How to Become a Counselor? Counseling is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of professions. It takes many years of work and study at an accredited higher education institution to learn how to become a consultant, where you will also need to choose a major. The main types of counselors are:
Educational or School Counselors
– These professional guidance counselors are employed by high schools and universities in order to provide students with help and advice regarding their academic futures.
Marriage and Family Counselors
– Psychologists work with couples, individuals, groups, and children in all areas of their lives and relationships
Mental Health Counselors
– This is a very intensive field, where counselors work with patients who suffer from any kind of psychological or emotional distress, helping them to deal with problems that include depression, anxiety, trauma, abuse and more.
Substance abuse Counselors
– This is a type of behavioral counselor who works specifically with people who struggle with all kinds of addiction, including drugs, gambling, eating disorders and more.
Vocational or Careers Counselors
– They help people with their futures and make career decisions, including helping them perfect their job skills, work on their resumes and more.
– They work with people who have suffered through emotional or physical disabilities of some kind that have negatively affected other areas of their lives.
How to Become a Counselor?
When looking at How to Become a Counselor, the first step is to think about the high school courses that you should take in order to give yourself the best possible chance to get accepted into any university of your choice to complete a counseling degree.
- 1. Recommended Courses for a Counseling in India
So, what are the best courses and lessons to take in high school? Well, start with activities that improve your social skills as you will be dealing with patients on a daily basis. Social work, social studies, or other social sciences are recommended.
Many states offer an AP (Advanced Placement) course in Psychology or an Introduction to Psychology, and should be taken if possible.
Other high school courses that are offered to anyone looking to become a consultant or psychologist include biology and anatomy, economics, English and other languages, and even business management.
However, besides these high school courses, there are other educational requirements that you will need to get your bachelor’s degree.
- 2. Education Requirements of a Counselor
So how long does it take to become a Counselor? Well, you first need to complete a 4-year bachelor’s degree, either a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science degree in Counseling and Psychology, in order to qualify as a Professional Counselor, however, to practice in most areas, you will need to continue to study and attend graduate school.
Here you will work on your specialty, and in addition to your associate degree, if you want to become a Counselor psychologist, you must complete a master’s degree or as a master of humanities, which focuses on a more analytical study of the human condition. , or MS, which focuses on the empirical study of a person’s condition. You can also pursue a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work.
Certain types of careers in psychology will require you to complete a PhD. This could be a PhD in Counseling Psychology or a Doctor of Educational Psychology.
Along with academics, when thinking about becoming a Counselor, you will also need to spend a certain number of hours in practical consultations at a university clinic or center where you are supervised and supervised by a certified Counselor.
In addition, to become a professional licensed Counselor, you will also need formal work experience.
- 3. Look for in a Counseling Program
Look for institutions with extensive departments in education, human services, and/or psychology. Counseling institutions should have eight core curricular areas: i) professional orientation and ethical practice, ii) social and cultural diversity, iii) human growth and development, iv) career development, v) helping relationships, vi) group work, vii) assessment, and viii) research and program evaluation.
Do not lose hope because the tuition costs or duration of a graduate degree are intimidating: scholarships, employers, and the government can all help lighten the load. Some employers will assist with tuition or offer time off so you can complete a graduate degree, and all accredited institutions will offer financial aid.
Accredited educational institutions receive federal benefits including student financial aid, and are held to high standards by accrediting agencies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accredited counseling programs can be found here.
You can also search for accredited counseling programs in the official CHEA directory. The reputation of the school boosts the value of its academic degrees.
However, do not choose a school solely for its shining reputation – make sure it is compatible with your goals and preferred learning style. Visit the institution or audit a class to best gauge the school.
Beware of “diploma mill” schools that seek to take your money without providing quality education, resulting in fraudulent or worthless diplomas. Most diploma mills offer degrees in a few months or charge tuition per degree, while accredited institutions charge by the course, credit hours, or semester.
