Being a helper as a counselor involves quite a number of professions in human services (Corey, Schneider, & Callanan, 2007). Ideally, counselors assist people in overcoming their problems as far as health, careers, addiction, aging, and many other issues in life (Corey, Schneider, & Callanan, 2007). To be helper means having qualities such as empathy and compassion. This is because counsellors work with people; families, individuals, and groups that need to be shown understanding and love. The settings in which counselling is needed and for which counsellors are needed to help people are hospitals, schools, mental health clinics, vocational centres, and definitely, rehabilitation programs (Corey, Schneider, & Callanan, 2007). Counsellors face great challenges that anyone who wants to become a counsellor should know and be capable of dealing with.
The serious tone and the intimacy that comes with being counsellor means there is always the chance that emotional and physical health of the patient and the helper is at risk (Di Fabio & Maree, 2013). One of the greatest risks is that the patient can get violent against the helper. The risk is great when working with psychiatric patients (Di Fabio & Maree, 2013). On this, human services helpers such as counsellors are discouraged from engaging patients in their private homes; more so, in low-income and urban areas (Corey, Schneider, & Callanan, 2007). This is because of the fact that in such areas, violence rates tend to be higher.
The constant interaction that professional counsellors have with patients exposes them to stress (Maki & Tarvydas, 2012). This stress affects them, especially, because the demands of their job are constantly changing. In order to maintain the confidentiality as well as the intimacy in the professional relationship counsellors have is not easy; more so, given that there is isolation when counsellors work with patients one-on-one (Maki & Tarvydas, 2012). Not managing the risks may lead to getting overwhelmed by the stress, getting fed up by the discomfort of counsellor-patient relationships, and even getting overloaded and losing the satisfaction that being a helper has (Maki & Tarvydas, 2012). Additionally, if a counsellor ignores the risks associated with the profession, the result could be anxiety, depression, isolation from colleagues, as well as frequent errors (Maki & Tarvydas, 2012). If the counsellor works with anguished patients and those who are mentally unhealthy, there may be chronic irritability, cynicism and even impatience. Even so, counsellors are not at a loss, there are steps they can take in ensuring that they are safe and of good health while practicing as helpers (Patrick, 2007). Among these steps is constant self-assessment, personal psychotherapy, and work-life balance.
Self-assessment ensures that the risks associated with emotional burn-out, jeopardized health, and stress are reduced (Corey, Schneider, & Callanan, 2007). The personal psychotherapy helps in managing the mental demands of the job, while work-life balance should assist helpers in the counselling field to detach themselves from their professional problems (Corey, Schneider, & Callanan, 2007). An additional way that counsellors can use in getting relief in their job is taking vacations. If this is done, wellbeing and health does not get damaged despite the stress and high demands that comes with being a helper in this field (Corey, Schneider, & Callanan, 2007).
For counsellors in their private practices, the beginning is hectic and may be overwhelming sometimes (Patrick, 2007). However, this changes when the counsellor is established with better billable hours (Patrick, 2007). For them, an erratic schedule may come about as a result of emergencies that need to be handled at night or weekends. Also, the fact that certain clients need to be seen after work means that less time can be available for family for these counselling helpers (Corey, Schneider, & Callanan, 2007).
Some of the other concerns that arise in being a helper in the counselling field entail the legal aspects of the human services profession, the tax issues, and lastly the insurance issues (Patrick, 2007). For a private practice to run smoothly, the must a location, office furniture must be bought, the office set up, and marketing done (Di Fabio & Maree, 2013). For those employed, the state as well as federal taxes must come from the counsellors pay check. This is different for the private practice helpers who must pay their own taxes. Self-employment taxes can be confusing and care has to be taken to ensure that taxes are not owed to the state or federal government at the end of the year (Corey, Schneider, & Callanan, 2007). For those participating in managed-care programs, or take insurance, billing and paperwork becomes part of the practice. In most cases, this leads to many non-billable hours (Di Fabio & Maree, 2013). Some clients will file insurance claims on their own, but helpers in this field often engage in taking care of the insurance paper-work, as well as, co-paying so as to attract more clients. Even so, this process and associated tasks become easier with the purchase of billing systems (Patrick, 2007). There are insurance companies that have free billing software on their websites available to everyone with access to such websites. Still, there is an option to hire someone to take care of the insurance paperwork (Patrick, 2007). It can be for a fixed fee or for a share of the money collected from clients.
Despite the concerns in the counselling field as a human services profession, the impact that is associated with it on the society is immense. This is because when a person who had been grappling with problems be it at work or health overcomes those problems as a result of counselling, it affects families, as well as, family dynamics (Patrick, 2007). People in such families get to learn and adjust to the new information made available by dealing with the problems of the person being counselled. Thus, the concerns that are associated with becoming a helper in the counselling field are outweighed by the benefits of the profession.
Corey, G., Schneider, M. C., & Callanan, P. (2007). Issues and ethics in the helping professions. Australia: Brooks/Cole/Thomson Learning.
Di Fabio, A., & Maree, J. G. (2013). Psychology of career counseling : new challenges for a new era. New york: Nova Publishers.
Maki, D. R., & Tarvydas, V. (2012). The professional practice of rehabilitation counseling. New York: Springer Pub.
Patrick, P. K. (2007). Contemporary issues in counseling. Boston, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon.
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