International counseling jobs will expose counselors to a diverse range of reactions to events and daily stressors that are experienced worldwide. From post-disaster trauma counseling, to mental health therapy, to substance abuse rehabilitation, counselors must understand all the different ways people react to stress to become successful in their jobs. Counseling jobs abroad provide the chance to learn about new cultures and customs, expand communication skills, and most importantly learn new methods of treatment and therapy, which are all invaluable professional experiences for aspiring global counselors.
Why Work Abroad in Counseling
People who work in counseling look at the world much like those in the fields of medicine and mental health care, they see the world and its citizens in terms of how they need assistance. It’s a field fraught with challenges, and one that depends on the knowledge of, and familiarity with, human behavior. Practicing your skills in a different cultural context through working abroad will widen your perspective and experiences, show you new ways to approach problems people of all ages struggle with, and show you how other professionals approach and treat seemingly universal problems and conditions.
There is a worldwide need for counselors, so the location you choose depends mostly on your specialty and interest. Where you obtain a counselor job abroad will determine if you work in child development, with aging populations, in family services, or with victims of trauma.
India. India is rapidly growing and changing, and becoming more urbanized and the nation struggles to fill the demand for trained professional counselors in many ways. In sheer numbers, most counseling job opportunities in India are in schools, but there are also counseling jobs in hospitals, clinics, community centers, and centers for the aging. India is a very diverse place, and cultural norms, salaries, and working conditions vary widely across the country.
Africa & Latin America. These are two very culturally different locations with largely the same problem. Where the primary struggle is to fight disease and hunger, find clean water and enough food, or survive a civil war, the need for counseling is sometimes overlooked. Due to these combined societal issues, the opportunities for both counselor jobs and job satisfaction in these regions is often greater.
African countries, such as Liberia, where survivors and orphans of the recent and ongoing Ebola disease outbreak reside will continue to need counseling. While countries in other parts of Africa, especially South Africa, continue to deal with the HIV/AIDs epidemicl. In Rwanda trauma comes in the form of long-running genocidal civil wars that killed thousands, and nearly wiped out many cultural traditions, dialects, and indigenous histories. In Haiti, communities have been wracked by natural disasters and entrenched in poverty and social inequality, leading to an increase in the need for proper counseling services.
Asia & Oceania. There is a shortage of qualified counselors in New Zealand, because of the government's new emphasis on improving social services provided to the indigenous Māori people as well as the nation's children. Additionally, China also continues to increase its market for counselor jobs abroad. Like India, it is under rapid social change, and its need outstrips its supply of trained professionals.
Counselor Jobs Abroad
Counseling is a broad field that can encompass almost any job that involves helping people overcome trauma and achieve optimum mental health. However, below are some of the most common areas that provide opportunities for counselor jobs abroad.
Education. As a school counselor, you may be a liaison for students with special needs, work on building relationships between teachers, students, and their families, or work with children living in broken homes or special facilities.
Drug Rehabilitation. Jobs abroad in the area of counseling are unfortunately growing in number. Many individuals that struggle with addiction have experienced trauma and turn to substance abuse as a way of copying, so rehabilitation counseling often coincides with trauma counseling.
Aging Support & Grief Counseling jobs abroad are available in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics, assisted living centers, and with any other facility or agency that provides services for those experiencing major loss or facing old age. With elderly clients, counselors may be faced with providing counseling for clients and their families regarding end-of-life procedures and arrangements.
Public Health & Disaster Relief. Whether in NGOs, nonprofits, and humanitarian organizations, international counseling jobs in this area span a range of needs. These counseling jobs abroad support victims of natural disasters, war, or disease epidemics. Mosst applicants will complete special training specific to their placement type before beginning a counseling job abroad in this area.
Salary & Affordability
What type of counselor job you obtain abroad will determine your salary and benefits, as well as where you decide to pursue a job. If you work with victims of a disaster in a rural or remote area, your salary will probably be minimal but many of your daily needs will be provided to you by the organization with whom you are working for. In some school systems, highly recruited counselors will be at or near the top of the local pay scale, however. In general, each job and location will vary greatly.
In the U.S. and Western Europe, or in a highly urbanized setting, a counselor with certification and some experience can expect to find a starting counselor job abroad in the range of $30,000 to $40,000 a year. Specifically, a drug abuse counselor (in the public field) can expect somewhere between $25,000 and $47,000 a year, but keep in mind all salaries are dependent on specific locations and experience.
Benefits & Challenges
Counseling jobs abroad allow individuals to witness and observe the varying ways that cultures around the world approach life's problems, from trauma to loss to addition. Your experieces as a counselor abroad will be invaluable for any future career in the field, and will no doubt expand you adaptability and understanding, as well as communication skills. International counseling jobs will change your perspective on the field and be equally rewarding personally, professionally, and academically.