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Professional Identity Paper

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What is professional identity? Is it the philosophies that a professional holds regarding their profession? Is it the roles and characteristics that are required in a listing of their job description? Or is it related to the resources available for a working professional to continually develop their skills within their profession? Professional identity is all of these things. According to Healy and Hays (2010): Professional identity is the result of a developmental process that facilitates individuals to reach an understanding of their profession in conjunction with their own self-concept, enabling them to articulate their role, philosophy, and approach to others within and outside of their chosen field (paragraph 1). As a professional-in-training develops and puts into practice the philosophies, roles, and characteristics of their profession, along with seeking out the opportunities and resources to progress the understanding of their career, an identity will emerge and grow. This identity will help to define them as a working professional.

Counseling philosophies guide the professional counselor to help his or her client make the best decisions in life. These philosophies can be termed as wellness, resilience, and prevention. According to Sweeney (2008, paragraph 3), “Professional counselors seek to encourage wellness, a positive state of well-being, through developmental, preventive, and wellness-enhancing interventions.” Resilience and development are very closely tied to each other because when an intervention is not working as planned, the counselor needs to be resilient with the client as well as seek out a new way of helping them grow toward physical, mental, and social wellness.

The philosophy of prevention in counseling is knowing when to intervene when the client is heading down a path that leads away from wellness. Counselors should constantly be aware of where their client is at in wellness terms, and ready to counsel their client in order to prevent them from making the wrong decisions. This is where the wellness model becomes very important to the counseling profession. The wellness model helps the counselor assess the wellness of the client, as well as point the counselor to certain behaviors and choices that can benefit the wellness of the patient in many of the areas listed in the model (Sweeney, 2008, paragraph 12). Counselors can also fit the concerns of the client into the different spheres of the wellness model, thereby giving them a frame to work from for specific counseling ideas.

The roles and characteristics of a professional counselor may vary by specialty, but they are still grounded in the philosophy of promoting wellness for clients. In school counseling, the counselor is the one who is actively listening and watching what is going on in the school. As House and Hayes (2002) put it: “An effective school counselor hears more, knows more, and understands more about teachers, parents, students, and the community than anyone else in the school.” Therefore, their role is not only to counsel the students who come to their office on their choices and behaviors, but also to be aware and somewhat knowledgeable of everyone they come in contact with during the course of their workday. Some obvious characteristics of a school counselor are communication, attentiveness, leadership, and community engagement.

Meanwhile, in rehabilitation counseling, the professional description has been narrowed and clarified to a clear focus: Rehabilitation counseling has been described as a process where the counselor works collaboratively with the client to understand existing problems, barriers and potentials in order to facilitate the client’s effective use of personal and environmental resources for career, personal, social and community adjustment following disability (Chan, Chronister, Catalana, Chase, Eun-Jeong, 2004). Due to the client’s nature involving a disability, a sure characteristic of a rehabilitation counselor is patience. This is also a general characteristic of many counseling professions, and especially so with rehabilitation because the body needs time to heal physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially. Other characteristics of a rehabilitation counselor include critical thinking, negotiation, and the ability to remain calm in order to generate conflict resolution (Chan et al., 2004).

There are many resources and organizations available for the professional development of counselors in all areas of specialization. The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) is a national organization that provides addiction counselors “…nationally-standardized certification, education, and clinical training to obtain the skills, qualifications, and experience that allow you to make progress in your career” (NAADAC, 2013). Their concern for professional development helps addiction counselors by giving them the tools to advance in their careers and continue to develop the personal skills necessary for working with clients struggling with drug, alcohol, and many other addictions.

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) is an international organization that offers “…a wealth of professional development opportunities, from its annual conference to its regularly scheduled webinars, from self-paced topic specialist training to one-day workshops” (ASCA, 2014). While both organizations offer education to the counseling professional, the ASCA offers webinars (web seminars), which is more suited to today’s technology driven generation. The ASCA also holds an annual conference in addition to their online forum groups, while the NAADAC only provides the counseling professional with an online professional network. However, both of these organizations are a great resource to anyone studying within their field.

