There are many career paths for students who pursue studies in psychology for both undergraduates and degrees holders-post graduates. Psychology is a broad topic which can be defined as the study of the behavior of human beings and animals (Philip Burnard, 1994). It may not only deal with physical behavior but also the mental behavior. There are many professions in this field including medical or clinical researchers, counselors and others can specialize as criminal investigators (Philip Burnard, 1994). As an undergraduate in this field, it is usually difficult as many perceive it yet there are still good numbers of opportunities where one can easily fall in as an undergraduate. In professional fields such as clinical researchers, undergraduates can hardly participate in as a result of lack of enough skills and educational certificates though there are fields such as general counseling where even undergraduates can find opportunity (Philip Burnard, 1994). Here an undergraduate is provided with an opportunity to build and develop his career through the acquisition of necessary skills and needed experience.
Substance Abuse Counseling
Substance abuse counseling is a field of psychology that deals with the study of the behavior and counseling individuals addicted to some of the harmful drugs such as cocaine, bang, alcohol, cigarette and many others. It majorly deals with addiction to the abuse of substantial drugs just as the name suggests (Philip Burnard, 1994). This is one of the common career paths for the physiologists and counselors. Substance abuse counseling is a field of psychology where many psychologist students who have not graduated from their colleges can be easily absorbed. It is one of the rapidly growing career paths in the United States currently. It is a very interesting field with a lot to learn regarding moral principles and humility since the clients are those people perceived to be outcasts of the society (Philip Burnard, 1994). As an undergraduate, I have selected this field this career path as it is most suitable for since it does not require much of strong academic background. Substance Abuse Counselling would be the best option for me since am still a student who lacks most academic papers and skills to work in advance fields of psychology such as clinical researching which requires more advanced knowledge (Philip Burnard, 1994).
Skills and experiences
This field requires some skills and experiences. Some of the skills may be taught in class that is acquired, while others are purely inborn as they naturally manifest themselves in an individual. Some of the skills in this field include:
Ability to Listening: this a very important skill needed by everyone who ventures into this area of substance abuse counseling. This is the aspect of the psychologists giving his client time to express himself (Philip Burnard, 1994). Through listening a psychologist can draw all the relevant information from the client. Though listening, one can learn the chances that led the client to begin using drugs, for how long he has been using the drugs and the level of addiction. This skill of ability to listen is a requirement for every individual who wants to venture in this field.
The ability to ask questions. Many people would view this to be a small aspect of this field. However, it is much important just as listening. Many people cannot ask relevant questions which would prompt the client to give relevant information that may not be easy to deliver when not asked. Thus it is a requirement for one to take substance abuse counseling as a career path to pursue.
Communication skills. Communication skills are quite much relevant and one of the major and compulsory skills required in this field (Philip Burnard, 1994). On must be able to communicate well with his client. Lack of proper communication skill might ruin the whole process of counseling even if the psychologist possessed the other required skills. The individual can communicate well with his client both in speech and hear from the client.
Strong academic background. The psychologist must be a well-equipped individual, well learned and knowledgeable in analyzing the behavioral characteristics of an individual. The individual must be able to apply the things he learned in class (Philip Burnard, 1994).
Empathy. The practitioner must possess some sense of empathy. Empathy is simply an aspect of an individual assuming the state of the client- being in his shoes. Assuming that he is the one undergoing the problem. Empathy is a skill that can be hardly learned in class; rather it is an inborn behavior (Julia McLeod, 2011).
Alongside the above skills, an individual must also be a person who is experienced in handling individuals undergoing depression or mental problem. A regular encounter with individuals to counsel is an experience that is recommended for this purpose.
Personal strengths and weaknesses.
I have chosen this field because of the skills that I have developed with time, both in class and in the course of my interaction with people (Julia McLeod, 2011). These form part of my strength in this sector. One of my strengths that prompted me to choose this path is my ability to communicate well. This is a skill that I have developed in the course of my studies. Another strength that prompted me to choose this path is my ability to empathize.
