5 Ways For Counselors To Improve
- Participate In Continuing Education
- Get Better At Administrative Tasks
- Better Understand Clients
- Practice Self-Care
There are quite a few traits of an effective counselor. To excel in the profession, however, a counselor must always strive to improve. This is true for all careers. Below are five tips for being a better counselor.
1. Participate In Continuing Education
Continuing education is an important part of careers in every industry, and it is especially important for counselors. This can include everything from additional degrees to reading books on the subject, taking classes, attending informational seminars and everything in between. This additional training and knowledge will open the mind to new techniques that will help counselors better serve their clients. An important counselor trait is to simply be curious.
Learning any profession requires practice. Practice simply happens from time spent on the job, and the more a counselor practices at her profession, the better she will be at it. Counselors should challenge themselves a little and occasionally push their limits. However, their commitment to their clients comes first and they must refer a client they are not qualified to help to someone else. Students still in school should strongly consider getting an internship so they can practice and get some hands-on experience before beginning work in this profession.
3. Get Better At Administrative Tasks
One of the important traits of an effective counselor is to remain organized. Some counselors work for themselves, which means they also must do most regular administrative tasks as well. This includes filing, billing, scheduling and answering phone and e-mail. It's important to stay on top of these tasks so they do not pile up. Falling behind can negatively impact clients and lead to a messy, disorganized office, which is unbecoming. Counselors want their offices to be as inviting as possible for their clients. Even counselors who have administrative assistants must perform administrative tasks to some degree.
4. Better Understand Clients
The core of a counselor's role is to get to the root of their clients' issues and help solve them. This requires empathy and perception. Empathy helps counselors put themselves in the positions of their clients, which leads to better understanding and the ability to truly help the client. A highly empathetic nature is usually a major reason why students choose to become counselors in the first place. Improving perception is also important. Counselors must be able to read between the lines of what a client is telling them as well as read tone and body language to truly get to the source of the problem.
5. Practice Self-Care
The ability to practice effective self-care is a must for counselors. Working with downtrodden, abused and mentally ill people can take its toll on a counselor's mental health. Empathy is one of the most important traits a counselor can have, but that very same trait can cause counselors to get too emotionally involved in their work. This can be dangerous because it leads to overwork, anxiety, and depression. Becoming a better counselor requires taking care of oneself in addition to one's patients. Counselors are advised to learn basic relaxation techniques, accept the limits of what they can do and make sure to spend plenty of time out of the office.
It takes very special people to be counselors. This can be a hard profession, but also one of the most rewarding. Anyone currently possessing and willing to work on the traits of an effective counselor may find this career a very rewarding one.