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NOC Code: NOC Code: 4153 Occupation: Family, marriage and other related counsellors
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Family, marriage and other related counsellors assist individuals and groups of clients to identify, understand and overcome personal problems and achieve personal objectives. They are employed by counselling centres, social service agencies, group homes, government agencies, family therapy centres, and health care and rehabilitation facilities, or they may work in private practice. Family, marriage and other related counsellors assist individuals and groups of clients to identify, understand and overcome personal problems and achieve personal objectives. They are employed by counselling centres, social service agencies, group homes, government agencies, family therapy centres, and health care and rehabilitation facilities, or they may work in private practice.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Scroll down the page to get information on career planning, education and training, and employment and volunteer opportunities.

Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Reading 1 2 3 4
Writing Writing 1 2 3 4 5
Document Use Document Use 1 2
Digital Technology Digital Technology 1 2 3
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3 4
Money Math Money Math 1 2 3
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1 2 3
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2 3
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2 3
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2 3

  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.

  • Read email from clients, co-workers and colleagues. For example, read email from clients confirming appointments. Read email from colleagues requesting information about your counselling services and wait times. (1)
  • Read case notes to review observations made and goals set during counselling sessions. In some cases, read lengthy passages which explain clients' life circumstances. (2)
  • Skim newsletters and bulletins to identify community resources for clients and training opportunities for yourself. For example, family therapists read bulletins circulated by provincial associations of family therapists to learn about upcoming training events. (2)
  • Read text entries and comments on intake and referral forms to learn about clients' backgrounds and presenting problems. For example, marriage counsellors review entries on clients' intake forms to understand why clients are seeking relationship counselling. (2)
  • Read referral letters from other professionals including psychiatrists, lawyers, probation officers and medical doctors. For example, disability counsellors read referral letters from physicians outlining the medical needs of clients. (3)
  • Read counselling guides and manuals to enhance your skills and prepare for counselling sessions. For example, play therapists may read manuals to learn about new play therapy techniques that can be used to evaluate children's adjustment to divorce. Addictions counsellors may read manuals about gambling addictions to evaluate the appropriateness of content for group therapy programs. (3)
  • Read academic journals and resource books to learn about psychosocial and health conditions such as mental illness, abuse, addictions and eating disorders which are affecting clients. Read peer-reviewed articles and textbooks in order to expand theoretical knowledge and to incorporate new therapies into counselling practices. For example, mental health counsellors may read sections of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to further their understanding of specific mental health disorders. Bereavement counsellors may read articles from Death Studies and Omega: The Journal of Death and Dying to learn about new bereavement research. (4)
  • Read and interpret psychosocial and educational test summaries, clinical assessments, medical reports and investigation reports. In these reports, read about psychiatric conditions, educational and vocational capacities, social functioning and investigation results. For example, vocational rehabilitation counsellors read medical reports, psychometric assessments and summaries of vocational testing to develop rehabilitation plans for injured workers. (4)
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  • Write case notes for clients' files. Record information about clients' personal problems, counselling goals and your own observations. (2)
  • Write email to clients, co-workers and colleagues. Write email to set up appointments with clients and exchange information about clients with other professionals. For example, court counsellors may write email to clients and lawyers in order to confirm court dates. (2)
  • Prepare facilitation notes and learning materials prior to facilitating group sessions and giving presentations. For example, summarize topics to be covered and discussion points for group exercises and hand these summaries out to participants. (3)
  • Draft text for promotional materials and information sheets for clients. For example, draft information sheets to inform clients about the limits of confidentiality, fees, billing procedures and cancellation procedures. Private practitioners may write text describing their services and philosophies of practice for brochures, advertisements and website pages. (3)
  • Write follow-up and referral letters to other professionals such as psychiatrists, lawyers, probation officers and medical doctors. For example, write brief letters to confirm clients' attendance in counselling programs. Write longer letters to colleagues to summarize patients' problems and recommend further treatments. (3)
  • Prepare progress, assessment and evaluation reports. For example, write assessment reports that detail clients' case histories and test results. Offer observations, analysis and recommendations for additional treatment and support. Give careful consideration to the content of these reports because they may be used as evidence in legal proceedings and compensation reviews. For example, play therapists may write parenting assessment reports that are used as evidence in custody and access decisions. (4)
  • Write journal articles and educational books about counselling and therapy. For example, write about new models and counselling strategies derived from research and comment about specialized areas of clinical practice. A clinical counsellor may write an article about street culture and the treatment of homeless youth for a mental health journal, citing research from multiple disciplines including sociology, psychology, health and anthropology. (5)
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Document Use
  • Scan labels on clients' medications to identify what drugs they are taking and the dosages. For example, a counsellor may scan the label on client's prescription for anti-depressants to identify the daily dosage. (1)
  • Complete reporting forms such as case summaries, progress reports, interview forms, evaluations and insurance claims. Enter contact and identification data, tick checklists to identify problem categories, mark assessment scales and write comments to summarize observations and recommendations. For example, counselling supervisors complete evaluation forms for students and interns. Marriage, family and other related counsellors may use interview forms to record observations made during counselling sessions. (2)
