The Counselor Professional Identity
The article and podcast are focused on one common theme – the professional identity of the consultant. The report by Burns and Cruikshanks investigated the self-esteem of independently licensed consultants who performed rather poorly using the formula and sub-formula method in identifying their professional communication skills and roles (2017). The authors propose a model for creating this identity for the well-being of the consultant, fair pay, and understanding and ethical behavior. The model involves seven steps to create a one-minute oral presentation of yourself as a consultant. By following these steps, it is possible to convey even to the general public the main advantages of your profession.
In the podcast, Dr. Karl Sheperis talks a little about himself, how and why he became a consultant and then discusses issues of professional identity, the 20/20 program, and the international nature of the profession. The doctor also addresses the issue of involvement, identifying it as a critical factor in determining identity. The discussion revolves around the prominent figures in the field and the components of the profession (Shook, 2017). One of the consultant’s goals is to uncover well-being through the intelligent application of client empowerment. The variety of points of view and progressive development, which, according to the doctor, should not be limited to 2020, are indisputable advantages and determinants of progress in this area.
For more than four decades, there have been many discussions about the professional identity of consultants, various theories and attempts to solve this problem have been created. The difficulty of defining professional identification has multiple negative consequences that affect both the career and the mental health of workers in this field. The social problems that can arise in this regard, as a rule, reflect the inability of specialists to explain to others their professional significance consistently. This paper raises this problem, examines the importance of professional identity, its components, and current issues, as well as strategies for overcoming them. The international nature of the situation meets the current trends in tolerance and multiculturalism.
Importance and Problems
The importance of professional identity lies in the cons of not understanding it. First, parity in hiring is not maintained if the applicant cannot confidently explain his professional role, strengths, and reasons why the employer should hire this particular candidate. Secondly, the recognition of the US market is dubious, which leads to a total misunderstanding of the basic mechanisms of consulting and methods for determining a truly competent specialist. Third, as a result, the independent license loses its validity and is not an advantage over other third-party consultants (Burns & Cruikshanks, 2017). These problems of defining a professional role drive it into a causal circle, which is possible only through research, development of methods, and integration.
The very professional identity implies the presence of a particular philosophy that determines the consultant’s behavior with clients. A relatively large number of associations and councils associated with this profession have raised this issue relatively recently, intending to promote the consultant’s identity and the work (Burns & Cruikshanks, 2017). However, participation in specific associations, the presence of a license does not independently determine identification – it must be supported by an established philosophy, an understanding of roles and functions, and the use of ethical codes. Moreover, Dr. Karl Sheperis argues that the recognition of consultation as a profession and not as a field is equally essential (Shook, 2017). The reasoning behind this fact is that a person of any job, if he is a professional, should be involved in it, and his immediate status and the level at which he is right now are not so important.
This profession has five components that distinguish its philosophy and values from other related and similar domains. Firstly, it is a positive dynamic of normal human development. This trait is unique and, at the same time, echoes one of the tasks of the consultant, which is to make a person’s life better and better. This clause is enshrined in many codes, standards, and objects for evaluating the results of the consultant’s work (Burns & Cruikshanks, 2017). The ethical standard for improving the lives of both a person and a group of people and humanity as a whole is usually accepted by people behind the scenes. In many professions, therefore, its uniqueness is questionable in the eyes of consultants, and thus the problem of identity exists.
The second component is prevention. The prevention of social workers is generally global or community-based. The counselor’s prevention is directed at one person or a small group such as a family. In psychology, prevention has the character of health education, conveying information to people about aspects of human behavior (Burns & Cruikshanks, 2017). The next point is often not worked out by many consultants – advocacy. It is aimed at defending the interests of the client, as well as her profession.
The fourth point is client well-being, which is achieved through self-help strategies and life balance. Overall well-being in life is usually described by success in family founding, career, and education. Ensuring the client’s access to community resources, social benefits that affect the status is one of the most important determinants of well-being in the context of the components of the counselor’s professional identity (Burns & Cruikshanks, 2017). The last part is expanding the client’s rights by increasing responsibility, independence, self-esteem, and self-determination. This point is critical in the context of social multiculturalism, issues of human diversity, and other vital social aspects of modern society. Empowerment meets established ethical standards of respect for individuals, regardless of social status, race, gender, or other distinctive characteristics.
All of these five components form the consultant’s unique professional identity. These values make it possible to understand better the consultant’s role and the goals of his direct activity within the framework of his tasks and functions. The difference between psychologists and social workers is described in more detail in the article (Burns & Cruikshanks, 2017). The podcast examines the international context of the profession (Shook, 2017). Examples from the doctor’s career support the components, and their importance in practice is explained.
My motivation to become a consultant partly coincides with Dr. Karl Sheperis, who argued that there must be some passion for the profession. Moreover, I like helping people and always having this opportunity. Every time a person turns to me for advice, I will be the one who will show the right direction, which will ultimately lead a person to well-being. In my opinion, many people need such a guide, although many are not even aware of their psychological problems.
Identity Proof Strategies
Problems that can get caught on the career path of a consultant are usually external and social. Lack of recognition of licenses, inadequate wages, and much more – all these factors stem from a society’s lack of understanding of the professional role of a consultant, the need for his competence and function in the general mechanism of the community. In this regard, I prefer to use the seven steps described in the article above to create a short but succinct description of my profession to all interested people and clients. These seven steps include describing the functions of your profession, responding to its five essential components, enumeration of narrow specializations; description of techniques and methods for achieving well-defined goals; involvement in codes of ethics, and membership in various professional associations. Eliminating misunderstanding in society should begin with a profound understanding on its part.
The second circle of problems, in my case, is associated with the development of professional communication skills, which are developed according to professional identity. The definition of identification becomes a vital determinant of the competence of a specialist’s communication skills. Even though these skills are not unique within the profession but are used in the context of effectiveness throughout medicine, their need does not diminish. If the justification of one’s role can be dealt with using the 7-step model, then the advice of Dr. Sheperis will help to cope with this issue. Immersion in the process through membership in one or more associations and participation in their active scientific life. Communication in a circle of the same people will contribute to forming specific communication skills in a formal setting, but without the chance of a fatal mistake, as in a client’s case.
A detailed study of these materials allows you to dive deeper into the problem of the professional identity of the consultant. Decomposing the problem into smaller components will enable seeing the necessary details that form the basis of the consultant’s activities. This information will allow you to protect the interests of the profession and understand the issues more competently and deeply.
Burns S. & Cruikshanks D. R. (2017). Evaluating Independently Licensed Counselors’ Articulation of Professional Identity Using Structural Coding. The Professional Counselor, 7(2), 185-207. Web.
Shook, M. (Producer). (2017). What Makes a Counselor a Counselor? Professional Identity and Other Musings with Carl Sheperis [Audio Podcast]. The Thoughtful Counselor. Web.