It's safe to say that at some point, the term "emotional intelligence (EI)" has come across your desk, computer, or phone. Emotional intelligence encompasses being able to understand and manage your own emotions, and to understand and respond to those of others, hopefully in a meaningful way. EI is valuable for therapists because they are often tasked with understanding clients’ emotions and responding appropriately, which supports therapists helping clients navigate difficult feelings, and/or managing personal emotional responses to clients’ needs. For clinicians who work along side others in places such as a practice, hospital settings or agencies, building emotional intelligence could further enhance leadership abilities. In the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic, the leadership capabilities of counselors and varying mental health professionals is more needed and greater respected.
While EI is described as focusing mainly on things like empathy and self-control, other components such as managing conflict—are often overlooked. Self management is one very important component of EI for therapists, moreso because it is highlights some of the important requirements of being a therapist, such as self-care and self-management. It can be easy to become overwhelmed as a counselor. Clinicians often help others, take on and carry some of the most difficult situations in their lives. This can bring on a great deal of stress, which has the potential to manifest in many ways for counselors. One of the most difficult tasks to take on as a counselor is the ability to receive difficult messages without allowing it to derail your professional ability to provide service to clients, and impact how clinicians view their work. There are many things that influence the professional identity of the counselor, and even more that can be done to maintain success in the field;
Learning new and better coping skills.
Understanding critical thinking.
Learning stress management.
Increasing emotional health.
These are just a few, but leveraging and understanding and growing in these areas, by understanding our emotional intelligence, has the potential to impact counselors both professionally and personally, in a positive way. Take a moment to think about how expanding your knowledge of your own strengths, via emotional intelligence, can support your success in this field.