They say time is the wisest teacher, but it can’t listen or understand a person with empathy – that’s what professional counselors are for!
Counselors are pretty much the only people who genuinely accept you without judgment. They help people relinquish painful stories and alienating moments. So if you consider yourself a blend of wisdom and compassion, a career in guidance and counseling may be a revitalizing choice.
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, counselors have a life-changing impact on the patients they counsel. Due to the quality of advice they provide? Becoming a counselor is an admirable goal to pursue, and it augments a vital function in your local community.
This begs the question: what’s the route to becoming a professional counselor? For starters, becoming a counselor requires specific education and licensing qualifications. So whether you are following a dream of passion, seeking a career change, or are a practicing professional, this guide will shed light on all the necessary steps on how to become a licensed counselor.
Steps You Need to Take to Become A Professional Counselor
Earn a master’s degree in counseling
To be a white-collar counselor and to receive certification or state licensure, your first step should be to earn a master’s degree in counseling. While we’re on the topic of degree, potential candidates may search for plenty of courses available online. But they need an accredited program with practical courses.
Suppose you’re an average Joe searching for a flexible option that will not interfere with your current work schedule. In that case, virtual learning is your best bet. That said, you could apply for a masters in counseling online and embark on your journey of becoming a credited counselor.
However, before you apply, make sure to determine your counseling specialty and preference because that’ll give you a better perspective for your future career in this seamless profession. Furthermore, obtaining your master’s in counseling with a certification or state license demonstrates to clients and employees that you are a qualified counselor with nothing to lose.
Take the exam
The next step is to take an exam – it’s an integral part of getting a license. Therefore, don’t forget to consult with your state on specific exams and their requests. On a broader level, The National Counselor Exam (NCE) for licensure is available to measure expertise and undressing to offer professional counseling services.
Complete supervised clinical work
Another integral part of becoming a licensed counselor is to spend multiple hours in clinics. This experience serves as a training period and enables you to apply your theoretical skills at work.
Many graduate and undergraduate degree programs include practical clinical hours where candidates work with patients under the headship of a licensed practicing counselor. Suppose you want to acquire more hours of experience. In that case, you may find an internship or a few observation opportunities that will allow you to interact with clients. The best you can do in this part of the process is to take advantage of clinical opportunities while studying to start clearing those required hours as soon as you can.
Work on your soft skills.
As you take many steps in progressing your education and becoming more experienced, you should aim to polish the soft skills counselors rely on in their work. As you work with clients, try to cultivate those with the guidance of your clinical professor, mentor, or supervisor. Just for the heads-up, here are some common softs skills that counselors use on the job:
- Active listening
Counseling professionals must pay special attention to what their patients say to help them explore what they think, feel, and say. They ask for the most appropriate and relevant questions to nudge clients in the right direction. They may also recall what a client has said back to them to show that they have heard them and confirm if they’re following up.
Counselors also practice active listening to remember critical aspects of information relevant to a patient’s experience or condition to better connect with them.
Counselors can encounter new clients who are reluctant or don’t want to talk about specific topics. These experts use their advanced communication skills to determine what is bothering their client when he/she does not want to say a word. They may also need to simplify complex concepts or adjust their communication style to match their patients to conduct a safe, calm, and successful session.
Qualify for licensure
Following great graduation from an advanced degree program in an appropriate subject and finishing a log of 2500 clinical hours, you can apply for your state’s licensure exam. There’s nothing over the top about the exam. It’s a written exam that projects the psychological theories of therapy and the state’s rules regarding mental health treatment.
Once you clear the exam, you can sign up for a counseling position, and all your hard work will pay off.
Congratulations, you made it through the end. Now, you can finally apply for the post of a professional counselor.
While you’re at it, remember one thing; your job is to guide people. The emotional responses and actions are not your responsibility, but you can rescue people from their vicious thoughts with the skills you’ve acquired. So get started on your path towards becoming a guidance counselor today!