The aim of the research was to examine the need for professional work-counselling among nursing staff and the aims of the counselling to be provided. The material was collected by means of questionnaires sent to 171 members of the nursing staff at the Departments of Internal Medicine and Neurology at Oulu University Hospital. Professional work-counselling was defined as a problem solving and interactional process also involving mental health support, the services of an expert in nursing and a process of increasing the knowledge and skills required in one's profession. Approximately one third of the respondents regarded the organization of activities promoting personal development as the goal, while one quarter held administrative professional counselling to be important, especially the development of cooperation between the various professional groups. 72% of the respondents were interested in professional work-counselling, and in their opinion the need for counselling is determined by the degree of pressure in one's work, difficult relationships with patients and their relatives, relationships between staff members, the demanding nature of nursing and the needs arising from this. Ward sisters, assistant ward sisters and specialized nurses considered professional work-counselling more necessary than did ordinary nurses and nursing auxiliaries. The counsellor is expected to treat matters confidentially and to possess interactional skills as much as expertise in the field of health care.