A little advice on the needs of a counsellor
Requirement: Marriage counsellors must be patient, positive, and have a belief in what they are doing and in helping people solve problems. Listening skills, sensitivity and strong problem-solving abilities are important.
Being married is not a requirement but is a plus when it comes to understanding clients' needs, and makes bonding with clients easier.
Most marriage counselling services are offered by religious bodies whose advice and services will be based on their own beliefs and values. It is recommended, but not necessary, to share the same beliefs as your employing body.
Qualification: You need at least an undergraduate degree in social work to start. Most candidates begin in a different counselling field, for example, youth or family services. You should consider continuing your studies in other fields even after you settle on marriage counselling.
There is no professional body in Hong Kong to regulate or issue licences for counsellors, but you can undertake further study in other countries such as the United States.
Average salary: Depends on experience in the field. A counsellor with about seven years of experience can earn up to HK$28,000 a month.
Other factors include whether he or she is in private practice, or with non-governmental organisations or other similar groups. Private counsellors can charge between HK$800 and HK$2,000 an hour.
Work prospects: A marriage counsellor needs to schedule appointments with clients. The meetings can last an hour or two, based on client needs and the analysis and advice given.
Plans and goals must be set for clients, and help given to enable them to fulfil these, with the ultimate aim of bringing them self-awareness and empowerment.
Long-term prospects: Marriage counsellors can continue studying, and train to become therapists and eventually train new counsellors. Another option is to teach or do research at tertiary institutions.
Where to apply: Religious groups that offer marriage counselling or non-governmental organisations.
A day at work
Angel Ng Kit-ling is an experienced marriage counsellor and in charge of the Hong Kong Catholic Marriage Advisory Council on Caine Road. She started out in youth and family services before becoming a marriage counsellor.
Ng has been in the industry for almost a decade. While it is a '9-to-5' job, her hours can vary depending on her clients' needs. Some days she starts at midday and works into the evening. She handles about three cases a day, meeting with either one or both members of a couple in a session.