Counsellors play a significant role in the lives of the people they counsel. A counselor can advise on various things which includes professional, personal, educational, vocational issues and more. Due to the critical nature of this profession and also to provide the best possible advice and care for the patient, it is essential to get the right training and gain appropriate knowledge. If you are thinking of becoming a counselor, it is necessary to find out what specialty you want to choose as a counselor. Irrespective of the type of counselling option chosen, these below are the basic requirements to become a counselor.
- Get a bachelor’s degree: The most essential step in the process of becoming a counselor is to get the right education. It is essential to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, but preferably in psychology or human services for a solid foundation before you move to a master’s degree.
- Earn a master’s degree: It takes two full years of full-time studies to complete your master’s degree where the study will be focused on psychology, statistics, sociology, and counselling. You will also get trained in the specific counselling you want to pursue in the future. Apply to the Council for Accreditation of Counselling and Related Educational Programs so that you can get your master’s degree. These are certified programs which meet the quality standards set for professionals in counselling. The major advantage is that they meet the standards set by the licensing board and thus helps you streamline the process of acquiring the license.
- Earn experience: After getting a master’s degree, it is essential to get clinical work experience through internships or through other forms of supervision. The type of experience and the number of years required is different and depends on the state you live in. Post completion of this, you are eligible to appear for licensing exams conducted by the state. Some people prefer to continue studying and earn their doctorate.
- Get a counselor license: Before you are allowed to practice, after having all the education and experience you should clear an exam which is conducted by a licensing authority depending on the type of counselling you specialize and the state. Even after getting a license to practice, many counsellors get additional training and licenses which is relevant to their specializations and treatment methods they offer.
These are the other things skills required by a counselor:
- Open communication with the clients and encourage them to talk without hesitation about their feelings.
- They are building a communication channel of trust and respect so that the clients can open up.
- Listening without interrupting and asking relevant questions pertaining to the situation
- Empathizing with the clients.
- Challenge them when needed and help clients see things in a different perspective
- Keeping things spoken with the client confidential
- Referring to other sources of help if it warrants
The most important thing to do irrespective of the type of counselling you chose to pursue is to pick a program which offers the best training, excellent opportunities to get the work experience and streamline licensing options. By choosing such a program, you can fulfil your dream of becoming a counselor faster.
There are many online degree options available from different universities and colleges which offer masters or even doctoral degrees in counselling. However, make sure that it is worth your time and money, and make sure it is approved by relevant state authorities.