by Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST
You have seen several clients already, and it’s not even lunchtime yet. You have a few challenging clients before the end of the day, and you question if you are any good as a counselor. Do you worry that you don’t know everything about working with clients? Do you second guess if you have what it takes to work as a behavioral health provider until retirement?
You have completed several years of school, an internship, and countless hours with clients every week. However, you struggle with your confidence as a counselor. This is normal, and most providers experience this at different times during their career. Here are five reminders that you are a competent and skilled counselor. Keep these handy for those days when you think that you don’t have a clue what you are doing.
Stop thinking that you will know the right approach and intervention for every client you work with. You already know a vast amount of information. If you don’t understand an area or topic, you can always learn more about it. If you are unsure during a session, it’s okay to say this, and you can promise to follow up with them afterward. Clients often are grateful for your honesty and appreciate you keeping your promise of following up later.
There is a reason your clients decided to work with you and not someone else. They see your skills and how much you care about those you help. Think about it this way; you spend hours each week telling your clients to love themselves and improve their self-esteem. Take some of your advice and show yourself some love.
The behavioral health field provides incredible opportunities for live and online training on a variety of topics. Be sure to take advantage of any training opportunities that you have interest in. If there is a specific intervention or topic that you want to know more about, consider exploring it.
You didn’t force your client to work with you. They decided to choose you as a counselor. Let that sink in a moment. You were chosen by your client so you must be doing something right. If you need further proof that you are a good clinician remind yourself that they came to you for help. This means that they don’t know the answers themselves, and they value your clinical skills to help them.
You can’t save every client from themselves. You can’t make a client do anything they don’t want to. Keep your expectations of yourself in check. If you don’t, you will always struggle with self-doubt and disappointment. Your clients' struggle to reach their goals isn’t a reflection of your clinical skills. You can’t take it personally when your client makes a wrong decision or goes the opposite direction that they discussed in the session. Your client is a person that makes his/her own choices. You are not responsible for their decisions.
Many clinicians, especially those just starting out, doubt their clinical skills. This is normal and expected. The ability to work with more clients, have new clinical experiences, and continue to develop your counseling style will improve your confidence. If you have a difficult day or are not feeling very competent, review these five reminders to boost your confidence.