A guidance counselor is one who emphatically listens and helps people solve their problems socially, academically and emotionally. Their role is to work with both students and parents to help guide students’ academic, behavioural and social growth. It is important for each guidance counselor to have certain academic qualifications, but this is not actually enough. An effective guidance counselor has a variety of specific personal qualities that allows him to do his best in helping others. To be an effective guidance counselor one must be attentive. In doing so, one will listen keenly to what is being said and also observe the non-verbal behaviours and manners to address internalized thoughts and feelings, such as abuse at home. According to B.F. Skinner, a famous behaviourist, he reasoned that we should focus on observable behavior and not only the internal state. In some cases, clients might be unable to share certain problem verbally, but if being observed carefully, an effective counselor should be able to identify that there is a problem. Secondly, effective counselors are trustworthy and confidential. When talking to others about their problems, they need to be secure in the knowledge that you are not going to broadcast their personal details.
If they cannot trust you, they will be reluctant to talk to you, which will make it harder for you to help them, as Fong and Cox note; many clients test the trustworthiness of the counselor, deprecating themselves or questioning the motives and dedication the counselor. As a counselor, one should be able to “keep a secret” or as the proverb says “don’t let the cat out of the bag.” Counsellor must be confidential in order for clients to confide in them and reveal their personal life issues to them. It is also important to be self-aware and culturally aware to be an effective counselor. All our feelings and thoughts influence the way we handle certain things in the counseling relationship (Comier). You must be fully aware of your values, needs and biases prior to a counseling session. Self aware counselors are less likely to allow their biases to influence the counseling process. Counsellors need to be cognizant of the similarities and differences between individuals of different cultural backgrounds and how these factors may influence values, perspectives and actions. Effective counselors can avoid common counseling mistakes that hinder the counseling process through awareness. Common errors made by counselors when conducting sessions are: personal bias, rash judgment, losing emotional control, inflexible counseling methods and improper follow-up.
Effective guidance counselors should be flexible; they are not tied to single method of work. In this, he or she should be able to choose a method that will work for each individual based on the purpose of the counseling and the character of the person. As an effective counselor one will realize that a single counseling style will not apply universally to all situations with the same effectiveness. I have had an experience with a grade three class at the institution I presently assist; there were some students disrupting the class and I gave them lines to write, this was something they were accustomed to therefore it did not work for me. I therefore had to plan other strategies to deal with the class; before the day ends I had them under my control. Counselling requires having adequate knowledge of many different areas. This involves searching for data to make informed decisions about choice of plan and progress of a student. An effective counselor should be intellectual competent, since one of their roles is to help students make decisions that will affect their future. This means a guidance counselor needs to have firm knowledge base so he or she has the information needed to adequately inform clients.
Effective counselors are able to put themselves in other person’s shoe; that is, being able to understand what the individual is going through. They should be able to show their client that they understand his or her situation and that they will do everything they can to help. A lack of empathy will keep guidance counselors from gaining their students’ trust, and also hinders their ability to devise reasonable solutions for their problems. Another quality of an effective counselor is that he or she needs to be energetic, since counseling is emotionally demanding. Dealing with the many problems will cause the counselor to feel emotionally drained and physically fatigued. An effective counselor should be there to offer support to his or her client. This will give the client a feeling that someone is there who respects him or her. Mutual respect improves the chances of changing or maintaining behavior and achieving outlined goals. There was a little boy at the school named Sanjay; he would wander around the school throughout the day. I realized that he had challenges; hence I took him to the resource room, where I work.
We had many conversations; through them I was able to understand him better. He wanted to know someone was there to listen to him. We then develop a bond, through which I gained personal information from him. It can therefore be concluded that guidance counselors play a vital role in people’s lives, emotionally, socially and academically. We can also understand that it takes specific qualities to work effectively. An effective guidance counselor should be trustworthy, confidential, energetic, understanding among others. It is therefore important for perspective guidance counselors to be fully equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to be an effective counselor .
Articles from Britannica encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Guidance and Counselling, Indore Madhukar.
Ponton, L. (2012). Characteristics of Effective Counseling. Psych Central.