Angelle Hobbs Joanna is a 16-year-old eleventh grader, the oldest of four children. Her best friend had died suddenly of leukemia the previous year. Presently, Joanna’s grades have begun to drop and she cuts class. She feels she should have done more to help her best friend. Joanna’s mother has been contacted for a parent conference, but she works two jobs to financially support her children. Joanna’s homeroom teacher is very concern and refers her to the school counselor. This heartbreaking event has had tremendous implications on Joanna. I trust that an experience, as such, leads someone to initially choose counseling as a profession.
Counseling entails a provision of assistance and guidance sessions, provided by a trained professional who assists in resolving personal conflicts, social/emotional, or psychological difficulties. Remley and Herlihy, authors of Ethics, Legal, and Professional Issues in Counseling, provide a constructive framework for an aspirant counselor who seeks to develop a professional identity in the counseling profession, functioning through the acts of integrity, discernment, acceptance of emotion, self-awareness, and interdependence within the community.
If you’re like most counselors, you want to actively promote the mental health and wellness of the client, provide compassion, aid in the development of their life-enhancing qualities, and advocate in behalf of the client and the profession. Comparably, various mental health professions possess interchangeable objectives. Then, what distinguishes counseling from other mental health professions? Often, counselors describe themselves as professional “skilled helpers” – helping others resolve difficult issues, while moving towards productive decisions in a non-judgmental atmosphere.
They are professionals to the degree that they have mastered the requisite knowledge base, developed competencies in the required skills, and adhere to the values and ethics of the American Counseling Association and their state’s code of conduct. Counseling involves an establishment of collaboration with the client and a voluntary guidance in decision-making, leading towards a successful resolution of problems deemed significant. In other words, counseling can establish self-empowerment, self-awareness, self-discovery, and self-esteem.
What comes to mind when I hear the term counselors? Counseling professionals promote accurate historical information about the development of counseling theories, philosophies, advocacy, blending of research and evidence-based practice that have influenced its growth. Effective counselors employ cross-cultural skills to make their interactions with clients more culturally relevant. They possess ethnographic interviewing skills that elicit minorities’ views (worldview) of problems and situational contexts from their cultural perspective.
In other words, counselors understand the client from the client’s frame of reference. Additionally, counselors not only apply theoretical principles that guide therapeutic interventions, but offer motivation to effectively strengthen the helping process. They move the client’s distorted world view to healthy thinking and dysfunctional actions to healthy behaviors, utilizing direct and indirect approaches. They help clients challenge themselves to develop new perspectives and make connections that may be missing, while changing their internal and external behaviors.
Counselors must adhere to the code of ethics and standards associated with their respective certifications and licenses. As well, counselors must possess high physical and emotional energy to handle the array of problems that they address. Most importantly, they demonstrate accountability, sensitivity and awareness of cultural implications. Ethically speaking, psychologists study mental processes and human behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people and other animals relate to one another and the environment.
To do this, psychologists often look for patterns that will help them understand and predict behavior using scientific methods, principles, or procedures to test their ideas. Through such research studies, psychologists have learned much that can help increase understanding between individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, nations, and cultures. Psychologists formulate theories, or hypotheses, which are possible explanations for what they observe.
But unlike other social science disciplines, psychologists often concentrate on individual behavior and, specifically, in the beliefs and feelings that influence a person’s actions. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work. Similar to the counseling profession, social workers address the prevalence of inequity, discrimination, violations of human rights, and other forms of social injustice compromising and adversely affecting the well-being of society.
However, social workers establish linkages between people and societal resources to further social functioning and enhance the quality of life in an ever-changing society, develop cooperative networks within the institutional resource system, and encourage an information exchange in those institutional systems in which both problems and resources opportunities are produced. Equally, social workers support a proactive position in regard to social and economic policy development, to prevent problems for individuals and society from occurring.
My personal qualities make a difference in my ability to work effectively with others. Among these essential personal qualities are genuineness, responsibility, honesty, openness, humility, concern, and optimism. During my overall academic attainment, I was effectively engaged as a reflective practitioner, dedicating my life to serving children and diverse families with a strong focus on family dynamics, social interactions affecting the unity of families, and the welfare of the community.
I believe these qualities are indispensable for establishing rapport and building relationships with colleagues and clients, while enhancing my competence as a professional school counselor. In preparation to becoming a culturally, competent school counselor, I am developing an awareness of cultural sensitivity, with the understanding of worldviews of culturally diverse groups, development of culturally appropriate intervention strategies, personal responsibility, accountability, resourcefulness, subject area expertise, and a continuation of professionalism.
I am positive that I will provide a professional and structured process intended to meet an individual’s counseling needs. I aim to effectively intervene systemically and personally on behalf of students. From a novice school counselor viewpoint, in the future, I believe that my dedication to the profession, perseverance through difficult tasks, and diligence in my work will be three key indicators of my success in the counseling profession.
Above all, I have a vision based on the ideal of deep appreciation and desire to be a part of a field that develops young people into productive citizens of the community with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills essential to succeed as life-long learners in a global environment. One child’s life messed up by lack of direction early in life, is one too many in the eyes of a prospective counselor in me, Ms. Angelle M. Hobbs.
Courtney from Study Moose
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