If you are considering earning a graduate degree in counseling or therapy you are likely to have many questions. Learn about the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about becoming a counselor or therapist below:
How Do I Become a Counselor or Therapist?
People who want to work in the field of mental are usually required to meet rigorous certification requirements including:
Earning a bachelor’s degree (perhaps in counseling, biology, or psychology, depending on the master’s program they plan to enter)
Earning a master’s degree in counseling or psychology (depending on the field in which they wish to work)
Qualifying for licensure in the state in which they plan to practice
Qualifying for national certification (depending on the state in which they plan to practice)
Those who wonder how to be a counselor typically must also complete extensive clinical hours or a professional internship. Once an individual has earned a master’s degree, gained the appropriate licensure and certification, and completed his or her training, he or she may be qualified to work in a private practice or a number of other settings. An individual can complete either a traditional campus-based program or opt for the convenience and flexibility of an online counseling degree.
What Steps Should I Take to Become a Counselor or Therapist?
When you make the decision to attend school to become a counselor or therapist, consider taking the following steps:
Research the field of mental health counseling and therapy to see if it’s right for you
Identify schools that have bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees in mental health counseling or therapy, or in a closely related field
Make sure that the schools and programs you would like to attend are accredited and well-respected in the field
Talk to an academic counselor in the program to determine the amount of time, money, and training it will take to become a graduated, licensed, and certified counselor and/or therapist
Consider finding a mentor in the field who can guide you in your studies and career path
What Types of Counseling Courses Will I Take in the Course of My Education?
Within your counseling master’s program, you will take numerous courses that will help you become a skilled counselor or therapist. The following is a list of some of the topics you can expect to study:
Individual, family and community counseling
Spirituality and counseling
Psychology (abnormal and others)
Crisis, trauma, and loss
Substance abuse treatment
Human growth and development
Professional management and resources
Theories of counseling and therapy
These are just some examples of the many topics you will potentially cover in a counseling master’s degree program. In addition to taking counseling courses in these types of subjects, you will also likely complete a clinical assessment, a counseling practicum, a supervised counseling internship, and, depending on the program, a supervised research project.
What Type of Person Should I Be to Work as a Therapist?
To work effectively as a mental health counselor or therapist, you should be (at minimum):
Considerate and respectful
You should also be skilled at:
Working with numerous types of people from numerous demographics
Distinguishing your own issues from those of your clients
Working with people who have experienced crisis, trauma, and loss without becoming dramatic or reactive
Listening closely and skillfully
Speaking thoughtfully and skillfully
Respecting and maintaining confidentiality
Continuously studying, learning, and growing both personally and professionally