The most important job duty of a domestic abuse counsellor is to work with people to reduce violence and/or abuse in a family situation. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, "85 per cent of domestic violence victims are women and one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime." The NCADV also says, "It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background."
Make absolutely sure that this is the career path that you want to follow. Remember you are there to assist the individual who are seeking help. However, it will be impossible to save everyone from their circumstances if they themselves are not ready to change. You will hear countless stories of horrific abuse and violence, maybe even things that you never before fathomed beyond a horror movie. Also to see the black eyes, broken bones and other injuries will not only pose a professional challenge but will also be emotionally taxing. You must be of sound mind and spirit yourself to deal with things like this on a daily basis.
Decide in what demographic do you want to practice. Do you want to provide counselling services to families, to women or just to children? It is definitely a possibility to treat any and all clients that come to you. However, it may behove you to choose a speciality for your practice, such as children and adolescents, battered women or maybe even marriage counselling. Choosing a speciality may assist with growing a greater clientele as well, if you choose to practice privately.
Attend any available volunteer training sessions at a domestic violence centre in your area. This will assist you in understanding what your new career will entail. You will gather great knowledge from your books and your studies. However, doing some volunteer research will give you a hands-on information that will perhaps prove more valuable than any text. Research shelters in your area that may offer domestic violence courses that focus on teaching awareness training, negotiation and many other skills that are necessary to pursue a career in domestic abuse counselling.
Complete an undergraduate degree program in social work, counselling, psychology, or a related field. The education requirements to become a certified domestic abuse counsellor my vary between states as well as employers. However a combination of both education and perhaps some type of experience will be necessary for most employers. A minimum of a bachelor's degree in family counselling, domestic abuse counselling, social work or any other type of behavioural science will greatly increase your chances for a successful career. According to the Bureau of labour Statistics, many states also require a graduate degree in counselling or social work to become licensed as a counsellor or family therapist.
Remember your role as a counsellor is to listen, counsel and advocate for the victim. Do not put yourself in harm's way by trying to confront the batterer, that is not part of your job.