Education

The Advantages of Studying To Be a Counselor

Counseling is increasingly seen as an essential tool for encouraging and maintaining good mental health. Whether someone is struggling to deal with the pressures of everyday life or they need help in processing a recent crisis or trauma such as the death of a loved one, talking to a professional who can provide expert advice and guidance is often the first step toward a healthier and happier way of coping.

As a society, we are starting to accept that looking after our mental health is just as important as staying in good physical shape. Modern life is increasingly stressful, and as the first professional port of call for anyone feeling anxious, depressed, or facing serious mental or emotional challenges, counselors find themselves more in demand than ever.

Working as a counselor can be extremely rewarding, but extensive training is required to become fully qualified. However, the process of studying to become a counselor is also highly satisfying. Counseling students come to understand in detail how the human mind works and the complex interrelationship between the brain, the emotions, and the body. In coming to know how and why people are the way that they are, the counseling student also comes to know themselves better, leading to improved relationships and a more confident approach to life.

Multiple Career Options

Counseling covers a wide variety of roles and counselors work in a range of different institutions. These include traditional medical settings, such as hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, community health centers and retirement homes, but also schools, universities, prisons and churches. Counselors can work independently from their own offices, or be attached to a large corporation or business, looking after the mental health needs of employees.

Along with different settings, counselors can specialize in different areas and in working with different demographics. Examples include children, couples, or the elderly. You might also choose to focus on crisis counseling or helping people with substance abuse issues.

Specialist training programs are available for those who want to work in a specific area. The online School Counseling program at Walsh University lets you study from home, in your own time, to become a licensed school counselor with a Master of Arts in Counseling and Human Development – School Counseling Program. Specialist courses such as these will provide you with a solid foundation in all the core competencies of counseling, while also going into the specific skills needed for the role in question.

Qualifying as a counselor can also be a stepping-stone to other careers – for instance, in psychiatry, nursing or social work. You’ll acquire valuable transferable skills that will stand you in good stead in whatever line of work you eventually go into.

Helping Others

One of the main reasons that people choose to become a counselor is because it’s a job that involves helping others. As a counselor, you know that in your work you are improving people’s lives. Moreover, you get to see the direct impact you’re having on individuals as you work with them to overcome problems and address issues. This opportunity to build relationships and facilitate breakthroughs is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a counselor.

Counseling also has its difficult side as you may be listening to people relate to some extremely distressing experiences or seeing them break down emotionally. Studying to be a counselor teaches you how to hold space for your clients while remaining both detached and empathetic. As part of your training, you’ll learn how to best help another person through the process of healing or integration so that they can lead a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.

Having a job that feels meaningful is a big part of feeling self-fulfilled. As a counselor, you’ll see the positive results of your work every day. Although you can’t expect a 100% success rate, being able to serve your community and address individual problems in an effective manner is intensely rewarding.

Personal Growth

While studying to be a counselor, you’ll need to address your own mental health and look unsparingly at any emotional issues or unresolved trauma that you might still be carrying around. This is because not doing so may limit your effectiveness when you begin working in the field. For instance, you may have an unconscious bias which means that you find it difficult to address certain subjects impartially. You might find that a client’s problems trigger a response in you that you have to deal with before you can start helping them.

Trainee counselors will often undergo counseling themselves for the above reason. As well as enabling them to be more effective at their job, this process also gives them the benefits of counseling in their personal lives. You’ll emerge from your counseling course as a more understanding and well-rounded person, with greater insight into how your mind functions, why you feel the way that you do, and how you can take control of your emotional and mental well-being.

By studying to be a counselor, you’ll become better able to manage your own personal and professional relationships. Excellent listening and communication skills are valuable in multiple contexts, as is the discipline you’ll learn to apply to your own thoughts and feelings. You’ll also develop an open mindset that lets you continue to learn and grow throughout your professional career.

Job Security

Qualified counselors are in demand across the US and elsewhere. As we become more aware of how our mental health and emotional well-being impact our lives, and how talking therapies can improve these factors, so more people are looking to see counselors in a variety of different situations. According to a recent report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment prospects for school and career counselors are expected to grow by 10% between 2021 and 2031, which is significantly higher than the predicted average growth of job opportunities overall.

The BLS expects there to be an average of 32,000 openings per year for qualified counselors, with schools hiring more counselors in order to meet students’ developmental, academic and career planning needs.

There are also expected to be more counselors needed on college campuses to help with career choices, and with those reentering the workforce following a break due to illness, military service or other reasons. Social and technological changes mean that some sectors will employ considerably fewer people over the coming years, while others will have more openings. Career counselors will be needed to advise those forced to find a new line of work by these economic shifts.

Flexibility and Other Benefits

As a qualified counselor, you should be able to find a job role that suits your lifestyle and needs. Working in a school or similar institution, you’ll be able to keep regular hours, with weekends and in some cases summer vacations free. If you decide to go freelance, you’ll be able to set your own working hours, seeing as many or as few clients as you choose each week.

Counselors working for institutions can expect a generous benefits package, including health insurance and a retirement plan, though, of course, the specific details will vary according to your workplace. However, the fact remains that counseling is a valued profession and one with a large degree of flexibility. This is particularly welcome if you want to keep working while raising a family, or if you wish to pursue counseling alongside other work.

This flexibility also extends to your study program, as you can become fully qualified by studying entirely online. There’s no requirement to attend classes at a particular place and time, so you can set your own pace. Counseling students on online courses can complete essays and other work when it’s most convenient for them.

A Smart Choice

The overwhelming evidence suggests that counseling is a smart choice of subject to study if you’re looking for a rewarding career with excellent prospects. The sector is likely to continue to expand in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the world that we live in is unlikely to become less stressful any time soon. This means that there will continue to be a need for counselors, and indeed demand will most probably increase.

More positively, society is increasingly recognizing the value of counseling in everything from helping people make important life decisions to overcoming addiction, as well as in processing trauma and in coping with anxiety and other mental health issues.

Counseling students will become more well-rounded individuals, better able to navigate their own life choices with greater self-knowledge and stronger and healthier interpersonal relationships. This process of personal growth will continue as they embark on a rewarding career that brings a real sense of meaning and fulfillment to their working lives.

With a wide variety of roles on offer, and great flexibility in terms of hours worked and areas covered, counseling as a career offers a wealth of opportunities. By studying to become a fully qualified counselor, you’ll be taking the first step on a journey that will be of enormous benefit to both you and your community.

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