Though I have some strengths in this field, I still feel the sense of insufficiency, due to some weaknesses. In as much as I am well equipped in communication skills, able to speak fluently, I still find it a challenge in me to ask questions- relevant and appropriate questions that would prompt the user to deliver relevant information (Julia McLeod, 2011).
Another weakness is academics since am still a student, some crucial aspect of this topic I haven’t cover well in class and thus a need that I complete them first before I become fully equipped. This weakness, however, can be easily overcome once I graduate with the final degree. I cannot compete in the job market with individuals who have graduated with a degree in this field. They are far much better than me in their academic or educational capabilities and experiences that come as a result of education- class work experience (Julia McLeod, 2011).
I have gained some skills since I joined the study of psychology. Most of the skills I have gained are majorly related to my career path choice. I have gained a skill of communication. Alongside I have developed listening skills and the skill of interviewing (Julia McLeod, 2011). Throughout study I pursue, I have learned to develop the skill of patience and understanding. I can do extensive research on the effects of most abused drugs in the United States, their effects and how the body responds to them. This will enable me to develop a clear picture in developing the remedies to those who are addicted. I can easily volunteer to work in areas considered hardship areas. This is an experience I have gained in the course of my study as we used to go for field works in the various environments with different climate characteristics. (Julia McLeod, 2011).
Though I still lack some of the skills, I believe that in the course of my development I will be able to learn almost all the needful skills in this course (Julia McLeod, 2011). I have developed some plan that would enable me to acquire these skills and be a complete successful Substance Abuse Counsellor. I have set two years after my graduation to work for an organization based on voluntary work to achieve my goals of yearning for experiences and skills (Richard Nelson-Jones, 2016). This will not cost me any financial fee rather; I will be a volunteer worker. The whole of that process will roughly take me two years. I have a plan of attending two different organizations after graduation (Richard Nelson-Jones, 2016). One organization will require me to pay training fee while the other will require only free service as I train. I will give the latter option the priority in case everything goes on well.
I would like to join the American Counselling Association (ACA). The main reason why I would join this organization is that of its facilities and the various programs it offers (Richard Nelson-Jones, 2016). ACA is one of the largest professional counseling world organizations (Counselor-Licence.com). Any failure to secure a chance in ACA, then I would apply for American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). This organization is well equipped in training individuals who venture in Substance Abuse Counselling. This is the main reason to why I may opt to join the above organizations. (Richard Nelson-Jones, 2016)
Personal development plan
In my personal and development plan, I will look and set the very objectives I would like to achieve. One of my set objectives is to be able to exercise the skills and experiences acquired in the counseling institutions after my graduation (Harry Tomlinson, 2004). Assessment of my current progress, how far I am with the application of the current skills acquired (Chris Sangster, 2000). For example, I have been through school and obtained some needful skills, to what extent have I applied them before I rush to obtain more skills from the advanced institutions. I would identify the needs or why should I acquire these skills (Harry Tomlinson, 2004). Then finally in my planning, I would record the outcomes (Chris Sangster, 2000).
Substance Abuse Counselling is a very interesting field where many people should venture to relieve our world of the rapidly growing drug abuse effects. There are a lot of benefits individuals will learn while in this field which will enable them to even solve other mental related problems to those around them or even themselves.
Richard Nelson-Jones (Basic Counselling Skills: a helper’s manual, Los Angeles; London; New Delhi; Singapore; Washington, DC SAGE 2016)
Chris Sangster, 2000 (Planning and Organizing Personal and Professional Development), publisher: Gower publishing.
Harry Tomlinson (Educational Leadership: Personal Growth for Professional Development, London; Thousand Oaks: Sage publications, 2004)
Julia McLeod (Counselling Skills: a Practical Guide for Counsellors and helping profession, Open University Press, 2011)
Philip Burnard (Counselling Skills for health professionals, London; New York; Chapman & Hall; San Diego, Calif; Singular pub. Group [US/Canada distributor], 1994.)