I have had many conversations with clients over the years discussing trust. We have talked about how easy it is to lose someone’s trust and how earning trust takes time and consistency. The same could be said for earning credibility as a counselor. I am sure that building a good reputation can be a challenge in any profession, but I think that it is particularly challenging in this field, due to the population that we are working with. You need to have a good reputation with your clients in order to be an effective counselor. Having a good reputation amongst your peers can lead to career growth and new opportunities. Having a good reputation in the community is beneficial for our profession and can give you some influence in political or legal issues.
To my knowledge, there are no shortcuts to building your credibility. It requires consistent ethical behavior. If you are licensed, certified or working toward getting licensed or certified, then you will be required to go through ethics training on a regular basis. Your employer should also go over ethics and boundaries. This post is not intended to be training on ethics or dual-relationships, but the importance of understanding dual-relationships cannot be over emphasized. You are likely to have clients who want a relationship outside of counseling. Whether it is romantic, business or just friendship, you have to avoid these relationships. This sounds like a simple rule to follow, but if you are counseling for any length of time, I can almost guarantee that you will come across situations that fall into that grey area. There are certainly other areas that are related to maintaining your credibility, but dual-relationships is a trap that I have seen too many counselors fall into. My advice is to associate with and learn from other counselors who have a good reputation and when in questionable situations, err on the side of caution.
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