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The counseling profession has a few key philosophies: wellness, resilience, and prevention. Wellness is a positive state of psychical, mental, and social health or well-being. Resilience in counseling is the ability to recover, maintain, or achieve wellness. In therapy there is a focus on strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, prevention helps avoid serious mental illness from worsening and or happening. The wellness model allows counselors to view clients as a whole, evaluating their well-being based on the Wellness Wheel or The Invisible Self wellness models. These two models are the only counseling based models supported my empirical study.

This evaluation allows counselors to respond with treatment plans and interventions based on where the clients are lacking and emphasizing where the clients are strong. The wellness model is an important way for counselors to evaluate themselves. It is important that counselors treating patients are well and understand how to improve their wellness. A strong wellness based practice will determine a better professional counselor (Myers & Sweeney, 2008).

Defining counselors’ professional roles and characteristics remains ambiguous; counselors are often defining themselves in general or specific terms (Mellin, Hunt, & Nichols, 2011). One professional role within counseling is school counseling. This specialization requires a master degree in School Counseling, state certification and licensure, and must uphold the standards of the American School Counselor Association (Role, 2014). School counselors have a focus on students’ academic, career, personal, and social development (Brott, P. E., 2006).

They are an important part of school system with many different responsibilities such as creating school counseling programs, creating organizational assessment that reflect school’s needs, and providing direct services to students (Role, 2014). In any professional role, but especially for school counselors, accountability is essential (Brott, P. E., 2006). It is also crucial that school counselors are constantly seeking out supervision to evaluate their effectiveness (Brott, P. E., 2006). Another way to remain an effective school counselor is in continuous involvement in graduate programs (Brott, P. E., 2006).

Mental Health counselors are also more effective with continuous involvement in graduate education (Standards, 2011). Licensed Mental Health Counselors must have a masters degree in counseling or closely related field, two years post-graduate clinical work, and state or national Licensure (Facts, 2013). These professionals can provide a wide range of services such as assessment and diagnosis, psychotherapy, treatment planning, psychoeducational and prevention program, and crisis management (Facts, 2013).

All counselors should be supportive listeners, patient, compassionate, non-judgmental, and so fourth (Wampold, B., 2014). In addition, Wampold concluded that individuals with certain interpersonal skills – verbal fluency, interpersonal perception, affective modulation and expressiveness, warmth and acceptance, empathy, and focus on others – make for effective counselors (2014). Clients should feel understood. It is the therapists’ job to build a working alliance with all various clients. Effective therapists provide appropriate and adaptive explanations, treatment plans, and a safe environment for clients (Wampold, B., 2014). Education is also key to effective counseling. An effective counselor is aware of the best research evidence related to treatment plans and seeks to continually improve (Wampold, B., 2014).

Professional counseling associations intend to help the counseling profession improve. The American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) and the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC) are examples of these associations. The AMHCA is attempting to give a voice to the counseling profession. It is a resource that helps counselors develop their careers and save on expenses. Nationally, the AMHCA wants to help mental health counselors be recognized in the healthcare field while expanding professional knowledge to help serve (About AMHCA, 2014). On a smaller scale, the ACAC is trying to promote the counseling of children and adolescents from birth to 18 years of age (About: What is ACAC, 2014).

The Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC) is a division of the worlds largest association representing professional counselors, the American Counseling Association. The ACAC looks to a supportive and informative network for counselors who work with children and adolescence. Similarly to the American Mental Health Counselors Association, the ACAC wants to bring together counselors to promote awareness, advocacy, and understanding. With goals focused on children and adolescents, the ACAC aims to develop appropriate prevention and intervention strategies, provided professional developmental activities, and help effectively serve children and adolescents. Unlike other associations the ACAC is bringing together a network for counselors who work with children and young adults (About: What is ACAC, 2014).

While these associations have differences, they have the same general focus: counseling, creating community, promoting the field, spreading awareness, and networking with other professional counselors to share ideas and enhance the profession of counseling. Professional development is a never-ending process. During this process, counselors gain awareness and in turn are more effective and experience greater reward (Moss, Gibson, & Dollarhide, 2014). The Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling and the American Mental Health Counselor Association provide current and relevant information for professionals in the counseling field as well as students aiming to obtain their license.

A Licensed Mental Health Counselor must obtain a masters degree in counseling or related field. After graduation 2 years of post-masters clinical work under the supervision of a licensed or certified Mental Health professional is required. To obtain the licensure, the individual must past a licensure exam on the state or national level (Facts, 2013). Pennsylvania’s requirements align with Capella’s Mental Health Counseling program; in fact Capella’s education requirements for graduation exceed Pennsylvania’s requirements. (Chapter 49, 2014). After 100 hours of
supervised practicum experience followed my 600 hours of supervised internship experience, I will take a prerequisite exam for the licensure test in Pennsylvania. After passing one of these tests, I will complete the licensure exam and be reviewed before obtaining my License (Chapter 49, 2014). I will continue as a Licensed Professional Counselor, and build my professional identity through practice and continuous learning.

