Have you ever consulted or felt the need to consult a guidance counsellor? Are you aware of their role?

Their principal role consists of helping people evolve in their career plans. For example, assisting youth in their school and career choices; adults questioning their professional path and wanting to re-orient their career; and even retired persons facing a professional void in their life and seeking new direction or purpose.

In short, a guidance counsellor has the expertise to support people facing career development challenges.

Here are five common myths and misconceptions about guidance counsellors:

Let’s start with the name: counsellor, career counsellor, orientation counsellor, career professional or orientation counsellor. The proper term is guidance counsellor.

Popular belief suggests that a guidance counsellor can predict (with a crystal ball?) which trade or occupation is right for someone. This would be wonderful but is unfortunately not the case.

To help someone discover a trade or area of study corresponding to their profile, the counsellor guides them in an exploration of all possibilities, helping them get to know themself better by targeting their interests, their values and their abilities, all while supporting them in achieving their career plan. This process can require several consultations.

In the past, guidance counsellors automatically, or often, used many types of tests to help people better understand themselves and determine their school and career plans. Today, this practice has all but disappeared, and tests are not used other than as part of efforts to define specific characteristics. Tests have therefore become complementary tools in guidance work and cannot replace a consultation with a guidance counsellor.

Many people contact guidance counsellors seeking precise information related to the job market and educational establishments. For example, with a simple phone call some may ask: “I’ve obtained 70% in French, so am I admissible to a Bachelor of Administration program?” Also, “What trade should I choose if I want to be assured of finding work after my studies?”

The job market is vast and constantly evolving, so it is impossible for a guidance counsellor to have everything at the tips of their fingers. However, the counsellor has experience, and access to tools and resources that permit them to find the information requested.

Because most educational establishments offer educational and vocational guidance services, many people believe that it is the only place where it is possible to consult a counsellor. This is not true. Guidance counsellors are present in five sectors: in schools, organizations, rehabilitation and mental health, employment services and private practice.

Remember, these professionals must be a member of the Ordre des conseillers et conseillères d’orientation du Québec (OCCOQ) to use this title.

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