Think back. What was it that drew you to pursue becoming a counselor? Every counselor’s experience of being called to the profession looks different. For some, it’s a love for hearing people’s stories, it’s a conversation with a friend or professor, it’s a sense of how helpful talking to another person can be. For others, it’s connected to your own experience in counseling or working through a difficult season. Some start down the path fresh out of undergraduate school, others may be seeking a new chapter that has greater meaning and purpose, one that can bring hope and healing to people’s lives. A strong sense of calling happens in all the experiences in between.
Maybe you have a strong sense of what inspired your vision to become a counselor, or maybe it’s something that’s been there all along, a knack for seeing and grasping underlying narratives. Or maybe you’re not even sure what counseling is, you just know you want to help people.
Tom Sanders, Director of Admissions at Richmont Graduate University, provides a nuanced understanding of counseling that goes beyond a vague sense of counseling as problem solving. He says, “People are hurting, and their hurt is more than having a lack of things. It’s an internal deficit that people experience, and sometimes counseling is pouring back into that deficit or helping them realize that their deficit is not crushing.” When there are no clear answers, counseling is reminding people of God’s purpose in the pains of life.
Counseling is a unique profession that privileges you to enter into the sacred spaces of people’s intimate lives and deep places of pain. These spaces are not worksites for repair, but spaces for sitting, perceiving, and understanding both the intertwined vibrancy and trauma of people’s’ lives that they themselves may not realize. Counseling draws others into awareness, working towards healthy communities through relationship building. At its most basic level, counseling is sitting with people through hard times.
In the same way that counseling is unique, counselors themselves offer their own unique narratives as connecting points to people who have experienced similar stories. Not every counselor will have a warm and empathetic, extroverted personality, though these are good qualities. Counselors, in reality, are a diverse group of people with diverse experiences who counsel diverse clients. Good counselors tend to be people who have experienced healing of their own. In Sanders’ words, “It’s encouraging to see the redemptive story—there is a redemption in understanding your own brokenness and using that to understand others who are in a similar places.” Counselors realize that they have stories too, and that their vulnerability could help others realize they’re not alone in losing a child or going through a divorce or suffering from addiction.
A counselor’s career is fundamentally relational. It requires the ability to listen with empathy paired in tension with the ability to help articulate their own story. Counseling is giving. It is giving time, attention, and service to people in vulnerable moments of their life. It is its own reward as you watch God use you as an agent of healing and transformation in people’s lives.
The first step in the journey to becoming a counselor is getting trained. At Richmont, we provide Christ-centered education to help people become agents of transformation and healing. Take the next step in the journey to becoming a counselor today. Attend a preview day or visit our admissions page.