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Need career guidance for a counseling career

I am a currently a sophomore marketing major. My own experience with mental health makes me want to inspire others and help them live happily.

I hope to apply for mental health counseling, family and relationship therapist, social work master (even to a phd counseling psychology.)

My biggest worries are whether my outgoing and lively personality could handle so many negative feelings and whether I could actually help them... I love advocate, interview, deeply connect with people. I am ok with marketing jobs but hate the corporate environment. I want to inspire, promote, cause change.. However, I cannot find any other alternative ways to directly impact people's lives except counseling careers.

Do you think I need to change major to psychology (only able to do so at the end of my junior year) and continue follow my "dream"? #career #psychology #education #career-counseling #social-work #counseling #life-coach #mental-health-counseling

Thank you comment icon You could work in a non for profit and use your marketing skills to help others. You raise awareness about prevention problems. Rachel

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Amy’s Answer

What a beautiful heart you have to want so passionately to help people!


I would ask you what attracted you to the marketing major in the first place? If you love the types of plans and programs that you're learning about in marketing, you might not have to make a change to still help people in the field you're describing. Many professional careers in that work in the mental health area have associations and hospitals that have this type of service also have marketing departments. You wouldn't be directly working with patients as a marketing person, but you would be able to shape and help guide messaging and programs around this type of work.


Early in my career I worked for an Emergency Physician state medical association and an international trauma support organization and worked side by side with doctors helping to determine and support their goals around patient education and marketing of available services. It was very rewarding to wear a "white hat" and help support such meaningful causes.


If you love marketing, don't count out your ability to help people based on where you choose to work.

Thank you comment icon Thank you, Amy! What attracts me about Marketing is that you could shape the "messages" and let more people hear them. I am now interested in Mental Health Promotion and want to be more mature now. Counseling takes a lot of responsibility and I need more life experience now! Clear
Thank you comment icon Sounds like you have a plan and a lot of great opportunities ahead. In marketing, you'll absolutely have the opportunity to shape messages and influence people in an area you are clearly interested in. When you're ready, keep in mind that a lot of not-for-profit groups offer internships that might let you get a chance to test putting your passions together to see how it fits. Best of luck to you!! Amy Kolzow
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Amanda’s Answer

They great thing about counseling is it doesn't really matter what your undergraduate degree is in, you can still apply to masters programs in counseling. You could finish your degree in Marketing and still apply for graduate programs in counseling. This way you can have the marketing degree to fall back on and you would not have to prolong college because you changed your major.


Another thing you could do with a business degree is recruiting. You could help connect quality candidates with their dream jobs. This would let you interview and get to know people. You also would have the satisfaction of helping people.


I would suggest you visit your college’s career services office to discuss all your options. They may even have a career assessment that could help you get to know your interests, values, personality, and skills better so you can choose the best career for you.

Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Amanda! The only thing worries me is the corporate environment... That's why I've more interested in non money related section! Clear
Thank you comment icon What worries you about the corporate environment? Amanda Ware
Thank you comment icon Dear Amanda, I don't like rigid structure with a lot of details and routine. Flexibility and gregarious environment matter a lot to me! Clear
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Nancy’s Answer

Another master's degree to consider after your marketing degree is Public Health. Public health educators give healthy messages to people without diagnosing them, which I saw in your comments may not be your interest. They may work in health departments or hospitals, etc. and your marketing skills would fit right in! As a counselor myself, I found ways to not bring too much of my work home with me, but not everyone is cut out for that work. You have a lot to offer, keep doing your research!

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James’s Answer

The easiest way to make a determination would be to "audit a couple of counseling courses to see if the profession is your calling. I know for me that when I did this I was really hooked with the counseling class that teaches the various counseling methodologies. I was hooked, a decided to make it my career. Hope this helps!

Thank you comment icon Hi James, I did have counseling experience and unofficially "counseled" my friends' relationship. I do not know whether to be in future, but so far I am still learning to improve myself! Clear
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Rainie’s Answer

That's an awesome question, Clear. I feel I can relate - I am also lively, outgoing, love helping as many as I can. I went to college for Social Work however didn't finish. I know that I would have loved that profession - it would have been very rewarding. I know emotionally I would have been able to handle the cases, however I also know I would have devoted my whole life to it as well (seeing certain cases, you just want to go to the nth degree to help).
It sounds like you really invest yourself and your time in others, which is an amazing quality (keep that, the world needs more of that). However you just want to weigh the following questions: Would you devote your life to your case load? Would you want/make time for a family down the road? Would you bring work home with you?


Not knowing you personally, if your only worry is if you'll be able to handle the negative feelings, they do teach many coping techniques and stress reducers that work. Many workers in those fields see some of the most horrific situations, and sometimes you simply can't help as much as you'd like. I think you'd be able to handle the negative, I would more so ask how devoted do you think you'd become.


I found that, although my dream job would be in Social Work and related fields, I also want time with my family. I've found many other ways to be able to help people (maybe not on the level that social work demands), however you can help people daily. Don't let this stear you away from those fields! I always say why not try, you can always try something else! Success is feeling fullfilment.

