If you are reading this blog and you are planning to be, or already are, a counselor, then you probably have a story. As a counselor, your story is your strength and it is your compass. Your story will remind you that you know how to persevere when things get difficult. Your story increases your empathy as you listen to clients and helps you connect. The problem?
Amazing stories start us, but too many of us lack the good habits and positive attitude that sustain us.
Success is in the details.
Good habits and a positive attitude are important because without them you will lack the motivation to take care of the details. As a counselor, you have a lot to do after you graduate and there is no syllabus to guide and push you along. If you don’t take care of the details, the consequences can be dire:
- If you are going into private practice, you must complete the paperwork for your LLC or risk having a practice that is poorly protected against client lawsuits.
- If you are about to graduate, you must interview supervisors or risk having a dissatisfying or even dangerous supervision experience.
- If you are making the leap from school counselor to LPC (or just starting your counseling journey) you must take time to choose the right school to pick up your licensing hours or risk delays getting your license.
Attitude is everything.
When I graduated with my master’s degree in counseling in 2000, I went right back to my teaching job. I was scared to make the leap and start my counseling career. I knew I wanted to start a private practice ‘someday’ but I was basically an introvert who knew nothing about business. I had great study habits, no business habits, and I had bills to pay.
Somehow, I learned about a cheesy-sounding book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. As a broke teacher/post grad it didn’t hurt that the book was in the public domain and I could download it for free. I set up an office in an upstairs bedroom, got the book, and did what I do best, started studying.
HTWFAIP was written around the time of the second World War and joined other self-help books like Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.” These books, with their very straightforward messages (shake hands firmly but not too tightly), and no-nonsense titles were designed with a purpose. American farms had been decimated by the dust bowl and men were having to find jobs in the city. World War two was coming to an end and men were coming home to compete for jobs and start families in the suburbs. These men had to learn how to survive in the post-agrarian economy and prosper. The premise was simple: change your mind, create opportunities, and successfully make enough money to support your family. I liked that.
Turns out, Dale Carnegie was a counselor. He taught me how to have confidence and define success. He taught how to smile and make eye contact when I talk to people, and how remembering names is a great way to make friends who will refer business to my practice. He taught me the habits and attitudes that keep my business running successfully today.
Remember, your story and your passion only get you so far. Setting an intention, creating good habits, and having a good attitude lead to adjustments in time and resources (otherwise known as prioritizing). If you can prioritize then you can protect your license, provide excellent service to your clients, and have a great counseling career.