How to Find and Choose a Career Counselor

While most Americans spend one-third of their lives at work, only 52.3% of them report satisfaction with their work-life, according to a 2014 survey. Job stress affects the quality of our life and our mental health, and chronic stress may lead to mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Consequently, finding a fulfilling career is considered an essential component of mental well-being.

Career counseling helps people change, choose, or leave a career. Choosing a career is one of the most critical decisions of adulthood—and starting a new job can be stressful, especially when economic difficulties such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are a factor.

Whether you’re deciding on a college major, facing burnout at your current job, or feel like you’re in the wrong industry, career counseling can help you explore new opportunities and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to make future decisions. Together with your career coach, you’ll work to discover which career paths are the best fit for you by assessing your interests, values, aptitudes, and personality type.

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What do career counselors do?

Career counselors provide a wide array of career counseling services. Whether you’re looking for help navigating the job search process or exploring new opportunities, career counseling sessions can provide guidance and clarity.

Some career counseling services include:

  • Helping clients assess career goals, values, interests, and skills; exploring new opportunities; networking with potential employers; and establishing a healthy balance between personal life and professional life.
  • Using tools, including assessment exercises, personality tests, and interviews to identify the best fit.
  • Helping clients identify and apply for new jobs; implementing new job search strategies.
  • Helping clients overcome obstacles to achieving career goals and coaching clients to find career success.
  • Making referrals to a psychologist or therapist if clients face career-related burnout, struggle with interpersonal issues, or experience other career issues.

Career counseling can help you better understand who you are and the factors that influence your career decisions. However, it’s important to remember that counselors will not tell you what to do, what job to take, or which career path to pursue.

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Who can benefit from career counseling?

Career development is a lifelong process, and career counseling can benefit people at any point in their careers.

For example, if you’ve been job searching for a few months without any luck, a career counselor can help you navigate the job search. Maybe you’ve been applying to the wrong jobs or taking the wrong approach—but if you’ve started to lose hope in your job search, your career coach can help you design an action plan to tackle your career goals, make the necessary adjustments, and take the next step. And if working with a professional enables you to find a new job sooner than later, their fee will be well worth the cost.

Working with a career counselor can be especially beneficial if you can’t pinpoint why you’re dissatisfied at work. A career therapist won’t just glance at your résume and recommend a career path based on your skills and past job experience. Instead, the therapist will work with you to identify the source of your dissatisfaction—and help you avoid repeating it at your next job.

Career counseling can also be beneficial for:

  • Students deciding on a college major
  • Recent college graduates
  • Anyone returning to the workforce after an extended time
  • Anyone who feels unhappy at their current job and wants a career change
  • Prospective entrepreneurs and small business owners

What should you expect during a career counseling session?

During early sessions, career counselors typically start with personality assessments, interest inventories, and aptitude tests to assess your skills, interests, personality type, and strengths. These tests might include ones like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Next, your career counselor will gather information from your assessments and ask a series of questions to determine your best job matches. 

Whether you’re choosing a new career or trying to grow in your current position, some examples of themes your therapist may explore include:

  • What do you do in your free time?
  • What are your qualifications? (e.g., degrees, educational background, previous job experience, certificates)
  • What are your values?
  • What are your most prominent skills, and what do you want to build on?
  • Do you prefer traveling or working close to home?
  • Do you work better alone or with other people?
  • Is it more important to you to help others or to make money?
  • Would you rather work in a relaxed or competitive environment?

Finding a Career Counselor

There are multiple ways to find a professional to help you achieve your career goals. If you’re not sure where to start, some ways to locate a counselor include:

  • Asking for recommendations from friends, family members, coworkers, and other trusted professionals.
  • Contacting your university’s career center if you’re in college or an alum to ask if they provide career counseling services. Many offices offer counseling services for alum or may charge lower fees than private counselors. They also may be able to give referrals.
  • Reaching out to a local university career office to ask for a referral. The university may also be able to provide a list of local counselors.
  • Using the National Board of Certified Counselors (NCBCC)’s counselor locator to search for professionals in your area.
  • Using an online platform like the Therapy Group of NYC. The Therapy Group of NYC provides personalized access to online counseling services to residents of New York City and surrounding areas through HIPAA-compliant, secure systems.

Choosing the Right Career Counselor

Choosing a career counselor is like choosing a doctor or psychotherapist—you don’t want to end up with the wrong one. Consequently, before committing to a career counselor or executive coach, it’s essential to do your homework and take the time to check their credentials, references, and qualifications. Additionally, make sure to have a conversation about your career goals to ensure you’re both on the same page.

To narrow down your search and find the right career counselor, make sure to:

  • Consider your personal preferences and requirements. According to the American Psychological Association, choosing a professional with a shared aspect of your identities—such as gender, race, or sexual orientation—can strengthen your relationship and ultimately lead to better outcomes.
  • Consider your budget. Avoid counselors who offer expensive packages of counseling sessions and assessments. Instead, opt for professionals who charge per session. 

Final Thoughts

Career development is much more than choosing your next job—it’s a lifelong process, according to the NCDA. As you progress in your career, your goals will change, and you’ll face significant decisions. Counseling can not only help you make important decisions now, but it can help you learn the skills you’ll need to make future career and life decisions.

When you’re ready to start your search, reach out to a counselor through the Therapy Group of NYC. Whether you’re interested in career advancement, undergoing a career transition, or struggling to find a new job in the age of COVID-19, one of the licensed psychologists at the Therapy Group of NYC will help you understand your strengths, develop a career plan, and find fulfillment in your new career.

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