Completing your online masters in counseling from a reputed university is probably one of the best decisions that you can take if you are already an undergrad in the field. However, what if you do not want to join a school or treatment facility? What if the jobs that are coming your way are not exactly what you want from your career? In that case, you need to start your own counseling business. It will be scary in the beginning and it’s perfectly natural to be afraid of taking that plunge into solo practice, but it’s a risk worth taking. In order to help you understand what you are getting into and prepare you for a few things in advance, the following points should be useful.
The Office Space
It’s cheaper to just rent an office by the hour, but there are caveats to that strategy. As long as you are there by the hour, chances are that another professional is waiting for you to finish your session so that he/she can begin his/her own. If you can afford it, rent it full-time or buy a cheap office as soon as you can.
The Right Client
Once have completed your online counseling degree, you will be trained and equipped to deal with different types of clients, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to see everyone! Keep the following points in mind while choosing your clientele.
- You are not obligated to see everyone
- If a particular client is more trouble than you can handle at the moment, you should refer him/her to someone else
- The number of clients you are seeing should never exceed your estimated capacity at any time
- If a client makes you particularly uncomfortable, it is time to stop seeing him/her
This is more of an extension of the last point because the safety of a counselor should be his/her first priority in any given situation. You can ensure that safety by following certain rules, as mentioned below
- If you are a woman, do not meet male clients in secluded offices with no one around to help you, should you need it
- Irrespective of your gender, having some means of protection like a pepper spray or otherwise with you is a good idea
- Do not let go of the authority that you inherently have over the situation
Do Not Get Personally Involved
It’s hard to explain how you can stop yourself from being personally involved when someone is bearing himself/herself in front of you and expects you to help them. The simplest way to put it in a sentence would be that you are there to help them solve their own problems and in order to do that, you cannot let their problems become your own. Not only is it unhealthy and unprofessional, but you will also not be able to help other clients if you are too involved with just one or two.
The business of counseling is not like the office of a lawyer; it requires dealing with complex human emotions and that’s always going to be unpredictable. Nevertheless, what you read here should help you to be prepared for at least some of what’s to come, especially if you are starting a practice of your own.