You have been through a lot when you’ve spent years parenting and raising your children. You have experienced low points and rough times – most likely in equal measures. Having someone there to talk to and confide in is important. Having someone there to help you progress and move forward is even more beneficial. You can be that person for someone, and you can make a change in other people’s lives – and you can do this by becoming a trained and licensed counselor. Having an impact on others and providing a listening ear can be all that parents and others need. Being able to give this to others will give you a sense of satisfaction. So, to get started with your career in counseling, what must you do first?
Have You Got What It Takes to Succeed in Counseling?
Firstly, you have to think about what it takes to succeed in counseling. Yes, life experience is useful, but have you also got a good listening ear, as well as compassion and patience? The clients that will use your counseling service will need you to be strong, sensitive, and engaged – so, can you do this? What’s more, can you do it at a time that is needed? To succeed in counseling, you have to be strong, and you have to be focused on your clients. If you are not client-centered, then this will show, and it will have an impact on the relationships you keep. You have to truly care about others to succeed as a counselor. You have to care about them when they are speaking to you, and you have to care about them when they are working through their issues and problems. If you cannot show care or empathy for those who turn to you (and trust you), then you will not build a successful career.
What a Career in Counseling Can Give You
Lots of careers can give you different things. When you are embarking on a new career, it is important to establish just what you have the opportunity to gain. For example, when you are working as a counselor, you will notice that you have an opportunity to connect with others. You have an opportunity to open up areas of discussion that your client may not have wanted to talk about. When you make these breakthroughs, you feel a great sense of self-satisfaction – and this is one of the joys of a career in counseling. You may also get the chance to rediscover and even further improve your great listening skills, as they will be put to the test every day. As a counselor, you must listen to what other professionals are saying, and you must be prepared to listen attentively to what your clients are saying. When you are listening, you then have the opportunity to make a difference and impact the lives of many, perhaps helping people overcome relationship struggles, or perhaps even helping others through periods of rehabilitation.
A Rewarding Career Path
There are a lot of careers you can choose that may focus on helping others; for example, a career in nursing would allow you to help others and feel rewarded in the process. However, you will find that when you work within counseling, you will see that no two days are the same. Even though two days may not be the same, you will realize how rewarding counseling truly is, especially when you start to make breakthroughs or take a step (or two) in the right direction with a client. Being to help others through a period of rehabilitation and being able to make a change or a difference in the lives of others will leave you feeling hugely rewarded, valued, and appreciated. These three key areas are often hard to find in other career paths, so they should be highly valued when they are given and received. Feeling hugely rewarded at the end of each working day is what will keep you pushing for more and progressing your fledgling career.
Getting started as a counselor may not be as daunting as you initially think. Quite often, you will find that only small obstacles prevent you from pushing forward. One of these obstacles may be experience or education. Even though you may have no experience in counseling, you will still need to turn your focus toward education. Getting started is much easier to do when you focus all of your efforts on improving and enhancing your education. If you are not willing to invest in yourself, then you will struggle to get off the starting block. When you are getting started with your counseling career, it is important to have stronger networks around you. Having people there that you can depend on and rely on is important. When you get started as a counselor, you will see that the role can be emotionally and mentally draining. Having a strong support network surrounding you will help you ensure that you can give your best (each day).
Committing to Helping Others
Within counseling, you will find that your main role will be to help others. Whether this is by helping them share their feelings and emotions or pointing them in the direction of other care professionals – it is part of your role and one of the responsibilities you will hold. Within counseling, you have to commit to helping others as much as you can; this means going above and beyond the 9-to-5 schedule you may be used to working. It also means committing to improving and enhancing what you can offer to people to ensure that clients get the best from you that they possibly can.
Focusing on Advancing Your Education
Within your commitment to helping others, you will need to focus on advancing your education. How you care for clients and how you handle situations will change over time, and having an enhanced knowledge and awareness of changes and improvements is going to prove beneficial. As such, this means you will need to start looking at an education plan for the future of your career. For example, you can start looking at advancing your education by studying for a master’s in counseling. A master’s would allow you to specialize in counseling, and it would also allow you to improve the methods that you employ within your role. Being well informed about techniques and methods used within counseling will help you be the best professional.
Choosing an Area of Specialism
To make an impact and difference as a counselor, you must choose an area of specialism. You cannot expect to provide successful counseling to everyone, as this would simply be impossible. So, instead, focus on areas that you are interested in the most. For example, if you are interested in helping school-aged children overcome issues within their lives, or are you interested in helping them progress? If so, why not become a school counselor? When it comes to choosing an area of specialism, you really need to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages on offer. To pick the right specialism, you have to think about what you get from your role (both to start with and moving forward). If you are struggling to choose a specialism, see if you could reach out and talk to others who may be working in an area you are looking at. Often, talking to someone with first-hand experience and knowledge is beneficial.
Getting Your License
To practice as a counselor, you must get your license. When you are studying, your provider will be able to guide you through the process to ensure that you can start practicing as soon as possible. The process may involve certification, or it may involve state licensure. As requirements to practice can (and do) vary depending on the state you are in, it is always wise to take time out to find out what requirements you must meet – especially if you are studying in a different state to the one in which you want to work.
What A Good Counselor Looks Like
When you are getting started in your new career, it is important to have a healthy example to follow. When you have a healthy example of what a good counselor looks like, it is much easier to follow, and you can be sure that you are always moving on the right path. So, what traits and characteristics do all good counselors hold? To begin with, they are flexible. Good professionals know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. They know that clients and professionals are individuals. Also, you will see that good counselors are consistent. They are always working to offer the best that they can to patients and other professionals and this shows in their success rates.
Looking After Yourself as a Counselor
Even though you are embarking on an exciting career, it does not mean that you should not take time to look after yourself. To be effective in your role, you must make sure that your mental health and wellness are strong and focused. When you look after yourself, you are in a better place to offer support and assistance to others. You can look after yourself by building relationships and networks with other professionals or by talking about how you feel with family and friends (remembering, of course, patient confidentiality).
As you can see, it’s eminently possible to turn your compassion into a career in counseling.