Degree Programs Available in Counseling
Bachelors in Counseling
The Bachelors in Counseling may be the foundation level of education for upcoming counselors interested in providing mental health care to their communities. This program can provide students with the essential elements necessary for understanding emotional processes in the human mind, while building a sturdy starting point for high degree programs in the future. Most bachelors-level programs can require students to engage in around 4 years of course work and can be found in the online setting. Course work for this degree program can include courses such as Intro to Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Counseling Theory. Since licensing for counselors begins at the masters level, students completing this program may find a bigger benefit to moving on into masters-level programs within their field. Graduates that stop at the bachelors level may be eligible for case management positions in human or social services or even in counseling administration.
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Masters in Counseling
The Masters in Counseling might possibly be the most popular educational level for future licensed counselors. This degree program can also be found in both traditional and online format and consist of elements that can pinpoint specific psychological/emotional disorders for treatment. This degree program can include courses such as Intro to Psychotherapy, Counseling Techniques for Individuals and Groups, and Counseling Diagnostics. The masters-level programs within this field can take anywhere from 2-3 years to complete depending on a student’s enrollment status. One interesting component about the Masters in Counseling is that students can choose a specialization to help place a focus within an area of counseling that means the most to them. Popular degree specializations for this field may include School Counseling, Marriage & Family Counseling, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling. As part of the masters program and licensure requirement, students may be required to engage in a period of supervised experience within a mental health agency in their area.
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PhD in Counseling
Each degree level in counseling may have its own particular focus for students enrolled. People that choose to move into terminal degrees in counseling, such as the PhD, may be interested in pursuing careers that can help change the field of counseling for the better. The PhD in Counseling can assist students with learning more about the foundation elements of this field and the research practices in place to help increase the effectiveness of counseling techniques. While in this degree program, students can learn more about how research can contribute to growth, methods for conducting meaningful and reliable research, and leadership techniques that can be useful when guiding a team of counselors. The dual-purpose of this program can include management aspects that can be beneficial for professionals seeking higher positions within their current position. The PhD program in Counseling can take 3-5 years to complete depending on your current degree level. Students can find this program both online and in traditional format all over the U.S.
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Obtaining a degree in counseling does not have to be a final step for graduates interested in influencing many groups during the course of their career. Certificate programs in Counseling can be excellent additions for masters degree holders interested in furthering their potential in the field. These programs may be typically found at universities currently offering counseling degree programs. They may have many specializations such as Grief Counseling or Career Counseling that can be helpful in expanding your expertise beyond the standard scope of general counseling degree programs. Most certificate programs can take around 1 year to complete, which could be a great option for those already working in the field. Counselors may seek this type of program to learn more about areas that can be influenced by counseling, or simply to open up more professional opportunities throughout their career.
Potential Career Paths in Counseling
Addiction and Substance Abuse Counselor: Salary of $43,300 on average per year and an anticipated growth of 23% over the next decade (BLS)
Upcoming counselors within an interest in helping others manage their struggles within addiction may be a great fit for this specialization in the field of counseling. Addiction and Substance Abuse Counselors should be driven, highly motivated, and willing to investigate personal issues that can result in dangerous addictions. While case management positions in addiction counseling can be obtained with a bachelors degree, individuals interested in providing counseling to people in this setting must obtain a minimum of a Masters in Counseling and a professional license prior to working with clients in the field. If you were to choose this field for your career, you could work for drug rehabilitation facilities, group homes, or even partner with the court system in helping those managing addiction.
Career Counselor: Salary of $55,410 on average per year and an anticipated growth of 13% over the next decade (BLS)
Career Counseling can be a great professional option for individuals with a profound ability to see the vocational potential in others. While working in this field, professionals may be responsible for analyzing the strengths of their clients, identifying vocational areas that could be the most fitting for client abilities, and putting their clients in touch with agencies that can assist them with finding a meaningful career. Most professionals within this field hold at least a Masters in Counseling and state license to practice counseling. Once certified to work in this field, you can seek out positions in community career centers, partnering with correctional transition services, or even working with high schools and colleges.
