Counseling can be a wonderful career in which you can make a real difference to the lives of hundreds of people. It can also be flexible, interesting, and sometimes even lucrative. Of course, it takes a lot of preparation to become a counselor or therapist, given the high levels of responsibility that come with the role.
Most of the professional preparation you need can be attained by doing an online masters in counseling, something you can do from one of the many great universities like Regis College who provide online counseling degree programs. Knowledge and training are just part of what makes someone a good counselor, however, and it can often be personal experience and traits that set one therapist apart from another in terms of effectiveness.
Interestingly, a lot of the most important skills for trained counselors to exhibit in front of their patients are ones you may well have already learned if you are a mom! Here are three ways your kids have already taught you some useful skills for a career as a counselor:
Empathy Without Full Understanding
As a mom, you can comfort your child when they are afraid of things you know don’t exist, or calm them when they are throwing a tantrum about something you don’t really understand, like having the wrong color spoon to eat their cereal with. This is because you empathize with their emotions, even if you don’t really relate to what is causing them.
In counseling, sometimes you will have clients whose problems are universally relatable, such as bereavement, but you may also have to help people with issues you have no personal experience of, for instance, trauma or addiction. Being able to empathize despite not having had the personal experience as the patient will make you much more useful to them.
Sometimes, people will come to you with stories that you will find incredibly sad. A patient may have lost their child to an illness or experienced horrible abuse. Naturally, sympathy is a good thing when this happens, but if you turn into a crying wreck because what has happened to the person you are supposed to be helping move makes you very sad, that’s not really going to help.
It’s the same with kids. Sometimes you have to appear strong for them, so as not to scare or upset them further, even when your own emotions are running high.
There is probably nothing that increases more when you have children as your patience, and this is a good thing for a counselor. Some people may take a while to open up or get to the point, and may feel quite uncomfortable talking to you at all at first. Only by being patient with them can you help them.
Of course, none of this means only parents can exhibit these qualities and make good counselors, but the things you have learned from being a mom can only help!