Counselors are invaluable. These are the people you turn to when your life is falling apart at the seams or your marriage is on the rocks. It’s their job to help you work through your emotions and make sense of what has happened and why. With their help, you can better understand what caused the issues and work out a solution to prevent it from happening again. A good counselor doesn’t ‘fix you’, but they provide you with the tools to fix yourself.
An online counseling degree is perfect for anyone who wants to take his or her listening skills to the next level. Online counseling degrees are popular with students from all walks of life, but before you sign up for a masters in counseling, you need to work out whether you have the right skills.
Can You Truly Listen?
To be a good counselor, you have to be able to listen to your clients. You can’t sit there and drift off into your own thoughts while a client is telling you about a traumatic incident in their life. Instead, you must listen intently, taking note of verbal and non-verbal clues to what is really going on in the person’s head. What the person says is just as important as what they don’t say.
Are You Empathetic?
It should go without saying that a good counselor needs to have a high degree of empathy. You need the ability to empathize with what the client is going through, to put yourself in their shoes. It can be incredibly difficult to listen to people’s accounts of traumatic events, but without empathy, you won’t be able to understand and help the client move forward to a better place.
Can You Be Authentic and Accessible?
Counseling is a relationship built on trust. Without trust, you can’t help a client, so you need to be truly authentic and fully accessible. This isn’t about you and you must never judge a client for what they have done. Building a strong personal connection with a client is crucial to the therapeutic process.
Are You Self-Aware?
You can’t help clients work through their issues if you are in denial about your own weaknesses and flaws. Counselors have to undergo counseling themselves as part of the training process, so you need to be very self-aware and ready to face your own problems head on.
Do You Want to Help People?
Counselors have a genuine interest in others. They want to help people. It isn’t easy being a counselor. In fact, it can be extremely stressful at times, especially if you work with children suffering the effects of abuse. You have to have a strong desire to want to help people to go into the counseling profession, as anything less than a full-on commitment to the job will not be enough.
Lastly, do not overlook the need for a sense of humor. Laughter is always the best medicine when life throws you a curve ball.
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