The counseling field is closely intertwined with psychology. This is a far-ranging discipline that demands expertise in wide array of topics such as medical science, behavioral research, clinical analysis, legal advice, and sociology.
These days, counselors are providing their services to an increasingly diverse demographic whose needs are diverse and complex. So, you need to possess a proven set of essential skills if you aspire to be a successful, effective professional counselor.
Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Decide to Become a Counselor
If you look into the profiles of the most talented and in-demand counselors/therapists, you’ll find they all tend to have some specific set of personality traits. These traits enable them to work effectively with their patients in solving their psychological or emotional problems. So, before you take the plunge, ask yourself these seven basic, yet thought-provoking questions.
Do You Consider Yourself a Good Listener?
Your abilities as a listener may be the most important trait to be a successful counselor. A counselor or psychologist must have the ability to pay utmost attention to what their patient says. They should also understand the patient’s body language, even the subtlest signals. You can’t prescribe a proper treatment plan if you can’t communicate with your patients at all levels.
Are You Good at Keeping Secrets?
Unless mandated by law, every conversation between a counselor and the patient is strictly confidential. Therapists should never reveal confidential information about a patient to anyone else and should never bring their work home with them.
Are You Genuinely Emphatic about Others?
Now, this is something an online masters in counseling or online counseling degrees should’ve already touched on. This is an important question to ask—do you genuinely care about other people’s pains, joys, happiness, achievements, etc.?
Many might gloss over this aspect, but empathy is the foundation of a good counselor. You can’t fake empathy. A counselor must be compassionate and feel connected to a patient’s emotional pain. If you’re someone who gets bored or frustrated with other people’s issues, maybe you should consider another field.
Do You think Yourself as a Creative and Flexible Person?
Psychology is an evolving art and science. Sure, it requires analytical skills, but successful therapists must be open-minded, creative and flexible enough to challenge traditional assumptions about human nature and behavior. The human mind is incredibly complex and is constantly changing. Therefore, it is only sensible that you come up with newer hypotheses as societies change and adapt to it.
How Well Do You Know Yourself?
Counselors determine actions plans and their thought process is often influenced by their personal beliefs, education, religious upbringing, social status, etc. They should be stable mentally and should get rid of any mental baggage. They should not pass judgments, be tolerant, and step aside from his/her comfort zone to make objective observations, even if it isn’t aligned with their personal beliefs and morals.
As you can see, the career of a counselor isn’t for everyone. However, if you feel you have the skills, attributes, and above else, the desire to help others and become a counselor, we suggest you look into the various college courses available.