Friday, February 27, 2015

SAQ, Part 2: How To Be A "Real-World Authority"

Last week you may remember I wrote about the questions I thought that Beginning Counselors should be asking (SAQ) instead of the questions that are most frequently asked (FAQ.) While I don’t blame you – I certainly didn’t know I needed to ask these questions, I want you to thrive as a Beginning Counselor, not just survive.

This week’s “should-ask” question is “What do I need to do now to become a real-world authority on the needs of my clients?”

What do I mean by Real World Authority”? Well, fresh out of school, we know theory and academia inside and out. We don’t often know, though, what else is going on outside of this. In other words, we don’t know what is going on in the real world.

Our clients will turn to other people and resources outside of our services before coming to us. Sometimes, they will want to use those resources in conjunction with our services as well. If you don’t know what resources they are using, you are putting yourself and your clients at a major disadvantage.

If you don’t know what your clients are reading, who they’re listening to, and what else they’ve already tried to do to help their problem, then you don’t know:
  • What assumptions they’ve taken in about the way things are…some of which may be completely contrary to your methods of counseling or even established scientific facts.
  • What level of knowledge they already have about the subject at hand; they may be more advanced than you are expecting, or perhaps their knowledge is more basic than you've realized.
  • How you can develop the skills and techniques you offer them in contrast to those other resources that they are using, giving them a different value for their time and effort than what they’ve already experienced.
  • Whether you need to warn them about certain choices they are making. (Did you know that taking St. John’s Wort – a common ‘natural’ remedy for mild to moderate depression – in conjunction with other medications, such as birth control, can render them ineffective? That’s certainly valuable to be able to share that information with someone who doesn’t want to get pregnant!)
Every counselor needs to have a strong working knowledge of what resources are available to their clients to solve their problems in addition to their services as a counselor. Pop quiz: would you know what to say in response to any of the following questions?

If you don’t know what quality resources are out there to enhance your therapy work, then you risk:

  • Having both you and your client work harder than would be necessary if they took advantage of some of the other things that are out there for them.
  • Losing valuable talking points that can come from introducing another’s ideas into the therapeutic conversation.
  • Overlooking helpful homework assignments.
  • Providing care in a way you can’t on your own. (Therapeutic tools, alternative methods of healing, and so forth.)

It takes TIME to develop these knowledge bases, however. Which is why the perfect time to start for you is NOW. Here’s how you can start making that happen, today.

First, choose a general area to start researching. If you know who you want to work with specifically, you have a bit of a head start, because you can narrow down your research to that major area or topic. But if you’re not sure which group you want to work with, don’t despair.  You can still do your research, your topic will just be a bit broader.

Then, ask yourself two questions:
  1. How will they look for help?
  2. What will they not know to look for?
Discovering the answers to these questions and compiling a shortlist of recommended resources will be how you can become a real-world authority for your clients. As a result, you'll be a more informed  - and more effective counselor. 

I realize though, that this is easier said than done. Which is why I'm providing a little extra help. I've created a free 2-page worksheet for you that you can use to help you on your way to being a Real World Authority. Click here to instantly download.

Was this second SAQ helpful to you? Do you have any questions about becoming a Real World Authority? Post in the comment section below!