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Things To Know Before Pursuing A Career In Counseling

March 26 2021 - So youíve dwindled your options, and a career in counseling is a path youíre seriously considering.

Counseling is a relationship that empowers individuals and groups towards accomplishing a sense of fulfillment in their personal, social, and professional needs. Collaborative in nature, this profession aims to identify a clientís problems - usually rooted in emotional turmoil - and find uplifting solutions.

Aside from the aforementioned, counseling also offers assistance in the following:

  • Improve communication skills
  • Improve coping mechanisms
  • Strengthen self-esteem and sense of self
  • Promote healthy behavioural changes
  • Promote mental health

A normal timetable: An undergraduate degree in counseling would take you 4 years to complete; a graduate degree would take 5-6 years; a Ph.D. or doctorate in counseling would take you 7 to 8 years to complete. The higher the degree, the better the chances of you getting hired in the field.

Letís look at some of the things you need to know before pursuing a career in counseling.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Counseling

By all means, fostering an environment where others can flourish from their struggles is a noble duty. And thatís great! But with all great things, you have to undergo a thorough self-evaluation before fully committing to this career path.

Here are some things to ask yourself before jumping into counseling:

  • Am I at ease working with people?
  • Do people see me as trustworthy to be around?
  • Do I exhibit a high level of self-awareness of my needs and desires?
  • Am I capable of understanding and empathizing with people from all walks of life?
  • Am I passionate about psychology and getting in touch with peopleís deepest emotions?

If any of those questions inspire or motivate you, then counseling can be a rewarding and fulfilling path for you.

Four Types of Counseling

As you begin your journey, understanding the differences and niching down to it a specific branch of counseling is necessary. While some professionals specialise in counseling and helping couples, others may feel theyíre their best selves in a one-to-one setting.

Here are the four types of counseling:

Individual Counseling

Conducted on a one-on-one basis, this form of counseling provides emotional support and exposes growth pathways to individuals. Individual counseling can help a person deal with a wide range of personal issues. This includes topics like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, school and work troubles, relationship challenges, and other hardships an individual faces.

Couples Counseling

Couples counseling deals with a coupleís relationship challenges. From concerns like stagnation to serious things like aggressive behaviour, couples counseling provides avenues for couples to seek professional advice. Overall, couples counseling deals with strengthening and realigning a coupleís goals on realistic expectations.

Family Counseling

One would seek family counseling if they undergo hardships like parenting issues, loss of loved ones, sibling conflict, or other changes. A family counselor is well equipped to deal with these challenges, and their focus is re-introducing harmony over several sessions.

Group Counseling

Group counseling provides a different dynamic from the other types as it aims to console strangers in an inclusive, judgment-free environment. Itís rooted in the counseleeís shared experience - usually substance abuse, anxiety, or anger issues - and raises awareness and proposes solutions for them.

What Will I Learn In Counseling?

A counseling course will equip you with the knowledge you need to facilitate and provide counseling services with proper methodologies.

Aside from technical knowledge and expertise in the field, you can also develop useful core competencies for your related job.

Some of the competencies and soft skills you can hone include:

  • Active listening
  • Critical thinking
  • Building rapport
  • Social perceptiveness
  • Active learning
  • Questioning

And the best part is, these soft skills also find use in navigating daily life and workplaces outside the circle of counseling. Itís a win-win situation.

While many universities in Australia offer counseling courses, there are online courses too if youíre just testing the waters.

One counseling course in our recommendation pool is Train Smartís course. By finishing their 12-month online course, you can work with clients who struggle with mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, adolescent development, and relationships.

Where Can I Find Jobs With A Counseling Degree?

Below are some of the places that offer employment to individuals who have a counseling degree.

  • Hospital and Private Practice
  • Inpatient or Outpatient Rehabilitation Facilities
  • Residential Care Facilities
  • Correctional Facilities / Prisons
  • Educational System
  • Career Centres
  • Social Service Agencies
  • Religious Institutions

The opportunities for a counseling graduate to find employment are extensive. Aside from those listed above, graduates can also score jobs in government firms, law offices, and summer camps among others.

On The Road To Landing A Counseling Job

So youíve committed. You know the road ahead is going to be tough, but youíve got your eyes set on the prize.

Here are some steps you should take during your educational journey to give you a headstart in landing your first job. (You donít have to follow it entirely - but itís the best shot)

  • Finish your bachelorís degree (4 years)
  • Earn a masterís degree (5-6 years)
  • Do an internship
  • Choose a specialisation
  • Earn credentials
  • Finish your PhD degree (7-8 years)

Once youíve completed the above steps to completion, or struck gold and found an amazing opportunity midway, then a fulfilling counseling career path is right around the corner.

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