The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t remain the only health crisis affecting the world today. It’s estimated that almost one-fifth of the American population suffered from mental health problems in 2017 and 2018, indicating the need for remedial endeavors. Experts suggest mental health patients obtain the necessary treatment by visiting nearby therapists/counselors. Since COVID-19 caused a decline in the nation’s mental well-being, counselors have become much sought-after during this epidemic. So, how do you become a competent career-ready mental health counselor? Students often ask questions about the recipe to become a competent counselor so let’s discuss the ingredients you shall require for that.
Which skills do you need to become a better counselor?
Some one-third of Americans today live in locations where they don’t have access to therapists/counselors. Moreover, almost two-thirds of psychologists with a waitlist reported it’d grown since the beginning of the pandemic. Therefore, students pursuing a career in counseling should double their efforts to obtain a competitive advantage in the health industry. You cannot become a competent and well-experienced counselor without learning the recipe for being good at your job! And while the difficulty of becoming a licensed therapist may seem daunting, with the right approach, it is achievable. So, we have tried to discuss some ingredients for getting better at counseling here. Develop these qualities in yourself:
- Enhance your learning
Education constitutes the principal ingredient that makes you a competent counselor. Today, people have distance learning opportunities at their disposal. So, students can now attain online degrees in counseling to kickstart their careers and become better at helping mental health patients. Obtaining these degrees will help you treat your patients properly by utilizing your education. Since this course is digital, you can learn at your pace. So, bolster your medical acumen without leaving your home.
- Communicate with patients
Effective communication allows counselors to establish meaningful relations with their clients. Your job’s to listen to patients’ problems and help them overcome their demons. We suggest you practice “active listening” so the patient doesn’t feel being bossed around by the therapist. Also, a counselor must set clear-cut boundaries, establish some guidelines, and guide patients without any harshness. We’ll discuss it further while discussing how counselors shouldn’t judge the patient.
- Understand your clients
Understanding your patients’ predicaments can help you realize how to help them better. Thus, you should realize your clients’ mindsets and adjust to their needs for discovering an effective treatment strategy. This understanding will allow you to create a productive relationship with the patient. Your patient may attend the session because of a court mandate. So, establishing this relationship with a client enables you to genuinely interest them in your services and make them trust you.
- Show some flexibility
Mental health patients are vulnerable individuals, and counselors communicate with them at various levels of susceptibility. Therefore, it’s imperative to develop some flexibility, thereby understanding a patient’s idiosyncratic consequences. You can gain expertise in several counseling-related fields such as family therapy, addiction treatment, relationship counseling, and other subjects. This knowledge can help you understand your patients better and provide the required mental health assistance.
- Always practice discretion
Patients expect therapists/counselors to keep secrets and refrain from making them public. So, your job’s to maintain confidentiality and avoid sharing the intimate details shared by the client in private sessions. You need patients to trust you, and it’s impossible to trust a physician who doesn’t practice discretion. As counselors, patients may reveal their darkest secrets – thoughts they never disclosed before – so discretion is important. That’s the mark of a successful counselor in the 21st century.
- Practice some self-awareness
Counselors often relate the client’s experiences with their struggles. Statistics indicate that 1 in 7 American children have faced abuse/neglect. So, counselors should remain prepared for clients’ stories reflecting their demons. Don’t let your past stop you from offering help to your patients. We suggest counselors practice self-awareness and regulate their emotions. That’s how we can prevent your emotions from clouding your judgment. Remain honest, consistent, and confident in sessions.
- Always stay confident
We’ve discussed patience as an important ingredient for becoming competent counselors. However, one shouldn’t ignore the significance of having some self-confidence when you’re trying to harness your proficiency in counseling. Now, we’re not suggesting you become a know-it-all in a session. It’s unhealthy for the therapist to seem like they know everything! Confidence means a therapist should stay certain about their abilities to help people. Have some faith in your skills as a counselor now.
- Have some empathy
Counselors must have some empathy for their patients. How do we define empathy? It helps you share someone’s thoughts and feelings and understand their condition from their perspective. A counselor shouldn’t neglect to develop this crucial ability as you can’t treat clients without knowing how they feel. Empathy doesn’t require you to agree with a patient; you just review their problems from their viewpoints. That’s how you can address mental health issues properly without danger.
- Don’t judge them
We can’t stress this point enough! Counseling students under training are told how they must never judge the patient no matter how horrible the patient’s stories sound. You don’t have to agree with the choices made by a client, but it doesn’t mean you can’t help them overcome mental health disorders. When clients feel judged by a counselor, they aren’t comfortable opening up more to such a therapist. That’s why counselors must assume a non-judgmental attitude in a session.
- Don’t lose patience
Therapy sessions aren’t always successful, and it may take weeks for patients to show some progress and recovery. Therefore, mental health counselors must practice patience with their clients. Refrain from lashing out or compelling the patient to follow your instructions. Your job’s to help the patient realize the solution to their problems. So, it often takes time for clients to admit their errors, confess their crimes, and promise recovery. Don’t lose patience and always maintain a pleasant attitude.
Mental health counseling remains a service much-needed by people today, especially because of COVID-19. A survey shows that almost every American considers mental health services important, but only 70% have access to adequate therapy/counseling facilities. We learned that 41+ million people in the USA received mental health treatment in 2019. What traits must these counselors develop to get better at this job? We’ve explained some of the qualities counselors should adopt for helping patients today.
Firstly, you should obtain the required education. Then you may develop the skills we have talked about, such as empathy, patience, discretion, flexibility, and self-awareness. Stay confident before patients and refrain from judging them based on their actions. Since your job’s to listen to their problems and enable them to cope with their mental health issues. So, understand your clients by communicating with them effectively. That’s how you become an effective counselor who helps your patients get better in 2022.