  • Locate numerical and trend data in graphs. For example, school counsellors may use graphs to display clients' percentile ranking for intelligence against population norms. (2)
  • Locate data in consent, intake, survey and program evaluation forms. For example, child and youth counsellors may review child behaviour checklists completed by parents. Addictions counsellors may skim intake forms to locate information about clients' use of drugs and alcohol. (2)
  • Interpret genograms and family relationship diagrams to identify clients' significant relationships and social support networks. (2)
  • Scan lists and tables. For example, scan resource directories to identify community resources for clients. Read tables which list symptoms associated with mental disorders and treatments. (2)
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Digital Technology
  • Use word processing. For example, use basic text editing and formatting features of word processing programs such as Word to write progress reports and client assessments. (2)
  • Exchange messages with colleagues and send attachments such as referral letters, articles and clinical assessment reports. Use email to confirm appointments with clients. (2)
  • Use graphics software. For example, use presentation software such as PowerPoint to create slides for group presentations. Import pictures and clip art and may set up custom animation features to make the slides more visually appealing. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, clinical counsellors in hospitals may enter information such as clients' test results, demographic data and observation notes into their organizations' case management databases. (2)
  • Use the Internet to locate community resources for clients and to carry out research. For example, pre-retirement counsellors may use the Internet to look up community resources for seniors. Clinical counsellors may use the Internet to search for information about psychiatric disorders. (2)
  • Use computer and software applications. For example, enter data and test results into software programs that compute the scores for standardized tests such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children and the Quebec Adaptive Behaviour Scale. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, self-employed therapists may create spreadsheets to organize information about clients, finances and the operation of their practices. They may use spreadsheets to prepare invoices for clients. (3)
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Oral Communication
  • Discuss schedules, billing, filing and other matters with support staff. (1)
  • Respond to telephone inquiries from the public about counselling services. Outline your counselling approaches and fee structures. Ask questions to screen potential clients for suitability and recommend alternative resources as appropriate. (2)
  • Discuss counselling theory and individual cases with co-workers, colleagues, supervisors and students. For example, meet with supervising psychologists to discuss cases and further develop your clinical skills. Give criticism and advice to students and other counsellors as appropriate. Counsellors who co-facilitate therapy groups meet to discuss group activities and group dynamics. (3)
  • Testify in court proceedings. For example, family counsellors may testify in court hearings and offer their recommendations for child custody arrangements. (3)
  • Interact with parents, other family members and guardians to discuss clients' assessments, test results and progress as appropriate. Provide them with reassurance and offer strategies they can use to support clients. For example, counsellors for people with disabilities may meet with guardians to discuss their concerns about independent living arrangements. (3)
  • Consult co-workers and professional colleagues about clients' problems, referrals and treatment plans. For example, vocational rehabilitation counsellors consult occupational therapists to discuss the progress of injured workers. Mental health therapists discuss referrals with psychiatrists. Marriage, family and other counsellors may participate in committees to discuss counselling policies and programs. (3)
  • Counsel clients and facilitate group therapy sessions. Ask open-ended questions to gather information about clients' reasons for seeking counselling. Family, marriage and other related counsellors require good listening skills to help clients explore their feelings. They validate clients' feelings and ask probing questions to spark insight that will help clients to heal. Marriage counsellors use oral communication skills to mediate conflicts and negotiate solutions. (4)
  • Deliver educational seminars and conference presentations to other professionals. Present information about counselling theories and therapeutic interventions and describe specific programs and case examples. Adjust your communication style and content to suit the audience. For example, sexologists may present information about therapeutic treatments for sexual dysfunction at conferences attended by physicians and peers. Bereavement counsellors may facilitate learning exercises with graduate students to teach them about the cycle of grief and loss. (4)
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Money Math
  • Calculate personal expense claims. Calculate reimbursements for travel costs at per kilometre rates. Add amounts for meals, accommodations, conference fees and incidentals. (2)
  • Prepare invoices and collect service fees from clients. Calculate counselling and therapy fees using hourly rates and add applicable taxes. Family, marriage and other related counsellors prepare invoices for third party billing to insurance companies and employers. (3)
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Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Schedule appointments for clients, allocating amounts of time for counselling and therapy sessions. Reschedule appointments to accommodate cancellations and urgent requests. (1)
  • Prepare budgets and file tax returns. For example, family, marriage and other related counsellors in private practice may allocate money to operating expenses such as telephone lines, Internet service, utilities and leasing costs for office space. (3)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Score psychometric tests and other assessment instruments which are used to assess clients' psychosocial health. For example, child and youth counsellors may administer and score the Beck Depression Inventory, the Wechsler Pre-school and Primary Scale of Intelligence and Roberts Apperception Test. (1)
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Data Analysis
  • Collect statistical data such as attendance counts and program evaluation ratings. For example, counsellors working for non-profit agencies may record numbers of clients who attend group therapy sessions. (1)
  • Compile data and generate statistics to describe clients. Generate statistics such as average attendance, average age and ethnic distribution. For example, children's counsellors may analyze demographic data from their records to report on the percentage of girls who engage in self-abusive behaviours such as cutting themselves. (2)
