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Staff Counsellor Opportunity at UNHCR May, 2024

Staff Counsellor Opportunity at UNHCR

Staff Counsellor at UNHCR May, 2024

Staff Counsellor

Organizational Setting and Work Relationships
UNHCR runs its operations in 136 countries and 520 locations, carried on by over 16,500 staff members and members of the affiliate workforce. Given the nature of work, the psychological hazards range from workplace stress, exposure to traumatic situations and vicarious exposure to traumatic experiences of people of concern. All these can reflect at the individual, interpersonal and team levels and can affect the staff well-being as well as the efficiency of the operation.
The Staff Health and Wellbeing Service (SH&WS) and more specifically its Psychosocial Wellbeing Section (PWS), are entrusted with addressing these challenges. The Psychosocial Wellbeing team comprises the Staff Counsellors based in Geneva, in the Regional Bureaux and in some multi-country offices and country operations. The team works together in designing staff wellbeing plans and interventions under the leadership of the Chief, PWS.
The Staff Counsellor is expected to collaborate closely with the staff health professionals, management team in the operation, human resources function as well as the field safety function with fully respect of professional boundaries and confidentiality of individual cases. The Staff Counsellor works closely with the existing Peer Advisors in the operations of coverage and collaborates with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Ethics Office.
The Staff Counsellor is a member of the UN Staff/Stress Counsellor Group and the incumbent adheres to its professional and ethical standards and other technical issuances.

All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR’s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.


– Undertake psychological risk assessment for the operations of coverage and design the appropriate response measures in close collaboration with the operations and under the supervision from the Chief, Psychosocial Wellbeing Section. Such measures should include but are not limited to individual or group counselling, trauma interventions, workshops/training, raising awareness and sensitization meetings, team building or other professional forms of support.

– Ensure access for staff and family members to individual counselling either internally (with Staff Counsellors in UNHCR) or externally (by providing referrals and information about the available resources and insurance coverage) for work related issues (stress, trauma, interpersonal conflicts, harassment, and job insecurity) and personal issues (family, marital, children or finance related problems).

– Provide timely response to critical incidents in the operations under the coverage in accordance with the UNHCR SOP on Support to staff affected by critical incidents. Organizing the psychological first aid (personally, through the Peer Advisors Network in the region or other UN Staff Counsellors available in the region), assessments, referrals and necessary follow-up is undertaken and coordinated with the Psychosocial Wellbeing Section, Snr. Regional Medical Officer and relevant HR functions in the operation. Provide the guidance to the operational managers in relation to the post incident staff support as required.

– Undertake regular travels to the operations under coverage as per PWS strategic priorities and demands from the Regions.

– Implement the global UNHCR psychosocial wellbeing projects (psychological preparation for hardship assignment, end of assignment debriefing following hardship assignment, framework of support to high risk environments) and take an active part in developing the new initiatives.

– Maintain regular contact with the counselling resources in the countries under the coverage including the members of the UN Staff/Stress Counsellors Group (UNSSCG) and other local/regional mental health professionals/ resources outside the UN system, e.g. NGOs, private mental health practitioners.

– Take part in the relevant interagency working groups aimed at advancement of psychosocial support to staff in the UN.

– Collaborate closely with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Ethics Office in relation to management, training and support to the UNHCR Peer Advisors Network.

– Maintain records of individual cases in the confidential electronic case management system in accordance with the UN Confidentiality Guidelines for Staff/Stress Counsellors. Provide monthly statistics to the PWS, HQ. Ensure timely reporting on field missions, general staff wellbeing assessments and related recommendations to the Representative and the Heads of Offices and the Chief PWS. Provide input in global reports by the PWS as required

– Provide expert advice and guidance to the Representatives of the operations covered by the function and the Chief of the Psychosocial Wellbeing Section/ Staff Health and Wellbeing Service (SH&WS) at the HQ.

