26 Reasons To Become a Counselor
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Counselors are trained professionals who help individuals, families and communities face difficult situations. They are important figures in many people's lives and offer guidance and resources for vulnerable clients. If you're considering this profession, learning about the benefits of choosing this career path may help you decide if it's the right choice for you. In this article, we discuss what a counselor is and list 26 reasons why you might want to become a counselor.
What is a counselor?
A counselor is a trained professional who helps clients work through challenging situations in their lives. Counselors typically engage in talk therapy and other methods to identify obstacles for clients and provide tools and resources to help them overcome these hardships.
Counselors can work in a wide range of settings, including:
Hospitals and other medical facilities
Colleges and universities
Social services agencies
Counselors can also choose to practice within a particular specialty, such as marriage and families or addiction. The education and training required for counselors depends on the type of work they want to do, area of specialization and the state in which they practice. Typically, counselors must earn a bachelor's degree in psychology, counseling or a related field and a master's degree in counseling. Most counselors must become licensed through their state licensing board by completing a certain number of supervised counseling hours.
26 reasons to become a counselor
Here are 26 reasons why you might decide to pursue a career as a counselor:
You like working with people one-on-one
Counselors often work directly with patients in a one-on-one environment. They develop close relationships with clients and know a great deal about their personal lives. Counselors must be sensitive to their clients' needs and committed to confidentiality.
You want to make a difference
Counselors can plan a significant role in a client's life through individual counseling services. Community counselors can also affect change on a larger scale by working with nonprofit organizations and neighborhood agencies to work with at-risk populations, such as single mothers and high school seniors, to help encourage positive choices and community engagement.
You are interested in psychology
Many counselors pursue this career because they are interested in how the mind works and how it dictates behavior. A bachelor's degree in psychology provides the foundational knowledge counselors need to understand the anatomy and functions of the brain and other body systems, including:
Diseases and illnesses that affect the mind
You want to work with children
Individuals who want to work with children can pursue a specialty that provides opportunities for individual or group counseling for children. The following career paths allow counselors to work closely with children:
Social services counselor
Juvenile detention center counselor
Counselors who work in these specialized areas may need additional education or training, depending on their employer and state in which they practice.
You want to work flexible hours
Some counseling positions, like those in private practice or freelance counselors, can set their own hours. This provides flexibility that can allow counselors to work part-time or other nontraditional hours to accommodate their schedules or their clients' needs. Counselors who work in facility settings may work overtime or on-call shifts to respond to emergency situations.
You want to work in schools
If you would like a career that involves education without becoming a teacher, school counselors often work within elementary, middle and high schools to help students who may be experiencing difficulties in school or at home. The counselor can meet with students consistently and provide plans for them to work through their challenges. School counselors also act as mediators between students and teachers or administrators.
You want to work with families
Family counselors can work with couples and families to help develop actionable plans for challenging family situations, such as blending families, adoption or marital conflict. Some counselors may become licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT) in order to have more job opportunities and earn a higher salary.
You want to help people overcome addiction
Addiction counselors work with clients who are managing a substance abuse or misuse issue. They can treat clients in outpatient treatment centers, inpatient rehabilitation facilities and hospitals. Addiction counselors help clients identify their triggers and provide coping mechanisms they can use to reduce their dependence on controlled substances.
You want to conduct research
Counselors can assist with a variety of research studies to test treatment methods, gather client data and review literature. Studies may have a medical, psychological or sociological focus. Counselors may publish their research in scholarly journals or other publications.
You want to work with people managing mental health issues
Many counselors work with clients who are dealing with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Counselors incorporate effective strategies to help clients address the underlying causes of their conditions and work with clients on steps to minimize symptoms and maximize functioning. This can include referrals to other practitioners, like psychiatrists, and exposure therapy.
