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do you have to do volunteer work if you want to be a counselor?

I'm a Christian who wants to follow Jesus but I'm kind of struggling with that, I want to help and learn about different kind of people. I want to help others and show them that there is always a way to get out of their situations. It's going to be difficult but not impossible. I know that I have to have a lot of patience if I want to help others. #counselor #advice #christian #motivation #socialworker

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Jessica Sera’s Answer

Hi Faith,

I definitely recommend gaining practical experience if you would like to be a counselor. The experience will give you insight into your potential career. In addition to volunteer experience, you may also look at paid opportunities. Regardless, the applicable experience is valuable to have.

Have you thought about which type of counselor you would like to become? For example, there are school counselors, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, etc. I encourage you to research these different roles and see which aligns with your interests.

Additionally, I think it is great that you would like to help others! Becoming a counselor would be a great opportunity for you to help others. In order to become a counselor, you can gain foundational knowledge of psychology in college. After obtaining a bachelor's degree, you most likely need to go to graduate schooling to obtain the licensing and educational requirements to become a counselor.

I hope this helps, and best of luck!

Good Jessica Charles Immanuel

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Geoffrey’s Answer

When you're a counselor (or, in my case, coach), you are in a helping profession. It's a place you go because you want to see people have better lives than they would otherwise. One of our most important skills is empathy: If we can't understand, we can't help. It's not enough to have information or advice. You have to be able to understand where the person is coming from, why they have made the choices they have, and what could make them genuinely skeptical of either the usefulness or the sincerity of the help we have to offer.

People who wind up in our position generally have experience being the one people we know come to for advice or insight. But these friends and family members know us and trust us. Furthermore, we know them and have shared experiences to inform our advice. The people you see as a counselor are often going to be very different from you. We need to be prepared to deal with this.

The beauty of volunteer work is that it will tend to put you in touch with people with different backgrounds and who lack the means to acquire paid counseling services. When we work with them, we not only get the opportunity to help, we get practice understanding and reacting to people whose approach to life is not one we are familiar with. The more we do this, the greater the range of experience we can bring to our professional activities.

You'll notice that you are receiving this advice on a forum where counselors and coaches volunteer to answer your questions. We're here for a reason.

Geoffrey recommends the following next steps:

Look for a place where you can volunteer where you'll be working with people who are from different backgrounds from you. See what you can learn from them.

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Rahat’s Answer

Hi Faith. It sounds like you're going through a period of "finding yourself" and, even though it can trigger some difficult times, it is a wonderful thing to experience. Before I go into answering your question, I want to talk a little about what you are experiencing. In order to best help and counsel others, it is best to start within yourself.

First start with figuring out the struggles that are being triggered within, is it religion, relationships, abuse, self identity, etc.? Seek out help and advice through someone you trust, a local community network, a special hotline specifically for your issue, etc. Through this process you will really learn with what helped you through your struggles and use it to future counsel and help others who are also struggling within themselves. In addition, you can also volunteer through the previously mentioned means (local community network, special hotline, big brother/big sister clubs, etc.) and begin your passion of helping others.

During these COVID-19 times it can be difficult to finding volunteer opportunities, but there is a website that allows you to virtually volunteer in a field that you find you can be assistance in. In addition, some high schools have a peer counseling program that students participate in counseling their peers. My high school did and I was a part of that program for two years. You may want to seek out opportunities like that. You should also highly consider a career in counseling. A major in counseling, psychology, education, sociology, or social work can be great careers to consider.

I hope this was helpful. Good luck!

Rahat recommends the following next steps:

Check out https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/org13944.jsp to find opportunities you can get involved in.
Check out https://www.worldwidelearn.com/online-education-guide/health-medical/counseling-major.htm for a better understanding of a career in counseling.