Supervised clinical experience is invaluable to your skills and your resume. Students should complete at least 100 hours of supervised experience and at least 600 hours of supervised internship to be competitive in the job market. Smaller institutions and programs often mean easier access to professors. The ratio of full-time students to full-time faculty should not exceed 10:1.
Core faculty should have doctoral degrees, licensure or certification, and membership in a counseling organization. They should participate in counseling programs themselves, such as continuing education and research, to stay up-to-date with the latest counseling practices.
- 4. Online Counseling Degrees
How to Become a Counselor Online? With the hectic lives we all lead, isn’t it great to know that nowadays anyone can study anything they like from the comfort of their own home. This includes counseling and psychology.
To learn how to become a counselor you can find high quality, accredited courses and degree programs online, many of which are managed and run through top universities. The online option merely makes it easier and more affordable for anyone to follow their dreams and it allows attend the best possible colleges that you might not live near to.
Remember, that aside from all the educational requirements to become a counselor, you will also need to look at your personality traits and personal attributes to see if this is the ideal type of career for you. You will need to be strong minded, and have a strong emotional grounding so that you can help patients and deal with them with an objective point of view.
You also need to have excellent communication skills, and be patient, kind and understanding, while at the same time motivating, challenging and encouraging. It will take determination and dedication to become a licensed and certified counselor if you think about how long it takes to complete your studies and get your degree, and then still complete 2 years of practical assessments. However, the end goal is worth it!
- 5. Work Experience to Become a Counselor
One of the basic requirements for becoming a Counselor is to have at least 2 or 3 years of practical experience in this field. This will usually be a form of college internship that you will complete while working towards your master’s degree, but you can also work as an assistant in a medical practice where you will be supervised. This does two things.
First, it gives you the practice you need in real life so that you can gain confidence in counseling patients, while at the same time it gives you a mentor to work with.
Secondly, it opens your eyes to your own abilities and gives you a clear idea of whether you can handle this type of career or not.
How to Get License for Counseling in India?
How to Become a Licensed Counselor? What does it take to become a counselor once you have your degree? Well, once you have gone through several years of university, and worked as a counselor for 2 or 3 years under direct supervision, you will be ready to take your licensing exam, and become a certified, licensed psychologies or counselor.
The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) is run by the NBCC (National Board for Certified Counselors
) and consists of 200 multiple choice questions answered over a 4-hour period. The areas covered will include the following:
- Counseling Issues
- Assessments and diagnostics
- Professional development and consultation
- Professional practice
- Human growth and development
- Relationship work
- Group work
- Social and cultural diversity
- Research and evaluation
You can also take an additional exam to become a National Certified Counselor (NCC). This is the most prestigious certification and allows you to use the NBCC certification markings on your branding, gives you access to discounted counselor liability insurance, allows you to attend various continuing education opportunities, provides access to cheaper testing instruments, and much more.
Counseling Career Facts and Education Tips
The counseling profession is growing in reputation and job prospects as more and more people seek treatment from these dedicated professionals. There are a variety of types of counseling that exist to serve social, personal, and vocational issues.
Counselors must acquire a graduate degree and a state license to practice; some also obtain national certification in order to enhance their job prospects, though this is not required.
Counselors should enjoy helping others. They should have a good understanding of people and their interactions; inspire trust, respect, and confidence; and possess fortitude, resourcefulness, and the energy to address issues daily.
There are five general types of counseling: Educational, vocational, and school counselors guide and advise individuals on their career and college choices, while also nurturing social, academic, and personal growth.
Marriage and family therapists help people understand and evaluate their behaviors toward and perceptions of each other, encourage good communication within a family, and help prevent family crises.
Mental health counselors work with people who have mental or emotional disorders. They often work with educational or vocational counselors to help promote the independence and mental health of their clients.
Rehabilitation counselors help individuals deal with the effects of physical and emotional disabilities. They often work with psychologists, physical therapists, and other service providers to promote independence.
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors help individuals address their addictions or eating disorders. These counselors often meet with a group of clients together, as well as creating personalized treatments for each.
