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What is Counseling Psychology?
Counseling Psychology is a post graduate level degree. A counseling psychologist deal with healthy individuals in regards to the maintenance of healthy mind. Therapeutic measures are often taken to deal with moments of distress. This differs from clinical psychologists, who tend to treat individuals with severe mental disorders. A counseling psychology program can take between 3 and 5 years depending on the program and the degree pursued (the number of years does not include the time necessary to obtain a bachelor's degree).
A counseling psychology curriculum may include:
- Foundations of Counseling Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Social Psychology
- Mental Health Counseling
- Sport Psychology
- Counseling and Ethics
- Group Counseling
- Child & Family Psychology
- Cognition, Learning and Motivation
- Theories of Personality
- Human Development
- Vocational Psychology
- Psychology of Gender
Top Counseling Psychology Degrees
Students considering a career in counseling psychology need to understand a graduate degree is required in most states to practice. The breakdown of degrees as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor includes 27% with a master’s degree, 25% with a doctoral degree, and the balance with post-doctoral training. As such, we will cover graduate degree programs below to help you understand the degree options as this level in counseling psychology.
Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology
The master’s degree in counseling psychology is a discipline within the psychology department of colleges and universities. Subdisciplines of psychology at the master’s level can include the following: applied psychology, crisis management, educational psychology, leadership development, health psychology, psychology of culture, organizational development, public administration, and social psychology.
An on-site or online master’s degree will take 2-3 years to complete for most students depending on the number of credits taken at a given time and the overall credits required by the institution.
Courses in a master’s degree in counseling psychology may include: social psychology, lifespan development, psychology of personality, culture & psychology, grief counseling, clinical psychopathology, quantitative reasoning, cognitive behavior, and coaching.
The classroom-based program or online master’s degree in counseling psychology is most often conferred as a Masters of Science (MS) but can also be found as a Master’s of Arts (MA) in select schools.
Doctoral Degree in Counseling Psychology
The doctoral degree in counseling psychology can be found in a course catalog as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or PhD in Counseling Psychology. In either case, the doctoral degree is considered a terminal degree as no additional degrees are conferred beyond the PhD in the field.
The PhD program in Counseling Psychology is a 4-6 year program that includes: an academic year in residence (AYR), doctoral residency, internship requirements, and supervised practicum. The evidence-based therapeutic techniques, hands-on exercises, and in-residence instruction is critical to the success of doctoral students.
PhD programs are intended to prepare students to prepare students for licensure as a psychologist which can lead professionals to be a consultant, administrator, faculty member, practitioner, or research specialist in the field.
Counseling Jobs & Career Tracks
An individual pursuing a career in counseling psychology must be a good listener, analytical, capable of compassion, and have the ability to remain impartial. Counseling psychologists work in a variety of environments with all age groups. A particular counseling psychologist may specialize with a particular group or age group, while others may have more generalized practices.
A counseling psychologist primary job is to assist individuals who are having emotional or psychological difficulty do to circumstance. By offering various therapies and counseling, the psychologist completes his or her work with the individual.
Counseling Psychology Salary Growth
The annual median income in counseling psychology is $73,270 which equates to $35.23 an hour. The growth forecast of the industry is expected to add some 63,800 job openings in the coming decade with a 14% rate of growth during that timeframe. States with the most jobs in counseling psychology per capita are: 1) Massachusetts, 2) Vermont, 3) Rhode Island, 4) Hawaii, and 5) New York.
Counseling psychologists can be employed in a variety of locations, schools, universities, government agencies, private corporations and private practices. The job growth for counseling psychologists is expected to increase faster than average over the next decade due to the expected increase in need for such assistance in the near future.
Top Job Titles in Counseling Psychology
When planning for a future in counseling psychology, it is important to get accustomed to job-specific vernacular in the industry. To help you better understand jobs in counseling psychology that you may see in the real-world, we have collected a short list of top job titles in counseling psychology to review. The list includes:
- Applied Behavior Science Specialist (ABSS)
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Chemical Dependency Therapist
- Counseling Psychologist
- Senior Staff Psychologist
- Counseling Services Director
- Staff Psychologist
What Does a Counseling Psychology Major Do?
In a recent survey administered by the U.S. Department of Labor of practicing counseling psychologist, professionals in the field provided details on their daily activities. These activities are rolled up into a top 5 list of common job functions in counseling psychology to help you better understand the scope of the job across industries and organizations.
- Developing therapeutic programs to best suit each individual client
- Collecting information about individuals or clients, using interviews, case histories, and observational techniques
- Supervising counselors, interns, and clinicians in training
- Counseling individuals, small groups, couples, or families to help them understand problems, deal with challenging situations, define goals, and develop realistic treatment plans
- Documenting patient information as session notes, progress notes, recommendations, and treatment plans
Resources in Counseling Psychology
Students passionate about helping others in counseling may choose to research similar degree programs in clinical psychology, psychology, child psychology, forensic psychology, or school psychology. Key insights and career alternatives in counseling and psychology can be found on our Ultimate Career Guide in Psychology and our popular article on the Top Jobs in Psychology.
Non-profit associations can be a beneficial career move for counselors of all kinds. As an example, you can leverage a trade association via their unique tools, networking opportunities, resources, and research papers. Associations worth researching further include the American Board of Professional Psychology, (ABPP), American Counseling Association (ACA), and the Society of Counseling Psychology (SCP).