The biggest challenge graduates of guidance and counselling or counsellors and therapists in general face is finding where they can work. While on the surface it seems that there are no opportunities for counsellors and therapists in Nigeria, a deeper dive into the structure of the nation will open up opportunities that exist.
In this article, I will be highlighting the fields and types of organisations that have rooms for counsellors and therapists so you can find those types of organisations in your state and approach them.
Where Can a Counsellor or Therapist Work in Nigeria?
This is the most obvious and the easiest to get in Nigeria currently. Most government-owned schools and well-established private schools have counsellors. The duties of the counsellors in schools are usually limited to organising a career guidance program but it goes beyond that.
In schools counsellors usually have their own offices where students can walk up to counsellors with issues bothering them.
Once a counsellor can present himself or herself as a friend of the students, they are freer and will open up for counselling. I’ve had students tell me things they couldn’t tell their parents or other teachers as soon as they began to see me as a trusted friend.
Counselling in schools is not limited to primary and secondary school alone. Universities also have room for counsellors.
Related: 9 Steps To Become An Effective School Counselor
You can work in hospitals as a counsellor or therapist in Nigeria. But to do this, you will be at an advantage if you have some affiliation with the medical line, like having a psychiatry degree or a master’s in clinical psychology.
But as I always preach, if you can deliver and convince people you will be accepted anywhere even without certification. Certifications only make the work easier.
Counsellors or therapists are usually employed in the Behavioural Units and Paediatric Department of hospitals but you can find your way into other departments as well.
3. Magistrates’ court
Magistrates’ courts are the courts that handle cases like divorce, family conflicts, and other cases that have more moral and religious inclinations than a strictly legal basis. Your basic responsibilities include handling relationship issues, conflict resolutions, trauma recovery lime from rape, domestic violence, and so on.
Counsellors usually do not have long-term relationships with clients because most clients do not keep in touch once their court cases are over, but if you give them a strong hook through your relationship with them or visible improvement in their lives, they will come back.
4. Rehabilitation centres
Rehabilitation centres here are organisations that help people with disabilities adapt to normal life. These include schools for special needs and homes that cater to them.
The need for counsellors in this place cannot be stressed enough. In fact, they primarily need counsellors or therapists for the effectiveness of their assignment.
The downside to this however is that except it is a government-owned rehabilitation centre, the pay is usually low because most of them are run on donations. If you’re passionate about helping, it is a great place to truly offer help.
5. Prisons and correctional centres
These are places where people who have been convicted of crimes or children engaged in some sort of vices are taken for correction and rehabilitation. While the prison wardens focus on effecting military discipline on inmates, the real correction happens through the intervention of people in the helping profession.
The effect of effective counsellors in this field goes beyond just counselling a few individuals to create more peace and order in the country.
6. Orphanages and homes for the aged
This is another place you can get a job as a counsellor in Nigeria but there is a little caveat to this one. You only get to find a job as a counsellor in more established orphanages.
While there is a need for counsellors in all orphanages, there is usually no funding for most to get one. If you have another means of sustenance, your service in orphanage homes will be of huge blessing to them.
You can also volunteer in orphanage homes as a way of gaining experience.
7. IDP Camps
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has several camps for internally displaced persons— people displaced from their homes as a result of wars or natural disasters. These IDP camps usually have provisions for counsellors and you can find your way into one.
The major activities you’ll be saddled with are trauma recovery, anxiety disorder, emotional instability, reinstatement back to the community or normal life, etc.
However, the working environment in IDP camps is usually in a deplorable state: dirty, without structures, void of confidentiality, and so on.
8. Human rights organisations
Almost every human right organisation has some counsellor or therapist working with them and need more, depending on how established they are. The cases commonly handled by counsellors in these organisations include domestic violence, rape or child abuse, psychological instability, anxieties, and the like.
Because of the dynamic nature of their operations, they work hand-in-hand with magistrate courts, correctional centres, orphanages, and even hospitals.
Working here, you will get a mixture of all the other fields listed so far, again because most human rights organisations run on grants and donations. The stipend they give volunteers isn’t usually sustainable. There’s a reason they’re called volunteers.
Related: 7 Ways To Advocate For Guidance and Counselling
9. Private practice
Are you in need of a counselling job? Then create one!
As simple as it sounds, this is one of the most complex of the options because you need more than just your CV. Here you become a business and develop your strategy, unique selling proposition, pricing, marketing, and so on but it is usually worth it.
Private practice does not necessarily mean renting an office apartment and going wild. I have explained in another article how you can navigate several channels and private counselling and therapy practice.
There you have 9 places where you can work as a counsellor or therapist in Nigeria. Like I will always end my articles, you are first in the business of building trust before in the business of making money. If you can make people trust you to help them, they will release their money to you.
When it comes to getting a job, you will need certifications in addition to your ability to convince them you can deliver. Now, don’t just submit your CV and hope. Try to reach someone in a top position in the organisation and sell yourself to them— show them proof that you will bring value to their team. If you don’t know how to do this, this article will help you.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.