Educational and licensure requirements vary by state and by counseling specialty. A licensed counselor usually needs a master’s degree in counseling to practice, which typically entails 48 to 60 semester hours of graduate coursework; two years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience beyond the master’s degree; a State-certified exam; and yearly continuing education credits.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts very bright job prospects for counselors, especially in the mental health and substance abuse areas. While the average expected rise in employment from 2008 to 2018 is 7 to 13 percent, overall counselor employment is expected to soar by 18 percent over this period.
Certification is optional, although it greatly enhances advancement and job prospects. The certification process differs by counseling specialty, but often includes an exam, (e.g. the National Counselor Exam), an internship, and/or continuing education credits.
The Big Issues for Counselors
As a prospective counselor, you should not only have the ability to inspire confidence and trust in other people, but also have the patience and grace to helping people deal with a wide variety of difficult issues. Of course, issues that arise for counselors on a daily basis vary by specialty, but there are some issues that recur for nearly all professionals working in the field. The following list covers ten difficult topics that most counselors are likely to deal with on a day-to-day basis:
We often exert so much energy to control our lives, arranging them in the manner we desire, and yet change is the only constant. People come and go. Seasons change. Relationships change. Beliefs and goals change. We all have life transitions. So much in life is out of our control, and for many, this fact becomes one of life’s most difficult realities. Counselors can help clients move through change and begin to view it as process of renewal.
This emotion is an integral part of life; it helps us identify and meet our needs, protects us from harm, and prevents despair. When anger is managed correctly, it is an extremely valuable emotional response. If left uncontrolled, however, it can cause alienation, misbehavior, and self-destruction. Anger can also be a sign of depression or more serious psychological issues. Counselors often help clients understand their anger and work toward managing it properly.
Nervousness, or an inability to relax, is one of the most common reasons people seek therapy. While some level of anxiety is normal and needed to protect ourselves from suffering, excessive anxiety can be extremely disruptive to all areas of life. Counselors attempt to help clients suffering from anxiety understand and heal the source of their nervousness.
Another common issue counselor see on a daily basis is depression. This is a state of profound sadness, hopelessness or helplessness, and/or poor self-image that affects our minds, emotions, and bodies. Depression can cause lethargy or anxiety, a dysphoric mood, and, in a significant number of cases, suicidal thinking. Counselors make an effort to understand and heal the source of their client’s depression to improve or resolve it through treatment.
People with Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and other eating disorders that involve either over-eating or under-eating commonly seek guidance from a counselor to help restore a healthy relationship with both food and body.
- Grief, loss, and bereavement
One of the most difficult human experiences is grief, a deep feeling of sadness that results from loss. Those who grieve often describe feeling hopeless, empty, pained, afraid, angry, and out of control. While experiencing grief is a normal and important part of life, many require the help of a counselor to move through it.
Among the important issues counselors help clients with is self-esteem, our basic sense of worth or value. Those with low self-esteem often suffer from constant self-criticism and self-doubt, suppressed anger, social anxiety and alienation, and sometimes shame. Counselors can help people who suffer from low self-esteem by providing the tools to rebuild a healthy self-image.
People often seek counseling for issues related directly or indirectly to sex. Counselors often talk with clients about their anxieties around sex, unwanted sexual impulses, impotence, recovery from sexual abuse, body image issues, and a lack of sexual desire.
Stress is often described as the body’s response to the demands of life, but it also includes our mind and emotions. It is an internal reaction to perceived external pressures that we experience as thoughts, feelings, and physical processes. While stress is a normal part of life, excessive stress may require professional guidance. Counselors regularly help people manage and reduce stress.
Trust is necessary for life. Without it, we cannot function as individuals or as a society. Trust issues include a lack of intimacy or friendship due to mistrust, fear during physical intimacy, belief that others are malevolent without evidence, suspicion or anxiety about friends and family, and mistrust that interferes with a primary relationship. Counselors often help people who suffer from these and other trust issues.