In researching the licensure and certification requirements for the state of Washington, I learned that the program offered by Capella University to obtain a Master’s Degree in School Counseling is adequate for employment as a school counselor. Washington State requires that I need “…a master’s degree with a major in counseling…[completion of] a state-approved program for certification in the School Counselor role” (OSPI, 2014). I also need to pass the Praxis II specialty area test in guidance and counseling, but that comes after graduation. Interestingly, I learned that Washington is the only state in which county and school district determine the acceptance of an internship into a school setting, not the state. Still, my planned coursework lines up with the state requirements, so following an internship and graduation I will be hirable for the position of school counselor in Washington.

Professional development is the process of gaining abilities and knowledge for both personal and career growth. Some areas that I see myself currently developing professionally are through reading research articles regarding the roles and functions of school counselors and communicating regularly with an elementary school counselor in my school district. These areas are currently influencing me positively in the acquisition of knowledge, and in the future I will be able to put all of the knowledge into practice. In the near future I would like to find an opportunity to shadow a school counselor for a short time in order to see how they put their knowledge and skills into practice, as well as find others in my community who are pursuing a school counseling career to discuss future plans and also to have some professional contacts.

Considering the rise in modern society, technology will indisputably affect my clinical practice, assist me in creating innovative solutions, and optimize my performance. According to Goss and Anthony (2009), “Many of the uses of technology in counseling practice have been first requested, or enacted, by clients rather than practitioners…” (p. 225). Their research found that the clients are most likely to request new and innovative research methods, which means that I can only assume that I will have to update my practice often. However, sometimes it may be as simple as typing a few words into the Google search bar and reading a newly published article or experiment, since anyone can find anything on the Internet in modern society. In this way, in addition to the possibility of technology working against me, it is also on my side. The Internet can also help optimize my performance as a counselor through the viewing of free web videos on new methods or practices, and the simplicity of searching for and purchasing any articles, journals, or videos that have a price tag attached.

A professional identity will emerge and grow over time when the working professional puts knowledge into practice. All of the roles they assume, the characteristics that are both expected of them and that already define them, and the various ways they strive to develop professionally are part of the identity that will foster in the workplace. This identity is important to the way that others see them, and to the way they see themselves. My professional identity is not yet what I want it to be, but it is also not yet what I know it can be. I am a counselor-in-training.

American School Counselor Association (ASCA). (2014). Professional Development. Retrieved from http://schoolcounselor.org/ Chan, F., Chronister, J., Catalana, D., Chase, A., Eun-Jeong, L. (2004). Foundations of Rehabilitation Counseling. Directions of Rehabilitation Counseling, 15,1-11. Retrieved from https://wcmdemo7.sfsu.edu/sites/wcmdemo7.sfsu.edu.counseling/files/Foundations%20of%20Rehabilitation%20Counseling.pdf Goss, S., & Anthony, K. (2009). Developments in the Use of Technology in Counseling and Psychotherapy. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 37, 3, 223–230. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.library.capella.edu/ehost/detail?sid=14577397-2463-461c-9ad5-1c6e04d72a64%40sessionmgr111&vid=1&hid=103&bdata=JnNp dGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=ehh&AN=43388322 Healey, A. L., & Hays, D. G. (2010, June). Defining counseling professional identity from a gendered perspective: Role conflict and development. Manuscript submitted for review. Retrieved from ve.htm

House, R. M., & Hayes, R. L. (2002, April). School Counselors: Becoming Key Players in School Reform. Professional School Counseling, 5. Retrieved from http://www.biomedsearch.com/article/School-counselors-becoming-key-players/86059885.html Krauskopf, C. J., Thoreson, R. W., & McAleer, C. A. (1973). Counseling psychology: The who, what, and where of our profession. Journal Of Counseling Psychology, 20, 370-374. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.library.capella.edu/ehost/detail?vid=3&sid=5cf36666-0a56-4692-830c-748983002b6f%40sessionmgr4002&hid=4112&bdata=JnNpdG U9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#db=psyh&AN=1974-03246-001 NAADAC. (2013). Professional Development. Retrieved from OSPI, State of Washington. (2014). Certification To Apply for a Residency ESA Certificate. Retrieved from Sweeney, T. J. (2008). Wellness Counseling: The Evidence Base for Practice. Journal of

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