– Ensure the adherence to the professional standards of the UNSSCG (continuous education, registration and supervision) as well as the Code of Ethics for UN Staff Counsellors.

– Support the identification and management of risks and seek to seize opportunities impacting objectives in the area of responsibility. Ensure decision making in risk based in the functional area of work. Raise risks, issues and concerns to a supervisor or to relevant functional colleague(s).

– Perform other related duties as required.

Minimum Qualifications

Years of Experience / Degree Level
For P3/NOC – 6 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 5 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 4 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree

Field(s) of Education
Psychology; Clinical Psychology; Psychiatry; Psychotherapy
Social Work; Counselling; or other relevant field.

Certificates and/or Licenses
Registered mental health professional
(Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Relevant Job Experience
Demonstrated clinical experience, including case management and counselling skills for a minimum of 5 years. Working experience on prevention and response to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Understanding of the humanitarian work environment.

Functional Skills
*MD – Patient case management
*MD-Drafting clinical notes
*WB – Ability to identify staff in distress and provide appropriate support
*WB – Application of trauma interventions in crisis situations
*WB – Coaching peer advisors
*WB – Counselling
*WB – Suicide risk assessment
*WB-Treatment of vulnerable/traumatized individuals
TR-Training – Virtual and face to face
TR-Training Design and Material Preparation
WB – Organizational Psychology and/or Psychiatry
(Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential)

Language Requirements
For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.

All UNHCR workforce members must individually and collectively, contribute towards a working environment where each person feels safe, and empowered to perform their duties. This includes by demonstrating no tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, harassment including sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality, discrimination and abuse of power.

As individuals and as managers, all must be proactive in preventing and responding to inappropriate conduct, support ongoing dialogue on these matters and speaking up and seeking guidance and support from relevant UNHCR resources when these issues arise.

This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR jobs with this job title and grade level. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates.

Desired Candidate Profile

The candidate must be a licensed/registered mental health practitioner in Kenya with minimum masters degree in clinical psychology, counselling, psychotherapy, psychiatry or clinical social work. The candidate must have 5 years post licence work experience in mental health practice. Experience of work within the occupational health and safety framework is an asset.

The candidate has to have a good track record of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity professionally and personally. Being a very good and respectful communicator is critical: both in oral and written communication with their clients as well as with their internal and external counterparts.

Capacity to work with shifting priorities and flexibility to adapt the plans to new realities is required. The candidate needs to be ready to respond to emergency situations that may be out of working hours. Readiness to travel to the hardship locations is required.

Given that the incumbent will have to work in a multidisciplinary team, the candidate is expected to demonstrate the capacity to work in team and be confident to share their views and advice as needed.

The candidate has to be able and ready to work under pressure but also knowing their boundaries and integrating them into the way of working. Being self-driven and organized, respectful of deadlines is required. Commitment to on-going professional development and clinical supervision, personal growth as other organizational learning initiatives is a must.

Fluency in English is critical. Working knowledge of French is an asset.

Required languages (expected Overall ability is at least B2 level):



Operational context

Occupational Safety and Health Considerations:

please visit/copy this link to the Operational context: 

Nature of Position:

The Staff Health and Wellbeing Service is located at the HQ Geneva and it comprises three sections: Psychosocial Wellbeing Section (PWS), Medical Section (MS) and Occupational Safety Unit (OSU). The Head of the Service reports directly to the Director of Human Resources.

The UNHCR Regional Bureau for East, Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes (EHAGL) of Africa is based in Nairobi, Kenya. It is a critical hub for collaboration, strategic engagement, and addressing cross-cutting operational challenges. A Regional Director heads the Bureau and has primary accountability for strategic decision-making, regional prioritization, and quality assurance—and enhanced delegated authorities to manage the region effectively. With functional links to the Divisions at HQs, technical experts are integrated within the regional bureau structures/pillars and lines of authority. The Bureau provides operational support and oversight to 11 country operations: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Some 4,300 staff are deployed in the Bureau and country offices. The Bureau also supports UNHCR’s Representation to the African Union (AU) and the Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Most UN agencies, including WFP and UNICEF, have regional offices in Nairobi.