Clinical Mental Health Counselor: Salary of $43,300 on average per year and an anticipated growth of 23% over the next decade(BLS)
As one of the most popular specialization options in the field of counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling can be a great way to showcase your skills within the professional setting. Professionals in this area of expertise may work with a wide range of clients with varying levels of mental and psychological disorders. If you might be interested in this field of counseling, you should have a thorough understanding of common mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and adjustment disorders. This field may also require you to indulge in extensive problem solving and unconditional positive regard. In the field, these counselors can work for mental health agencies, partner with hospitals, or even take part in private practice. Since Clinical Mental Health Counselors can work with a wide range of age groups, their services can be found throughout different facets of society. If you are interested in pursuing this subfield of counseling for your career, you may be expected to complete a Masters in Counseling and obtain a license through your state.
Marriage, Couple, and Family Counselor: Salary of $48,790 on average per year and an anticipated growth of 23% over the next decade (BLS)
Marriage, Couple, and Family Counselors can be a great addition to mental health services found within communities. These professionals can partner with well-rounded mental health agencies, work in private offices, or even be contracted by court systems to intervene when needed. If this field sounds like one you could be involved with, you should have a desire to identify positive attributes in even the most unpleasant situations, have the patience to mediate heated conversation, and the ability to analyze the strengths of some of the most strained relationships. Marriage, Couple, and Family Counselors should have a Masters in Counseling within their specialized field, as well as a license to practice within their state. These professionals can truly be a life-changing addition to a stressed relationship among couples and families.
Rehabilitation Counselor: Salary of $34,860 on average per year an an anticipated growth of 13% over the next decade (BLS)
Another fascinating subfield of counseling that could be a great option for your career is Rehabilitation Counseling. If you are the type of person that loves teaching new skills to others, this could definitely be a field to fit your personality. Rehabilitation Counselors can assist people with finding independence with mental, emotional, or physical disabilities that can interfere with normal functioning. Strengths that could help you excel in this field may include personal determination, knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and an awareness of social agencies that can assist with in-home services. In order to be a counselor in this field, you must complete a Masters program in Counseling and pursue licensure. This requirement may lead you into supervised internship experiences that can help expand your knowledge of Rehabilitation Counseling from a practical point of view.
School Counselor: Salary of $55,140 on average per year and an anticipated growth of 13% over the next decade (BLS)
Another popular career option for counseling students to consider is School Counseling. Counselors in this field can either complete a Masters in Counseling and certificate program in School Counseling or locate a Masters in School Counseling degree program. Professionals with this certification can work for K-12 educational facilities or even at the collegiate level. The role of the School Counselor is to work on-staff, assisting students with managing emotional and social pressure, intervene when issues may be apparent in the educational setting, and partner with teachers and students during educational or vocational training. Some School Counselors may also engage in drug prevention awareness programs or anti-bullying initiatives in their school. If this career field sounds like one that is right for you, you should have a strong love for working with children and youth, knowledge of the U.S. Department of Education, and an interest in vocational or collegiate planning.
Counseling Organizations to Know
Once you have completed your degree program and earned your certification, you can find more ways to help integrate yourself into the field of counseling. Networking and consistent continuing education may be an important aspect within the field of counseling. One of the best methods for achieving this goal is to become a member of professional organizations designed to help you stay up to date on your field and meet others within your practice area. As you read through some of the most popular professional organizations in counseling below, try to consider the benefits that membership to each could provide to you throughout your career.
The American Counseling Association (ACA)
Since its introduction in 1952, the ACA has provided well-rounded support to counseling students and professionals. This agency seeks to increase the quality of educational programs in counseling, increase the availability of support to professionals working in the field, and provide peer support to current licensed counselors. If you were to join this organization, you may have access to current studies in counseling, recent news and changes, and ethical cases that can change the way you engage in practice.
The American Mental Health Counselors Association
The American Mental Health Counselors Association was founded in an effort to focus on the needs of upcoming and current Clinical Mental Health Counselors. Members of this organization can learn more about how their field influences the overall wellness of America, new and innovative trainings released for professional advancement, and methods for success in the clinical domain. Clinical Mental Health Counselors can also utilize advocacy services offered by this organization throughout their career.
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
The NBCC is currently a certification agency for upcoming professionals interested in the field of counseling. This agency seeks to ensure that upcoming professionals have met all of the educational and experience requirements set forth for licensed counselors in the field. The NBCC also organizes the certification examination that all upcoming counselors must pass before applying for a license in counseling within their state.