Counseling psychology is a main area of psychology for many graduates of psychology. Many psychologists specialize in a counseling degree. Counseling psychologists often work to create an environment where interpersonal communication is possible. This may include working on social, emotional, educational, behavioral, or other related concerns. A counseling psychologist can work on promoting better communication through various counseling methodologies. Some counseling psychologists specialize in an area of counseling psychology.
Counseling psychologists differ from clinical psychologists, as clinical psychologists may work more with patients that have very severe forms of mental illnesses. Counseling psychologists may work more on behavioral and vocational programs. A clinical program may require more treatment of specific diseases. Counseling psychologists may have a more generalized education while clinical psychologists may specialize in treating a specific form of mental illness.
What are the Areas of Concentration in Counseling Psychology?
A counseling psychologist may focus on many different problems that an individual faces. Here are just a few areas a counseling psychologist may focus on when treating an individual.
- School psychology
- Vocational counseling
- Substance abuse counseling
- Child development
- Adult and geriatric counseling
- Forensic psychology
- Sport psychology
- Anger management
- Group counseling
- Assessment and testing
- Interpersonal relationships
What Can You Do With a Counseling Psychology Degree?
Counseling psychologists can work in many different environments. These include in private practice as self-employed counseling practitioners. Many can also work in education in testing, or as school psychologists. Still others work in healthcare environments, including in hospitals, or in rehabilitation clinics. Counseling psychologists may prefer to work in group practices, or as part of a comprehensive healthcare team.
Counseling psychologists may also find opportunities to work in government agencies, or in private research facilities. Not all counseling psychologists work as therapists. Some conduct tests, while others perform research. Still others work to improve knowledge and public education about psychology, while others go on to teach. Depending on your skills and interests, there are many different opportunities that you can pursue as a counseling psychologist.
You can even pursue opportunities in publishing as part of education and research in the counseling psychology field.
Most counseling psychologists set their own hours, particularly those that work as independent consultants. If you choose to work in a hospital or clinical setting, you may have a stricter schedule. The same is true of counseling psychologists that work in an educational setting. This helps to accommodate clients that have to be seen during clinical hours. Some also end up working weekend shifts. Consider what your preferences are before determining what type of setting you would prefer to work in.
What Kind Work Does a Counseling Psychologist Do?
Counseling psychologists carry out many different functions and perform many roles. These may include providing therapeutic counseling, conducting studies, and carrying out individual therapy sessions. Other activities that counseling psychologists do may include:
- Collecting information via observations and surveys.
- Looking for patterns among clients that will help them analyze and predict certain behaviors.
- Diagnosing conditions.
- Developing treatment plans for clients, and assessing the efficacy of those plans.
- Working with other healthcare providers, and social workers or case managers.
- Collaborating with family members.
- Developing educational programs for the public, community, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, or other programs.
- Identifying resources to help clients manage problems more effectively.
Many counseling psychologists work closely with social workers to help clients achieve their goals and reach positive health outcomes.
What are the Qualification Requirements for a Counseling Psychologist?
Most counseling psychologists will first acquire a bachelor degree in psychology or a related field. The next step is gaining a master or doctorate degree in psychology. Many counseling psychologists will complete an MA in counseling. Generally it takes 2 to 3 years to complete an MA in counseling. Most counseling psychologists will go on to receive a doctorate degree, which allow for the best opportunities to practice in the field of psychology.
Training often requires work experience in the field, including postdoctoral research, a residency or internship in the field.
Most psychologists require licensing through the American Board of Professional Psychology. The Association of State and Provisional Licensing Boards offers more information about state licensing and certification.
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