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Counseling Psychology

A Helping Profession

Career counselors with psychological training offer the most common approach to dealing with many forms of mental illness or personal trauma. With their roots in the old, original methods of Freud’s “talking cure,” but with thousands of other modern influences allowing infinite variations and adaptations, professionals in counseling psychology function as professional listeners, advisers, and guides to the inner workings of the human mind and heart.

Infinite Possibility

  • Counseling specialties
  • Training of counseling psychologists
  • Licensing

Many Options

Within the broad definition of counseling psychologist, there are many fine divisions in approach and technique, and a wide array of specializations. With many schools of psychology, and even more areas of counseling that have come to be seen as specialties in their own right, there’s a career niche for almost everyone.

Common primary forms of counseling include family counseling, marriage counseling, child psychology, trauma counseling, crisis counseling, addiction counseling, phobia counseling, counseling addressing eating disorders, career concerns and professional interactions, mediators, counselors dealing in training professionals in appropriate on-the-job behavior, addiction counselors, post-surgical counselors, and more, there’s room for almost any area of counseling interest, and someone in need of that service.

Training for Counseling Psychologists

Training to become a counseling psychologist in most instances involves three distinct areas of education. Counselors must, in most instances, first gain a bachelor’s degree. A B.A. or B.S. in psychology isn’t necessary, but can prove helpful when applying for graduate programs. If your prior B.A. or B.S. is in another area, it’s not a bad idea to pick up some credits in psychology online or through a local community college or university before proceeding with applications, to provide your CV with some grounding in your intended field.

The most vital degree for a counselor is an M.A. This intermediate degree is often the most vital in obtaining licensing necessary to function in practice. The degree usually takes two to three years to complete, and allows considerable room for specialization within your personal plan.

Following an M.A. a counselor may pursue a Ph.D., or, more likely, gain niche certification within a specialization through a brief but focused training program.

In many regions counseling psychologists, like many medical doctors, are legally required to maintain their education, keeping their learning up to date. This can demand regular course work in some instances. In others it can demand a personal commitment to following professional literature and journals, and exchanging information with other practitioners. In some instances testing for license may need to be renewed.

Licensing and Practice

In most regions of the U.S. it is illegal to set up as a counseling professional without first qualifying for the position and obtaining a license to practice. This legal obligation is determined by regional governments in an attempt to protect the public from frauds, and crooks. Anyone hoping to set up a practice should expect not just the common costs of setting up business, but the additional labor and cost of proving education, possibly testing for competence, and being licensed.

Many licensed counselors choose to practice through larger clinics, through hospitals, schools, or other organizations, avoiding the costs and complications of setting up work for themselves.

Finding a competent, licensed counseling psychologist is often as simple as contacting a hospital or medical group. In those instances where a more diligent search is needed, look to a professional reference service where possible. These agencies have specialized in clearing and approving candidates for consideration as professional counselors, and can provide clients with a vital service, checking credentials and professional behavior in advance.


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