A counsellor’s job is emotionally and mentally very demanding. This job demands a high degree of emotional investment. While it is normal to think about their clients sometimes, counsellor’s need to remain emotionally detached from their problems.
A good counsellor has to be empathetic and show genuine concern for their clients. This would only be possible when the counsellor has worked through their own emotions. There’s a certain image society has built around a mental health professional – They should be tough, sane all the time, calm and patient. Don’t they deserve to be looked at as human beings first?
People have an image that a counsellor is someone who provides treatment and someone who does not face any problems emotionally or mentally. However, they fail to realize that therapists are humans too and can face many similar problems as their clients.
#1 Low pay
Counselors who work in organisations or NGOs are not paid sufficient salary. Clients are reluctant to pay for sessions as they think that counselling involves only listening and talking. Many people don’t think about investing in mental health as a priority.
#2 Being non-judgemental
A counsellor is one who is able to efficiently empathise and be non-judgemental towards their clients. At times, depending upon the nature of the concern, it may become difficult for them to simultaneously be empathetic or non-judgemental as well as objective, since it is all about striking a conscious balance between the two.
However, counsellors still need to always try and do their best to provide objective feedback and make their clients feel heard and understood, which is one of the reasons why the job is considered to be emotionally draining.
#3 Building patience
It is essential for a counsellor to build patience and tolerance while dealing with their clients. This shows clients that their therapists are ready to listen to them and be there for them come what may.
Developing patience and tolerance gives rise to confidence for both clients and counsellors. This is a great skill for counsellors to master as they are also humans and have added frustrations of their own lives which they need to forget about while dealing with their clients.
#4 Engaging with reluctant clients
Very often, counsellors have to deal with difficult, reluctant or resistant clients. A therapist can’t refuse to serve these kinds of patients because of whatever is holding them back. Not all clients are ready to open up about their problems and they certainly have their valid reasons to do so. But it becomes difficult for counsellors to deal with such resistant clients as counseling depends on honest communication. If there is no participation from client’s end, it’s extremely difficult to build on the helpful conversation.
Therapists have hard jobs. They hear about difficult, sometimes traumatic experiences each day, as their clients share their issues. They too occasionally have personal problems and things they would like to work through.
Just because they’re trained does not mean that they won’t need someone to listen to them too. The very nature of their job places them at a higher risk for emotional distress. In short, therapists often need just as much if not more support than the average person.
Supervision is a process whereby someone from the field with more experience oversees the work of someone with lesser knowledge and skills.
Counsellors also need to engage in and spend large amounts of money on the process of supervision as another way of improving professional counselling skills. It is a mandate for counsellors to enhance their abilities and skills. This becomes a challenge for counsellors, as they have to invest money and time on this process.
#7 Continued Education
There is a need for continuing education for all counsellors especially after graduating from a counselling program. The reason is that new ideas for treatment and practice of clients are always evolving and these must be mastered and incorporated if necessary.
Engaging in such continuous efforts sometimes becomes expensive in terms of time and money but the cost of not keeping up professionally is much higher. This then poses a great challenge for counsellors.
#8 Expectations of free labour
Lastly, many people expect therapists to provide their services without charge since it’s healthcare and a ‘noble profession’. However, it;s high time we understand that a therapist is also a human being who has a family to take care of, basic needs to be met, live a comfortable life and deserve to be paid for their time, effort and knowledge.
In conclusion, not everyone can be a counselor. You need to strike the right balance between objectivity and empathy. You also need to have a good work-life balance to be efficient at work and remain happy in your personal life.
In return, all a therapist will ask for is your respect, value of their time and genuine participation in the process from their clients.