Counseling is a diverse field. It requires you to merge different aspects of your personality with the skills you’ve learned either in school or through work. The primary goal of any good counselor is to help clients trace the crux of their problems and help them find their way from there. Since you will be working with a range of clients, there is a standard skillset you will need to be an effective counsel. Here are some Skills Required to Become a Successful Counselor:
- Effective Communication.
Most people assume communication is limited to the way you talk, but that’s not the case. Communication is the way you come across another person. It includes your facial expressions, body language, tone, and finally, the words you pick. It would help if you were mindful of the way you present yourself to your clients. You don’t want to scare them off or discourage them from talking to you.
Try not slouching and make sure you put in an effort in dressing for work. When asking questions, be concise and keep your tone void of any reaction. Let your client set the conversation’s pace, and don’t push them for an answer. All these measures constitute a successful counseling session and encourage your client to open up to you.
- Have the Right Education
Proper schooling is the stepping stone for a successful career. No matter how many hours you put in at work, you can’t be an efficient counselor if you don’t have a basic idea about the framework of counseling. Going to a university and studying the concepts of counseling helps you tap into your clients’ minds.
You’re more aware of the kind of language you should use and what not to do while you’re in session. There are many ways to go about pursuing your education. You may look at courses such as a counseling degree online and combine your knowledge by working under a supervised counselor before you’re ready to practice yourself.
- Be Compassionate
Your client may be going through a tough time. Help them feel secure in your presence by expressing your sympathy towards them. Remember, just because you’re saying your good wishes doesn’t mean you’re letting emotions dictate your judgment. Along with compassion, be patient with your clients.
Talking about their circumstances makes them feel embarrassed or choked up. Please give them the space to compose themselves and relay their thoughts. It will help if you keep reassuring them that they’re doing well and it’s okay to feel lost. Remind them that vulnerability is not wrong and shameful, and always reserve your judgment.
- Know-How to Manage
It doesn’t matter if you are running your practice or working for an organization. It would help if you were on top of your workload at all times. Know which ones of your clients need more work and time, and design a schedule that would give them ample time to work with you. When you’re conversing with your patients, you should maintain an organized collection of notes you’ve taken throughout your discussion.
It will help you jog your memory and add on to them if you feel you need to discuss a topic at length. Ensure that you have a sturdy management system to update each client’s file and have their relevant information and medical record in order. You should also know how to adhere to the time limit you’ve set and learn how to pause a conversation and carry it to the next session.
When managing your time, don’t neglect yourself in the process and fill every time slot available. It would help if you had time to self-reflect, review notes and take a break. It can become a very emotionally demanding profession.
- Be a Good Listener
When your client is discussing their situation with you, pay attention. Counseling isn’t about taking over or giving generic advice instead. It is about providing specific and practical steps for your client to implement. If you ignore what your client is saying, you may not have a conversation with them.
They may walk out of the session feeling more agitated than when they came in. When listening, please pay attention to tone and particularly the words they choose to act as indicators for you. There’s a lot you can pick from listening to a person. You can feel their hatred, depreciation, or appreciation for a subject. It also provides you with groundwork on what direction your client needs to work to see fruitful outcomes in their lives.
- Commitment to Confidentiality
It goes without saying that as a counselor, you adhere to a particular set of protocols. However, some counselors may breach this confidentiality, assuming they’re doing the right thing.
You need to inform your client what confidentiality means and what situations it is a legal requirement to breach this confidentiality. Such as if your client’s life may be in danger and you need to inform the police. It will help if you read up on what constitutes a legal situation. Outside of this, it would help if you never mentioned your clients to anyone. Don’t discuss their situation even with your colleagues.
Wanting to help people is a noble cause. However, you need to know the right skills. Unless you allow yourself the proper training, you won’t be able to help your clients. You need to know how to talk to your client and make them feel welcomed in your office. It will help if you put yourself through the right schooling to understand your role as a counselor. Always be compassionate and kind to your clients and never judge them for their situation. Make sure you know how to manage your time and schedule your clients. Finally, make sure they know what confidentiality means and how you exercise it.