Child Counselor Programs: An Overview
Child counseling is a growing field, offering mental health services to children and teens. College degree programs in this field are designed to prepare you to apply advanced approaches concerning the latest therapy techniques and practice models. Online programs are particularly convenient, offering flexible hours for busy students who cannot attend classes on traditional campuses.
To become a child counselor, students must start at the undergraduate level by earning a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, or another field related to counseling. After completing their undergraduate degree, students should enter graduate programs in child counseling or a related field. A master’s degree is the minimum requirement for licensure in this field. Earning a graduate degree in child counseling and completing a supervised internship can help prepare you for licensure, although requirements may vary by state.
The information below gives insights into degree programs and options.
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Online Master’s Programs
Many colleges offer online master’s-level child counseling degrees. For students who work full-time, have children or other commitments, online programs are considered an excellent choice, offering more flexible options to fit busy schedules.
Below are online child counseling master’s programs that are currently accepting applications for new students.
Sample Courses for an Online Master of Child Counseling Degree
Students working toward a child counselor degree can enroll in courses that will provide extensive knowledge and skills that are relevant to the career. The courses offered in these degree programs were developed to empower students to work with children in a mental health capacity. Students can study childhood mental illness, the effects of trauma, and counseling methods. There are also many areas of specialization to consider. Alongside their graduate coursework, students may also have the opportunity to be directly trained by specialists in the field of therapy practices and childhood development.
Below are some of the course subjects graduates may be able to take in their study of child psychology.
- Child Development: Child counselor instructors in this course can provide educational information to students by studying real-life case studies of children and teens. The course will study the brain and the psychological stages of development throughout adolescence.
- Trauma and Crisis Management: Students can learn how trauma affects children and their brain development. This course offers information on how to react and respond to crisis situations and look at the best practices of de-escalation. Diagnosis and treatments, as well as childhood mental health disease and how it affects development, are some areas that may be covered in this course.
- Cognitive Neuropsychology: Students enrolled in this course are able to study the parts of the child and adolescent brain and what each section is responsible for. The focus will be psychiatric diagnoses versus behavioral diagnoses, as well as studying normal versus abnormal human development.
Where Do Child Counselors Work?
Child counselors can offer therapy and support services to children in various settings. They may work with children in schools, hospitals, clinics, or private practice.
A Typical Day for a Child Counselor
A typical workday consists of using knowledge and expertise to provide counseling, therapy, and support to patients and clients struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, or other mental health disorders. Child counselors fill different roles on a day-to-day basis depending on where they work. For example, counselors are needed in mental health clinics to see patients who need outpatient therapy. Some child counselors may work in a hospital where children and teens are admitted for further evaluation.
Organizations to Know
There are numerous professional associations that help guide the child counseling field, including the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and the American Counseling Association (ACA). Effective professional counselors can stay up to date on the latest techniques by joining organizations such as these that specialize in their field of expertise. The Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (SCCAP) is another organization for professionals in this career.
Being part of a professional organization provides opportunities to interact with others who hold similar jobs, share clinical and career information, and learn more about the latest trends in child counseling.
Those pursuing or considering child counselor degrees should learn about the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC) and the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (NCSPP). Both organizations can provide industry-specific knowledge and support for child counseling.
Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling, “About Us”
American Counseling Association, “School Counselors”
American Counseling Association, “School Counselor Connection”
National Board for Certified Counselors, “Resources for NCCs”
The National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology, “About”