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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Reinersman

Counselor Competencies: Developing and Maintaining Counseling Proficiencies

Updated: May 27, 2020

Staying on top of your game is probably a more sports-minded way of saying “remain competent.” Just as athletes must consistently practice, so must practitioners maintain a proficient level of (a minimum of) twelve counseling competencies. Atrophy is a tragedy for the client. ~ Melanie Reinersman,

FOCUS ON: Active Listening Can Make Everyone Happier

Deep positive relationships begins with the most important element of good communication: active listening. The empathetic counseling relationships requires mastery of this art. Review and practice these steps toward more active listening from this Positive Psychology resource.

FOR PRACTITIONERS: Be Careful and Be Open to Theories

Comfort, effectiveness, language, balance… all are key considerations in the implementation of a theoretical orientation. No matter how many years of professional practice you already have experienced, it may be helpful to again take time to examine theories and their connection to your work with clients. Read a helpful discussion about these considerations.

JOB SEARCHING: Going Beyond Labor Market Stats

Trends, book reviews, benchmarking and demographic differences are just a few of the topics covered in the Monthly Labor Review, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The December 2017 issue of MLR covers trends in the computer industry – perhaps current job seekers need to know that its a myth that foreign-born workers are crowding out native-born workers.

TOP TEN: Competencies Counselors Need to Understand and Master

The training offered by the NCDA Facilitating Career Development Curriculum (FCD) actually focuses on 12 competencies. Not one is to be overlooked, so they are all repeated here:

Helping Skills – Be proficient in the basic career facilitating process while including productive interpersonal relationships. Labor Market Information and Resources – Understand labor market and occupational information and trends. Be able to use current resources. Assessment – Comprehend and use (under supervision) both formal and informal career development assessments with emphasis on relating appropriate ones to the population served. Diverse Populations – Recognize special needs of various groups and adapt services to meet their needs. Ethical and Legal Issues – Follow the NCDA Code of Ethics and know current legislative regulations. Career Development Models – Understand career development theories, models, and techniques as they apply to lifelong development, gender, age, and ethnic background. Employability Skills – Know job search strategies and placement techniques, especially in working with specific groups. Training Clients and Peers – Prepare and develop materials for training programs and presentations. Program Management/Implementation – Understand career development programs and their implementation, and work as a liaison in collaborative relationships. Promotion and Public Relations – Market and promote career development programs with staff and supervisors. Technology  – Comprehend and use career development computer applications. Consultation – Accept suggestions for performance improvement from consultants or supervisors.

Read details about the FCD Training and the credentials that require meeting these competencies on the NCDA website.

YOUR LIBRARY: O*Net Online Summary Report for Counselors

Whether you are already counseling or aiming to pursue a counseling career in the areas of education, guidance, school, or vocational services, viewing the details about this field from a comprehensive resource is vital. The knowledge, skills, and abilities listed for counselors (e.g., individual differences, social perceptiveness, and deductive reasoning) by O*Net focus on the competencies very well. Read more from


“It seems to me that at bottom each person is asking, Who am I, really? How can I get in touch with this real self, underlying all my surface behavior? How can I become myself?” - Carl Rogers
“A way to view career assessment is as a bridge from career development theory to practice.” - Edwin Herr
“Integrity and proficiency are not a given. These qualities can only be proven over time.” - Gary Hopkins


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