  • Analyze clients' scores on various assessment tools and tests designed to measure emotional, behavioural and cognitive features such as depression, anxiety, stress level and intelligence. For example, counsellors for persons who are intellectually impaired may analyze test scores on the Brigance Inventory of Early Development to identify learning problems. (3)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate amounts of time required for counselling, therapy and supervision sessions. Consider the needs of clients and students and the times needed for previous appointments. (1)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Family, marriage and other related counsellors plan and organize their own tasks and schedules. They usually schedule one to two hour sessions with clients. They adjust their schedules to accommodate urgent requests. Some family, marriage and other related counsellors plan and organize tasks for practicum students and other counsellors under their supervision. Those who work in larger organizations may contribute to organizational planning and development of operational policies and practices. They may participate in committees to coordinate care of clients, evaluate program goals and develop new counselling initiatives. Family, marriage and other related counsellors who are employed in non-profit agencies may also contribute to fundraising initiatives. (2)
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Decision Making
  • Decide to refer clients to other helping professionals and organizations. Consider clients' counselling needs and goals and the availability of suitable resources. For example, crisis counsellors may refer clients who exhibit intense and prolonged anxiety to psychologists for mental health assessments. (2)
  • Decide to accept new clients. Consider whether you have the time and expertise to meet clients' counselling needs. Limit caseload numbers to be able to accommodate urgent requests from existing clients. Family, marriage and other related counsellors in private practice may also consider clients' financial means. (2)
  • Select tests, counselling strategies and interventions to use with clients. Consider clients' problems, emotional needs, counselling goals and requirements for particular interventions. Question clients about their comfort levels and progress. Family, marriage and other related counsellors may also consider their own confidence and expertise when choosing particular counselling methods. For example, child and youth counsellors may choose to conduct intellectual quotient testing with children who exhibit attention problems to determine if they are bored. Psychoeducators may decide that clients are ready for group therapy. (3)
  • Decide to terminate clients' counselling and therapy programs. Consider the effectiveness of the counselling offered, the benefits that clients will gain from continuing counselling and the ability of each client to maintain emotional health. Recognize your own professional limitations in dealing with clients' problems and make referrals to appropriate helping professionals. For example, vocational rehabilitation counsellors may discharge injured workers from workers' compensation programs because they are unable and unwilling to achieve their vocational goals. (3)
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Problem Solving
  • Lose income when clients do not show up for appointments and fail to pay for services. Reschedule appointments with other clients and review the terms of service with the delinquent clients. Absorb financial losses for clients who do not return for additional counselling. Some family, marriage and other related counsellors request retainers from clients who habitually cancel their appointments without adequate notice. (2)
  • Deal with uncooperative and difficult clients who will not follow through with therapies and interventions and consequently fail to realize positive change. For example, addiction counsellors may deal with clients who deny they are addicts and exhibit negative attitudes during group therapy sessions. They discuss their concerns with clients, clarify expectations and work with them to understand and resolve their negative feelings. They outline clients' treatment options including termination of counselling and referral to other resources. (3)
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Finding Information
  • Find information about mental and physical health conditions affecting clients. Search university libraries, consult textbooks, look up information on the Internet and speak with colleagues to gather relevant information. For example, a psychoeducator may look for information about Prader-Willi Syndrome in order to help a child develop effective social integration strategies. (2)
  • Find information about clients. Interview clients, review information from intake forms and speak with family members, guardians and other professionals such as teachers, lawyers and probation officers. Some family, marriage and other related counsellors analyze test scores and other data collected from various assessment instruments. They use this information to help clients establish counselling goals and to guide counselling sessions. (2)
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Critical Thinking
  • Evaluate the performance of other counsellors, practicum students and interns. For example, assess practicum students' communication styles and rapport with clients through direct observation and by listening to recorded sessions. Review students' case notes and read comments on evaluation forms completed by clients. Analyze students' engagement, analysis and closure skills in order to provide them with specific criticism. (2)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of counselling interventions. Compare clients' self-assessments over time and consider whether clients are making progress and resolving their problems. Observe clients' behaviours and overall demeanours to identify positive changes that indicate they are moving towards their goals. For example, mental health counsellors may look for improvements in clients' energy levels and moods to judge whether therapies for depression are effective. Couples counsellors may judge the effectiveness of mediation services for couples who are separated. (3)
  • Assess clients' safety to determine the need for protection from abuse. Interview clients to gather information about indicators of abuse such as financial control, isolation, name calling and physical violence. Observe clients' behaviours and look for signs of harm such as bruises. Report cases of suspected child abuse to officials and make safety plans with adults who are at risk for abuse. (3)
  • Assess clients' mental and emotional health. Interview clients directly and review information such as medical reports and psychiatric assessments. Observe clients' behaviours and listen carefully to what they are contributing and omitting from discussions to identify indicators of distress. Family, marriage and other related counsellors may use assessment tools to screen for problems such as substance abuse, depression, anxiety and abuse. For example, clinical counsellors may assess the mental health of clients who are suffering from depression. (3)
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