If you enjoy helping people from all walks of life and are fascinated by the inner workings of the mind, a career as a counselor might be the right path for you. Professional counselors are master's or doctoral-level clinicians who provide counseling and support to individuals, couples, families and groups. They often work in private practice, but may also work in clinics, schools or nonprofit agencies. In these settings, hiring professionals may ask why you decided to become a counselor, so it's a good idea to formulate your own list of reasons in advance.
One of the most common reasons people decide to enter the field of counseling is because they have a strong desire to help others and to assist people with the challenges of daily living. You may have been told that you are a good listener, and others may often seem to feel comfortable confiding in you. Maybe you think it's rewarding to help others find solutions to their problems. While you won't always have a solution to every problem, your support and involvement will still make a difference in the lives of your clients.
At some point in their lives, many people in the helping professions have had a positive experience with a counselor or therapist. This is often a strong motivating reason that people choose to enter the counseling field. They want to offer to others the same support and assistance that their counselor once offered to them. There's no shame in admitting this during an interview, but you don't need to -- and probably shouldn't -- get into the specific reasons that brought you to counseling in the first place. It's sufficient to say that you were inspired by a beneficial personal experience with a counselor.
Interested in Psychology
Another reason some people decide to become counselors is because they are curious and fascinated by the field of psychology. During their graduate studies, aspiring counselors learn about different counseling and psychotherapeutic theories and interventions, as well as problem-solving techniques and behavioral modification methods. Counselors are usually people who are already fascinated by these concepts and ideas before they begin their studies. They have an innate interest in intrapsychic -- or internal -- and interpersonal dynamics, and want to understand what makes people tick and what motivates their behavior and actions.
A Sense of Meaning
Counselors are people who often want to experience a feeling of purpose and fulfillment in their careers. Some people simply feel that they were "called" to the field. They may have a desire to be a part of something larger than themselves. Many people decide to become counselors during the second parts of their lives, because they are searching for a sense of meaning that, perhaps, their previous careers were unable to offer, says counseling professor David Hutchinson in his book, "The Essential Counselor." By connecting to others and helping them through the tough times, you might find the intrinsic sense of reward and meaning that you've been seeking.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists: Summary
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs: Why Become a Professional Counselor?
- Oakland University: Why Counseling?
- ESSAI: Mental Health Counselor: Is This Career for You?
- The Essential Counselor: David Hutchinson
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images