You want to work with veterans
As a counselor, you can focus your practice on serving service members and veterans. This population has a unique set of challenges and mental health needs that you can address through specialized treatment plans. Mental health counselors can work with veterans to manage:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Mental effects of physical injuries and handicaps
Psychological effects of combat
Anxiety and depression
You had a positive experience with counseling
If you've encountered the benefits of counseling firsthand, it may have been a transformative experience for you. You may want to provide the same help and guidance you received to others.
You want a rewarding career
Counseling can be a rewarding career that allows you to witness positive changes and growth in the lives of your clients and within your community. You can see your treatment strategies make a tangible difference for your clients that leads to healing, healthier relationships, increased happiness, reduced stress and fewer symptoms of mental health conditions.
You want to talk people through a crisis
Counselors can work in crisis intervention programs or through on-call hours to help patients or clients who are experiencing a mental health emergency. These counselors may undergo special crisis training to learn the most effective strategies for working in this field. They should be composed and able to make decisions quickly.
You enjoy celebrating patients' accomplishments with them
Because counselors work so closely with their clients, they can develop genuine relationships. When clients meet their professional or personal goals, counselors are able to share in these successes, knowing that their guidance allowed clients to achieve breakthroughs and employ effective coping and communication strategies.
You like to learn about people's lives
Working as a counselor allows you to learn about your clients' personal histories, including their family dynamics, childhood and romantic relationships. Part of your role as a counselor is to understand how your clients' backgrounds may be affecting their current behavior by applying principles of psychology and personal development. Counselors should enjoy learning about their clients' lives so that they can stay engaged in creating treatment plans and monitoring progress.
You want to help patients live better lives
If you feel rewarded and satisfied helping people grow personally or professionally, you may enjoy a career as a counselor. These professionals encourage their clients to move past obstacles to reach their goals. These goals vary depending on the type of counseling and may include:
Counselors often become invested in these goals and are proud of their patients who experience growth.
You want to provide a safe space for vulnerable people
Many counselors pursue the profession because they want to help disadvantaged or vulnerable populations. Counselors can work in demanding, emotionally charged environments with very sick or traumatized clients, including victims of abuse and other crimes and patients who are severely mentally ill. While challenging, these experiences can be rewarding for the right type of person.
You enjoy listening to people
A major component of a counselor's daily responsibilities is listening to their clients. Counselors should be proficient in active listening and able to use the appropriate strategies to encourage clients to share more information, which can offer more insights for counselors to use for treatment planning.
You want a career with a positive job outlook
If job growth and security are some of your top career priorities, a job as a counselor can provide many job opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the job growth rate for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors will be 25% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the average growth rate of 4% for all jobs. This equates to approximately 79,000 new positions in that time frame.
You want a job that you can do anywhere
Because counselors can specialize in a wide range of fields and work in a variety of settings, they can find jobs throughout the country. You can find facilities such as schools, hospitals and prisons, which employ counselors, in every state.
You want to earn a good salary
According to Indeed salaries, mental health counselors make an average salary of $54,600 per year. Exact salary may vary depending on factors like location, experience level and work setting.
You want to gain skills for your current career
Some professions may benefit from getting the education and training required of counselors. Often, these professionals may perform unofficial counseling duties and decide to pursue a counseling degree. Some jobs that can benefit from formal counseling skills include:
Public health administrators
You want to pursue a graduate degree
If you enjoy school and would like to earn an advanced degree, counselors generally need at least a master's degree to practice. Further education, such as a Ph.D., can allow you to work as a psychologist.
You want to help professionals experience career success
Some counselors focus on career counseling, helping clients identify their career goals and create a plan to achieve them. This type of counseling is generally less emotionally demanding and may be a good option if you like helping others determine their passion and reach their full potential.
Read more: What Is Career Counseling and Coaching?
You want opportunities for career growth
Working as a counselor can provide you with many opportunities to master new techniques, improve your skills and learn about advancements in the field. Because counseling is science-based, new scientific discoveries in psychology, sociology, medicine and endocrinology can all affect how you practice. Staying up to date on current developments and learning how to apply them to clients can be exciting for many professional counselors.
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