Thank you comment icon Hi Rainie, thank you for sharing your personal experience. I totally agree with "success is feeling fulfillment." My fulfillment, probably yours too, is to be felt valuable. Free from pain and suffer, bring happiness... Thank you for helping me! Clear
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Esther’s Answer

Aloha Clear. I loved hearing about your passion for helping others. It sounds like you have overcome a lot of challenges in your life - great job! You have a big heart and wanting to help others improve their lives is a noble and important goal. =)


If going into counseling is your dream job, then go for it! When you study what you love, you will excel and do amazing things. Think about having a double major and studying both psychology & marketing at the same time. It may take a little longer to finish your studies but it will be worth it because you can use your marketing skills to promote your counseling services & reach more people.


When you have time check out marieforleo.com or her YouTube channel MarieTV. Marie is a life coach with great tips on following your passion.


Good luck in your studies and thank you for wanting to make a difference in the world. We really need it!

Thank you comment icon Thank you, Esther! The thing that you recommend Marie makes me think you are also a person who follows her heart! I really want to promote wellness instead of diagnosing their problems~ Clear
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James Constantine’s Answer

Embarking on a counseling career can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling journey, particularly if you harbor a sincere passion for helping others and positively influencing their lives. It's wonderful to know that your personal experience with mental health has sparked your interest in counseling. In this detailed response, we'll address your worries about managing negative emotions, your potential to assist others, and offer guidance on the various counseling paths you've considered.

First and foremost, it's crucial to understand that a career in mental health counseling or therapy can expose you to a variety of negative emotions and complex situations. Clients who seek counseling often grapple with issues such as depression, anxiety, trauma, and relationship difficulties. As a counselor, you'll receive training to professionally handle these emotions and situations. Counseling programs typically comprise coursework and supervised practical experiences that arm you with the necessary skills to effectively tackle these challenges.

It's completely normal to harbor concerns about your capacity to manage negative emotions, but remember, counselors aren't expected to resolve all their clients' problems or bear the brunt of their emotions entirely. Your role as a counselor is to provide support and guidance, creating a safe haven for clients to explore their thoughts and emotions. By employing active listening, empathy, and effective communication skills, you can assist clients in understanding their challenges and developing coping strategies.

Your vibrant and outgoing personality can actually serve as a strength in the counseling field. Your ability to deeply connect with people can cultivate trust and create a comfortable atmosphere for clients to express themselves. Moreover, your enthusiasm can inspire and motivate clients throughout their therapeutic journey. However, it's vital to uphold professional boundaries and ensure your personal emotions don't disrupt the therapeutic process.

In terms of assisting others, counselors play a pivotal role in promoting personal growth and positive change in their clients' lives. By offering support, guidance, and evidence-based interventions, you can empower individuals to surmount challenges, cultivate healthier coping mechanisms, and enhance their overall well-being. It's important to remember that counseling is a collaborative process, and clients must be willing and motivated to actively engage in their own growth.

Now, let's discuss the different counseling paths you've mentioned. Mental health counseling, family and relationship therapy, social work, and counseling psychology are all significant fields that focus on helping individuals, couples, families, and communities navigate various challenges.

1. Mental Health Counseling: This field centers on providing therapy and support to individuals grappling with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, trauma, or addiction. Mental health counselors operate in diverse settings, including private practice, community mental health centers, hospitals, and schools.

2. Family and Relationship Therapy: Family therapists collaborate with couples and families to resolve relationship issues, communication difficulties, and conflicts. They assist clients in enhancing their relationships and fostering healthier dynamics within the family unit. This field often involves working with diverse populations and addressing cultural factors that influence relationships.

3. Social Work: Social workers play a vital role in advocating for social justice and providing support to individuals and communities facing various challenges. They operate in a wide array of settings, including hospitals, schools, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Social workers may offer counseling services in conjunction with other forms of assistance like connecting clients with resources or advocating for policy changes.

If you're contemplating pursuing a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, it's important to understand that this path typically involves conducting research in addition to clinical practice. Counseling psychologists often work in academic settings or research institutions while also providing therapy to clients.

To gain more insight into your career goals and the specific requirements for each counseling path, it would be beneficial to connect with professionals currently working in these fields or academic advisors at your university. They can provide valuable insights into the daily responsibilities, educational requirements, licensure processes, and potential career opportunities in each area.

In conclusion, a counseling career can be a gratifying and impactful choice for someone with a sincere passion to help others. While it's natural to have concerns about managing negative emotions and your ability to make a difference, counseling programs are designed to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively navigate these challenges. Your outgoing personality and passion for connecting with people can be valuable assets in this field. Exploring different counseling paths such as mental health counseling, family and relationship therapy, social work, or counseling psychology can help you find the best fit for your interests and goals.

Top 3 Authoritative Reference Publications/Domain Names:
1. American Counseling Association (ACA) - www.counseling.org
2. National Association of Social Workers (NASW) - www.socialworkers.org
3. Psychology Today - www.psychologytoday.com
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