Most mental health counselors will tell you they encounter clients looking to improve their outlook toward life. Although their most immediate issue may be trying to kick an addiction or coping with difficult work or life circumstances, most want to experience breakthroughs through counseling and therapy to gain self-awareness, empathy, positive habits, and more insights into themselves.
Personality development is an important area of mental health counseling, but what is it, and why do so many people aim for it? Simply put, it is developing or enhancing one’s personality to gain self-esteem, enjoy better relationships, eliminate anxiety and stress and have a different outlook on daily events. It is a life-long process.
In the course of a lifetime, people go through many social and emotional changes and behaviors that may have seemed completely normal in the past look alien in hindsight. Someone may be quite shy in the formative years; they lack confidence as a child and do not stand up for themselves, speak to strangers, or even interact with others much. As they transform into teenagers and young adults, they may become conscious of their shyness and learn ways to become more confident. Later in life, they may decide to step into the spotlight, becoming politicians, great teachers, or whatever other career they choose that puts them out there.
Mental health counselors need to understand the value of personality development because it is one of the things that their clients will be seeking. Most counseling courses touch on personality development in one way or another.
Courses provided at institutions such as the American International College offer the opportunity to study online in order to balance education around other work or commitments their students might have. Those who enroll for an online doctorate in counseling cover topics like racial, multicultural and social bases of behavior, substance abuse disorders and addiction counseling, and psychopathology assessment, diagnosis and treatment. Students also learn studies in human lifespan development, which covers personality development. They are taught about developmental needs at different stages in life and real-life developmental issues.
As a mental health counselor, you should understand the value of this type of development and how you can incorporate it into your clients’ treatment plans.
Why counseling and personality development go hand in hand
Counseling is all about teaching individuals how to see their lives from a different perspective. Whatever issues they face in life, they have sought the help of a counselor because they feel that they can do better or, at the very least, change their circumstances by changing their attitudes.
Professional counselors understand that one of the best ways to help clients is to talk to them about personality development.
Is there something that they feel they can change in their lives? If they changed their habits, for example, would they have a different attitude? What can they do differently that would help them grow?
A good example of this is people who have anger management issues. Together with the counselor, they explore the root cause of their anger, and they may even talk about the physiological changes they experience when losing control.
By understanding the root causes of their anger reaction, clients can work to develop strategies to cope with it and avoid angry outbursts in the future. There are many coping mechanisms that the counselor can introduce them to, and if they use them as prescribed, they should start to see their anger come under control.
The client can start by making small changes and, over time, if they are happy with their progress, can use additional strategies that help control their anger reactions and how they view things that would otherwise make them feel angry. Every time a counselor meets with a client to talk about how they can become better in their everyday lives.
Indeed, it is the pride of every mental health counselor to see their clients have the personal breakthroughs that they seek in their lives. It is a sign that they are working towards the milestones the counselor has put down in their treatment plans.
Common areas of personality development for mental health counselors
- Self-awareness – the above is a good example, but others include depression and anxiety.
- Career – many people want to have careers that make them feel fulfilled and challenged at the same time.
- Personal relationships – whether with one’s parents, siblings, spouse, partner or children- often visit counselors because they are unhappy.
- Self-esteem and self-confidence is one of the most common reasons that people seek out mental health counselors; they want to feel better about who they are and project a more confident image to those around them.
- Health and wellness – as people become more aware of the importance of eating right and exercising, they seek mental health counselors to change their habits towards food and exercise.
How easy is it for counselors to aid with personality development?
It depends on the individual, what they want to change, and even how long they have had the problem. Some people might find it harder to acknowledge problematic behavior than others because they could be entrenched in denial.
Someone who has led a long and angry life will take longer to change their perspective and personality than another who is experiencing momentary anger triggered by a recent event.
Mental health counselors examine each case to determine what plan is needed to see lasting change.
They talk to their clients about where they are, where they would like to be, and what their overall life goals are, and based on that, they prepare counseling sessions tailored to the client’s particular needs, desires and goals.
Personal development is the whole point of mental health counseling, and aspiring counselors must understand its role in their clients’ wellness. They should strive to help all who come to them get out of their present problem and become better people in the process.