Life presents us with much to celebrate and enjoy as we take pleasure in the many milestones that are a part of the human experience. However, life also offers us darker moments where we often find ourselves searching for ways to alleviate the mental anguish associated with them. At these times, those around us try to find ways to comfort and offer encouragement to get through these difficult times.
To transition out of these difficult times, it is often suggested that volunteering and other charitable activities are one way to get past rougher moments in life. While it might be true that we do feel better after engaging in some charitable activity, researchers have discovered exactly why we feel rewarded after giving ourselves. The thinking is that by focusing on others, we do not spend so much time emphasizing the more negative parts of our own lives.
A physiological connection to the good feeling comes from helping others. Referred to as the helper’s high, this good feeling occurs after doing good because the act releases endorphins in the brain, lifting one’s mood. Some experts state the textursurfaceke those that arise after engaging in physical activity, such as yoga or running. Still, instead of working out, the person feels good about serving others. This happens regardless of whether the action involves a simple act of kindness, donating money to a charitable organization, or volunteering.
The research on helper’s high shows that those who give of themselves do get intrinsic rewards. Countless studies have shown that these endorphins are responsible for the joy experienced after giving of yourself. The actual science states that endorphins are opiate-like proteins that affect the brain in the same way that morphine does. The National Institute of Health found in its research that areas in the brain that light up in response to pleasures associated with food or sex are the same areas that respond similarly after an individual donates money to charitable organizations. Another study at Emory University discovered that giving produces the same response in the brain as receiving rewards or experiencing pleasure.
While helping others is often associated with volunteering, helper’s high can be experienced across many different occupations, namely those in the social services arena. Teachers, police officers, and social workers are all part of professions that help people daily, as are those professionals involved in clinical mental health counseling. The online Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Walsh University prepares knowledgeable, compassionate professionals for a career supporting those in need. You can complete the entire program in your community without requiring campus visits. Mental health counselors in the clinical setting spend an incredible amount of time helping others work through their issues. In doing so, they benefit.
How do these professionals benefit from the helper’s high?
Caring for others
A central part of counseling involves caring for the patient’s mental well-being. Counselors who are good at their cthey empower their patients to make good life choices. Furthermore, as the patient improves, this can be rewarding for counselors.
Sense of belonging
Another way the counselor benefits from the helper’s high is by providing the professional with a sense of purpose. Engaging in philanthropic activities is one way to maintain social relationships. By connecting with others, the counselor avoids the isolation often found in other occupations.
Provides a sense of purpose
The helper’s high that comes with doing good can also culminate in the professional finding a sense of purpose. Volunteering improves one sense of identity and can be empowering.
How does one use the helper’s high in clinical counseling?
This good feeling goes a long way in helping counselors help people. Below are a few ways the helper’s high can translate into becoming a better counselor.
Counselors help others work through their issues. In doing so, counselors have encountered myriad issues that impact humans. At some point, the counselor begins to feel with their patients and develop empathy, simply putting themselves in another person’s shoes to understand them. More significantly, when patients feel their counselors understand them, they are more likely to trust them enough to confide in them.
Just as a volunteer might assist people from all walks of life, counselors have a similar experience when counseling others. While counselors will have their views, they learn to keep them separate from their professional work of guiding the patient, which is a very good attribute to have. An open mind prevents the counselor from judging the patient — decisions that can interfere with building a patient’s trust.
Speaking of which, clients will not make choices that counselors will always agree with or understand. A non-judgmental counselor is better positioned to help a patient than one who puts the patient on the defensive. In actuality, the whole purpose of the patient visiting a counselor is to help the person navigate some of their issues. The patient needs someone to speak to about their life issues, who can look at these difficulties and empower them to make good decisions. Finally, if a person who feels judged also feels that way from their counselor, the professional has effectively put up an obstacle to communicating with the patient, which interferes with assisting the patient.
Counselors spend most of their time listening to the patient, in many cases, helping clients come to their conclusions. A counselor with good listening skills is attentive and can pick up on all the nuances in languages to hear their patients. Moreover, the counselor better understands the patient because they listen to them.
Good listening skills involve the counselor giving the patient plenty of time to respond to questions, indicating through facial expressions that you, the counselor, are attentive to the patient while they speak. It also involves asking for clarification and not judging the patient when their responses are inappropriate or offensive.
Awareness of limitations
Helper’s high can also assist a counselor with understanding their limitations. At the same time, educated counselors might not have the professional experience or expertise to assist a patient. Self-awareness allows the counselor to know when they can no longer help patients for whatever reason and point the patient in the right direction to receive the appropriate care.
This good feeling from helping others also engenders mutual respect between counselor and patient. A counselor who exhibits care for their patients prevents the person seeking help from being ashamed or embarrassed about the issues they are dealing with. This allows the patient to work through their trauma in a comfortable environment.
Helper’s high can also culminate in a counselor’s growing patience. Patients may times make decisions or experience setbacks, even though the issue has been addressed in other sessions. Counselors are rewarded when patients grow from the setback they experience in counseling.
The altruism that is a part of helping others leads to the counselor accepting different attitudes. Again, like some of the other qualities that are part of a helper’s high, this one is a bridge connecting counselor and patient in a relationship of trust that will lead to helping the latter develop tools for addressing mental, emotional, or social issues.
In helping people, the professional must communicate with patients regarding giving clear assessments of the patient’s issues. They must be able to clearly express ideas to patients regarding overcoming some of their problems. Some of the activities involved in being a good communicator include thinking before speaking up, speaking concisely and deliberately, and using an appropriate tone.
Counselors speak with people from different cultural, socioeconomic, gender, and ethnic backgrounds. For this reason, understanding these differences will impact the type of help patients need, especially when the environment plays a huge role in handling certain situations. The reward of helping someone with a different life perspective is understanding this and finding appropriate ways to help the person.
Helper’s high is not confined to the charitable works space, even though that is where it is most prevalent. Counseling is just one occupation where the professional not only benefits from the good feeling that comes from helping others, but they can use some of the tools to help patients. Ultimately, the above attributes set the environment for counseling patients from diverse backgrounds, creating a judgment-free, accepting zone where the person talks about their issues.
The rewards for many counselors come after providing patients with the necessary tools so that they can independently solve the challenges they face. These rewards can be priceless for counseling professionals who want to impact others in a way that facilitates their progress and empowers them. Further, counseling offers professionals the chance to move — maybe even change — other people’s lives. Additionally, counseling allows professionals to impact — perhaps even change — other people’s lives. Additionally, counseling offers professionals the chance to move — maybe even change — other people’s lives.