For starters, most of us aren't aware of the amount of training that it takes to become a professional counselor. Did you know that professional counselors will have earned at least a masters degree, and that many hold doctoral degrees? Or that professional counselors are now licensed mental health providers in all 50 states?
This means that when you turn to a counselor for help, you're working with a highly-educated, trained and experienced professional.
Professional counselors today offer a wide range of services. While it's not uncommon for the average person to think that counselors only work with severely troubled people facing serious mental health issues, the reality is the majority of people with whom most professional counselors work are ordinary people who simply need a little help, advice and direction. They may be facing family, work or life problems that can seem overwhelming, or they may be at points in their lives where things "just don't seem right." Often, what causes a person to seek out a professional counselor is simply being unsure as to what to do next.
"Help" is the main product that professional counselors have to offer. They don't tell someone what to do, but rather help guide the person in understanding and discovering new directions -- helping the person find ways to improve a relationships or situation, or helping the person to discover and explore new paths in life.
Professional counselors today specialize in a variety of areas. Beyond school counselors, there are professional counselors who focus on children and adolescents, families, marriage and couples help, substance abuse issues, military, career , employment, retirement counseling and much more.
A professional counselor is a facilitator and a guide. His or her job is to offer suggestions about helpful directions and possible actions. The counselor isn't there to provide answers, but rather to assist the client in growing, learning new things, and discovering the necessary actions for a more satisfying life.
Counseling is meant to be a process that helps people change for the better. When someone is dealing with a loss, relationship issues, child rearing anxieties, anger, depression or any of the numerous issues that all of us can face, that's when it's time to turn to a licensed professional counselor who has been trained to provide needed help.
If you think there are issues in your life that could be helped by talking with a trained professional, you can locate local counselors through the Internet, phone book yellow pages, local mental health agency, or online at the American Counseling Association website, www.counseling.org.