Mental health problems have been haunting citizens even before the pandemic. According to experts, 1 in 4 adults experiences a mental disorder in their lifetime, while most suffer from multiple disorders too! Hence, therapy and counseling have become mainstream industry buzzwords since the previous decade. You may even say that there’s a “therapy culture” in our society today. Ever since The Sopranos showed therapy as something standard, mental health counseling hasn’t remained a taboo anymore. But every counselor isn’t successful in productively treating their patient. Which skills are needed by a counselor to support people’s mental health? We’ll discuss some traits here that help counselors hone their skills.
Becoming better at mental health counseling
Millions of Americans have undergone therapy/counseling, and COVID increased people’s reliance upon these professionals. Statistics indicate that 30% of Americas visited a therapist during the pandemic, and a whopping 86% stated that mental health counseling helped them cope with the stress of coronavirus. Even though therapy and counseling have different meanings, we’ll use these terms interchangeably for our convenience. So, how to develop skills as a professional counselor? What do patients expect from the mental health counselor today? We shall talk about some significant characteristics of a counselor in the 21st century. Therefore, developing these chief capabilities can make you better at counseling in 2022:
It would help if you bolstered your education to improve professional counseling. Most importantly, it seems better to learn grief counseling techniques employed professionally to treat patients. You can learn about strategies ranging from restoration-oriented activities to companionship for healing a client. We have rituals, talk therapy, and other methods for dealing with a patient’s stress/anxiety. A professional counselor often implements several techniques while trying to help their patients.
It’s essential to accept the morality of this profession and your ethical responsibilities. An effective counselor shouldn’t underestimate the ethicality of professional counseling. It would help if you practiced this subject professionally without divulging your clients’ secrets. Your classroom education covers some topics regarding the importance of the ethical region of mental health counseling. Don’t reveal the secrets you’ve learned during a session.
Your patients won’t trust you unless you show them acceptance with a receiving attitude. So, accept the client for who they are and don’t make them feel alienated during a session. You must meet the client where they’re coming from, accept their trauma, and show them how you’re there for healing only. Demonstrate warmth and kindness to them, after which they’ll feel comfortable opening up to you. Convey your tendency to acknowledge their stress/anxiety. That’s how you can engage them.
Doubtlessly, communication capabilities enjoy paramount importance in the subject of professional counseling. For therapists, it enables you to create rapport with your clients and understand their trauma deeply. You can set boundaries, convey your message to the patient, and provide guidance without censure. Any industry lacking communication doesn’t remain successful. A counselor who lacks a communicative qualification can’t guide their clients suitably or treat their stress/anxiety correctly.
Display empathy for showing your patients how you understand their trauma. Empathy involves the ability to share someone’s feelings and undergo the same pain! It enables you to stand in someone’s shoes and sense what they’re going through right now. Thus, you should sympathize and show compassion to help your patient communicate. It helps your client feel heard, and they’re more open to cooperating with you. That’s why experts call empathy the keystone of professional counseling.
Don’t forget to develop self-awareness while treating a patient. In other words, don’t let the client’s issues haunt your dreams if you’ve struggled with similar problems in the past. For instance, we read that 1 billion children aged 2-17 worldwide faced abuse in 2014. So, it’s essential to separate your experiences from your client’s stories. It’s better to leverage your trauma to help you join the field of professional counseling. But don’t let your stress serve as a hindrance to your responsibility.
Whether you’ve just initiated your practice or been practicing for years, it’s vital to stay confident in this profession. Your clients seek your help, and you can’t assist them without developing your ability as a counselor. How to hone your confidence? Well, you can pursue continuing education programs. These courses can help you build self-confidence. Also, the experience may contribute to bolstering your confidence. Make sure that you always have the upper hand during any session.
They say you can’t treat a patient if you’re patient enough! You shall come across clients who aren’t willing to cooperate or don’t show any improvement while you’re treating them. Some patients may even disrespect you or express hostility when you’re just trying to help. It’s crucial to remember that these patients struggle with mental health issues. So, a counselor must exercise patience while dealing with complex patients. A therapist who isn’t patient can’t treat people or make them better.
In counseling, flexibility’s described as the capability of adapting to respond to your client’s needs in a better fashion. Don’t adhere to a predetermined treatment strategy; instead, change your methods to suit the patient’s demands. Unless you’re a flexible therapist, your clients won’t communicate. A counselor shouldn’t remain rigid about the healing process. Gerald A. Juhnke of UTS has defined the ability to express flexibility as an “important attribute” of professional counseling in today’s world.
The 2014 ACA Code of Ethics describes the importance of non-judgment in clear-cut words. It wants professional counselors to refrain from imposing their “values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors” on patients. So, you mustn’t judge anyone; instead, listen to your client’s stories respectfully even if you find them extremely offensive.
It’s common for people to experience trauma during their lifetimes. It’s estimated that 70% of people in the world have suffered from a traumatic incident at least once. That’s why we have counselors to help people deal with their mental health problems. There are licensed professionals in the country who offer services such as therapy/counseling. So, how can you develop qualities as a professional counselor? You must remain patient, confident, and observant during a session. It’s vital to stay non-judgmental and hone your communication capabilities. Become an active listener and make a patient trust your abilities. Also, a counselor must show respect and acceptance to help their patients.