Post # 1
I’ve been thinking about going to graduate school for my MSCP (Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology). At the completion of the program, I’d be eligible to sit the licensing exam to become a licensed professional counselor.
I have a BS in psych, and counseling is the only thing I’ve ever really pictured myself doing. I’ve always been a good listener and am the go-to person whenever my family/friends are having problems they need to talk about.
While I was completing my undergrad, I took a psychotherapy course, and part of our curriculum included a few weeks of “practicing” counseling techniques on each other. I am a super-shy and kind of socially awkward person, and I did terribly. I completely froze up and couldn’t communicate at all with the people in my group. I think it was the fact that they were total strangers to me, and I was incredibly nervous about practicing with them because I didn’t know them. It has always been easy with family and friends because they are people I know, and it is easy to talk to them. But, apparently, it’s not something I do easily with strangers.
So, I was wondering if any bees working as counselors or in similar areas had any sort of input on this. Do you learn these techniques – how to talk to clients/patients – in class? Or is this an ability you have to have naturally to succeed in the field? I have no idea what else I would do with my life. Like I said, this is the only thing I’ve ever pictured myself doing. I don’t want my social awkwardness to get in the way!
Thanks for your help, bees!
Post # 3
I’m not a counselor but I just wanted to reassure you that this is absolutely something you can overcome! Sure having a natural rapport with people helps, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying you are doomed as a counselor if you’re not a bubbly extrovert.
Many people are shy with strangers. The key is not thinking of strangers as scary and suspicious people, but as friends you don’t know yet. Ask them questions about their lives, try to find a common connection.
I would be surprised if your counseling program didn’t offer classes on client-therapist interactions. Talk to your professors and get their advice, they will be able to point you towards resources. If they don’t, there are many courses out there for overcoming shyness.
Please don’t let this stop you from achieving your dreams. I wish you the best of luck.
Post # 4
@gnarlygnome: Thanks for the reassurance 🙂 I never thought of searching for classes to overcome shyness. What a good idea!
Post # 5
While obviously my career choice is different than yours, I’ve still had my fair share of people spill their heart out to me while at work. Even in my typical day to day work life, it is vital that I am able to provide therapuetic communication to my patients. I can honestly say that I’m a fairly socially awkward individual, but while at work I still manage to make a bomb ass nurse. I would personally recommend getting a job where you at least have to socially interact with others on a professional level so you at least become comfortable with patient/professional relationships. While in high school and in college I worked as a CNA and I can honestly say that if I hadn’t done that I would not have been as sure in my career choice and probably would have struggled a lot more with clinical and entering the work force. What type of job do you have now?
Post # 6
Do you have experience in a counseling/social services type setting? I want to go back for counseling soon, too, and when I first started working at my job, I was scared to death of talking to strangers about their issues.
However, after about a year of low-pressure experience, I gained the confidence I need. You just need a little practice! What about volunteering in a counseling type setting, such as homeless center, etc and that would force you to talk to strangers while providing a service? Could be a start!
As mentioned above, dont let this get in the way of what you want to do!
Post # 7
I would also think that when your interactions are part of a graded class, you are going to feel way more uncomfortable and freeze up! Don’t let that negative experience get you down.
Post # 8
I’m in clinical psych and we have all kinds of people in our program, and they’re taught how to appropriate act to people in clinical situations – I’m sure it’s something you’d learn in class. Think of it as exposure when you start having to meet with real patients!
Ironically, I have the opposite problem – I have a good natural rapport with people, even strangers, if we are just chatting, but when I have to follow a therapy outline I feel awkward about it lol.
Post # 9
Don’t let this discourage you!! I’m about to finish up my MA in Social Work (very similar coursework to counseling psych). I am also incredibly shy and awkward in social situations.
#1 You WILL learn these skills. In fact, I had a class just called “skills” and it was pretty much 10 straight weeks of practicing these types of interactions. As you go through your studies, you will build upon what you’ve learned until you feel comfortable with it.
#2 You will probably have to do a lot of role plays. I had an entire class last quarter that was 3 hours of role playing once a week. And you know what? Being bad at role playing does NOT mean you’ll be bad in a real situation. I am pretty bad at it–I’ve improved over time, of course–but I’m just really shy so I get shaky/sweaty palms when I’m being watched by classmates. But I’m not bad at counseling in real life. When you’re one-on-one with a client, it’s so different. You don’t feel like your ‘skills’ are being judged, you’re just having a conversation.
#3 I was so nervous the first time I sat down with a real client. I was out of breath…so embarassing! But in the end, my client was nervous too! She was way too wrapped up in her own nerves to be judging mine. And she ended up being a long term client and I learned so much. Now I’m not scared at all when I have to be with clients one on one…in fact, I love it.
You will learn these things. You won’t be thrown into it either. In these kinds of fields, you’re eased in with a ton of prep. There are times when you have to push yourself past those boundaries of fear and shyness, but you will be able to do it if it’s a passion of yours.
Go for it!! 🙂