Analysis of counselling student employment destinations: using action research to enhance the counselling curriculum and improve employability

Sally Lumsdaine*, Zoe Powell-Martin, Julia McLeod, Jennifer Scally, Kate Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review



This study tracked student employment destinations and explored perceptions around employability and the benefits offered by the existing counselling curriculum. The aim of the study was to enhance the Abertay University postgraduate counselling programme; maintain links with former students who work within the target industry, and develop CPD aimed at this group.


Ethical approval was granted by Abertay Research Ethics Committee. Information was gathered from student registry and 401 graduates, for whom current emails were known, were contacted and invited to complete an on-line questionnaire about their career trajectory and the relevance and benefit of aspects of the post-graduate curriculum. Participant response rate was high with just under 50% of those contacted responding. Responses (192) were analysed and Student trajectories were tracked. The links between course content and benefits to employability were explored.


The results demonstrated the breadth and depth of employment undertaken following graduation. Just over 90% of respondents continued to use the skills and knowledge gained either by working as a counsellor or by using embedded counselling skills within their work.
The majority of those working as counsellors did this voluntarily with only a small number (23.37%) being paid for the counselling they do. Despite this, however a high percentage of respondents (77.78%) believed that the course(s) studied enhanced employability with an even higher number (91.62%) feeling that studying counselling helped them in their working life in general. Interestingly nearly 92% of respondents indicated that the skills and knowledge gained also helped them in their day-to-day life.

Research Limitations

The questionnaire was disseminated by a senior and well respected of member staff. The personal nature of this initial contact may have influenced willingness to respond in a negative way, equally only those that had a positive experience on the course may have responded thereby potentially skewing the findings of this research project.


The findings of this project suggest that the current course does prepare students for employment however further investigation is needed to understand where and how the skills and knowledge gained at university have transferred into the workplace and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
EventBACP Research Conference: Shaping counselling practice and policy: the next 25 years - Hilton Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 17 May 201918 May 2019


ConferenceBACP Research Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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