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What Makes a Great Counselor?

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

There are many career options available in the field of mental health, including numerous counseling roles. Most counseling positions require licensure, with those at the top levels needing to hold doctoral or medical degrees. Common types of counselors include peer counselors, school guidance counselors, pastoral counselors, career counselors, social workers, therapists, clinicians, nurse practitioners, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

Counselors may work in a hospital or clinical setting, private office, school, prison, community center, or even come to the person’s home. They may address clients with general mental or behavioral health concerns or focus on one area of practice like drug and alcohol counseling, families and adoption, hospice and end of life care, organ donation, or restorative justice, just to name a few.

Having a degree or license does not equate to being a great counselor. The best counselors often find this career is a calling. As individuals, they genuinely like people, are empathetic and understanding. They can set aside personal bias and meet clients where they are. “Some of the best counselors I know are wounded healers,” says Shannon Taylor, NCC, LPC, Director of School-Based Services. “They have been shaped by struggle and are drawn to the field to help others. In some instances, they had a counselor step up and help them through their challenge. In other cases, they did not have someone to help them, so they now want to fill that void for others.”

A great counselor must be flexible. What you plan for a session today may need to be set aside based on the client’s needs. A great counselor is always learning – seeking new information to help their clients. They have desire to accept feedback, face challenges, and deal with defeat without taking it personally. Some days can be hard but seeing incremental progress toward improvement in a person’s life can be incredibly rewarding.

“We cannot solve every problem,” adds Taylor. “Sometimes we have to be ‘emotional farmers,’ planting seeds and laying the foundation for healing. We might not be there to see the final outcome but hope to drive a positive result down the line. Even without seeing that result, this is one of the most rewarding and challenging careers you can have.”

Laurel Life has opportunities for certified counselors and those pursuing certification and in need of hours. We also offer high school and college internships for those who believe counseling is the right career for them.


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