Online Tips and Tricks to Jumpstart your Career In Counseling
August 17, 2022
Right now is a great time to start a career in counseling. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, good mental health has been on a sharp decline in the US. The stigma surrounding mental healthcare and the new flexibility of online therapy is boosting the demand for qualified psychologists. With the increasing use of telemedicine and online education resources in the medical field, going into this complex field has never been more accessible.
The shortage in talent for US counsellors is growing, with professionals overwhelmed with a lot more patience than what is expected. Now, education and training in this field are essential if we are to deal with the nation’s rise in mental health issues. People interested can look to online tools to see if this line of work is good for them.
Get Familiar with the Required Skills
Becoming a counselor takes a lot of time and effort, so you should make sure that it’s something you really want to do before you start the process. People who become successful counselors are compassionate, enjoy working directly with people, and are able to leave their work behind when they go home.
Counselors have to hear a lot of stories involving trauma, and it’s important to make sure that you can manage your own mental health when you’re constantly surrounded by other people’s problems. You also need to be an excellent, empathetic, non-judgmental communicator. Counselors need many different skills to effectively guide people in making positive life changes.
Decide What Kind of Counselor You Want to Be
There are many different levels of counseling and lots of counseling sub-specialties to choose from. Most people start by figuring out what kind of counselor they want to be so they can pursue the educational and certification requirements that best suit their specialty of choice.
Most counseling specialties are designed for serving specific populations. If you enjoy helping families solve their problems, you might want to consider marriage and family counseling. Or, you might want to help people with substance abuse struggles. Think about who you can best serve, based on your motivations and skills.
Some people prefer to go into general counseling, as that provides more flexibility overall. Regardless, it’s important to understand your options and think about what you want to do once you’re certified.
Pursue Degrees and Certifications
Most types of counseling jobs require a master’s degree or higher. If you have a bachelor’s degree already, then you might be able to complete the requirements for a counseling degree in just a few years. However, you will also likely need to be licensed by your state to become a working counselor. This involves a testing process for licensure.
If you need to pursue additional degrees to become a counselor, choose your program carefully. Some schools are much better than others, and some offer more specialized programs. Apply to the programs that have a good reputation and suit your needs the best.
Consider Your Employment Options
Counselors work in all kinds of settings, depending on the type of counseling they provide. Career counselors might work with individuals, or they might work for colleges, universities, and government institutions.
Professionals who provide mental health counseling can work in all kinds of environments, from hospitals and clinics. Even school counseling opportunities are growing as more young adults need help and guidance for their future and mental health. Some counselors also work for online therapy websites and work from home to help people virtually.
As a counselor, you will also typically have the option of going into private practice. There are major pros and cons to employment vs. private practice, so it’s important to think about your overall career goals before you decide on one route over another.
Use Your Passion to Keep Working Toward Your Goals
Counselors are very passionate about helping others. They enjoy working with others to help them solve their biggest problems. If you are passionate about helping people, it’s important to use that energy to keep moving forward as you prepare for your career in counseling.
Getting an advanced degree takes time and you can expect some setbacks along the way. Remembering why you want to be a counselor in the first place will help inspire you to keep going and reaching toward your goals.
Featured image: Harbucks, iStock.