Counselors today are working with increasingly diverse populations that have diverse sets of needs. Honing a solid set of essential skills makes for an effective, successful mental health practitioner.
1. Genuine Interest in Others
This one isn’t technically a skill—but it is an essential component of a counseling career.
When you wake up in the morning, do you have the drive and energy to sit with people through their best and worst? Can you be fully present for your clients’ stories, however difficult or long? Will you still be ten years down the road?
A sustained commitment to facilitating positive transformation and human-to-human connection is key to a successful and fulfilling career in mental health.
An effective therapist knows that it’s just as important to look within themselves as it is to carefully observe others.
The idea of “Self as Instrument” is central to a successful education and career in mental health. A counseling student is taught to feel well, think well, and act well. By feeling well, a therapist can relate well and empathize with clients.
Thinking well means to think critically, to conceptualize the client in theoretical terms, and to demonstrate good academic skills. To act well means to conduct oneself in the service of the client, community, and the professional field.
Through the use of Self as Instrument, counselors are able to better relate to clients and facilitate positive change.