Dramatic career change story that will inspire you

Human beings are constantly learning new things, growing and evolving. Career is one area that can evolve over the years as life’s situations, interests and value systems change. Someone who was single gets married and realizes that the current career is in conflict with family values.

New interests develop such as having a child with special needs turning what one has learned in the course of caring for that child into a new career. People change careers for many different reasons.

Career change is a decision that is not to be taken lightly. It helps to do a very honest evaluation about your current circumstances and your job satisfaction. Think long term. Do you need a break from your job or a total career change?

Changing careers usually involves investing in a new line of training. Will you undergo the training while still at your current job or will you quit first and embark on the journey to building the new career? It helps to do your homework well to assess your suitability for the new career. You could get yourself a mentor in that profession and get to learn about the realities of that line of work. With adequate preparation, you can have a smooth transition from your current career to a new career.

Meet Joan Kirera who successfully made a career change. Joan trained in electricals and electronics engineering (telecommunications option). She embarked on a journey as an engineer. Somewhere along the way, she took stock of her career and realized that if she desired to have a family one day, making time to be a wife and a mother with the demands of an engineering career would be challenging.

Joan went back to college and undertook training in psychological counseling and marriage and family therapy. Today, Joan is a practicing marriage and family therapist.

My name is Joan Kirera, a professional counselor/psychologist as well as marriage therapist.I also train in a counseling institute called KIBCo.

What is counseling?

Counseling is a helping relationship between a trained counselor or therapist and a client. Through the counseling journey, the counselor helps the client to deal with the challenges of their life using their (the client’s) inner resources that they have within them.

A counselor helps the client to identify goals, create solutions to the problems, improve coping skills and live productively. Counseling is not advice giving, it is not creating solutions for clients; it is not guidance on the direction you want the client to take or imposing your own values on the client.

A professional counselor can work with people whose value systems are completely different from one’s own and there will be no conflict at all. It is about the client and what they want for their lives. The counselor’s values systems and preferences do not feature at all.

What it takes to be a therapist

1. You need to be interested in people, not necessarily extroversion, but be people oriented. If you find yourself moved by peoples issues and wishing you could be of help, then that makes you a suitable candidate. If people constantly open up to you and you wonder how to help them, you qualify. You can also take a personality test that relates to career and see if this profession suits you.

2. Undergo relevant training. It is very good that you care about people and want to help them but before you do that, it is important to undergo training in order to acquire professional skills. So far, the common areas in Kenya are; Individual counseling where you need training in general psychology or counseling psychology (this one qualifies you to work with individuals on all issues), marriage therapy where you need to do a course in marriage and family therapy (this is when you qualify to work with marriages and families) and addiction counseling where you need a course in addiction counseling (this is what qualifies one to handle addiction issues).

I need to say this clearly that if one is not trained, then they are not professional counselors or therapists. They are simply advice givers and replicators of their own lives which mostly ends up being more damaging people.

Every individual is unique and so are their circumstances in life. Replicating another person’s life is therefore not possible. When you seek help from someone about an issue and they narrate to you how they or someone else handled a similar issue and try to impose the same path for you, that is not professional counseling. Being a professional counselor does not mean giving counsel, as is often assumed. When untrained people say that they counsel people, that is not counseling.

3. Personal growth. You cannot help a client solve issues you have not been able to solve. You cannot take clients to the place you have not been to. That is why a therapist needs to grow past their issues each day and also attend supervision so that their growth and practice can be checked by professionals.

4. You need to be registered with a professional body called Kenya counseling and psychological association (KCPA) in order to practice in Kenya. If you need the services of a counselor, ask them to show you proof of their registration otherwise you may be dealing with a quack/unqualified person.

5. You need to practice. Training is not enough as that only equips you with head knowledge or theory. On training, the minimum level for one to practice is a diploma and as a diploma holder practices, they need to be under a more qualified supervisor. Anyone with a diploma and membership from KCPA can take a client through counseling.

Why do professional therapy?

Therapy helps an individual to live a holistic life, becoming the best one can be, understanding who they are, their strengths, weaknesses, how different they are from others and how they can live healthy with others. It is very easy to try and impose one’s views and value systems on other people. Counseling equips one to respect other people’s individuality and live in harmony with them.

There are gaps or deficits in just about everyone’s upbringing since parents and others who handled one from a young age are not perfect. Professional therapy helps people to deal with their emotional wounds dating from childhood and other stages of life, enabling them to learn not to project their issues on others. It also helps them to establish and maintain healthy boundaries.

Some reasons why you need therapy

a) To heal from some past experiences that hurt or cause pain.
b) To gain self-awareness or understand yourself; who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, your uniqueness, etc. This helps you to respect your individuality and not feel under pressure to try and be like someone that you are not.
c) To deal with stress, anxiety and traumas.
d) To equip you with skills such as decision making, conflict resolution, assertiveness, communication, management of resources (money, time, etc.), social skills and any other desired life skill.
e) To help deal with marriage challenges (marital therapy)
f) To deal with parenting challenges such as nurturing healthy parent-children relationships, understanding and respecting the uniqueness of each child and rising above unfairly comparing children.

g) To deal with hurtful childhood: people who were raised in dysfunctional homes grow up to become dysfunctional adults, unless the baggage from childhood is dealt with.
h) To prepare for marriage (premarital counseling). This helps the two people who want to enter into marriage to understand themselves as individuals and understand each other, learn skills such as communication, conflict resolution and other life skills.
h) To deal with loss of any kind (bereavement, job loss, loss of a marriage, loss of an important relationship, loss of health or the use of any bodily function, etc.).

Challenges of the counseling profession

Most people do not understand what the counseling profession entails, they compare counselors to untrained pastors, people who are older and experienced, best couples and friends. They think that counseling is similar to what happens when for example a couple that is having problems in their relationship involves elders or best couple to resolve their issues.

Such people imagine that counseling services need to be offered for free since it is “just listening” the same way any other people listen. This means that they do not know the difference between professional counseling and advice giving offered by untrained people.

Many people who have involved untrained people in resolving their issues have often lived to regret that decision. Some have been badly misunderstood and unfairly judged while others have had their personal information revealed to third parties. Professional counselors are trained and bound by professional ethics and just like you trust your doctor or lawyer with your information, counselors are bound by confidentiality.

In Kenya, people are gaining understanding little by little so professional counselors will need to be patient as they build their careers and that I believe is common with many other careers. Actually,counseling is more than just listening, it is using practical research methods that have been tested and found to work. As more and more people get disappointed after seeking help from unprofessional people, professional counseling is gradually becoming popular.

Counseling is a profession and it takes years of training and practice to become a professional in this field. Like with any other professional services, to make a professional contract with a client, the client needs to pay the professional fees. I believe we do not visit specialist doctors and ask to render their services to us for free or do we? So professional counseling is a profession like any other.

Benefits of the counseling profession

Happy clients who have benefited from your services refer others. Successful groups refer others and helped marriages and families market you. If your work is good, people will grow you. Your results are the most powerful marketing tool in the counseling profession.

Finally, if you need my services which include;
Individual counseling, premarital counseling, marital counseling, group counseling, group talks (bridal, baby showers inclusive), child and adolescent counseling inclusive of groups and schools, trauma and loss counseling, contact me through +254721859922.You will need to call in advance so that we can schedule a session.