Three Things I Learned in My First Semester as Counseling Master’s Student

bigstock-Helpful-Tips-41784436By Christie Hyland — The fall 2013 semester was my first in the counseling program at Marquette.

With my background in psychology, I began class in August feeling prepared. After my first week of class, it was apparent that I still had so much to learn about counseling.

Here are just a few of the important things I learned in my first semester.

Counselors work in many different settings and fulfill many different roles.
Counselors work with people of all ages, individually or in groups. They see clients in community agencies, hospitals, schools, and universities. Their clients may be working through a difficult transition in their life, or may be dealing with depression. The roles of a counselor can include therapist, group leader, assessor, and consultant, to name just a few. As a counselor, I can look forward to potential variety in my day-to-day work.

Your cohort is a wonderful thing.
Having a group of 30 students going through the same courses and learning experiences as you is a powerful thing. While the grad school experience can be an isolating one from your family and friends, your cohort has a deeper understanding of your struggles and triumphs, and are a great source of support.

You can’t be a perfect counselor all of the time.
Counselors can be influential and powerful people in the eyes of their clients. With such influence comes a sort of anxiety that I may “mess up” during a session and subsequently harm my client. However, my professors have calmed this fear that myself and my classmates share. We all have our unique characteristics that we bring into a session – our strengths (skills and training), weaknesses (biases and prejudices), our current life situations, and expectations of the counseling session, to name a few. As a counselor, it is important to limit those outside influences as much as possible, and to be open-minded and present with your client.

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