“Being a competent professional demands not only continuing education but also a willingness to obtain periodic supervision when faced with ethical or clinical dilemmas." (Corey, Corey, & Callanan, 2007, p.360) A great counselor is a person who is totally committed to the clients and being engaged in continued growth professionally and personally. I believe a willingness to listen carefully, forming and maintaining a strong therapeutic relationship, being empathetic, energetic and working with clients on mutually agreed upon goals is essential qualities of a great counselor. Personal therapy and clinical supervision can help counselors stay happy and healthy in their work. Also keeping up with the literature can promote wellness and help counselors guard against taking cookie-cutter approaches with clients. Truly exceptional counselors are those who put the concept into practice in their own lives.
This topic serves importance for beginning counselors as knowledge and experience is not gained by merely completing an introductory course rather it involves many years of study, training, and practical counseling experience. With training and practice we become more confident, more skillful and capable. Nystul (2003) has identified the following common problems of beginning counselors: focusing on the first issue in a session, having perfectionist tendencies, getting carried away with the latest technique, getting lost in the counseling process, using inappropriate phrases, being emotionally involved, taking things too personally, having difficulty differentiating between normal and abnormal, being uncertain about self-disclosure and confidentiality. Corey (2005) too has indicated that the beginning counselor experience self-doubts about one’s ability as a counselor, feeling burdened to fulfill all demands of clients, giving advice and not developing one’s own counseling style. Others like Theriault, Gazzola and Richardson (2009) have noted that beginning counselors experience feelings of incompetence and that the beginning counselors have career concerns (Busacca & Wester, 2006).
Counsellors do not make decisions for clients nor are clients told what to do but rather are helped with their own decisions. The counsellor listens to the expectations of the client to support them with possible positive and negative consequences of their expectations. As a counselor we should make sure to do things apart from professional life as spending time with family and friends, going for a walk, having hobbies and reading apart from psychology journals. Not only it is crucial for our well-being, but that way we can be more available to clients when we practice what we preach. This topic serves relevance to me to have a better sense of how to integrate concepts and techniques from different approaches and have a complete framework for counseling as how it actually takes place in real setting because having complete understanding about concepts is one thing and connecting those theories to counseling sessions is another. As a beginning counselor the quest for self awareness as well as knowledge of counseling procedures is a major component. Counselors need not only be aware of their skills, knowledge and performance as professionals but also mindful of any personal factors that may hamper their ability to provide an effective service. As a counselor, it’s really important to align therapeutic approach based on the individual’s presenting problems/concerns and underlying emotional issues.
- Be aware of your physical and emotional state
- Mindfulness meditation helps to prepare for anxiety, stress, frustration and everyday challenges
- Be empathetic and validate the client’s feeling
- As a counselor, it’s really important to strive to be patient
- Seek support from other mental health professionals as that leads to constructive suggestions about how to work through
- Develop the therapeutic alliance, instill hope for achievable objectives, facilitate intervention plans and follow-up to make sure the client is going well in the process
- Stay committed to the clients you are serving
- Be engaged in continued growth professionally and personally
As a counselor, a therapeutic relationship provides support, challenges the client and allows them to gain valuable insights about themselves. It’s also a good idea to talk about as what the client is hoping to achieve in therapy. Together, setting goals and benchmarks that one can effectively use to measure the progress along the way. Setting and maintaining boundaries is especially important to support the professional relationship. Establishing trust is broadly accepted as fundamental to the development of a therapeutic relationship. It is responsibility of the counselors to create and maintain a safe environment in which clients and explore and address the underlying issues. Counselors can help the clients to express their feelings constructively by validating their affect but not their expression.
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate” (Carl Jung). It is all about self awareness, having deeper understanding about our thought process, emotions and self exploration to know you better and to serve others effectively.