions and to manage their individual life paths in learning, work and other settings in which these capacities and competences are learned and/or used.

2. Guidance provision within the education and training system, andespecially in schools or at school level, has an essential role to play in ensuring that individuals’ educational and career decisions are firmly based, and in assisting them to develop effective self-management of their learning and career paths. It is also a key instrument for education and training institutions to improve the quality and provision of learning.

3. Guidance throughout life contributes to the achievement of the European Union goals of economic development, labour market efficiency and occupational and geographical mobility by enhancing the efficiency of investment in education and vocational training, lifelong learning and human capital and workforce development.

4. Effective guidance provision has a key role to play in promoting social inclusion, social equity, gender equality and active citizenship by encouraging and supporting individuals’ participation in education and training and their choice of realistic and meaningful careers.

5. Guidance in the Member States of the European Union is provided through a wide diversity of structures, delivery systems and practices across education, training, employment, unemployment and private and community sectors. Such diversity provides a rich basis for cooperation and mutual learning.

6. Guidance can provide significant support to individuals during their transition between levels and sectors of education and training systems and from school to adult and working life; to young people re-entering education or training after leaving school early; to persons re-entering the labour market after periods of voluntary or involuntary unemployment, or homemaking; to workers where sectoral restructuring requires them to change the nature of their employment; and to older workers and migrants.

7. High quality guidance provision throughout life is a key component of education, training and employability strategies to attain the strategic goal of Europe becoming the world’s most dynamic knowledge based society by 2010.

Foot Note 1
Examples of such activities include information and advice giving, counselling, competence assessment, mentoring, advocacy, teaching decision-making and career management skills. A variety of terms are used in Member States to describe services engaged in these activities, including educational, vocational or career guidance, guidance and counselling, occupational guidance/counselling services, etc.

Locations & Settings for the Practice of Guidance & Counselling

The work of the guidance counsellor takes place in a variety of locations and settings such as: • Primary Schools
• Post Primary Schools
• Higher Education Institutions
• Colleges of Further Education
• Adult education centres
• Local Employment Service Network
• Statutory agencies
• Community Based Services
• Area Based Partnership Companies
• Prison Education Services
• Ex-Offender Services
• Drug Rehabilitation Services
• Psychological Services
• Special Education Services
• Private practice

Referral Services

The guidance counsellor both accepts referrals and, when necessary and appropriate, refers clients to other professionals for specialised services. The guidance counsellor initiates the referral and supports the client at all stages of the process. Up to date referral sources should be maintained.

Listings of Referral Services

General Practitioners, Healthcare Services, NEPS, JLO, Victim Support Services, Addiction Services, Youth Services, Community Services, Mental health Services, Attendance Officers, Ethnic/Minority groups Services, Social Services, HSE, Employment Services, Training Services, Disability Services, Youth Cafes & Information Centres.

Support Groups & Help lines:

Suicide Bereaved, Bereavement, Addictions, Eating ( Body Whys), Gay/Lesbian (Sexual) , Teen Between, Seedlings, Rainbows, Victim Support, Aware, ISPCC, Samaritans, AA, NA, GA, Grow, Victim Support, Court Supports, Teen Parents.


European Union Resolution on Strengthening Policies, Systems and Practices in the field of Guidance throughout life in Europe adopted at the 2585th Council meeting of the Education, Youth, and Culture in Brussels, on 27-28 May 2004.

Guidelines for Second Level Schools on the Implications of Section 9 (c) of the Education Act 1998, relating to students access to appropriate guidance.

Career Guidance and Public Policy, Bridging the Gap-OECD Paris 2004.

Irish Education Act 1998.

Ireland – National Development Plan 2007-2013.

Learning For life – White Paper on Adult Education 2000.

Planning the School Guidance Programme – NCGE and DES 2004.

Report Irish National Guidance Forum 2007. (Awaiting Publication July 2007)

Ethical Principles & Professional Practice

Counselling Skills

& Resource Management

Managing of Guidance Service & Programme Delivery

Equality & Diversity

Labour Market Education & Training

The practice of Personal Education & Vocational Guidance throughout the lifespan

Guidance Counsellor

Educational Guidance & Counselling

Career Vocational Guidance & Counselling

Personal Guidance & Counselling


▪ Job Search
▪ Goal Setting
▪ Information Technology
▪ Vocational Education & training
▪ Interview Preparation
▪ Career & Employment Opportunities
▪ Planning


▪ Subject Choice
▪ Courses
▪ Levels
▪ Testing Administration
▪ Study Skills
▪ Exam Techniques


▪ Motivation
▪ Self Awareness
▪ Self Management
▪ Care & Support