Counselling college students is one of the most mentally tedious jobs in existence. For a counsellor, it often becomes challenging to persuade students to take up certain tasks or follow a certain direction because they are often reactive to suggestions. Moreover, college students view things differently, and it takes patience and persistence to help them understand better how things work. This means, mere educational qualifications will not be of complete assistance to you; a number of other factors, particularly your soft skills, will play a major role in getting your job done.
So many things must be done to become a good counselor. But, given the constraints of this article, we cannot cover most of them in detail. However, we can cover the most fundamental ones. Anyone of my readers who is interested in developing a career as a counsellor for college students or is already one would derive significant information about what could be done to improve his experience.
Here are 5 of those things which a counselor should take into account.
- They have come for help
You have the professional standing to effectively carry out counselling, but that should not make you rigid in your approach. Remember that your clients are students; they belong to a highly vulnerable and learning community. When a student comes to you for counselling, do not treat him like a ‘subject’ of your analysis. Study her as a human being and empathize with her problems. If you are not approachable and amenable to listening, then all your academic qualifications would mean nothing.
- Listen patiently
Patience is a virtue and takes time to develop. A counsellor is expected to be a master of patience. Your clients will come from all kinds of backgrounds and with different problems. Howsoever trivial their problems may sound, give them time to elucidate their problems. Let them speak their heart out. If a student is apprehensive of joining a college despite very good grades, be sensitive and do not brush her away. Listen well and respond only when she has completed her story. This approach also makes students comfortable, as they develop the impression that you actually intend to listen and not make hasty conclusions.
Many times counsellors do not follow-up with their students. This is a grave error on the part of the counsellors. Failure to track the progress of your clients shows that you are not concerned about them. Try arranging for follow-up sessions once in a while to know how things are going on at the student’s end. If you wish to help your client, you must keep looking after her until you are certain that no more help needs to be extended. Send them e-mails or conduct a telephonic interview in place of a face-to-face follow-up session in case you are not in a position to conduct such sessions personally.
- Be Flexible
Just because things have worked out in a certain way for some students does not mean this will always be the case with everyone. Every one of us is different. We see problems differently as a result of which our understandings and responses vary. As a counsellor, you should be flexible with your approach. If a student requires counselling under unique circumstances such as outdoor counselling sessions, give her. Of course, in order to be flexible, you must read a lot and learn from your experience. Only if you do not stick to conventionalism you will be able to maintain a flexible personality.
- Take Care of Yourself
Throughout your career, you will come across students with all kinds of problems. Some would be trivial and some would be outright horrifying. Their experiences and the expression of the same can affect you. That is where you must take care of yourself. Do not let the darkness in others impact your mental health. Unless you stay strong, you will not be able to help your clients. Just like you counsel them you must regularly counsel yourself so that your mental health remains sound and progressive. In case things are becoming difficult for you, take some time off and seek help for yourself.
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