Ever wonder what makes for a competent career-ready counsellor? Is it what the counsellor knows? What qualification they have studied? What supervised practice the counsellor has had?
Each one of these factors is part of what makes for an effective counsellor. But in additional to the theoretical and practical knowledge taught, here are ten characteristics that IKON trainers instill into their student’s so they can become career-ready graduates.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. You need to be able to put yourself in the shoes of your client and understand the situation from their point of view. Even if you don’t agree with their perspective, you still need the ability to understand how it feels to them in order to address their issue effectively.
Confidentiality is of upmost importance when you are a counsellor. You must be able to maintain confidentiality so the client can trust you with their most intimate concerns.
As a counsellor you need to have patience with your clients as they process the discussion. It may take them time to accept certain things and to move towards positive changes. You must also be okay with incremental progress in their lives and rejoice over their progress and small victories.
It is very important that your clients feel your compassion for their problems and that they sense you truly care about them. You may not be able to relate to every issue that is shared with you, but you need to be able to have compassion for how it feels to be in their shoes.
The ability to encourage is important for a counsellor. Many clients are struggling to find hope in their situation. One of the primary jobs of a counsellor often involves instilling hope in an individual who feels hopeless.
A counsellor who is aware of their own fears, insecurities, and weaknesses will be effective in the therapeutic relationship. It is important that you do not react defensively to what a client shares. You must be able to keep your own feelings out of the session.
Counsellors hear all kinds of private information and encounter all types of people. Being nonjudgmental and accepting are important attributes in any of the helping professions and counsellors must be able to “start where the client is at.” This phrase is often used in counseling to describe the ability to relate to clients with an open, nonjudgmental attitude — accepting the client for who they are in their current situation.
Flexibility in counseling is defined as the ability to adapt and change the way you respond to meet your clients’ needs. The competent counsellor understands the need to use a variety of conversational responses depending on the needs of the client. Sometimes we ask questions. Other times we are silent. Competent counsellor responses include reflections, summaries, focusing, confronting, joining, problem-solving, and sometimes self-disclosing.
Counsellors spend a significant amount of time listening to their clients as they give them the time to express their story and their feelings. A counsellor must also be able to listen to a client’s problems and concerns and translate these into goals that the client can work towards, in order to reach resolution.
Ability to care for self.
The effective counsellor recognises personal limits, boundaries and actively seeks to sustain a life of personal care.
There are many different approaches to counselling, and also many specialist areas of counselling – relationship and family, abuse and addiction, stress and anger management, grief and loss etc.
A good counsellor therefore will be one who shares common attributes and is able to offer empathetic support and understanding, in a caring, comforting manner.
Being able to focus on practical issues whilst empowering individuals to work towards personal goals is every bit as important as being able to offer a client a sympathetic ear.
Understanding that the counsellor’s role is varied and adaptable will enable you to view counselling as a worthwhile qualification to consider
The Next Step
If you decide you like the sound of helping others and want to consider training to become a counsellor register here to attend our next Open Day or visit ikon.edu.au for more information on studying Counselling.
If you are able to demonstrate sensitivity, can inspire trust, confidence and respect in others you are most definitely suited to a career as a Counsellor.
A rewarding career awaits you, and we'd love to help you along the path.
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