By nature, humans are first and foremost emotional and psychological beings. Our lives are influenced and guided by the emotions that surround us. They impact our behavior and drive our responses. Everything from our ability to manage mundane tasks and maintain social interactions suffers a blow when we don’t feel our best within.
But it is not humanly possible to experience only positive emotions all the time. The truth is that life is harsh on even the best of us. And now and then, it throws a curveball our way to knock us off our path. While experiencing such stressful circumstances, negative emotions are bound to arise. If repressed and not dealt with appropriately, these can lead to mental health issues.
This is where counselors come into play. Their expert knowledge of the human psyche and a unique grasp on emotional health can help people navigate even the most challenging times. This profession is gratifying and brings a positive change in the lives of both counselor and client. As a counselor, people from all walks of life will require your assistance in times of emotional distress. While some could be tackling depression or anxiety, others can be learning to overcome trauma or loss. Regardless of their situation, it’ll be your job to provide them with support, guidance, and direction to help them recover from their battle unscathed.
If you are passionate about helping others, this career is ideal. But if you wonder what can I do with a masters in counseling and are still doubtful, we have got you covered! Below we have compiled a list of ways you can utilize your profession to help those around you live happy and healthy lives.
- By listening to them
More often than you think, people end up swallowing their emotions and putting on a brave face to deal with everyday life. Carrying this burden weighs them down, and they reach a point where these problems start to interfere with their capacity to function. The mere act of listening and hearing them out can provide more benefit than you think.
As a counselor, you can establish a judgment-free space where the individual feels safe enough to be vulnerably open about their issues. By encouraging them to speak their heart out, you can help to compartmentalize and sort the mess within their head. Moreover, hearing their story gives you a chance to grasp their current emotional state. You can recognize lingering traumas and past issues and can help them overcome these in upcoming appointments.
- By encouraging positive self-talk
Self-talk is an internal dialogue one has about their abilities, skills, and habits in day-to-day life. These thoughts are so fleeting that the human brain barely ever registers them. But this inner voice holds tremendous power over how we view ourselves. It can impact the choices we make in our personal and professional lives. If this negative self-talk becomes a consistent habit, it can have enormous consequences on our mental well-being.
To help your client analyze their unfair behavior, ask them if they’d be comfortable saying things to others that they secretly say to themselves. If their answer is no, chances are they’re being unnecessarily cruel towards themselves. Assist them in establishing a positive mantra to combat their negative inner voice. Being kind to oneself is key to self-esteem and self-growth.
- By noticing toxic patterns
Humans are habitual creatures. We thrive on routine and consistency. Sometimes without knowing, we fall into a cycle of toxic patterns that disrupt our lives in more ways than one. As a counselor, not only can you recognize these destructive cycles but help your clients break free from them. Patients can start small by consciously focusing on everyday actions and their emotions. This activity will help shed light on harmful habits they have unknowingly nurtured. An example is the ‘all or nothing ‘thinking, which can cause people to sabotage their whole day based on one slight mishap.
- By encouraging physical activity
Often clients will come to you struggling with low self-esteem and lack of confidence. A scientifically proven way to combat this issue is by asking your clients to start working out regularly. Research suggests physical and emotional wellness are strongly co-related. Moving your body helps release serotonin, which promotes feelings of happiness and fulfillment. Serotonin is the same chemical anti-depressants aim to produce. Why take medication when you can get the same result by simply going out for a jog?
Moving your body can be as simple as going out for a walk with your dog or choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Every little bit makes a difference.
- Better stress management
Stress is a part of life, but it can be the underlying cause of several mental health disorders if you don’t manage it the right way. These include alcoholism, binge eating, and other harmful habits that can have severe consequences in the long run.
Counseling can help people address their triggers and find healthy coping mechanisms. For instance, you can encourage clients to observe mindfulness, take deep breaths and learn to bring themselves back to the present moment.
- By encouraging socializing
Humans are inherently social beings who thrive off of connection and interaction. More people than you know struggle with social anxiety – a fear of social situations. Someone struggling with this issue finds it hard to participate in an event, make friends or engage with colleagues. Failure to build emotional connections with those around you can affect your self-esteem and lower confidence.
As a counselor, you can work with your clients to develop more vital communications skills. You can do so by gradually exposing them to different social scenarios. For example, people with social anxiety can start with group therapy where other patients can talk and help one another. This will help patients feel a sense of belonging and lessen self-doubt.
Counseling is a profession that can assist people from all walks of life. Now and then, people lose themselves to the challenges and hurdles of everyday life. As a counselor, you can speak to people emotionally and reignite the fire needed for them to get back on track.
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