The National Staff Counsellor in the EHAGL is a part of the staff health and wellbeing team in the regional bureau comprising Snr. Staff Counsellor, Snr. Medical Officer and the Nurse-Medico-Admin Assistant. The National Staff Counsellor reports directly to the Snr. Staff Counsellor in the regional bureau with the Chief PWS as the reporting officer.  The National Staff Counsellor is expected to collaborate very closely with the rest of the regional staff health and wellbeing team, other staff supporting functions (i.e. HR, Snr talent advisor, security) and the management (Director and snr managers, risk management) in the region as well as other staff support functions globally.

The National Staff Counsellor supports the work of the Snr. Staff Counsellor in EHAGL by engaging in all three pillars of the UNHCR Workplace Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing Strategy (prevent, protect/promote, support). At the regional level, the National Staff Counsellor will provide remote psychosocial support to colleagues in different operations (such as but not limited to counselling, psychosocial preparation, end of assignment debriefing), will support the medevac cases to Nairobi, will take part in the joint case management at the regional level. National staff Counsellor will also take part in the facilitation of the regional promotion activities (webinars, trainings, duty of care webinars). In particular, the national staff counsellor will be responsible for the psychosocial wellbeing support to the Kenya operation and the Regional Bureau.

The National Staff Counsellor participates in meetings of the Psychosocial Wellbeing Section and Staff Health and Wellbeing Service as well as in all relevant management and staff meetings in the RB for East and Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes (EHAGL). The National Staff Counsellor will be in direct communication with the management of the Kenya Country Operation and the Regional Bureau management. The incumbent is expected to understand the socio-political context in the region as well as the strategic direction and priorities of the Bureau and particularly of the Kenya operation. The incumbent should expect regular travel to different duty stations of Kenya. This role includes responding to crises situations of individual and teams and emergency mode of work can be expected including working on weekends and long-hours when this is the case. This role may equally be requested to provide surge support to other operations in the EHAGL or even to other regions or HQ when needed and feasible. Involvement in global projects of the PWS is possible. National Staff Counsellor is affiliated to the UN Staff/Stress Counsellors Group where sharing good practice is encouraged.

Living and Working Conditions:

Despite the security concerns mentioned below, Nairobi is a good duty station for families. It has good medical facilities. Recreational facilities, schools and hotels are of international standards.
Sufficient housing is available, as well as good banking facilities, unlimited access to communication means, such as internet, telephone etc.
There is no malaria in Nairobi, but cholera, malaria and yellow fever occur in other parts of Kenya.

Security Considerations
Nairobi is in UN security level 6, but politically instigated demonstrations and riots may occur at any time.
General crime in Nairobi is high and like many other large cities. A high sense of vigilance and alertness is required.

Additional Qualifications


MD-Drafting clinical notes, MD – Patient case management, TR-Training Design and Material Preparation, TR-Training – Virtual and face to face, WB – Ability to identify staff in distress and provide appropriate support, WB – Application of trauma interventions in crisis situations, WB – Coaching peer advisors, WB – Counselling, WB – Organizational Psychology and/or Psychiatry, WB – Suicide risk assessment, WB-Treatment of vulnerable/traumatized individuals

Bachelor of Arts (BA): Clinical Psychology, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Counselling, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Psychiatry, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Psychology, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Psychotherapy, Bachelor of Arts (BA): Social Work


Mental Health – Other


Accountability, Analytical thinking, Change capability & adaptability, Client & results orientation, Commitment to continuous learning, Communication, Empowering & building trust, Judgement & decision making, Organizational awareness, Planning & organizing, Teamwork & collaboration


Additional Information

This position requires Functional Clearance


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