Like many careers in the health care field, the counseling profession strives to train capable, educated counselors to advance the profession while providing the best possible care to its patients. Setting professional goals as a counselor should enrich your professional training, strengthen your ethical disposition, and provide opportunities for you to support and give back to the counseling profession. Your professional goals guide your evolution as a practitioner from graduation throughout your career and even retirement.
Central to all areas of practice within the counseling profession is the concept of professional clinical supervision in a specialty field of practice. The National Board for Certified Counselors' code of ethics states that counselors should only treat individuals for whom they have been properly trained and supervised. While many counselors must seek professional supervision when earning state and national licenses and certifications, counselors are also recommended to seek supervision whenever working with a new population of patients. For example, a counselor who has focused her career working with severe mental illness should seek supervision when engaging college students in a career counseling setting.
While counselors may be able to find employment without board certification, many states and private institutions require national or state certification for counselors to gain employment. Becoming board certified identifies you as having met specific and stringent professional guidelines. National-board-certified counselors have successfully passed the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification while also maintaining continuing education training in areas such as counseling ethics, techniques and theories.
Whether you've graduated from your counseling program within the last 5 years or 5 months, the counseling profession continues to evolve every day. Most recently, the introduction of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has reminded all counselors that maintaining a continuity of care requires that counselors continue to grow and learn to be the best they can be.
Professional organizations such as the American Counseling Association, the American Psychological Association, and organizations headed by your specific profession or state can provide you with opportunities to gain new skills, reinvigorate your passion for the profession and network with other professionals. As you gain tenure in your field, involvement in professional organizations can provide you with the opportunity to influence your profession, guide new professionals and advocate for the importance of your profession.
- National Board for Certified Counselors: Code of Ethics
- Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs: Why Become a Professional Counselor
- Georgia Institute of Technology: Counseling Center Goals, Competencies, and Evaluations for Internship
- National Board for Certified Counselors: The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification
Anthony Oster is a licensed professional counselor who earned his Master of Science in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has served as a writer and lead video editor for a small, South Louisiana-based video production company since 2007. Oster is the co-owner of a professional photography business and advises the owner on hardware and software acquisitions for the company.