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Rhodes Wellness College

How to Become a Professional Counsellor in Canada

learn more about Jill Cherewyk's path and see if you are suited for this fulfilling career

For many professional counsellors, their genuine empathy and concern for others has made the career path a lifelong calling. In a world that so often seems preoccupied with portraying an extroverted image of strength and success, people with a high level of sensitivity and an aptitude toward supporting others tend to take more time discovering their true calling. The counselling field attracts individuals who are able to analyze situations from multiple perspectives, withhold judgment, and consider flexible solutions according to a client’s unique context.

Jill Cherewyk always knew she wanted to get into counselling or social work. After many years in customer service, being the person that others came to when dealing with confusion, Jill found Rhodes Wellness College and was inspired by it’s philosophy of helping aspiring counsellors find healing and balance in their own lives as they learned to help others. Since earning her professional counsellor diploma, she immediately started employment with Coast Mental Health and has been hired by Rhodes College as a part time teaching assistant.

“It pretty much worked out like I hoped it would,” Jill says now. If you’re considering a career as a professional counsellor, Jill’s journey may motivate you to pursue training of your own. (Cherewyk, 2016)

Why Become a Professional Counsellor?

As former stigmas surrounding mental health fall away and emerging neuroscience research reveals new insights into the brain’s capacity for healing, governments throughout Canada and the world are increasing investments into compassionate mental health facilities. There is a particular emphasis on mental wellness in Vancouver, with a new centre opening at Vancouver General Hospital to treat people facing a mental health or substance abuse crisis. This will be the largest such facility in British Columbia. (Lupick, 2015)

Students learn to leverage their own self-awareness to support others

Students learn to leverage their own self-awareness to support others

A growing appreciation for holistic wellness has prompted more and more people to embrace solutions like meditation, yoga, and professional counselling. For Jill, the counsellor college was an opportunity to address areas needing healing in her own life and leverage this self-awareness to support others. A few exceptional counsellors had helped her overcome confusion in her past, sowing the seeds for personal growth that eventually led her to embark upon a similar career path.

Making the Leap to Counsellor College in Canada

Before making the leap to counsellor college, Jill organized some informational interviews with professionals in the field to learn more about their work. Encouraged by the discovery that they seemed thrilled with their careers, she enrolled at Rhodes College. As an adult learner, Jill appreciated its emphasis on practical skills training. According to Jill, the program values the connection between mind, body, and spirit in a unique way.

“Being a well rounded, emotionally grounded person is really what matters in the counselling field,” says Jill, noting that developing one’s emotional maturity will be of benefit for whichever career path you choose. Counsellor classes begin each day in a structure similar to a functioning therapy group, with students sitting in a circle and checking in each morning to discover what triggers anger or frustration in themselves, cultivating an understanding of personal responsibility. By connecting through this format, Jill believes “we’re better able to show up for our clients,” learning the subtleties of empathetic response. (Cherewyk, 2016)

"Being a well rounded, emotionally grounded person is really what matters in the counselling field"

“Being a well rounded, emotionally grounded person is really what matters in the counselling field”

This self-sustaining process helps students overcome the common impulse to immediately offer solutions to clients in their professional counsellor career, instead slowing down to become aware of their thought patterns, allowing a rapport to grow with clients based on patience and empathy.”If you ever go to a counsellor who claims to be a perfect person and have everything together, I would be wary of that,” explains Jill. (Cherewyk, 2016)

Beginning Your Professional Counsellor Career

While Jill has begun working for Coast Mental Health, many classmates were more interested in establishing their own counselling businesses in the burgeoning field. Some set themselves up as therapists and others preferred the healing side of counselling, even combining it with the art of Reiki. The program at Rhodes College includes professional practice and ethics training, helping aspiring entrepreneurs define their niche and effectively market their services in the community.

Students in counsellor college in Canada engage in practical community and workplace based projects as they build experience and career networks. Extensive support is provided to those interested in obtaining their Registered Professional Counsellor designation from the Canadian Professional Counsellors Association (www.cpca-rpc.ca). If “there is something inside of you that feels the urge to give,” as there clearly is for Jill, perhaps you also feel a calling toward this fulfilling career path. (Cherewyk, 2016)

Would you like to become a professional counsellor?

Contact Rhodes Wellness College to learn more about obtaining your Diploma in Professional Counselling.


Lupick, Travis. (2015, January 26). City grants final approval for new mental-health centre at Vancouver General Hospital. The Georgia Straight. Retrieved from http://www.straight.com/news/813661/city-grants-final-approval-new-mental-health-centre-vancouver-general-hospital

Quinn, P. (Interviewer) and Cherewyk, J. (Interviewee). (2016). September 30, Phone Interview [Interview transcript].

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