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So, you want to become a counselor? Did you ever think about how you could become an effective counselor? As you already know, being a counselor is a job that holds great responsibility, where you basically explore others’ lives and observe it in their shoes, in order to help them overcome whatever problems they might be facing in life. It isn’t achieved by just learning theories and answering questions. To become an effective counselor, there are specific personality traits you must have, either naturally or by acquisition. I’m not implying that it is a MUST to have all these traits, but it will surely help you in your journey to becoming an effective counselor, In Sha Allah.
- Good interpersonal relationship skills
First of all, it is very important for you to be open and friendly, and have good relationship skills. Imagine a situation in which you are the client, and you walk in to get some counseling therapy and the counselor in front of you talks to you as if it is a police interrogation. How would you feel? Would you feel like going there for another session? Certainly not. So, in order for a counselor to build a good relationship with the client, good relationship skills and a friendly manner is needed. A person lacking relationship skills will be unable to form a good bond with the client, resulting in the client hesitating to share the problems. Having a sense of humor can also help you strengthen your bond with the client. This is due to the fact that, if you take everything very seriously and too professionally without any joking around, the client may not be very open to you.
- Being passionate and involved
As a counselor, you need to look at the clients’ problems from their point of view. You also have to feel what they are feeling. I don’t mean that if they are anxious, you have to be anxious too. Rather, what I am trying to say here is, in order to help your clients overcome their problems, you have to understand how they are feeling. A hard-hearted person cannot really feel and understand the sorrow of others. So, to help them, you need to be passionate and deeply involved in their life.
- Maintaining healthy boundaries
In the previous paragraph, I have mentioned about becoming deeply involved in the clients’ lives. But the question is, how deeply should you become involved? As a counselor, there are some boundaries you should not cross. If you become too deeply involved in your client’s lives, you will eventually find yourself thinking about those problems even in your free time. This can be dangerous and even result in depression and anxiety due to excessive thinking. Therefore, you should know the line between your profession and your personal life, and should not let your profession affect your personal life.
- Respecting and appreciating yourselves
In order to help others appreciate themselves, you have to learn to appreciate yourself first. If you do not respect or appreciate yourself, then how are you going to convince others to respect and appreciate themselves? This is something worth thinking about.
- Being honest and sincere
Counselors are not supposed to be professional statues or robots. When working as a counselor, be sure to show your true selves to the clients, as they also show you their true selves and pour out their complications, sorrows, and problems to you. Do not put on a professional mask; rather, be sincere and honest with them. Do not hesitate to say ‘I don’t know’ in some circumstances, and do not hesitate to show your flaws sometimes. As humans, we are not perfect, so we are sure to have some flaws, and we are not bound to know everything in this world. Hopefully, the client will not get discouraged by little flaws. They are sure to be happy that you are at least being honest with them. It will help them to be more honest and open with you too.
These are some of the tips for effective counseling. And remember one thing, it is NOT a MUST to achieve all this, and everyone will not have all these skills. However, having these traits will enhance our counseling skills and hopefully, we will be able to help our clients change for the better, and will be able to help them see the world in a more positive way.