Could you work in addiction counselling?

August 29, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

Addiction counsellors offer advice and support to people suffering from different types of addictions, whether it is food, drug, sex or alcohol addiction. These highly specialised professionals help clients overcome their addictions by providing an outlet for them to be heard and giving them honest and caring feedback.

These professionals play a crucial role in healthcare. Being addicted has far-reaching effects on society on the whole. By helping people struggling with addiction, these professionals provide benefits to all of society. While the work can be emotionally challenging, for those who work as counsellors, the satisfaction that comes from seeing a reformed addict well-settled in society, is usually well worth it.

Different types of addiction counsellors

There are different types of addiction counsellors.

One of the most common forms of addiction counselling is cognitive behavioural counselling. In this form, behaviours of a person are linked to their unhealthy thought patterns. Counsellors in this speciality work towards encouraging their patients to change their thoughts into positive ones and work on the positive thoughts.

A person-centred counsellor provides a safe place for addicts to come and talk about their problems. In this form of counselling, the addict can share anything they want and they gain acceptance, sympathy, empathy and honesty in order to support them and help them make positive changes in their lives.

Working as an addiction counsellor

You could choose to work independently or with the NHS as an addiction counsellor or you could work for another organisation in the private sector.

Salaries in this field often start at an average of £20,000 annually, which can rise very quickly and almost double after a few years of experience. If you choose to work independently you would have the potential to earn much more than that based on location and marketing skills.

Challenges in this field

Counsellors face a number of challenges and that is why this career is best suited for those who have the energy and ability take on difficult challenges and deal with them with equanimity. Addicts often get angry and confused as they go through the rehabilitation process. Some of them may fall back into addiction and need to start the process all over again. They could also get depressed and show a number of withdrawal symptoms. It is up to you as a counsellor to try and make this process as painless as possible for the addict and support them through this transition.

Counsellors also often find it challenging to keep their work separate from their personal life. Some stories can be heartbreaking or they can get emotionally attached. Putting work aside and not letting it affect your personal life can be one of the biggest challenges you may face in this speciality.

However, while this job can be very challenging, it is also very rewarding. Counsellors who experience success with a patient get a huge sense of satisfaction that they have helped in the transition process of their client. These success stories make the challenges worth it.

Chat with us on Facebook or Twitter, or email

Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.