The field of counseling is an increasingly broad category that encompasses several different subfields. Counselors work with a variety of individuals who are struggling with their mental health and well-being. They help patients discuss their emotions and provide support, counseling, and rehabilitation services.
Because counselors or counseling psychologists have different types of therapy careers, they often work in a diverse set of locations, depending on their specialty, some of which include hospitals, schools, companies, rehabilitation centers, or private practices. Though the career options and job requirements of a counselor vary based on who they are counseling, it is the goal of all certified counselors to improve the well-being of their patients. If you're seeking a career in counseling, it's important to review the types of counseling degrees and determine which counselor career path best suits you as a professional counselor. Keep scrolling to learn about the different types of counseling careers in the field of psychology available.
1. School Counselor
You have likely heard of or talked with a school counselor during your educational career. School counselors or guidance counselors commonly work with students to discuss issues or obstacles that are affecting their social and academic success. Whether it's assisting students with college applications, helping to make schedule changes, or talking with a troubled pupil, school counselors or school psychologists are a vital member of the education team and work hard each day to help students reach their full potential. While they primarily focus on areas of academic and career development, it’s not uncommon for a school counselor to work with students who are struggling personally or socially. No matter which school a counselor works at, their goal is to help all students achieve their full potential and become the distinguished professionals of tomorrow.
The majority of a school counselor’s day is usually spent with students. Whether they're prepping students for the college application process or working with individuals to help provide solutions for the struggles they may be facing, school counselors can be a critical part of the school system. School counseling services are offered at all levels of an academic career - elementary school, middle school, and high school included. When not working with students, counselors often work alongside the administrative staff to develop curriculum, student planning, and student support services.
Earn your master's degree in school counseling through one of Alliant International University’s online school counseling programs through their California School of Education. The online hybrid method and other online programs such as EdS in School Counseling allows greater flexibility for students that work full time, making it even easier to start a successful career as a counseling psychologist.
2. Marriage and Family Therapist
Thinking about working in marriage or family counseling? If you're skilled in interpersonal communication and aspire to help individuals live more fulfilled lives, then a family counselor may be the career path for you. Marriage and Family Therapists are certified counselors who work with individuals, married couples, and families experiencing problems within their relationship. Communication issues, contemplating divorce, dealing with family loss, and many other factors can impact the health of a relationship and are often the issues a family counselor has to take on.
The goal of family or marriage counseling is to help the patient change problematic interactions that contribute to a struggling relationship. To become a marriage and family therapist, like many other mental health professionals, this position requires a master's degree in mental health, as well as several clinical hours, followed by a license in the specific field.
3. Mental Health Counselor
In today's fast-paced environment, we find more and more people feeling overwhelmed. The words "mental health" are often used in a variety of different settings and careers. In counseling, a mental health career path is one that is specifically geared towards the assessment, treatment, and therapy of mental health disorders. Before ever setting foot in an office, mental health counselors are profoundly trained in mental illness, behavioral disorder, psychotherapy, and clinical intervention services. Mental health counselors primarily work with individuals who are struggling with a wide range of emotions and conflicts that ultimately affect their well-being.
Traumas, addiction, depression, and phobias are just a few of the mental health issues that these professionals typically treat. Mental health counselors play a vital role in helping both children and adults who are experiencing mental health issues get back on track. By working with a patient regularly through mental health counseling, they can help develop strategies and coping mechanisms to help improve their condition. Through the development of new skills, in many cases, an individual can overcome or effectively manage their mental health issues. To become a mental health counselor, like other counseling psychologists, the individual must complete a master's program, internship, and postgraduate clinical hours, as well as receive their license.
4. Rehabilitation Counselor
Like other professional counselors, rehabilitation counselors are those who work with individuals to help improve their physical and emotional well-being. Often, clients may be dealing with challenges like substance abuse, grief, and trauma and are seeking help to overcome these challenges and resume their normal lives. A rehabilitation counselor works with individuals who are struggling with personal, social, or physical disabilities that affect their ability to gain employment, or even live independently.
Through the evaluation of strengths and weaknesses, a rehabilitation counselor can determine what the best route of therapy and care is. A rehabilitation counselor may suggest medical care, support in job placement, and provide the patient with proper training to develop skills to improve their well-being. A rehabilitation counselor can work in several different settings, some of the most common being; government agencies, mental health facilities, family health centers, and prison rehabilitation centers.
To become a rehabilitation counselor, individuals typically must achieve a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Because license requirements vary significantly by state, if you would like to become a specialist in rehabilitation counseling, then we suggest first checking the license requirements in the area you would like to practice.
5. Child Pediatric Counselor
Much like it sounds, child counseling is a class of therapy that specializes in the well-being of children, teens, and adolescents. Often, if a child has a mental illness, trauma, or a stressful home environment, a child counselor may be needed to help the patient understand and cope with their emotions. Though child counseling focuses specifically on children, several of the issues children encounter mimic those that adults face daily.
The main goal of a pediatric child counselor is to primarily help children assess their problems and to try to teach them how to manage emotions like anxiety, grief, and depression. Not only does a child counselor help their patient, but by providing valuable insight into a child's thoughts, actions, and emotions, a counselor can help the children's parents better understand how to best approach their youth in times of difficulty. More specifically, a child counselor's goal is to help children better understand the emotions they are experiencing in a way that they can process. Doing so gives the child the ability to work through these emotions and live a healthy, happy life.
Child Pediatric Counselors commonly hold their counseling psychology sessions in schools. However, they can work in a variety of other environments, including private practices. Child pediatric counselors are required to have at least a master's degree in counseling or social work or a doctorate in psychology.
6. Grief Counselor
Most people will experience loss at some point in their lives. When dealing with loss, grief is a natural reaction. From sadness to anger, the grief process varies significantly from person to person. Grief is often composed of thoughts and emotions that change quickly. When experiencing grief, notions such as "they had a great life" can be soothing, while feelings of fear and guilt can arouse even more anxiety and depression in a person.
When an individual's grief begins to affect their daily life and proves to be hard for them to manage on their own, they may often seek out a grief counselor. A grief counselor is a professional who is trained to help patients cope with the grief felt after a significant loss. A counseling psychologist will create a safe environment for patients to comfortably express their sorrow and help them move on from their grieving experience. Aside from creating a sense of security, grief counselors also help their patients develop tools and techniques to manage symptoms often associated with grief, like depression and anxiety. By doing so, a grief counselor can help the patient reach a resolution and positively influence their well-being.
Though there are several different routes to becoming a grief counselor, the most common path is to earn a master's or doctorate in psychology with a specialization in grief. Another option is to become a licensed clinical social worker with an emphasis on grief counseling. Either way, proper licensing is needed to become a professional grief counselor.
If you're ready to help others via a career in counseling, consider one of Alliant’s counseling programs. From clinical counseling to school counseling, there is bound to be a type of counseling career goal that interests you! As a counselor, you have the power to make a profound impact on individuals, families, and communities. As the world becomes busier and busier, the need for counseling psychology is increasingly apparent. From counseling children in a school setting to working with adults who have a mental illness, counseling impacts thousands of lives daily and is a highly rewarding career field.
- “Types of Counseling Careers: Info for Aspiring Counselors,” Study.com, https://study.com/articles/Types_of_Counseling_Careers_Info_for_Aspirin…
- “A Guide to the Different Types of Counselors,” Better Help, https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/counseling/a-guide-to-the-different-t…
- “Types of Degrees of Different Therapy Careers,” Very Well Mind, https://www.verywellmind.com/therapy-degrees-2795674