Mental health services are in high demand. Unfortunately, there are not enough counselors and trained mental health professionals to meet this demand and the situation is set to continue for quite some time. Earning a master’s degree in mental health counseling is a worthy goal that will lead to a great career if you put in the time and effort to make the most of your education and training. Here are a few tips to help you become the best mental health counselor you can be.
Improve your organization and learn to prioritize
Many students juggle the many demands and obligations they have while working towards their master’s degree. It is important to stay organized and learn how to best prioritize your time so that you can meet all your goals and obligations while setting aside enough time for self-care.
While a lot of people use electronic calendars and alerts, feel free to use a paper calendar or organizer if you prefer. Some people may even feel the need to use both at times.
Prioritizing and making an effort to finish top priorities earlier when possible can help eliminate feeling overwhelmed and increase the odds of meeting your goals. Outlining what you must do a few weeks ahead of time allows you to build in some extra time just in case something else comes up that you must attend to.
Make sure you are taking good care of yourself
If you are not taking good care of yourself, then it is very difficult to provide a high level of care, compassion and empathy to others. You need to be in a good mental state yourself to be able to dedicate your time and attention fully to your clients.
Taking some time each day to do something you enjoy and to relax is very important. This allows your mind and body some time to rest and recuperate from the challenges of the day. You can retain more information and learn faster when you are well-rested.
Getting enough sleep can be difficult when you have a lot on your mind or numerous obligations, but without adequate rest, it can be hard to do anything well. While we all have times when things get busy and we need to do more, it is important to make sure that this does not become the norm. If you are having a hard time meeting your obligations, then it may be time to figure out ways to get some help or see if there are some less important things on your agenda that you can eliminate at least temporarily.
Seek out feedback whenever possible
Constructive criticism and feedback are important when you are trying to learn to be the best mental health counselor you can be. While some supervisors and professors might freely offer feedback, some may not be as forthcoming. There may also be times when you have specific questions about your performance and how you might improve it.
If supervisors or professors see that you are very open to feedback, they may be more forthcoming at offering it without you having to inquire so often.
Become the best listener you can be
It is important to practice being a good listener and develop your empathy skills. While empathy is something that should come somewhat naturally, practicing relating to others by putting yourself in their shoes or remembering times when you had similar feelings will undoubtedly make you a better mental health counselor.
When clients feel that you understand where they are coming from, they are more likely to complete their recommended course of treatment and open up to you about the real sources of their dilemmas and traumas.
Volunteering at non-profits and help centers or manning emergency crisis lines are all great opportunities that help you gain valuable experience while assisting others. Some of these opportunities can be taken advantage of from home or on a very flexible schedule.
Make an effort to become more culturally aware
Diversity is increasing practically everywhere. The more you know about the many different cultures and socio-economic groups around you, the better off you are. This means learning about issues, concerns, customs and more.
Gaining additional perspective on the issues that frequently affect those you plan on practicing and staying up to date is necessary to be a good mental health counselor.
Earning your degree can be done on a flexible schedule
Masters in Mental Health Counseling online programs make it possible for anyone who has a strong desire to counsel and help others to gain the education and professional licenses required to practice in their state of choice. Reputable institutions such as American International College offer excellent online programs with 100% online coursework and help locating and arranging a field placement so you can complete the necessary clinical hours under a licensed counselor and earn your own license as quickly as possible.
With three intakes per year and competitive tuition rates, American International College is a great choice for working adults who want to make a career change on a schedule that works for them.
Earning your master’s degree in mental health counseling opens up a lot of opportunities to help others while you enjoy a rewarding career. Making the most of your time studying and gaining experience will allow you to help more people and be a better counselor from the very start.
Establishing good habits and practices before you become a licensed professional is important to long-term success and your future career.