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 mental health professionals at the HQ, in the Regional Bureau and the field locations working under the direct supervision of the Chief, Psychosocial Wellbeing Section in Geneva. As a part of the Regional Bureau structure, the functions of the Snr. Staff Counsellor are closely linked with the Medical Officers, and then with the HR Business partner. The collaboration with them is based on respect for professional boundaries and it aims for a holistic HR strategy for staff in the region. The Snr. Staff Counsellor is also expected to advise the Regional Bureau Director and the snr. management on matters related to staff wellbeing issues. The Snr. Staff Counsellor may be expected to be a part of the crisis management team and it that capacity collaborates closely with the Field Safety Advisors in the Regional Bureau or in the operations. The Snr. Staff Counsellor provides technical supervision and guidance to P3 Staff Counsellors in the region and works closely with the Peer Advisors in the operations under the Regional Bureau. The incumbent is responsible for implementation of staff wellbeing strategy in the operations and makes a prioritized plan of action. The Staff Counsellor is expected to collaborate closely with the management team, 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.

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.


– As a part of the regional HR team (HR Business Partner, Snr. Medical Officer), develop the psychosocial wellbeing strategy and work plan for the region reflecting the global psychosocial wellbeing projects, the results of psychosocial risk assessments for the operations in the region and the collaborative approach with the medical, HR and security teams in the region. Accompany strategic developments in the region involving the major implications on staff (i.e. emergency operations, downsizing).

– Provide advice and guidance to the Representatives in the region to their psychosocial wellbeing plans.

– Ensure that the individual case management is done in coordination with the medical and HR teams locally and with the PWS (particularly Psychosocial Case Management Officer), Office of the Ombudsman and the Ethics Office as necessary and with respect to professional boundaries. When necessary, take a lead in case management.

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

– Supervise the UNHCR Staff Counsellors in the region, provide guidance, feedback and technical support.

– Supervise the launch, and when needed, undertake psychological risk assessment for the operations of coverage and design the appropriate response programme in close collaboration with the operations and adhering to the normative guidance from the PWS. Such programmes 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 (work-related stress, trauma, interpersonal conflicts, harassment, and job insecurity, mental health and personal issues (family, marital, children or finance related problems). Advise on mental health resources and maintain the updated list of the verified MH resources in the region.

– Coordinate/provide timely response to critical incidents in the operations under the coverage in accordance with the UNHCR SOP on Support to staff following critical incidents. As a part of the crisis management team, provide guidance to the operational managers as required. Ensure that operations, particularly those in high risk environments are capacitated to provide psychological first aid to the survivors.

– Undertake regular travels to the operations under coverage. – Take part in the relevant interagency working groups particularly those within the UNSSCG 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 to the Representative and the Heads of Offices and the Chief PWS. Provide input in global reports by the PWS as required.

– Take part in the functional assessment process under the coordination of the Chief, Psychosocial Wellbeing Section.

– 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. – Perform other related duties as required.

Minimum Qualifications

Education & Professional Work Experience Years of Experience / Degree Level For P4/NOD – 9 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 8 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 7 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree Field(s) of Education Psychology Clinical psychology Psychiatry Psychotherapy Social work Counselling or other relevant field. (Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential) Certificates and/or Licenses *Registered Mental Health professional (Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk* are essential) Relevant Job Experience Essential Demonstrated clinical experience including case management. Working experience on prevention and response to sexual harassment in the workplace. Desirable Understanding of the humanitarian work environment.

Functional Skills

*IT-Computer Literacy *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.

For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language. For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or 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 Staff Counsellor needs to have at a minimum master’s degree in mental health (clinical psychology, counselling psychiatry, clinical social work) and should have 7 years of relevant work experience post-graduation. A valid professional license or accreditation with the relevant professional authority is expected.
Additional training or experience in abroad range of related fields, such as trauma-focused counselling, stress management, alcohol/substance abuse, conflict resolution, or cross-cultural communication are additional assets.
The language required is primarily English, and a good knowledge of Ukrainian or Russian is an asset.
Relevant work experience within the humanitarian setting is an advantage as well as either working in a hardship location or providing counselling services to staff working under very difficult and insecure environments.

Functional Clearance

This position requires Functional Clearance

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



Desired languages




Additional Qualifications


IT-Computer Literacy, 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



Mental Health – Other

Work Experience

Staff Health and Wellbeing

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How to apply

For a full job description and to apply, interested candidates are requested to visit

The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Please note that UNHCR does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process (application, interview, meeting, travelling, processing, training or any other fees).

Closing date of receipt of applications: 9 March 2023 (midnight Geneva time)