It is not uncommon when faced with what appears to be an insurmountable change of circumstance to feel overwhelmed or helpless. This can be a sudden change in career, the unforeseen end of a relationship, death of a loved one, or some other traumatic event that has left you feeling alone, sad or unworthy of happiness.
People seek counseling who suffer from depression or a deep sense of feeling blue are unable to get a grip on the everyday activities or have the inability to find any reasonable sense of joy in life.
One may discover that they are feeding their lack of self esteem with bad food, drugs, alcohol, excessive sleep or may be struggling with addictions either on a short-term or long-term basis.
Counseling can help one to get a grip on their current state of affairs and map a course to recovery or increase happiness, higher personal performance or satisfaction.
Those seeking to deal with life’s challenges, choices or changes will see out a professional counselor, peer counselor, life coach or consultant to get them from here to there.
Becoming a counselor
There are two reasons to become a counselor or coach. The first is that it is a sensible business model and opportunities abound for counselors to help people deal with their life’s issues.
The other is that you already are – and have always been – a counselor or people helper. It’s who you are, these attributes are an integral part of your DNA and counseling is a key component in your life’s calling.
If you came to this planet with the purpose to help others, you achieve a high degree of satisfaction from helping others overcome life’s obstacles.
You may also have experienced particular life circumstances with a high degree of success and are driven to help others who may be facing obstacles similar to the ones that you had to navigate.
Professional counselors are state-licensed mental health counselors trained in traditional psychotherapy treatment models that in most cases require an advanced training program or masters degree. In most cases licensed professional counselors serve an apprenticeship and pass a state exam prior to licensure.
The men and women who are led to seek out processional counseling as a career are highly academic and approach counseling from a clinical perspective.
Restrictions abound as licensed professional counselors are controlled by numerous state and federal laws that constrict the performance of their duties with the intent of offering a level of protection to both the practitioner and the patient.
Professional organizations have been created to offer membership to practitioners who ascribe to a certain menu or codes and/or ethics in the performance of their duties as a licensed professional counselor.
Peer counseling is simply one person with or without formal training helping another person out. This can look like a number of different people-helping activities; like counseling, coaching, consulting, mentoring or acting as an accountability partner.
A peer counselor is a person of similar social status who is knowledgeable in a particular area and from whom another person can learn from the experience of the peer counselor.
Some states have certification process for peer counselors, some do not. Check local and state codes. If you are certified by the state you would be considered a “Certified Peer Counselor,” in contrast to just a peer counselor.
In a peer counseling relationship, the peer counselor has the utmost empathy with the ability to say, “I know how you feel because I’ve been there myself.” It is the unique and specialized experience that qualifies the peer with the ability to be or particular value to other people facing the same challenges.
If you participate as a peer counselor, be careful about referring to yourself as a counselor as the title of counselor is often protected and regulated by the state.
Peer counselors work with their peers, adults and youth, and the parents of children to subsidize ongoing mental health services.
© 2014 David M Masters