Professional development is a constant enrichment of ones potential professional identity. Professional Development is found within ones education and training. A counseling student is better prepared to serve clients if he or she concentrates on the experiences and challenges faced during training (Grafanaki, S., 2010). When assessing my own professional development I would first focus on my education. The knowledge I am gaining is one aspect, but also how I manage my time and focus my energy foreshadows how I will perform as a counselor. I want to learn all I can and take advantage of what is provided to me.

These habits will continue; as a counselor I will continually try to better my knowledge and myself. When it comes time for clinical work I will pay attention to the experience. This experience will help me define my strengths and weaknesses, point me in a specific direction, and round me as a future Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Another key area I will focus on is my personal development. In order to be an effective counselor I have to be aware of what is happening with me developmentally. My wellness needs evaluated and will be continuously evaluated for the sake of my clients. These fundamental parts of becoming a counselor impact who I am and who I will be as a professional. These areas have already begun to shape the Licensed Mental health Counselor in me.

Part of being an efficient counselor is staying current with what works. Technology’s place in society is undoubtedly on the rise and mental health professionals have noticed (Richards, D., 2009). The younger generations have grown up surrounded by technology it is in almost every aspect of their lives. The older generations however were around before the great rise of technology, making it a difficult transition. There will continue to be some resistance with technology until it becomes equally familiar to all (Gross & Anthony, 2009). Technology may also always provide some challenges with its rapidly advancing machinery. If and technology becomes an essential part of counseling, practicing counselors will have to spend more time learning and relearning the new advances (Gross & Anthony, 2009). There may also be challenges in handling and protecting therapeutic records. While there are still challenges with technology, it will be a part of many practices.

The use of technology in counseling is not limited. Technology can be used to make assessments, organize treatment plans, and even help complete counseling sessions. A small number of empirical studies mostly conclude positive results of online counseling (Richards, D., 2009). While you may lose social signals, you gain distance and anonymity with certain online counseling services that help clients open up (Richards, D., 2009). Online services also allow for more flexible services that can provide needed aide (Richards, D., 2009). Mental Health Counselors work with a diverse range of clients and illness.

If the counselor has to be away from the office technology allows the client and counselors to stay connected. This may be significant for certain clients’ treatment. There is also a virtual reality (Gross & Anthony, 2009) with online games that may be an innovative way to watch how clients interact outside of the office. Using virtual reality during sessions may provide the counselors with a better understanding or a new perspective on the clients’ mental standing. With the possibility technology provides, it could be a factor for the profession identity of all professional counselors.

About AMHCA. (2014). Retrieved September 17, 2014, from http://www.amhca.org/about/default.aspx About: What is ACAC. (2014, January 1). Retrieved September 17, 2014, from http://acachild.com/?page_id=6 Brott, P. E. (2006). Counselor Education Accountability: Training the Effective Professional School Counselor. Professional School Counseling, 10(2), 179-188. Chapter 49. state board of social workers, marriage and family therapist and professional counselors — licensure of professional counselors. (2014, July 5). In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Retrieved September 16, 2014, from Fry Communications, Inc. website:
http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/049/chapter49/chap49toc.html Facts About Clinical Mental Health Counselors. (2013, January 1). Retrieved September 19, 2014, from http://www.amhca.org/about/facts.aspx Grafanaki, S. (2010). GUEST EDITORIAL: ‘Counsellors in training’: Journeys of professional transformation. Counselling & Psychotherapy Research, 10(3), 152. doi:10.1080/14733145.2010.507003 Goss, S. S., & Anthony, K. K. (2009). Developments in the use of technology in counselling and psychotherapy. British Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 37(3), 223-230. doi:10.1080/03069880902956967 Mellin, E. A., Hunt, B., & Nichols, L. M. (2011). Counselor professional identity: Findings and implications for counseling and interprofessional collaboration. Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, 89(2), 140-147. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/858390612?accountid=27965 Moss, J. M., Gibson, D. M., & Dollarhide, C. T. (2014). Professional Identity Development: A Grounded Theory of Transformational Tasks of Counselors. Journal Of Counseling & Development, 92(1), 3-12. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.2014.00124.x Myers, J. E., & Sweeney, T. J. (2008). Wellness counseling: The evidence base for practice. Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, 86(4), 482-493. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/219029297?accountid=27965 Richards, D. (2009). Features and benefits of online counselling: Trinity College online mental health community. British Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 37(3), 231-242. doi:10.1080/03069880902956975 Role of the School Counselor. (2014). Retrieved September 19, 2014, from http://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/home/RoleStatement.pdf Standards for the Practice of Clinical Mental Health Counseling. (2011, January 1). Retrieved September 17, 2014, from http://www.amhca.org/assets/content/AMHCA_Standards_1-26-2012.pdf Wampold, B. (2014, January 1). Qualities and Actions of Effective Therapists. Retrieved September 16, 2014, from https://www.apa.org/education/ce/effective-therapists.pdf

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