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Your Professional Development: Take Charge!

Launching or shifting focus in your profession means that you have to envision clearly where you want to be in your career as well as in your life. This desired goal needs to be well articulated in all its detail. Once this goal is clear then it is important to outline in the right order all the steps required to get there.

Too often in my profession, I meet counsellors & coaches who are struggling to make ends meet several years (and sometimes many years) post graduation. The issue for many is that they are grasping for work so that they can pay their bills. Many are working two, three and four part-time positions. Yes, this can be good experience for the new graduate until a new confidence emerges for her to plan and outline next career steps. Good busy is rewarding and it is a good tired at the end of the day. Chaotic busy is overwhelming and it can be a bad or frustrating tired at end of day.

Given that counsellors, therapists and coaches are in the helping profession, they are seen by many (their clients especially) as role models. If these helping professionals are in a chaotically busy or in an anxiously under-functioning state for too long, the cracks to the role model image appear.

In my coaching and professional development programs and online courses, I am in a privileged position of reviewing many resumes. What I have noted over the years among many helping professionals is that their investment in professional development is plentiful yet so disconnected. It is disconnected in that their professional development does not enhance their focus or their progress along a career path. For instance I have seen many counsellors list on their resume recent professional development such as: An Addiction Training course; Play Therapy; EMDR training; Narrative Therapy; Career Counselling etc. Each of these professional development courses on their own are excellent training courses, however the questions a professional needs to ask himself is “What are my clear career goals & will the investment in this training move me forward toward my goals?…If so, in what way?”

The question that I ask a professional after reading her resume and looking at current experience and current professional development is “How does this professional development relate to the work & to the career path that you are pursuing?” Sadly, as I stated earlier, many mental health professionals have no clear career path in mind.

Therefore what my clients often realize in the career coaching session is that the professional development was taken out of genuine interest. For other clients it was taken on impulse as a deadline was emerging and continuing educational units were needed to maintain their registration with their professional association. Whatever the reason, the professional development did not link with a targeted career path.

Being hungry for knowledge is a good thing. However when it comes to building your career path, make sure the professional development that you invest in will have the ROI,
Return on Investment, that you are looking for. In other words, that your professional development investment will give you over time the professional comforts and challenges along with the income that you desire.

I have taught many courses, in classrooms and online, over the years. One of my most popular courses is the Fundamentals & More of EAP / EFAP, for counsellors wanting to learn how to effectively do Employee Assistance Program work.

The field of EAP / EFAP attracts many counsellors for a variety of reasons. Reasons such as: it being a viable referral and revenue source; having the opportunity to work with functioning clients within brief session limits; being privy to the current issues and trends impacting society today; having the opportunity to work part-time or fulltime; having the ability to grow professionally within this specific field etc.

Should counsellors be interested in working more deeply in this field then selecting other courses or training that would benefit them to stretch professionally within the EAP field would serve them well. Courses such as: Conducting Clinical Assessments; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; Short-Term Counselling; Conflict Resolution.

Take charge of your professional development so that you are pursuing a career path that is a good fit for who you are as a professional. If stuck, seek out the coaching help needed so that you can move forward confidently to where you want to be. You have invested greatly in your choice of profession; take the steps necessary to make sure that your career is working right for you.

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Claire Sutton Concordia University Montreal, Quebec - Alumni

Concordia University Montreal, Quebec - Alumni

RCC BC Association of Clinical Counsellors memebr Claire Sutton

A designation of the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors

Claire Sutton EAPA International Member

EAPA International Member

Claire Sutton University of British Columbia - Alumni

University of British Columbia - Alumni

Canadian Employee Assistance Program Association

Canadian Employee Assistance Program Association