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It doesn’t matter whether you are taking a relevant degree at an Ivy League college or whether you have been in industry for a decade or more, you could be ready to take the plunge and become a counselor. Many people choose to switch careers once they feel they have reached the pinnacle of their current role. Others choose to swap careers because they have a sudden pang of wanting to help people, they desire greater job satisfaction, or they want to get out from behind the desk and experience new things every day.
It doesn’t matter whether you are taking a relevant degree at an Ivy League college or whether you have been in industry for a decade or more, you could be ready to take the plunge and become a counselor.Tweet This
Counseling is seen as the natural progression for those who are keen to help people work through their problems. While you may not have direct experience or subject-specific qualifications, you might have a wealth of life experiences that you can bring to your practice. You may have worked through your own mental health problems, you may have succeeded in your career and surpassed the competition or you might have overcome many barriers to your personal relationships. However, just because you have the yearning to become a counselor, you need to think about whether you have the skills needed to make your practice a success.
Before you consider setting up your own counseling practice, it’s vital that you hone your communication skills. In the world of work, you will have communicated with a range of different human beings in different job roles. The difference here, however, is that you were all working towards a common goal and eager to exceed targets. All you had to consider was a business relationship.
Within a counseling role, you will be conversing with a much wider demographic of society. One hour you may be helping a woman feeling particularly vulnerable while going through a divorce. The next, you might be trying to solve an issue with a gentleman who lacks self-confidence. And the next, you might be listening to somebody who is dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
As a listener, you need to make sure that you are able to hear everything that your patients are telling you. This is why you should consider the possibility of wear hearing devices to increase your earning power. The better listener you are, the better counselor you will end up being.
The variety of people that you meet as a counselor is vast and as such you will need to communicate on many different levels. Some may appreciate a less formal tone, while others will want to maintain an air of professionalism. It can be difficult to gauge how to converse and communicate, but this is something that you will have to learn in order to build an effective working relationship with those individuals that you are counseling.
It’s more important to be tolerant and accepting as a counselor than in any other role. Many people who come to see you will be nervous and anxious. They might worry that they have an embarrassing problem or that you might be judgemental because they have done something deemed unconventional or morally suspect. It’s not up to you to judge. You need to listen and accept everything that they are telling you. By showing them that you are tolerant, you can create a more honest atmosphere that will help them work through their issues in a more worthwhile way.
As you listen to your patients talk about their issues, you need to be working out potential solutions to their problems. These cannot be you telling them how to improve their lives, start feeling better or enhance their confidence, self-esteem, or ability to control their anger. You need to be armed with a whole host of solutions that you can talk through together. Problem-solving is a highly personal thing, so you must present your patient with a variety of suggestions to help them see that their problem isn’t hopeless and that there is a solution. They need to identify their own negative thought patterns with a little prompting by you. If anything, you are a facilitator rather than a provider of solutions.
You might not have suffered mental abuse, had to combat drug addiction or been subject to the tragedy of child bereavement. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t help individuals who are going through the trauma of these issues. You need to have bucketfuls of empathy to help you see life through other people’s eyes. You need to put yourself in your patients’ shoes and try to imagine how they must be feeling, what their thought processes might be, and how they might solve their problems. Some of the experiences that you listen to will not be easy to sit through. However, because you want to help people, you can help them see beyond the tragedy and live a more fulfilling life once again. It’s up to you to develop strategies to help them clarify their thoughts and begin to see light at the end of the tunnel.
You will have to be sensitive to people from all different walks of life. Depending on their religion or ethnicity, they may be reserved, unwilling to talk openly, or they may struggle to show their feelings honestly. It’s up to you to make them feel confident enough to open up to you, while at the same time respecting that their circumstances may make it tricky for them to do so. You will need to show patience and work at a slower pace to develop a great bond of trust.
Being a counselor is one of the best jobs in the world. Every day you venture into work knowing that you are helping people become better and feel brighter about themselves and their lives. As a counselor, you will be a listener, a problem solver, and a facilitator. Your professional life will be more worthwhile, you will feel more satisfied and every work day will be different. Forget your desk job and consider switching to a more fulfilling career.