#WhyIAmACounselor: Share Your Counseling Career Journey
Last updated: April 2020
When deciding on a career path, nothing can be sweeter or more informative than the words on experience of a professional in that field.
We have asked 25 counselors, “What is the most rewarding thing about being a counselor?”. Their responses, while similar in ways, vary one another when moving across counseling specialties. Most counselors believe that there is no better feeling than helping people to improve their lives. Some school counselors that we have interviewed love to help their students get excited for their future and help their voices be heard! One of our quoted licensed professional counselors, Vel Williamson, describes her role and work with clients succinctly, “In a world where we are constantly judged by others, it is nice to have someone who will just listen and understand”.
For NAMI’s Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) during the first week of October, join us as we create a lasting conversation on mental illness and how counselors help their clients achieve their goals and face their challenges.
My First Day As a Counselor
Before deciding to pursue a career in counseling, I knew that I wanted to help individuals in a different way, apart from donations or fundraising for causes. Essentially, I wanted to be the school counselor that I and many others did not get to have. For my master’s degree, I was required to complete a practicum as a clinical counselor before pursuing internships in an elementary or high school. The value behind this was that every graduate counselor student was trained as a general counselor first, then pursued their specialty later on.
My first day as a counselor-intern at a community mental health center in New Jersey both scared me and made me excited. Having these feelings coincide with one another made me feel very anxious. I didn’t want to say the wrong things to the clients, or consumers as we called our teenagers. I was mostly concerned with how I was to build rapport with teenagers when I looked like I was only 17! I had braces and multi-colored hair. How was I going to create therapeutic relationships with teens who thought I was their age? At points, yes, they even thought I was a new consumer.
The first task I was given was to make sure our consumers signed in upon arrival to the center. There was a crisis situation where I needed to step in and be the face of the program for the moment. You can tell immediately that some of the consumers did not want to be there while others were asking 21 questions about me. I told them that I was a new counselor intern and I will be working with some of them for the next few months. Some of the consumers laughed and others were intrigued, albeit concerned that there was a “new” counselor.
Throughout the rest of my first day, I watched on as other counselors co-facilitated groups. Some consumers were not comfortable with me being in a room while they disclosed their experiences. It didn’t seem to phase others, however, while they sometimes looked to me for feedback. Ultimately at the end of the program for the day, I was still concerned that I wouldn’t be able to hack it. At the time, I was very shy about interactions with the consumers and even my supervisor. I didn’t turn around and never go back though. I knew that there was so much I could learn from this experience and so much that I can teach the teens at the center. Even though I looked their age, my consumers at the end of my practicum experience grew so much in learning coping skills, appropriate social interactions, and self-regulation. That feeling... the feeling that counselors get when they have helped others in positive ways, is everlasting, empowering, and rewarding.
Want to take part in the talk on counseling advocacy? Create a blog post reviewing your first day as a counselor, how you have grown in advocacy for mental illness, and why you became a counselor. Help us spread awareness on mental illnesses and how counselors help their clients from advocacy to treatment.
Email us with any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to use our badge to keep the conversation moving!