Working in mental health can be a complicated and varied career – however, for the right professional, it can provide invaluable opportunities to make a meaningful difference in the issues that many individuals face throughout their lives. With an estimated one in five Australians expected to go through a mental health crisis at some point in their lives, a career in mental health is both highly regarded and highly rewarding.

For those looking to undertake an online masters in clinical mental health counseling, knowing what sort of soft skills are desirable in a mental health career can be a powerful leg up when entering the industry. From being aware of your limitations to crucial skills such as active listening and empathy, let’s discover some of the characteristics that make someone well suited to a profession in mental health.

Being Aware of Your Limits

It’s important that as a mental health professional, you are aware of your limits. Mental health can be an incredibly complex field – and as a professional, you may sometimes be presented with cases where your ability to assist does not align with your capabilities.

It’s OK not to know all the answers – even the most experienced experts are sometimes unable to help clients. If you’re unsure, don’t wing it – refer on and be sure to engage with other mental health experts as required.

A Clear and Verbal Communicator

The issues that people experiencing mental health face can cover a variety of facets of a client’s life. For some, the issues may largely consist of components that affect an individual’s livelihood – and for others, a complex mental health issue may impact not only their own capability to make a living but also the lives of family and friends.

Discovering the mental health issues that someone is facing can be a lengthy and complicated process – however, as a mental health professional, you’ll hopefully have the skills on hand to identify solutions. Once identified, though – being able to communicate solutions clearly and efficiently can be a powerful tool to add to your clinical toolkit.

Being able to elicit a conversation about complex problems, while proposing a clear and concise path to the management of a mental health condition is a powerful soft skill to have. It’s very easy to write an essay, but much harder to speak volumes in only a few words.

Clear communication is vital for the most successful mental health professionals – and an invaluable skill for any professional to have in the workplace.

Having an Open Mind

Mental health often involves a complex range of different issues – with many unique and interesting stories for you to discover. Having an open mind to the range of issues that your clients can provide an opportunity to delve into the underlying issues that form conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Take, for example, the range of stresses that individuals may face on a day-to-day basis. Fundamentally, stress is different for everyone – and can present itself in a wide range of different ways. By being open to the ways that issues can be faced, you can potentially identify solutions that are tailor-made to address the stresses that your clients are facing.

Demonstrating Empathy As Required

Mental health professionals can encounter a wide range of distressing and traumatic conversations when on the job. From individuals dealing with cases of depression and self-harm to the feelings of loss that are felt with the loss of a relative or the end of a relationship, being able to empathize with a range of difficult experiences can be a powerful way to develop deeper connections with your clients.

Empathy is by no means an easy trait to pick up – for many, it can be difficult to try to understand how someone may be feeling. For the astute mental health professional, though, being able to demonstrate an understanding of the feelings of others can be an incredibly potent tool.

An Ability to Pursue a Range of Mental Health Careers

There is a wide range of mental health careers available – and as a mental health professional, you’ll rapidly find that there’s no single preferred career to progress in mental health. A crucial skill for professionals is having the capacity to reflect on the knowledge that they’ve acquired, and to find a role that helps them not only make the most of their qualifications but also test their skills in a range of scenarios.

Whether you’re interested in becoming a counselor that works with individuals impacted by substance abuse, as a financial counselor dealing with the mental stresses of debt, or as a clinical counselor, working in a hospital or clinical environment, there’s a professional pathway available if you’re passionate and willing to learn.

If you’re looking to pursue a career in mental health, don’t be afraid to explore a career as a counselor. As a rewarding career with a wide range of potential careers, you never know what you’ll discover.

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