April is counseling awareness month. I have a Masters degree in counseling and in the fall I will be starting my doctorate in Counselor Education; it is a subject that is very important to me. As someone who works as a counselor in higher education and who aspires to make great strides working with growing families and expectant parents, spreading the news about counseling awareness month is a must!
What is Counseling?
Counseling provides a safe space to discuss personal concerns and problems. Professional counselors are trained to work with people with a variety of issues. Counselors take a holistic approach to personal wellness and the relationship between counselor and client is not hierarchical but rather collaborative. Successful counseling empowers the client and gives the client the skills to problem solve in the future.
What’s so great about Counseling?
Well, look around, there are counselors everywhere.
Employment/Career Counselors– So often you hear stories about college graduates unable to find work and people losing their jobs. Employment and Career Counselors can be found on college campuses, in employment offices and government agencies. Career counselors help people seeking employment discover where in the world of work they will excel. They do this by administering assessments, talking with people about goals and interests, in some cases (i.e. colleges) reviewing resumes/cover letters and practicing interview skills. During a time when jobs are hard to come by, trained counselors can also provide those seeking employment with continued encouragement, help them set goals and provide them with the skills to advocate for themselves in the future.
School Counselors- The field of school counseling has evolved greatly. Years ago people thought of guidance counselors as the people who helped kids make their schedules at school. Now, school counselors are in grades K-12, not just in high school, helping students with family issues, academic issues, addiction issues…the list goes on. When there are incidents of tragedy, violence, and abuse in schools, counselors are there to assist students and their families.
Think about the divorce rate in this country and then think about how divorce can affect a school-aged child. School counselors are there to provide an empathetic ear to the student and sometimes to help the family navigate the tricky roads ahead.
Child adjustment to parental divorce often varies by age, gender, parental interactions, and socioeconomic status. According to Lambie (2008): younger children are at higher risk for internalizing (e.g., depression, anxiety) and externalizing (e.g., fighting, disobedience) problems, adjustment to divorce is often more challenging and prolonged for boys, post-divorce parental conflict is associated with behavioral and academic difficulties for children, and economic instability following divorce is related to more significant adjustment problems for children.
Mental Health/Trauma Counselors- Unfortunately, over the years we as a country have experienced a lot of tragedy and loss; Shootings in schools and public places, war and devastating hurricanes. These situations leave people feeling lost and alone. Post-traumatic stress disorder and depression run rampant after people lose their loved ones, homes and possessions. Professional counselors are trained to work with people in these situations. They are even members of emergency and disaster relief teams including the American Red Cross. The following is a startling but important statistic from the American Counseling Association:
About 3.6 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 to 54 (5.2 million people) present PTSD during the course of a given year. Prevalence is higher among women (5.2%) and deployed U.S.military personnel (14–16%; Gates et al., 2012;Kessler et al., 2005;Tang & Freyd, 2012).
Obviously, these are not the only types of counseling but this just highlights the relevance and importance of counselors in our country.
Not all counselors are trained equally. Every state has their own criteria for becoming a licensed counselor. Different counseling fields also have different education requirements. My certification is in school counseling in the state of New Jersey. I did two years (51 credits) of course work at the graduate level and completed 600 hours interning in a K-8 school. However, I have spent the past 8 years working in higher education as a career and academic counselor. If you need help with a resume, need to talk through issues with a co-worker, plan out your educational goals or practice for an interview- I’m your woman.
With my certification I could not treat you as a mental health counselor could treat you. While we may have taken most of the same coursework, in order to be a LICENSED mental health counselor working with clients/patients who are dealing with disorders that have been diagnosed, the practical training (i.e. internships) would have taken place under the supervision of a licensed mental health counselor; there may have been more required hours; and an exam may have been required. Alcohol and drug counselors and marriage and family counselors have even more specific training. The point is, in our profession we are well trained. If you are seeing a professional counselor you are in good hands.
There are counselors out there who are not licensed; check credentials.
I am writing to get the word out about the importance and prevalence of professional counseling. With all that is going on in the world, no one should be ashamed of seeking assistance. While I recognize that there will always be skeptics I hope that those of you who want counseling are seeking it out.
Please help me spread the word by grabbing this button! Let people know you support Mental Health and Wellness:
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In an effort to get the word out the American Counseling Association is asking for feedback on how we publicized Counseling Awareness month. If you grab the button- let me know! Comment below.