Choosing a career path has got to be one of the most challenging things, especially if you don’t know anyone who has followed the same career path you’re interested in. In such cases, you have to learn everything from scratch and find out as much as you can about that career to make the right decision.
One of the most popular careers in counseling. If this is a career you’d like to pursue, you may have a lot of questions such as, “Can you become a counselor without a degree?”, “How can I become a counselor?”, and so much more.
If you’re racking your brain with these questions, you’re in the right place. We’ve provided a detailed guide on how to get into counseling to help you make an informed decision. So, let’s jump right in.
Before we get into the steps for becoming a counselor, it’s crucial to know what the job entails and what responsibilities you’ll be expected to handle once you get employed. So, what does a counselor do?
A counselor works with people experiencing challenges in their lives. As a counselor, your job is to listen to your client, be empathetic, reduce confusion, and guide them to viewing their challenges differently. Not to mention, you should also inspire and guide them towards making positive changes in their lives.
In your career, you’ll have to deal with clients facing different difficulties such as mental illness, grief, divorce, unemployment, self-esteem issues, anxiety, illness, and so much more.
Some of your responsibilities as a counselor will include:
· Building a relationship that’s based on respect and trust with your clients
· Agreeing to a counseling contact that indicates what will be discussed in your sessions and what remains confidential
· Encouraging clients to open up
· Actively listening and empathizing
· Accepting the client’s issues without being judgmental
· Helping clients to get a deeper understanding of what they’re going through
· Identifying and challenging any inconsistencies that arise in their story
· Supporting clients on the decisions they make on moving forward
· Referring clients to additional sources of care when needed
· Liaise with other health care providers such as mental healthcare workers or hospitals to provide holistic care based on the issues the patient shares
· Keep detailed records and reporting tools.
Whether you’re just getting started on your career, looking to change your career, or you want to pursue counseling as a passion, these steps will get you on the right track.
To pursue a career in counseling, most employers will require you to have a master’s degree. However, some employers prefer candidates with doctoral degrees. These academic qualifications are also necessary when you want to get your state licensure or certification.
Therefore, the first step is to get a bachelor’s degree. Most institutions of higher learning do not offer undergraduate courses in counseling. However, they offer a bachelor’s in psychology. You can also pursue related courses such as anthropology and sociology. These courses qualify you for a master’s degree in counseling because they teach on topics that are relevant to it.
You’re probably wondering, “Is there a way on how to become a counselor without a degree?” Yes. In some states, individuals with a high school diploma are allowed to practice counseling as long as they have the experience and certifications. However, jobs in counseling without a degree are limited. In most cases, you can only deal with drug addiction cases if you have the necessary experience and qualifications.
Once you’ve earned your counselor degree, the next thing you need to do is to get practical experience. You’ll either have to undergo a practicum or internship program depending on where you live. Both give you the opportunity to participate in supervised clinical fieldwork in an effort to obtain your license or certification.
The primary difference between the two is the number of hours you’ll have to complete to qualify for license or certification. A practicum typically ranges from 100 to 300 hours, and an internship may be up to 600 hours. In some cases, you may also be required to do additional fieldwork after the internship to get your license depending on state requirements.
In most states, you won’t be allowed to practice counseling without a license or certificate. Therefore, once you’re done with all the practical hours, make sure you find out the state requirements for obtaining a counseling license, including the costs and how many hours of fieldwork you should complete. Next, register and follow the procedures outlined to get your license.
Once you have your license, you’ll realize that there are a plethora of career paths you can follow. You can work in mental institutions, hospitals, schools, rehab centers, and so much more. Therefore, it’s crucial to narrow down to a career path you’re passionate about and find a job in that area.
Don’t rest on your laurels just because you’ve landed your dream job. Keep updating your qualifications by learning more and more. It will not only make you a better counselor but also open more doors of opportunity.
There you have it, a detailed guide on how to be a counselor. Now you have no excuse for not following your dream. Just remember to do thorough research when looking for an institution of higher learning. Ensure the school is accredited and that they offer top-notch training. Next, follow the steps in this article, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert counselor.