Choosing a degree path that closely aligns with your skills as a professional can be an excellent way to make a decision that is satisfying for a lifetime.
Students that exhibit curiosity about science and human development, critical thinking skills, and the willingness to listen and reflect could be great prospects for this counseling path.
As you read more in the guide below, you should consider which educational path you would like to take in order to meet your goal of becoming a counseling professional in child development.
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Child Development Counseling Degrees
Counseling degrees that are geared towards child development often begin with insight into systems such as social work, psychology, and education. At the undergraduate and certificate level, students can learn more about normal childhood development stages, life events that can influence normal or abnormal child development, and methods for helping children work through these circumstances to lead happy and healthy lives.
If you are new to college education and are interested in pursuing a counseling career in child development, you could choose from an array of psychology and counseling-based degree programs to help set you on track for your success in the future.
At the graduate level, students can look deeper into counseling methods that are effective during childhood and early adolescence. Since the master's level is the lowest degree program that can result in licensure as a counselor, this is a popular degree level for upcoming professionals.
The Master's in Child Development Counseling program can help you learn diagnostic skills that can be useful when working with new clients in the field, as well as treatment methods that have been proven effective with clients in childhood stages.
The expertise that you can gain during these programs can lead you into careers in private practice, mental health agencies, or even educational institutions.
Child Development-Counseling Degrees at Most Levels
Depending on the type of work you would like to do as a professional in the field of child development counseling, you might need a choose a particular degree path in order to achieve your goals.
In most states in the U.S., students with the desire to work directly with clients in the field of counseling must enroll in a minimum of a Masters in Counseling to be licensed in the future. You can choose different specialized paths in child development, child and family counseling, or child psychology as part of your counseling program in order to better prepare for working with children.
If you have dreams of pursuing careers in research, social services, or even possibly managing your own child development counseling center in the future, you could also pursue doctoral level programs to learn about some of the higher tier components associated with these fields.
Universities all over the country have online programs that can provide you with a customized degree plan to fit your needs. Take a look at what you can do at each of the degree levels below.
- Masters: The Masters in Counseling can be your entry point to careers working directly with children in the field. Since this is the degree level for licensure, this is a terminal degree for upcoming counseling professionals. The Masters in Counseling is available in the online setting, making it an even more attractive options for busy adults looking for a little something more in their careers.
- Doctoral: Doctoral programs in Counseling can also be found online and can provide students with added information regarding the management of employees in a therapeutic setting, research techniques for field advancement, and even opportunities for developing independent projects and research programs. If you already have a masters degree and are looking to add to your portfolio, this could be a great option for you.
- Certificate Programs: Having a Masters in Counseling without a specialization in child development does not have to be the end of the line for your career in the field. Certificate programs in the online setting can provide you with a set of course work that can give you courses directly related to your field of interest. Universities offering counseling programs online often provide certificate options for you to pursue to help transform your degree into what you desire.
Online Master's in Child Development Programs
You and many others interested in becoming child development counseling professionals might be on a search for programs that can fit your needs and prepare you for licensure. Our team of educational experts has reviewed some of the top counseling programs currently available in the online setting in order to give you a few examples to start you on your way. As you read through our example programs below, you should consider the amount of time you would like to spend in your program and your intended outcome prior to making your choice.
- Bradley University - Online Master of Counseling: At Bradley University, you can enroll in the online Master of Counseling in specialized areas such as clinical mental health and professional school counseling. Each of these fields could provide you with the backing you need to provide relevant counseling services to children on a daily basis. This program requires that students engage in a practicum experience as part of their degree expectations. Most students can complete this program in 2-3 years.
- Oregon State University - Online Master of Counseling: OSU's online Master of Counseling program with focus in clinical mental health can be an excellent starting point for upcoming child development counselors looking for a high quality program. At this school, you can take part in a 90 credit hour program that provides an in-depth look into the practices and procedures of current counselors in the field. This program can require around 3 years for completion.
Sample Courses for the Online Master's
While in these online degree programs, you can be introduced to new and innovative topics in the field of counseling. Techniques for working with children may be highlighted in some programs, since methods for counseling can change depending on the age and stage of development of your client. Another component that is common in online masters programs in this field is the assessment and diagnosis of clients in a clinical setting. As a students in these programs you could be introduced to proven techniques for use during your clinical experience and after receiving your license in your state.
- Counseling Children and Adolescents: One of the most important skills for child development counselors is connecting with the children they serve. Working with young children and teenagers requires a diverse set of skills that you can learn through courses like this one. In this course, you can learn about different proven techniques that have been shown effective with youth clients, as well as developmental components that can delay or impact the counseling process.
- Assessment and Treatment Planning: As a child development counselor, you may be tasked with conducting assessments on the children you serve. The assessment process includes specific elements that can vary depending on your client. This course can walk you through the assessment process, as well as methods of development effective treatment plans based on your diagnoses and findings.
- Lifespan Development: In order to truly understand the clients that you work with, you should have a strong understanding of child development from a psychological and biological perspective. This course can outline the normal developmental stages of children, as well as the factors in a lifetime that can affect normal development. Noticing abnormal development in children can help you to better develop effective counseling programs to help them lead proactive and healthy lifestyles.
Path to a Career in Child Development Counseling
Child development counseling is one of the most popular forms of counseling currently pursued in the United States. As with most career fields, the training begins at the most basic level - during your bachelors program. There are plenty of online bachelors programs that can help you gain skills that can benefit you as you transition into masters level programs. Your choice of online bachelors program could enhance your learning in online Master of Counseling programs, so you should choose an introductory program that best fits your career choice.
Once you have enrolled in an online masters program, you can learn more about the techniques and skills specific to your area of counseling. It is at this point that you may also take part in supervised clinical experience, which takes place in a real-world counseling setting. You can follow the direction of a licensed counselor, which can help you apply what you have learned during your degree program.
After graduating from your degree program, you can choose a counseling organization to work for in order to complete your 2 year supervised experience requirement for licensure. During this time period you will also need a licensed supervisor to oversee your work in the field. After you have completed this experience, you can take your board examination in counseling and apply for licensing in your state. Further certification in child development can be pursued through certificate programs in this focus.
Organizations to Know
There are a few things that can set you on track for stability within your career once you are licensed. Choosing a career field that is aligned with your skills and knowledge is a huge component in your stability, as well as your connections in the field. One of the best ways to connect with others and maintain current on your professional field is through joining professional organizations in child development counseling. There are numerous organizations in general counseling or specialty fields that can allow you to explore related areas, such as the American Counseling Association.
If you would also like to join organizations that are geared more towards your field in particular, you should take a look at agencies such as the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling. Through this agency, you can gain access to resources and literature about changes in your field and communicate with other professionals in your field.
Careers to Consider
Obtaining your license as a child development counselor can be an entry-point to careers in several different social fields. Counselors that specialize in child development can be excellent components in a widespread mental health organization that seeks to provide a variety of mental health services to the general public. Professionals in this area can work with clients that may present with challenges in childhood and be responsible for developing treatment plans to help children get back on track.
Child development counselors can also work for school systems that require the expertise of licensed counselors for the wellness of the children enrolled. Counselors in this area can work with individual children or can provide relevant emotional and developmental educational presentations to large groups in the school system. If you have an interest in the field of education and wish to provide support to students, this could be a career field for you to consider.
Some of the more unconventional routes for child development counselors may include careers that partner with social services agencies to provide care to children that have been removed from their homes, work in hospitals to provide acute care to admitted children, or even in private organizations that are focused on improving the techniques that are utilized by current counselors in the field. Your desires as a child development counselor should guide you as you seek out the perfect career environment.