Youth Counselor Job Description
Working in schools, group homes and other facilities, Youth Counselors act as role models, mentors and advocates to young people facing a wide range of challenges, such as behavioral and legal issues, substance abuse and dysfunction in the home. Youth Counselors interact with the kids and teens they serve on a regular basis and perform a variety of duties, from helping clients stay on track with schoolwork to speaking for them in the legal system.
A Youth Counselor typically is a client’s main point of contact among a team of medical, educational and legal professionals. They are employed by both private and public organizations, including religious groups, shelters and correctional facilities. Demand for counselors, including Youth Counselors, is projected to increase 19 percent through 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, creating more than 1,200 job openings each year.
Youth Counselor Duties and Responsibilities
To provide the highest level of service to their clients, Youth Counselors perform a variety of tasks. In our analysis of several job postings, we identified these core Youth Counselor duties and responsibilities.
Counsel and Supervise Clients
As a Youth Counselor, you fill a number of roles in a young person’s life. Youth Counselors often acts as nonjudgmental confidants for a clients. Youth Counselors offer advice and help guide kids and teens to better outcomes. They hold clients accountable by ensuring that they fulfill their commitments, such as attending school and required meetings. Often, Youth Counselors advocate for their clients during legal proceedings.
Often, Youth Counselors create plans aimed at addressing specific issues in a client’s life. This can include formulating anger management strategies, teaching conflict resolution methods and crafting strategies to help clients work through emotional issues. Youth Counselors also teach kids and teens things like personal hygiene, getting along with people and other life skills.
Youth Counselors work with other professionals – doctors, teachers, parole officers – to help assess the needs and state of mind of their clients. based on what they discover about current events and challenges in a client’s life, Youth Counselors can better tailor their services to meet the needs of a client.
As a Youth Counselor, you are required to create detailed reports about your interactions with clients, the progress they have made and issues that require more attention.
Youth Counselor Skills
Youth Counselors are both compassionate and objective. They are solid communicators and problem solvers who are able to quickly respond to unforeseen challenges. In addition to these general skills and traits, employers want Youth Counselor candidates with the following skills.
Core skills: Based on job listings we analyzed, these core skills are most attractive to employers who hire Youth Counselors.
- Experience working with young people, such as at camps or through scouting and youth organizations
- Proficiency with computers, including Microsoft Office programs
- Certifications to preform CPR, first aid and crisis intervention
- Understanding of the legal, educational and medical systems
Advanced skills: Most of the postings we looked at didn’t require these skills. But many employers included them as preferred. Add these to your skillset and broaden your Youth Counselor career options.
- Working with at-risk youth
- Working in a mental health setting
- Physical ability to restrain clients when necessary
- Being bilingual
Youth Counselor Q & A
Considering a career as a Youth Counselor? It is a challenging job, but a rewarding one, says Bethany Raab, who has been counseling teens for more than a decade. “Being able to help those young people is exceptionally rewarding,” she says. We talked to Raab to learn more about what it is like to be a Youth Counselor. Here’s what she had to say.
What’s the most rewarding part about being a Youth Counselor?
The most rewarding part of my job is making a difference in the lives of teens. It is an honor to have a teen come to trust you enough to share their problems, fears and needs with you.
What is the biggest challenge faced by Youth Counselor?
The biggest challenge for me is hearing about the difficult situations many teens are dealing with in their lives. I care, and I very much want to help, but that doesn’t always mean it is easy to hear about things like violence, bullying, abuse and suicide from your clients.
What skills do you use every day?
Active listening is the No. 1 skill I use everyday. One of the most important parts of being a counselor is knowing when to listen and knowing when to talk. Teens can tell if you are not interested in what they are saying or if you are not listening. They also do not like being lectured. Teen counseling is a fine balance of really listening and making your words count.
Who succeeds in this job?
Someone who loves teens. That may seem obvious, but not everyone likes dealing with teenagers. Like I said above, teens are very perceptive and sensitive to people who do not like them or are impatient with them. Someone with a good sense of humor, lots of patience and creativity will do well in this field.
How should someone prepare for a career as a Youth Counselor?
Go to school and do your work, but also spend time with teens. Volunteer at a youth center or
be a mentor. Working with a group of teens or even one teen individually can be intimidating, especially for an inexperienced counselor. The more time you’ve spent with teens, the more comfortable you will be working with them as a counselor.
Are there any misconceptions people have about being a Youth Counselor?
I think many people think you do one of two things as a youth counselor: You are the teen’s friend, or you are an authority figure who keeps them in line. A good teen counselor can develop a strong, healthy relationship with a teen that leads to an ability to talk about hard things. You will enjoy your time with many teens and there will be times you need to set boundaries, but this job is so much more complex than just being a buddy or the bad guy.
Youth Counselor Resources
We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a Youth Counselor. This list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage.
On the Web
GoodTherapy Blog – The official blog for GoodTherapy.org, come here for news and insights in the field of therapy.
Adolescent Counseling Services Blog – This blog brings a counselor’s perspective to a broad range of issues kids today face.
School Counselor Blog – This is a place where school-based Youth Counselors come together to share resources, ideas and inspiration.
American Counseling Association – The world’s largest group representing counselors, the ACA is dedicated to enhancing the counseling profession through education and professional development.
American School Counselor Association – The ASCA supports the efforts of school counselors to prepare young people for productive, happy lives by focusing on students’ academic, social and emotional needs.
Youth at Risk by David Capuzzi and Douglas R. Gross – This book offers strategies for helping young people cope with challenges from family, peers and difficult environments.
Helping the Struggling Adolescent by Les Parrott III – Geared toward Youth Counselors, teachers and pastors, this reference book offers insight into problems faced by teens and offers strategies to help.
Youth Counselor Resume Help
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