An interesting perspective about the fields of counseling and therapy is that the degree requirements for both areas are centered around the master’s level. In order to obtain a career in the field of counseling, you are expected to engage in learning programs that result in your acquisition of a master’s degree in the field. Therapy candidates can also complete degree programs at the master’s level in order to be considered for a licensure in the future.
Finishing a master’s program at your school is not the only step to consider for entry into both of these fields. One of the most important experience requirements for counseling and therapy is your supervised clinical experience. This aspect usually occurs at points during your course work, as well as continuing after your graduation.
The field of counseling usually requires that you enroll in a Master of Counseling program or even alternative specialized options such as the Master of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, School Counseling, or even Career Counseling. Choosing a specialization can help you qualify for careers in the agencies that serve the purpose that is most closely related to your own personal mission.
People considering a career as a therapist can choose from the Master of Counseling program, Master of Social Work, or even the Master or Psychology as a large first step towards licensure in their field. Browsing the various forms of therapy and specialized practice available in the field can assist you with finding a program that gets you in touch with the population you would most like to serve.
Top Masters in Counseling Programs
- Masters in Counseling
- Online Masters in Counseling
- No GRE MA in Counseling
- Online Master of Arts in Counseling
- Schools with an Online Master of Counseling
- Accelerated MA in Counseling
- Hybrid MA in Counseling
- Dual Masters in Counseling Degrees
- By Online Counseling Program Specialization:
- Online Masters in Behavior Analysis
- Online Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Online Masters in Counseling Psychology
- Online Masters in Mental Health Counseling
- Online Master of Rehabilitation Counseling
- Online Masters in School Counseling
- By Accreditation:
- Online CACREP Accredited Masters Programs
- Online MPCAC Accredited Programs
Classes to Take
- Ethics and Legal Issues: Enrollment in this course may include a look into the history and development of the field of mental health. Current trends leading the field, as well as the cultural expectations of professional mental health workers may be explored, providing upcoming professionals with a strong foundation and understanding of their practice in the professional environment. Current laws, regulations, and expectations may also be reviewed as part of learning in this class.
- Diagnosis and Assessment: The process of diagnosis beginning with a clinical intake should follow a certain set of guidelines followed by all mental health professionals. This course outlines the process by which professionals make clinical decisions that can dictate treatment for their patients. Students in this course may study and practice from the DSM-5 in an effort to become more familiar with common mental health illnesses and disorders, as well as the assessment processes available for use in clinical settings.
- Individual and Group Counseling/Therapy: Different methods and skills in your field can assist you in obtaining careers in diverse fields and help you work with a wide range of clients during your career. The dynamics of individual and group counseling and therapy can be very different depending on your specialization, making this course extremely important for your professional development. Communication, technique, and activity-introduction are just a few of the topics you can focus on in this course.
In fields responsible for providing mental health services to the public, you should expect to see strict licensing requirements. Regardless of whether you choose a career path in the field of counseling or therapy, you might be expected to complete an accredited degree option as well as work through a clinical experience requirement.
Searching for accredited programs can be done by exploring the websites of popular accreditation agencies such as the CACREP and CSWE. These agencies can provide you with a list of verified online college programs to browse – even by state and current accreditation status.
Types of Counseling Licensure
- Counseling Licensure Guide
- State Counseling Licensure
- What It Takes to Become a Counselor
- LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor
- LFMT: Family and Marriage Therapy
- LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- LMHC: Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- BCBA: Board Certified Behavior Analyst
- NCC: National Certified Counselor
Online counseling and therapy programs may also include practicum or internship components to assist you in getting started as a practitioner in your field. These experiences can contribute to your overall field requirements for licensure, which continues after you have received your degree.
Overall, most counseling and therapy field requirements generally consist of around 2 years of supervised experience in the field, which is completed under the direct supervision of a licensed professional. This allows you to gain your needed experience for licensure while helping clients work through pressing issues in their personal lives.
At the end of your clinical experience, you may be required to also pass a licensure examination and state law test that is specific to your state’s expectations of mental health professionals. Once you have progressed through these tests of your ability, you can be eligible for a license and ready to work in your community.
Careers Available to You
Counseling is a profession that can partner you with a wide range of clients with very different needs. Careers in this specialized area can be found in community mental health agencies, schools, and even businesses focused on providing the most support to their employees.
Specific career options in counseling can include Clinical Mental Health Counselors, School Counselors, Crisis and Trauma Counselors, and Career Counselors. Each specialized area may require a certain skill set, curriculum, and clinical experience in order to become involved, but offer its own benefits in terms of the affected population.
Therapists can also work in diverse agencies within their communities, including those focused on positive mental health and self-care. Therapists can also be contracted with state agencies in foster care and family services, which can be helpful for the improvement of relationships for children and their families.
Different specialized career choices can be made available depending on the type of degree program you completed during your educational experience. Students of social work and psychology can choose from a wide variety of concentrations in education, trauma, age-related specialties, and even therapy focused on particular populations.