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:
- Cultural issues
- Social justice
- Individual, family and community counseling
- Spirituality and counseling
- Psychology (abnormal and others)
- Crisis, trauma, and loss
- Substance abuse treatment
- Group counseling
- Human growth and development
- Research methods
- Ethical issues
- Professional management and resources
- Counseling techniques
- 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