As an aspiring counselor, the chances are you do not just want to gain your qualifications and lead an average career. Instead, you are likely dreaming of being a counselor with an outstanding resume and a long list of positively impacted clients. After all, if your goal is to help people, you are likely to go above and beyond when doing so.
That is understandably not a walk in the park, though, so to help you get there, here are fifteen habits of highly successful counselors that you should adopt.
Highly successful counselors do not stop their education once they have achieved their bachelor’s. No – once they have gained their first counseling role, they pursue further education, such as their master’s degree and their Ph.D.
Of course, to get to that point, you will need to hold a bachelor’s first. If you are interested in starting your journey toward becoming an outstanding counselor, consider pursuing an online human services degree. It will give you an excellent range of knowledge on social issues, human psychology, and other social sciences to help boost your career. After that, you can go on to pursue a master’s in counseling and then even your Ph.D. in psychology or something similar.
You would not expect a successful counselor to walk into a session without access to the correct patient records or any other equipment they may need. Every time they host a session, they walk through the door prepared not only for the client’s meeting but also for anything else that comes afterward. So, to follow in those footprints, start practicing always being prepared. If you are doing an online human services degree, for example, always have your study notes, laptop, and textbooks whenever you suspect a study session may happen.
You probably know this already, but when you are tired from a long week of counseling clients alongside endless meetings and tons of notes, it can be tricky to put the patient first. You must always do so, though. After all, it is not your client’s fault that their appointment happens to fall at 2 pm on Friday just before your last meeting! While at work, you should always think about your clients first, no matter how you are feeling. If this ever becomes a challenge, it is time to address your stress levels.
There is nothing wrong with being a genius in your craft and knowing it. In fact, that is what the goal is! While highly successful counselors admit that they know their stuff, though, they are also always open to learning and adjusting their methods. That is because they are clever enough to understand that the world of psychology is ever evolving, and new methods and discoveries may help their practice. If your counseling goals are high, you will need to get on board with lifelong learning.
A counselor who is late is a counselor who cannot be relied on. When you have vulnerable clients relying on your guidance and assistance, you do not have the benefit of being late. Of course, an off day happens to everyone, but there is no excuse for a late habit. If you struggle with tardiness, here are some things you should try:
Blaming the traffic once is OK, but having it constantly affect your ability to show up on time is not. If the traffic often catches you out, be sure to check what the traffic is like before you set off.
If you are not a morning person, so as much as you can the night before, such as laying out your clothes, packing your bag, and preparing breakfast.
A morning routine does not have to go on for too long, especially if you struggle to get up early. Instead of spending twenty minutes in the shower, for example, cut it back to ten.
It may seem obvious, but it is a crucial step to always being on time. It is hard to get out of bed when you have only had five hours of sleep!
Before becoming a counselor, you will likely never think that setting boundaries is a necessity. After all, your work-life differs from your home life, and you will have personal issues to deal with. The problem is, though, the lines become a little blurrier when a client’s story is overly emotional or your bond with them on an almost friendship level. In these situations, it is crucial to set boundaries.
Remember – as a counselor, you are the one in the position of power, which means it is your responsibility to make the client feel welcomed and safe while ensuring they understand the doctor-patient relationship that stands. If a client ever crosses a line, you must know exactly how to handle the situation respectfully and professionally. While bonding with clients is OK – great, in fact – you must ensure that it does not extend beyond the office door.
Excellent note-taking is something you learn during school and further education like an online human services degree. As a counselor, these skills will come in handy, as you will have to take many notes throughout the day. To succeed, make sure these are always eligible, clear, and concise.
The best counselors are not the ones who are set in their ways; they are those who are always open to expanding their minds and changing their perspectives if necessary. This is especially important for counselors, as you are meeting multiple different people each day from various walks of life, and you must stay open-minded to those who live differently from you.
While successful counselors spend their day looking after the mental health of their clients, they also spend a lot of their time looking after their own mental health. When faced with so many clients with many upsetting situations, it is understandable for it to impact your wellbeing. To ensure this does not build, you must be able to find ways to heal from this, such as pursuing hobbies, doing meditation, and taking plenty of breaks.
Counselors make mistakes. You will make mistakes during your online human services degree, when you are studying counseling, in your first year on the job, and even during your last ever year as a counselor. While it is necessary to learn from your mistakes, it is essential to laugh at them, too. After all, there are already so many uncomfortable and upsetting situations you will have to deal with throughout your counseling journey that you do not need to add on more. By having a better sense of humor, you will have a much easier time dealing with challenging days.
The best counselors do not just pursue further degrees – they also enhance their learning away from classrooms, like online research and good-old learning from books. Once they have packed up their office for the day, they do not always switch off and go home; sometimes, they will hang back to do some psychology research or to work on a project. To be successful, the career requires a lot more hours than the ones spent counseling patients.
Counseling is all about connecting with the client and it becomes much easier to do so in a positive environment. After all, no client will feel at ease in a cold, dark room! So, if you want to be a successful counselor, you must know how to adapt the environment to suit a session. Some tips for that include:
Soft but Bright Lighting
You do not want harsh lights blinding your clients, but you also want them to be able to see. Make the environment feel comfortable by using soft, layered lighting. Try to bring in as much natural light as possible, too.
Your client will not want to open up while sitting in a chair that makes their back hurt, so aim to provide comfortable furniture for all.
Paintings and other art pieces around a counselor’s office inspire conversation. Plus, it looks pretty and improves the overall feel of the room.
Above all, make sure any room where you are seeing a patient is as clean as possible. Your goal is to make the client (and yourself) feel comfortable, and that will not happen if the tabletops are covered in dust and the trash can is overfilled.
Fortunately, if you have done an online human services degree, you will have an idea of just how important a positive environment is for a workplace. After all, you will have needed to create a home office that works for you.
Great counselors are not just interested in the people in front of them; they are also passionate about current social issues. After all, to understand those that they are counseling, they must understand society as a whole. So, if you are planning on becoming an excellent counselor, make sure you take a genuine interest in communities and social issues. An online human services degree would help you with that.
Brilliant counselors do not stumble into their roles by mistake. As well as working hard at their degrees, they also ensure they build a network of people while they climb the ladder. By doing this, they end up being recommended for more prestigious roles in the future.
Whether you are doing an online human services degree or working in your first counseling role, make sure you work on building a great network of people. You never know when it might come in handy!
One of the most important traits of highly successful counselors is their ability to stay passionate about helping others, even after years in the field. It is not easy, especially if you are feeling stressed or having a tough couple of weeks, but it is crucial for maintaining the high standard that you see in great counselors.
Before adopting these habits and starting your counseling journey, you should know for sure whether the career is right for you. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
Counselors are constant learners. It does not end when you have earned an online human services degree or even when you complete your doctorate – there are always new methods to learn about and new developments in the world of psychology that you must know. If you are the kind of person who looks forward to a life-long career full of education, then counseling might just be right for you.
Emotional control is crucial for counselors. After all, you cannot lose your cool when in the middle of a meeting with a client! Luckily, there are always ways to improve this.
At its root, counseling is all about human psychology, so you better make sure that is a subject that you are interested in before pursuing it as a career. If it is, consider doing an online human services degree before going on to do your master’s and entering the world of counseling.
The most important question you must ask yourself is whether or not you genuinely want to help people. If the sole reason you want to enter a psychology career is that you are planning on climbing the ranks and earning lots of money, then it is most likely not the career for you. If you truly want to help improve people’s lives, however, then you are the kind of person who would shine as a counselor. After all, it is the passion that pushes hard work and determination, which is exactly what is required in a counseling career.