When I got admitted to college, my only goal was to study psychology. It was a subject matter that mattered to me a lot, given that I grew up with family members with various mental health conditions. For instance, I had a grandmother with Alzheimer’s disease, an uncle with Down syndrome, and a cousin with high-functioning autism. I wanted to help them all, as well as others like them.
Things went as I planned, I would say. I did not have issues in all my four years in college. I even found the balance between learning and having fun, which made my experience better. But when I finished my Bachelor’s degree, I had to wonder, “Is psychology the only thing that I wanted to offer to my future clients?”
I mean, being able to diagnose a patient was already more than enough for many. Achieving the level of expertise that you would need to become a licensed psychologist was no easy feat. However, I did not want my connection with my future clients to end after that, and then I would have to refer them to a psychiatrist or counselor for further treatment. Since I had no desire to study medicine and become a full doctor, I decided to become a counselor.
My Journey To Studying Counseling
The reality was that it was pretty rare in my state to find a grad school that would allow you to take a Master’s in psychology and counseling at the same time. My old university did not have that kind of program, so I had to look and look and look elsewhere until I found one. Technically, they only offered psychology or counseling, but I was ambitious, so I did a double degree. I thought that the faster I finished both, the quicker I could get on with my life.
“Was it easy-peasy?” I would always get this kind of question from friends and relatives who were quick to assume that studying social sciences was much easier than studying engineering, medicine, and other well-known complex matters. But what most people were unaware of was that every subject held a unique level of complexity that no other subject had.
In my case, I found counseling a little more complicated than psychology. The reason is that you have a good number of books to understand what’s expected of psychologists. You also get many references on how to diagnose a disease or what tests to use on your patients. But when it comes to counseling, you cannot rely on books alone. Instead, you need to know your clients well enough before recommending the best treatment for them.
Why Should You Be A Counselor If It’s Difficult?
This is another question that my colleagues in psychology often asked me after hearing about my thoughts on counseling. After all, after getting my Master’s, I went on to get my Ph.D.’s, which was not a cakewalk. But I did it because:
More People Need Help Than Those Who Can Provide It
I remembered attending a symposium soon after my graduation. One of the keynote speakers talked about how she did an outreach program in the Philippines not too long ago and was so surprised that most of the people she talked to did not know what a counselor was. Even the students who were supposed to have at least a counselor at school had not seen one.
“It was beyond a culture shock for me,” the guest speaker said. “It was more of the realization that the world needs more counselors.”
Those words stuck with me, which was why I continued my counseling journey even if it was a real challenge. This does not mean that we have enough psychologists, but we also need more counselors. Hence, I strived to be both.
It Feels Nice To Help People Gain A Sense Of Direction In Life
Many individuals tend to feel lost at specific points in their lives. That’s especially true when they find themselves in debilitating situations that practically make them consider death. In such circumstances, they depend on counselors to help them gain a sense of direction.
Although it can be daunting to realize that someone’s well-being depends on you, it is fulfilling to know that you can help them with your experience and knowledge.
It Comes Handy When You Need Self-Help
Becoming a counselor entails that you know a lot of self-help techniques to resolve your issues. If you are mad, you know what to say so that the rift will not be too much. If you are sad, you get to assess your feelings and figure out how to get over them.
Money should never be the reason why you will choose to become a counselor. If that’s the only thing you are after, you should become a social media influencer instead. This way, you have zero chances of absorbing your clients’ troubles or worsening their circumstances.