Building a Career in Counseling
Counseling is one of the most sought-after services in the health industry today. As societies develop, many people encounter mental health challenges, requiring them to seek professional help navigating various life challenges.
What is counseling?
Counseling involves helping a person overcome emotional, social, or psychological challenges to live a productive and fulfilling life. Counseling is a form of talk therapy involving a trained and licensed counselor who provides professional guidance and psychosocial support to individuals or groups seeking to improve their mental health and well-being.
Research has shown that one in every eight persons globally suffers from a mental health disorder. Campaigns to raise mental health awareness have reduced the stigma of seeking counseling services, and more people are signing up with professional counselors. Institutions like hospitals, schools, and workplaces have professional counseling departments where people can get personal growth education and mental health support and treatment.
Some institutions offer mental health counseling and support for particular demographics, e.g., children, adolescents, the LGBTQ community, sexual violence victims, and others. Some online sites and institutions are licensed to offer counseling support online. You can become a professional counselor and offer services in any of these institutions or as a private practitioner with proper training.
What does counseling entail?
Counseling involves professionally-approved strategies to help individuals make positive changes in their lives. A counselor uses various techniques and approaches to help clients achieve their mental health goals. These strategies may include cognitive-behavioral, solution-focused, psychodynamic, and mindfulness-based therapies.
Counseling is an effective strategy for people experiencing mental health problems or those seeking self-improvement and personal growth. It provides a supportive space for individuals to express their feelings and thoughts and explore their behaviors as they seek to better understand themselves and others around them. This therapy helps individuals to overcome traumatic experiences, develop effective coping strategies and achieve growth in various aspects of life.
What are the different types of counseling?
The four different types of training are:
- Individual counseling: Individual counseling is a form of therapy involving private sessions between one client and a counselor. This type of counseling provides a safe space where one can share their experiences and life challenges on a personal level with the counselor. The counselor can build trust with the client and help them identify areas of weakness and the changes they need to make to improve their lives.
- Family counseling: This type of counseling is tailored for families seeking advice and support in overcoming stressful situations or traumas due to loss, painful experiences, or sudden life changes. A counselor can recommend sessions with all family members or have individual sessions with each member for this type of counseling to be effective.
- Group counseling: Counselors use this type of therapy to bring together individuals with similar issues as part of the primary treatment method.
- Couples counseling: This type of counseling aims at resolving conflicts between couples and helping them create healthy relationship goals and expectations.
Who qualifies as a counselor?
While anyone can talk to and advise another, it takes professional training to become a counselor. American law requires you to be trained by an approved mental health training institute and be licensed by a counseling regulatory body in your state.
Counselors must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to get a practice license. Some states require a master’s degree in mental health counseling before acquiring a license. You must also obtain a doctoral degree in counseling from a fully accredited institution, such as American International College, in order to practice as a counseling psychologist.
What are the different levels and credentials of professional counselors?
Different states use different titles and credentials to identify professional counselors. Some of the titles for counselors include:
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC)
- Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor of Mental Health (LPCC)
- Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC)
- Licensed Mental Health Practitioner (LMHP)
How does one acquire a license in counseling?
Licensing depends on the laws and regulation processes of your particular state. The general steps for acquiring a counseling license are as follows:
- Complete a master’s degree in counseling
- Complete the requisite practice/internship hours
- Take and pass the licensing exam to get a license to practice
What skills does a counselor require?
A good counselor has to be competent in the following skills to offer professional service to their client:
- Good listening skills: Professional counseling courses teach you to listen to your client on multiple levels. You are trained to listen to your client’s concerns without judging or evaluating them based on your biases or beliefs. You also learn to listen to what the client is telling you and what they might not be saying and provide guidance without jumping to conclusions.
- Interest in others: A good counselor has to be genuinely interested in helping their client live a healthy life. As such, counselors can commit their time and energy to helping their patients navigate their mental health or personal growth issues without judging them harshly.
- Confidentiality and professional boundaries: Counselors are required to observe strict confidentiality when dealing with client information. As a counselor, you must be up to date with the ethical and legal responsibilities of handling your clients’ information during and after your sessions. You should also be able to support your client’s decisions without judging or forcing them to accept your recommendations.
Benefits of counseling training
Training helps you to understand your role in therapy and deliver the necessary support for your clients. With training in counseling, you are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to help your clients navigate their mental health issues and other life challenges. Training also helps you to gain relevance in your practice and have a competitive edge over other practitioners in your state.
Counselors are essential to society as they help people from all walks of life navigate various health and life challenges. Quality counseling training is essential to help you deliver positive client outcomes. Choose a reputable and internationally recognized online training course to help you build a lucrative career in counseling.