There are times when we feel like we have been keeping a lot inside our chests and cannot take it anymore. Every one of us is carrying an invisible burden. That burden keeps increasing, and it eventually starts messing with our daily routine. The emotional burden soon starts taking a toll on our nerves, and that's when we feel that we cannot handle it and need some help. Sadly, talking about our mental and emotional health has always been taboo. We have always discussed it behind closed doors. As going to a therapist or seeking help is as normal as going to a doctor. However, mental health stigma has made it difficult for people in dire need of professional help.
Thanks to the awareness and education that people today are more comfortable talking about their feelings and emotions. The therapists and counselors have played a substantial role in normalizing and de-stigmatizing mental health. Students studying psychology can choose a career pathway, but one of the popular career pathways is a counselor or a therapist.
Choosing your career in psychology entails a direct interaction with people. It involves helping people with real problems that hinder their daily lives and help them see their positive side. We all feel stuck mentally to overcome these roadblocks. We need a professional to help us see through it. Upon hearing the word counselor, we usually envision mental health or school counselor, but this domain has other roles and responsibilities as well. Here are a few things that you should consider before choosing your career in counseling.
Every profession has different roles to offer, matching the skills and expertise of an individual. A doctor can choose any specialization they want to pursue as their career. Similarly, a counselor has many niches to explore. You can identify your niche if you do not differentiate between Clinical Mental Health Counseling vs Marriage and Family Therapy and the responsibilities it involves. Before you join a career, it is vital to identify your area of interest and your skills. From marriage counseling to family therapies, a counselor's role differs. They have to deal with every niche with a different skill set.
Practice and Train
You might have a degree or professional education in counseling, but if you aim to be a licensed counselor, you will have to cover extra miles. To become a licensed counselor, you will need practice and training to qualify for the professional role. Look for internships in your nearby mental health clinics and collaborate with a professional to supervise you. Your degree may have equipped you with concepts and skills, but you cannot rely on the information without its practical implication. Learning from someone working in the same field as yours will directly expose the patients and hone your communication skills.
It never comes easy
When we decide to help others, we are so overwhelmed with empathy and the idea of creating a difference that we overlook the challenges lying ahead. A career in counseling is indeed exciting, but it never comes easy. At times, patients will not want to heal besides how deep they are hurting inside. Talking to them and listening to their struggles can take a toll on your emotions as well. As a counselor, you need to ensure that you are strong enough to share someone else's emotional burden. Often counselors send away patients asking them to look after themselves but ignore their emotional health in the process.
It's not what we see on TV
Many movies and TV serials have scenes depicting therapy sessions where they sit on the couch, staring at the ceiling and sharing their feelings. In reality, when you are dealing with patients as a counselor, it does not appear like what you have seen on TV. You will face patients who won't open up to you quickly or who will take extra time to share things with you. As a counselor, you cannot push them to share, but you will have to go with the flow. If your patient wants to sit silently throughout the session time, just be there for them. There might be some patients who might take your extra time while sharing their emotions. Let them talk and listen because they might not open up again. The tiniest moments with your patients can help you get the details to help you with your sessions.
You will feel lost
Human beings are full of mysteries. We all are carrying a universe within us, and we do not know about it. Every patient of yours will have an emotional burden with varying intensity. You will often feel that your patients are not making any progress but do not lose hope. As a counselor, you will feel hopeless at times, but you can always find an alternative solution to see if it works. Remember that there is always a second chance, and if you stay consistent, you will find your way.
The word 'health' is an umbrella term entailing our social, physical, emotional, mental, and psychological well-being. If we do not feel okay at any aspect of our health, it will affect the other aspects of our well-being. People carrying their mental and emotional load try their best to survive independently, but at times they need a helping hand. If you wish to be a counselor, be prepared for a bumpy ride of emotions. The career may appear challenging in the beginning, but you will find your way out with time. The more you observe and pay attention to details, you will find all the essential skills to excel in your career. Even the body language between you and your patients will play a significant role.