If you’re considering a career as a mental health counsellor, you probably have a lot of questions. It’s like that with most occupations but perhaps even more so when you’re in the field of mental health as it can be emotionally challenging, and even a bit overwhelming to some.
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Here is a simple guide to help you make up your mind, and feel confident that you’ve made the right decision. It’s not all about your personality traits, though, as you’ll need to go through the education before you’re ready to get started.
First: The degree
Many people who pursue a career as a mental health counselor will have a bachelor’s degree in psychology. If you’d like to work as a clinical counselor, you’re going to need a lot more schooling than just a bachelor’s, though, but you can luckily get through it by taking a clinical mental health counseling masters online.
This doesn’t mean that it’s going to be any easier than attending regular classes as you’ll need to be both motivated and self-driven to manage this – but at least you’ll be able to get your degree even if you have kids at home. It just makes life a bit easier.
Are you interested in people?
Even though you love the thought of working with people, and helping them through their problems, you need to ask yourself seriously if you’re interested in them. This goes beyond being a good listener; while your education will teach you all the theory you need to know, the work itself involves real people and their actual struggles.
They’re looking for help and advice rather than a good listener, and you need to be prepared to give them your educated answers for the rest of your career life. If you think people have a bit too many problems, in general, this might not be the job for you.
Are you emotionally strong?
A lot of occupations come with an inevitable emotional burnout; doctors, nurses, and psychologists all experience the same heaviness as they work with people. This is a fine balancing act, though, and with time and experience, you’ll be able to stay professionally connected without allowing it to take over your life completely.
On the other side, you might experience the numbness that comes with trying to only stay professionally connected without letting your emotions get in the way. Neither of this is healthy, in the long run, and you need to come up with ways of taking care of your own mental health while also caring for others.
Needless to say, a career as a mental health counselor is not for everyone. If working clinically seems a bit too tough, you can always consider going into a different field where you can use your communication and emotional skills without burning out.