How To Become A Counsellor

You may be only one or two steps from becoming a Registered or Accredited Counsellor with The Association of Cooperative Counselling Therapists of Canada.

Is counselling the right profession for you? Research has shown the following 10 qualities are essential to being an effective and competent counsellor:

  • Patience: As counsellors, we adopt an unhurried state with our clients as they process, during and between, sessions.
  • Active Listening Skills: Counsellors spend a significant amount of time listening deeply and reflecting back what they are hearing to our clients.
  • Compassionate: It is very important that our clients sense that we truly care about them.
  • Nonjudgmental: The counselling environment needs to be a safe place for a client to share their most intimate concerns, without fear of being judged.
  • Competency-Oriented: As counsellors, we must be willing to continue our own self- discovery work while learning, growing and staying current within our chosen field.
  • Empathetic: This is the ability to deeply understand the feelings of others; to enter the inner world of our clients and see the situation from their point of view.
  • Discretion: Confidentiality is of the utmost importance when you are a counsellor.
  • Encouraging: Actively demonstrating faith in our clients to make the life transitions they seek.
  • Self-Awareness: A counsellors must be aware of their own fears, insecurities, and challenges in order to be effective in the therapeutic relationship.
  • Authenticity: An attitude of genuineness is vital when working with clients.

If you hold a certificate or diploma; bachelor's degree; postgraduate certificate; master’s degree or Ph.D. in counselling or a related field from an accredited school; or have equivalent experience and training and meet our education/training and direct client hours criteria then we invite you to submit your application to ACCT.

Please check our Counsellor Criteria page for specific education/training and direct client contact hour requirements prior to submitting your application. 

For information on the application process click here.

If you are just beginning then we suggest you:

  • Select an Institution that offers a Certificate, Diploma, Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree or Ph.D. program in Applied Counselling (or equivalent). Enroll in and complete the program. This generally takes on average between 12 – 30 months for a diploma, 4 – 6 years for a degree or masters degree, depending on the pace and content of the program. The following points may help as you choose your program:
  • All Universities and Community Colleges in Canada are registered, however, not every private or web-based online school is. ACCT does not have a list of recommended schools; you can check with provincial agencies (see below for provincial links) and also be aware of the existence of diploma and degree scams.
  • To register as an RTC/AC - Candidate with ACCT requires completion of 360 education/training hours in applied counselling and 100 hours of direct client contact. (Specific Criteria for education/training and what qualifies as direct client contact can be found on our Counsellor Criteria page).
  • To register as an RTC/AC with ACCT requires completion of 360 education/training hours and 200 hours (or more) of direct client contact. (Specific Criteria for education/training and what qualifies as direct client contact can be found on our Counsellor Criteria page).
  • Successful completion of a counselling ethics course is mandatory.

A number of counselling schools and training institutions are Associate Members of ACCT.  Please go to the Associate Schools Directory for more information on counseller training courses offered.

For information on schools and training institutions in your province please follow the links below.

British Columbia: The Private Careers Training Institutions Agency 

Alberta: Alberta Information Learning Service

Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Advanced Education

Manitoba: Manitoba Advanced Education and Literacy

Ontario: Superintendent of Private Career Colleges

Québec: Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, de la Recherche, de la Science et de la Technologie. or the Association des collèges privés du Québec. Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, or the Quebec Association of Private Colleges

New Brunswick: Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour

Nova Scotia: Department of Education and Early Childhood Development

Prince Edward IslandPrince Edward Island Department of Education

Newfoundland & Labrador: Department of Advanced Education and Skills

Yukon and Nunavut: There are no private training counselling schools in the Yukon or Nunavut.

Northwest Territories: The NWT does not have legislation to register private training