Through extensive educational involvement and specific coursework that focuses on the effects of being in the military, you can learn just how effective counseling can be as a remedy. Take the time to look through this helpful guide, which was put together by an experienced team of educational experts. The educational requirements, earning capabilities, and schools offering this program are listed below.
What Does a Miltary Counselor Do?
Military counselors work primarily with service men and women that are experiencing difficulties with anxiety, stress, or post traumatic stress disorder. These professionals are highly trained professionals that can be found working alongside military personnel across seas, at military installments across the country, for local mental health organizations, or even with the government. Using specialized techniques and counseling, military counselors work directly with military members to establish methods for accepting loss of friends or comrades during battle, dealing with separation from their families, and healing from physical and emotional wounds.
Military counselors may also work with the families of service members when dealing with the stress that goes alongside being separated for long periods of time or even possibly dealing with the death of a loved one. For soldiers that have had long-term effects of trauma, such as substance abuse or intrusive thoughts, military counselors may seek to implement practices such as cognitive behavior therapy or work to find a therapeutic activity for the individual to become involved with. The initial process begins with an interview with the person seeking therapy.
Depending on any potential diagnoses, counselors will develop a treatment plan that can assist the patient with becoming more open to therapy, get the person involved in the treatment, and finding a way to gain acceptance and growth throughout the process. The interesting thing about this career field is its ability to transition depending on the individual. When you start working in this field, you may find that people respond differently to different types of therapeutic methods, which you can learn through your educational programs. As you decide on the right path for your education, you can remain confident that your work as a military counselor can move mountains for people that are suffering from stresses related to military service work.
Common Education Requirements to Become a Military Counselor?
So, you have decided that you might want to pursue a career as a military counselor. This specialized field requires that you gain knowledge in areas such as psychology, counseling, and the military in general.
There have been some degree programs designed to implement all of these requirements, but in some cases you may need to obtain the minimum requirement of a Master’s degree in Counseling or Psychology as well as a Post-Master’s Certificate in Military Counseling. The steps for becoming a licensed military counselor are listed below for your information.
Bachelors Degree in Military Counseling
The first step for anyone seeking licensure as a counselor is the acquisition of a bachelor’s degree. Depending on your interests, you may find the Bachelor’s in Psychology or Bachelor’s in Counseling to be more suitable. Each program is designed to implement the theory and practice of mental health intervention, alongside the general education requirements for all bachelor’s programs. During this experience, you should expect to begin with standard courses such as math and science, which is quickly followed by specific courses in psychology and counseling later in the program. The purpose of the general education requirement is to test your competencies in standard educational subjects prior to delving into the more concentrated nature of graduate-level programs. You should be able to complete your bachelor’s degree in around 4 years at full-time enrollment.
Masters Degree in Military Counseling
While some programs are different, most master’s level programs require that students take part in the Graduate Record Examination prior to being accepted. The scores from this exam are sent to the colleges that you apply to in order to determine your current intellectual standing. Once you have been accepted into a master’s program, you can choose majors that focus on counseling or psychology as a primary means for your training. Some colleges offer master’s level degrees in military counseling, but it may be more beneficial to obtain a generic counseling degree and complement it with a graduate certificate. The master’s programs last anywhere from 1-2 years and can be completed entirely online. During this program, you may be expected to take part in case studies and projects that allow you to test your skills in counseling, as well as standardized tests and class discussions.
Certificate programs were implemented in an effort to give students more experience in specific genres of their choice. Military counseling requires that students have extensive knowledge of the U.S. Military, the loss and tragedy associated with war, and the effects that these experiences can have on service members and their families.
Certificate programs that specialize in military counseling can be completed in around 1 year on average. If you are interested in taking this route, there are online Certificate Programs in Military Counseling available in an online setting.
Experience and Licensure
All degree programs in counseling that lead to licensure include a supervised work experience requirement. In online degree programs, you may be expected to locate a licensed counselor for your experience nearby your current location. This experience includes taking part in real-life counseling sessions and observing a licensed counselor as they take part in their daily routine.
