Wednesday, March 08, 2006

How To Be a Good Counselor

For those of you thinking of entering the counseling field, here are few tips that will enable to you to look, feel and sound more confident.

1. Create a list of “buzzwords” to be used when meeting with clients, consulting with colleagues and writing reports. Here are few examples.
- check-in
- touch base
- drop the ball
- issues
- root cause
- appropriate
- piggy back
- follow-up
- speak to
- debrief

2. Nod your head while speaking. This not only affirms the importance of what you are saying but notifies the client that your opinion is correct and should not be challenged.

3. Emulate your favorite pop culture therapist. Daytime TV and self-help book shelves are filled with straight-talking-tell-it-like-it-is soothsayers. There is always room for one more Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura.

4. Try to appear culturally competent by hanging a Native American dream catcher or a poster of Martin Luther King Jr. on your wall. If you can, learn a few Spanish phrases.

5. The root cause of all of the client’s issues can be blamed on his or her father. Regardless of the complaint all therapeutic paths lead to dad.

6. Make sure that everything you say, especially statements, sound like questions? Be sure to raise your pitch at the end of each sentence? That way your client will really know you care?

7. Don’t hesitate to use your work as an opportunity to sort out your own issues. Remember, therapy is a two-way street.

8. Always state the obvious. If a client tells a horrific tale of abuse, neglect, and emotional distress there are no more comforting words than, “That must have been hard.”

9. When leading a group therapy session be sure to make at least three people cry. If there are no tears, there is no therapy.

10. Most importantly, counseling is about showing compassion, without really caring.


The Boy said...

EXCELLENT advice, Sven, but you forgot one.

Ask plenty of "why" questions, as in, "Why did you sniff sawdust for 44 years?", so the client can shrug his (her) shoulders and say, "Beats me." There is a lot of therapeutic value in "why" questions, and they never waste time or effort. I have also found that they do not bring the session to a screeching silence.

Sven said...

You're right I did overlook the all important "why" question. I trust you could come up with a few buzzwords to add to the list as well.

The Boy said...

OOH! OOH! I forgot one.

Make certain that there is always a large piece of furniture placed between the counselor and client. An armoire works well. It relieves the counselor of having to listen and to observe body language.

I'll compile some buzzwords, but here's one to start:

treatment plan

frankengirl said...

LOL! Very funny - and totally scary, of course.

"7. Don’t hesitate to use your work as an opportunity to sort out your own issues. Remember, therapy is a two-way street."

Yes, the fact that the patients are paying you really shouldn't hold you back on this one. Hey, maybe they'll learn a thing or two from your neurosis. Then everybody wins! :P

gitsul said...

I am guessing that if I'm nodding off while you're talking it doesn't count for number 2 - [quote] 2. Nod your head while speaking. [/quote]

Sven said...

Charlie: How could I forget the treatment plan.

Frankengirl: Let's be honest, it really doesn't matter if the client wins, as long as I do.

Gitsul: You can sleep all you want. When you wake up, I'll tell you it was hypnotherapy.

Sophia said...

And you should always have a box of tissue within arm's reach. Also, make plenty of notes, preferably with lots of underlining and circling, to let the client think you're listening. (Not that I've ever been...)

OneEar said...

One favorite activity of mine is to hang out in the self-help section of Barns & No-bulls. I like to go there to sob.

Should I be getting paid for this?

Sven said...

If you can identify and therapeutic need than those are billable hours.

mabel said...

I now feel completely able to set up my own practice. Just let me download a diploma (or, just photoshop one) I can now be a work-at-home mom! You have changed my life. *sob* Thanks Sven.

Sven said...

Who needs a diploma, just call yourself a Psychotherapist. That title requires no bothersome training or expertise. And you don't worry about those pesky licensing boards sticking their nose in your business.

Rhonda said...

I read this twice and am still laughing.

Take into account I live with a shrink who had an absolute fit when forced to sit through a video designed to teach his department "How to Appear Empathic."

Attila The Mom said...

"3. Emulate your favorite pop culture therapist. [snip] There is always room for one more Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura."

ew. You mean pose nekkid for cheezy beaver shots?

Meg said...

Did Dr. Phil do that?! Ew!

Sven said...

Dr. Phil was too busy flopping around to actually pose for a photo.

The Boy said...



--dual diagnosis

addiction buzzwords:



--Higher Power

--drug of choice

The best of all: "How does that make you feel?"

The Boy said...

You know, like the counselor really gives a shit.

Anonymous said...

Ouch. I *am* a counselor. Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with one. Well- if we can't laugh at ourselves, we can laugh at our clients. (just kidding) By the way, that'll be $100.

Sven said...

Hey Anonymous,

I'm a counselor too. A social worker actually, this is intended for my "green" colleagues.

Anonymous said...

Oh...I just read the blog and didn't know you were a social worker. In that case, that's even funnier! :)

karthi said...

the main thing of that of good counsellor is that he should know more about Dual Diagnosis

khadija mohd tajuddin said...

planning to become a there any tips that i can hold on to if ever i'm gonna be bonkers one day? counseling is an emotional career, and i'm a girl, haha! *totally being serious actually, some tips would be helpful, not a lot of support i get from the people around me about me being a counselor, darn. oh well, still want to be one...