How to Set a Counselor's Professional Goals

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Setting goals can help counseling professionals choose a professional path that matches their values, strengths, weaknesses and personal interests. This careful planning can lead to greater career satisfaction and ensure that the counselor is a good fit for her job. Additionally, by establishing clearly defined goals, counselors can keep their career on track and "see forward movement in what might otherwise feel like a long, pointless grind," explains the Department of Human Resources at UC Berkeley. As such, setting professional goals can be a strong motivator.

  • Choose an area of practice. Counselors have a number of career paths available to them, including mental health counseling, career counseling, school counseling, substance abuse counseling and marriage and family therapy. Research your options and evaluate what path best fits your skills and interests, and use this as a cornerstone for your professional goals.

  • Research your state's education and licensing requirements. Each state establishes its own licensing requirements for counselors. Most areas of practice require a master's degree, and most also require supervised internship experience. As you set your professional goals, consider the time it will take to earn your degree and complete the licensing process.

  • Determine what type of setting fits your preferences. After you have determined a general path for your counseling career, consider what type of working environment you prefer, such as nonprofit organization, private clinic, public school or inpatient mental health facility. Brainstorm about potential internship and work sites based on these preferences.

  • Create a written professional development plan. This plan should include a listing of your professional strengths and preferences, as well as an outline of what you need to do to become a licensed counselor. Include anticipated time frames for completing each activity.

  • Explore continuing education opportunities. As a counselor, you will be required to take yearly continuing education courses to maintain your license. To make the most of these educational opportunities, consider courses that will help you gain expertise in your area of practice, such as specialized courses in behavioral therapies or classes that explain new testing methods. Revise your professional development plan to reflect these new opportunities.

  • Become involved with professional organizations. Organizations such as American Counseling Association, American Association of School Counselors and the Association for Addiction Professionals can help you develop a professional network, explore career opportunities and align yourself with people who can help your refine and work toward your goals.

Tips & Warnings

  • A professional career counselor can help you establish goals and a professional development plan.

References

  • Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
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