Counseling may be a good option for you if you’re seeking a satisfying profession where you can truly help people. However, becoming a professional counselor might be confusing.
There are many various sorts of counselors, so consider what you want to concentrate on. Being a school counselor, a mental health counselor, or an addiction expert are all common choices.
A professional counselor’s career can be a viable option for you if you really want to pursue it.
Moreover, if you’re wondering how to become a counselor, these are the steps you need to take.
Steps To Becoming A Professional Counselor
Step 1: Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
Since most states and businesses require counselors to have a graduate degree in their specific field, prospective counseling students can pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in psychology, education, sociology, or social work as well.
Bachelor’s degrees in counseling are not as common as bachelor’s degrees in other fields.
A four-year B.A. or B.S. degree provides an educational foundation, including mandatory courses such as psychology, sociology, biology, statistics, and human development, on which a more specialized graduate degree can be built.
While graduates of bachelor’s degree programs and occasionally even two-year associate degree programs may be allowed to work as social workers or drug misuse counselors, certification in most mental health occupations normally requires a higher degree.
Step 2: Complete Your Counseling Practice And/Or Internship Hours
Counselors must complete a certain number of recorded hours of supervised clinical fieldwork in order to acquire certification or qualification.
These hours may qualify toward your state requirement, but you will almost certainly need to complete extra fieldwork hours to become a licensed or certified counselor, depending on your state. This is also contingent on your ability to concentrate.
In and out of client sessions, students work under supervision and autonomously. At the practice site, counseling interns are held to the same high standards as other practicing professionals.
Interns are responsible for maintaining clinical records, participating in professional development, collaborating and interacting with other counselors and family members, and meeting with their assigned clients.
Step 3: Complete Your Master’s Degree
A Master’s Degree is required for the majority of counseling positions. You may be able to do this while working, but if not, you will need to get your MA before looking for jobs. A Master’s degree in psychology or sociology can get you a job, but it’s more typical to receive a degree in your field of interest.
For example, if you want to be a school counselor, check for institutions that offer a Master’s degree in that subject.
You may anticipate studying a wide range of courses, including lectures on counseling ethics and legislation.
Step 4: Submit an Application for a License or Professional Certification
To operate as a counselor, you must obtain either a license or a certificate, depending on which state you live in. You can apply for the certification you require after passing your tests. Check your state’s regulations to learn more about the procedure.
After passing your examinations, you may be instantly certified in some states. In certain areas, you may be required to get certification in a specific profession.
For example, you can achieve this by enrolling in specified college courses or completing a state-sponsored online exam. After that, you will receive a credential as a counselor.
Step 5: Look for a Job in Your Counseling Field
You can begin your job search once you’ve completed your qualifications. Look for employment that you believe you’d enjoy on the internet. If you want to work with teenagers, for example, look for a job in a high school.
If you want to work in a public school, look for employment openings on school districts’ websites. Your university’s career center may also be able to assist you in locating possibilities.
You may seek jobs on prominent sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, etc.
It’s also a good idea to contact schools personally if you wish to work there. You can send a professional email introducing yourself and requesting to be contacted when new job opportunities arise.
Types Of Counselors
There are several areas of specialization in the counseling industry, and most of them need at least some basic skills. Here are a few examples of counseling careers.
School Career Counselor
The most evident contrast between school and career counselors is the work environment. Of course, school counselors work in schools.
They advise children and cooperate with parents and teachers to assist pupils to achieve academic success and prepare them for future academic or professional advancements.
School counselors can assist pupils in dealing with life’s difficulties. These specialists deal with pupils as young as infants and as elderly as teens preparing for high school graduation.
In May 2020, the average yearly compensation for school and career counselors and advisors was $58,120. It’s one of the highest-paying counseling jobs.
Marriage And Family Therapist
If you wish to help couples or families, you should explore the option of becoming a marriage and family therapist.
Grieving the loss of a loved one, infertility, disputes, substance misuse, pornography addiction, domestic violence, and LGBTQ concerns are all themes you might want to discuss.
To work through these problems, you will need to watch how people connect with one another and treat relationship issues holistically.
In 2020, the median compensation for marriage and family therapists was $51,340.
Mental Health Counselor
You should look into ways to become a mental health therapist if you want to be able to work with a wide range of people. You can choose to specialize in any number of topics or practice in general under the umbrella of mental health counseling.
Some counselors specialize in the type of treatment they utilize, such as treating trauma or substance misuse or operating in specialized venues such as inpatient programs or online counseling.
