Pursue a career in counseling
Counseling is a broad term, covering everything from financial habits to behavioral disorders. It follows that counseling careers vary widely, and different skills will be needed to be successful in different specialties. Of course, there are some qualities that will be vital for every career in counseling, such as compassion, interest in human behavior and a passion for helping others. But in addition to the right outlook for the job, every counselor will need specific training to find a job and to practice legally. Learn about the types of careers in counseling and the steps you can take to become a counselor.
Careers in Professional Counseling
Several types of counseling careers exist, but there are a few broad categories that group some of the most familiar fields. Psychology is the main category—it covers everything from marriage counseling to addiction treatment, and demands a wide-ranging skill set. Within the field of psychology you'll find clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, guidance counselors and many others. While each will demand a specific level of education, a strong interest in human behavior and an ability to interact easily and effectively with individuals and groups are very important qualities in any counselor.
Counseling jobs can differ in purpose. Counselors in the private sector focus their attention on people in businesses, working with corporate offices to improve human resources and help hire the right candidates for the job. Counselors that practice in the community take on a different role: they work to form and execute a plan of action that will benefit the community. Some social worker jobs will fall into this category, though others will work for school boards, government bodies or child care services.
Training for Mental Health Counseling Careers
A bachelor's degree in psychology will be a great first step, but a master's program will also be necessary. Psychology degrees at the undergraduate level teach a broad program of mental health theory as well as assessment and treatment techniques. In your postgraduate work you will be able to specialize in one of the many areas of counseling, and more importantly, gain the license you will need to practice. In the case of postgraduate social work degrees, you will concentrate a good deal of time on field work to gain as much experience as possible.
When considering psychology schools, be mindful of their accreditation. Both traditional campus-based schools and online schools can lead to a degree, but not all states recognize all psychology degrees. Investigate the schools closely, comparing curriculum and internship opportunities as well as any professional designation the schools have. With some careful research you can ensure that you enroll in the program that will lead to your ideal counseling career.