Counselors play an integral role in society. You provide a structure to a disarrayed system. The impact you leave on patients reshapes their lives positively. However, to be an asset to the community, you need to go through a series of training and education.
How to become a counselor?
Until you know what it takes to be a counselor and what skill sets you to need to polish, you will always fall short. Sorting through resources, we have listed the different types of counselors and what you’ll need to start your journey:
Become a mental health counselor
- Responsibilities. As a mental health counselor, you will be working with people diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health issues. These issues are depression, substance abuse, and alcohol addiction, among others. Your job will be highly structured, and you will monitor your patient’s progress from when they came in. You will need to conduct mental health assessments, counseling, and intervention. In some instances, you may have to carry out a family therapy session and keep track of your patient after they leave. You will end your day by compiling and maintaining records of all your patients. It is an emotionally taxing job as your patients will not cooperate with it and often be argumentative. You may have to work through weekends and expect evening shifts and may have to show up for emergencies.
- Skills You’ll Need. As this a technical field, you will need computer literacy to maintain records. You must be flexible to work either in teams or carry out a solo session. You must be compassionate and empathetic and understand your patients aren’t intentionally malicious; it’s their circumstances. You must be quick on your feet and effective at listening and talking. Be authoritative when implementing changes so that they get followed.
- Education. This field requires a good educational background, and after your bachelor’s, you will need to pursue a master’s degree. You can either get a Masters in counseling online or any mental health-related field such as clinical mental health, consulting, psychology, or social work. Once your education is up to par, you will need to appear for a state licensing exam.
Become a school counselor
- Responsibilities. As a school counselor, all aspects of your job revolve around a child’s development. You will advise them on their academic goals and help them find a suitable career. Your help will extend towards tracking the root cause of their emotional problems and overcoming them with a series of steps. Once you have a deep understanding of your student, you can update parents and the school accordingly. If you feel a child could use extra support, you will design plans to make sure the school can align itself to their needs. Your working hours are quite flexible, unless necessary you won’t need to pull overtime. You can schedule students however you like.
- Skills You’ll Need. As you will be working with children, you must have a modicum of patience at all times. Appreciate their diversity and be effective in communicating with them. You will also need top-notch listening and coordination skills to draft accurate evaluation reports.
- Education. A Bachelors in Developmental Psychology with relevant fieldwork following your degree is enough for you to start as a school counselor.
Become a rehabilitation counselor
- Responsibilities. As a rehabilitation counselor, you will work with disabled individuals to build useful life skills and deal with intense feelings of anxiety and depression. Your ultimate goal is to guide them towards independence. You will research to find solutions for problems such as employment, chronic pain, and mobility issues. Your relationship with your client will define the parameters of your job. Their utmost trust in your skills is fundamental to their well-being. As always, you will need to maintain and update patient records. Traditionally, this job is less lucrative than most counselors, and you will have a steady 40-hour a week work schedule. You may need to pull an evening shift for patients who are unable to appear for the day.
- Skills You Require. Understand the patients you’ll be working with are struggling in more than one way. Their vulnerability will make them aggravated and defensive. You will need to be attentive to see beyond the hard exterior. Be gentle when talking to them and clear what you expect from them. Have strong critical thinking and observational skills to pick up subtle behavior changes. You will also need to be patient and empathetic as harsh and impatient service may destroy the progress.
- Education. Your education needs to extend to a master’s. A Bachelors in Counseling and any mental-health-related field will steer you in the right direction. Follow it up with a Masters in Psychology.
Become a marriage and family counselor
- Responsibilities. As a marriage and family counselor, your job is about helping families through their difficult circumstances. Among the many responsibilities, you will help grieving families, resolve domestic violence and deal with children suffering from adolescent behavioral problems. You will structure and design programs that aim to bring families closer by giving them a space to talk and communicate with each other. You will observe their interaction patterns and make notes of their inappropriate responses once you have set a framework for your clients. You will work on providing them with solutions. You have a flexible schedule and decide your working hours.
- Skills You Require. This job requires you to be vigilant and observant. Your attentiveness will help you understand the situation better and provide the relevant solution. You need to effectively communicate what needs to be done and be authoritative enough to break conflicts. You must also work on your speech and have clear enunciations to avoid any mishearing. In the end, you must wrap your meetings with relevant documentation on your clients and their situation.
- Education. You will need the proper certification and training to be a marriage counselor. Once you attain a degree as a counselor, go for a Masters in Psychology before sitting for the licensing exam.
Counseling is a broad field. You can pursue many paths down this career. As a mental health counselor, you will work with patients struggling with mental health issues and provide a relevant solution.
As a school counselor, you will work with various students and help them build a career and reshape their behavior.
As a rehabilitation counselor, you will help patients struggling with physical ailments and elevate their condition for an independent life.
As a marriage counselor, you will resolve domestic issues and give married couples closure within their relationship. So start your journey today and find your calling as a counselor.