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Career Change for Counselors

Options for therapists, counselors, coaches, and teachers.

NeedPix, Public Domain
Source: NeedPix, Public Domain

Maybe you’ve had enough listening to clients complain? Or their yes-butting? Or their lack of progress? Or no-showing? Or pleading poverty when you sense it’s untrue? Or not paying?

You’ve tried or considered career tweaks. For example,

  • Turning down too-challenging prospective clients and letting go (gently) of existing ones.
  • Specializing. For example, you went from generic marriage-and-family counselor to specialist in, for example, interracial couples or men in bad relationships.
  • To counter feelings of isolation, instead of seeing clients at home or at a coffee shop, you’ve bitten the bullet and are paying rent in a building that has counselors as tenants.

But nothing has sufficiently reduced your malaise. So you want out but you’re scared: “What else could I do?” Would anyone pay me decent money to do something else?”

Do any of these possibilities appeal to you?


  • Maybe you’d like to hire a competent but not marketing-oriented practitioner(s) to do the counseling while you market and supervise, taking a piece of the proceeds.
  • Or perhaps a university might hire you to supervise counseling staff or interns.
  • Or might you like to manage professionals or paraprofessionals working for an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)—Large organizations outsource to EAP firms so their employees can get help with problems that impede their work: substance abuse, anxiety, relationship problem, etc.

Sales or its nonprofit analogue, fundraising. Core to the good salesperson or fundraiser is counselors’ ability to listen well, inferring what’s beneath the surface, and asking the right questions. Your experience as a counselor would make you particularly attractive as a salesperson for counseling-related items. Examples:

  • Practice management software.
  • Leasing agent for professional office space.
  • Selling bridal gowns or wedding venue rental.
  • Personnel recruiting. Yes, this is sales: Your main job is to convince employers to hire your firm to fill positions.

It might be easiest to break into the nonprofit realm by fundraising for a nonprofit that focuses on the kind of problem you address as a counselor. For example, a marriage-and-family therapist might raise money for a spousal or child abuse nonprofit. A career counselor might raise money for a charity that helps people find employment, for example, the Salvation Army or Jewish Vocational Services.

Tutor. The same things that may have attracted you to counseling—helping people one-on-one or in small groups in a peaceful atmosphere—are found in tutoring, but instead of psychological problems, your clients have learning issues. Might you be happier and more successful in dealing with those?

Public Relations. We’re all inundated by businesses and nonprofits pawing for our money. Counselors have skills and intuitions that can lead to successful pawing. For example, might you be good at convincing media outlets to promote your client, perhaps a counselor who has written a book and is looking to use it to get more clients?

Investigator/interrogator. The counselor’s ability to establish rapport and trust, listen well, and ask the right questions at the right time, are invaluable in the investigator and interrogator. So perhaps you could become employed by a law enforcement agency or by a corporate, governmental, or educational institution’s complaint department.

The takeaway

Even in today’s high-tech world, the counselor may not be stuck. There are many paths out. Might one of the above be at least worthy of, ahem, investigation?

I read this aloud on YouTube.

This is part of a series. The others are Career Change for Teachers, Career Change for Creatives, Careers for Liberals, Conservatives, and Libertarians, 10 Big-Impact Careers. Career Change Ideas for Boomers, 11 Big Money and Status Careers, Future-Ready Careers, and Big-5 Careers, options for major personality types.

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