The sensation of having a “nervous breakdown” or crying uncontrollably is a normal reaction to counseling. It’s possible that you’ll cry, or that you’ll feel frightened or agitated during a session.
The median annual wage for mental health counselors is $47,660, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics.
Venting Out Counselor
The first step entails establishing a relationship with clients and focusing on including them in discussions about issues that directly affect them.
Since the individual is analyzing the counselor’s verbal and nonverbal communications and making judgments about the counselor and the counseling environment, the initial interview is crucial.
However, many people report feeling relieved after venting their emotions during a session.
Licensed Alcohol And Drug Abuse Counselor
If you’re wondering how to become a counselor without a college degree, you could go into addiction therapy. Some states permit persons with a high school diploma and a mix of experience in the field or certification to serve as alcohol and drug misuse counselors.
Earning potential in this industry is often lower than that of counseling professions that need more education, and in treatment settings, your clients may appear with disorders that are co-occurring with substance misuse that you will not be competent to treat.
Human services and social work sectors including substance misuse, on the other hand, maybe one of the incredibly satisfying places to work.
A counselor in the field of substance addiction and mental health therapy earns an average annual compensation of $44,630.
Online counseling is a good place to start if you don’t have a college degree and want to learn how to be a counselor.
Some states enable anyone with a high school diploma and a mix of field experience or certification to become certified to work as an alcohol and drug misuse counselor.
Decide Your Speciality
Every couple’s level of intimacy and cooperation goes through ups and downs throughout time. This might range from minor concerns about stagnation to more extreme signs of angry conduct.
Counselors have a significant influence on the lives of the patients they help. It’s vital that they receive the correct education because of their impact on clients’ lives and in order to deliver the best possible treatment. The first step is to decide which counseling specialty you want to study.
Counselors usually work with specific patient groups and give specialized treatment and therapy. The type of education you pursue should be based on your job goals and achievements.
Respecting Your Client’s Privacy
The counseling relationship is completely confidential. Whereas clients may hope that their privacy would be respected by friends or family, a counselor is morally and responsibly obliged by confidentiality.
Unless the client presents a direct threat to themselves or others, their talks with a counselor will be kept a secret.
Clients may depend on the counselor to show up for their planned meeting on time. Marriage counseling or couples counseling can help with problem-solving and emotional healing.
Couples counseling can assist couples to slow down their downward spiral and restore reasonable expectations and goals.
There are a variety of ways that may be used to assist customers in their quest for growth and problem-solving. Counselors frequently give opportunities for people to gain new abilities and coping methods while also improving their self-awareness and insight.
If medication is required for a patient’s stability, certain psychologists and counselors may collaborate with each other.
There are no distinctions in some aspects since they all suggest that you seek treatment from a psychological health professional to resolve various challenges in your life. There is a major difference in another sense.
Counseling, in my opinion, refers to a short-term, highly targeted method to treating a client’s difficulties. In my opinion, the term “talk therapy” refers to a long-term, in-depth approach.
The phrase treatment is only a condensed form of the term psychotherapy.
In fact, I believe that everybody who seeks counseling is bold and worthy of respect since they are engaging and tackling their problems.
Skills Of A Counselor
Here are some characteristics and abilities that indicate a counselor’s success.
As a counselor, you must have a great interest in understanding everything there is to know about other people. If you don’t care about other people, you’ll find it hard to deal with them on a deeper level.
As a counselor, the choices you make, perform and portray yourself have a significant effect on the level of treatment you can deliver. To identify better methods to connect with others, a competent counselor must be able to honestly and properly analyze oneself.
Every counselor’s aim is to get to know the individual they’re dealing with on a very personal level. This is only feasible if the counselor is a great listener, who can appreciate not just the words but also the higher purpose of what is being said.
All counselors must find a careful balance between being accessible and emotionally available to the individuals they treat while remaining professional and personal.
Treatment is only feasible if a counselor can establish an empathetic relationship while maintaining limits.
Counseling that is one-size-fits-all is rarely effective. Good counselors are able to adjust their approach to each individual’s needs they work with, taking into account their past, personality, and challenge.
Counseling is a difficult and frequently uncomfortable procedure for all those engaged.
Without trivializing the patient’s problems, anxieties, and troubles, the counselor must be able to use humor successfully and responsibly to lighten the atmosphere and take some of the attention off of dismal or frustrating events.
If you want to become a professional counselor, there are a variety of options available to you. You may get both the education and the work assisting others that you want with hard effort and perseverance.
Whatever your level of education, if you are dedicated to your particular customers, you will undoubtedly have an influence.