Through this requirement, you can gain a better understanding of what to expect while working in the field, as well as how to transition your knowledge gained in educational programs to a real-world environment. This requirement typically requires you to work in a supervised environment for 1-2 years, depending on what your state requires for licensure. Once this has been completed, you can apply to take your state’s board exam in counseling and obtain your license to practice.
Common Coursework for a Military Counselor Program
Once you have decided to move forward with a degree program in counseling or military counseling, you may find that the course work is representative of the assessment, treatment, and care of those serving in the U.S. Military. The course work in these programs may mirror what is required for standard counseling programs, with the addition of specific classes that teach the history and effects of military service.
You may also take courses that allow you to explore how the military can have a second hand effect on the families of military service members, which can contribute to your understanding of emotional turmoil within the family unit. Our team of experts has provided you with a few sample courses that are common within these degree programs. Look below for what was found.
Working with Military Spouses, Families, and Children
This course seeks to educate students on the ways that being in the military can have an effect on the families of service men and women. Individuals in this line of work are subjected to living in a large number of new environments, being separated for large periods of time, and potentially suffering from loss or injury. Therapeutic techniques for family members are covered in detail within this course.
Techniques in Counseling
Students taking this course may be asked to consider their own bias and opinion about mental health as a means for better understanding counseling. Skills in the initial assessment process are taught, as well as the ethical considerations of counseling techniques. This course allows for students to take part in studies surrounding observational data, the interpretation of data, and writing conclusive reports.
Diagnosis and Assessment
This course can help students identify different psychological components that are descriptive of mental illness and disorders. Using diagnostic criteria, students may have the opportunity to apply their knowledge to fiction and real-life case studies. The use of diagnostics in counseling is profound, making this course exceptionally important for those pursuing a career in military counseling.
Schools/Programs to Consider
When you are seeking a school for your degree, you may find that there are many different options providing slight differences. Different programs provide different tracks and specializations, so it is important to determine what you desire for your degree. If you are seeking a master’s that focuses on military counseling primarily, there are numerous universities offering this program online.
For others, it may be more beneficial to obtain a post-master’s certificate after completing a Master’s in Counseling or Psychology from another university. Take a look below at some of the schools offering these programs.
Walden University – Online MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling – Military Families and Culture
Walden University provides an excellent program that encompasses mental health counseling as a whole with the addition of the Military Families and Culture specialization. This program can be completed in 2-3 years and allows students to graduate with both a general clinical mental health counseling degree and a specialization in military treatment. This program consists of coursework that can increase your knowledge and skills in general mental health counseling, which can expand your knowledge into different treatment methods and therapeutic processes that are useful for individuals suffering from a wide range of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties.
Alder University – Online MA in Psychology – Military Psychology
This online program through Alder University understands the importance of increase support for military members and their families. The entire program consists of 37 credit hours, which can be completed in a little over 2 years. Throughout the program, students can learn about how being in the military and taking part in war can affect those involved. Methods for resiliency and healing may be taught throughout this program, providing students with a stable foundation for successful practices in the future.
Regis University – Counseling Military Families Post-Graduate Certificate
This certificate program at Regis University offers students the option of pairing their master’s level degree with a specialization in military family counseling. The entire program consists of 18 credit hours, which can be completed in 1 year or less, depending on the type of enrollment. Through this coursework, you can learn how to meet the emotional needs of those that have been affected by having a close loved one in the military, including instances of loss or separation.
Military Counselor Salary and Career Outlook
Becoming a military counselor can be a fulfilling and helpful decision not only for you, but for those that rely on you. If you plan on pursuing a career in this field, you could work on military installments, providing close proximity care for the service members in the area.
There are numerous availabilities for professionals that want to help soldiers manage their feelings regarding separation, war, deployment, and general life stresses. Some job openings for military counselors work in community settings, providing help to veterans that want to lead normal lives.
Other entities that seek the expertise of military counselors include colleges, mental health organizations, and the government. As a professional in this field, you can work with youth that are seeking careers in the military, college students that are considering the military for their future, current military professionals and their families, and veterans that are no longer actively involved in the military.
This career field can potentially touch a large group of people ranging from those that only have aspirations about joining the military, to others that have spent their life serving their country. With this in mind, it is easy to consider this job as a continuous career field for years to come.
In terms of income, the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers counselors of all disciplines when arranging their yearly statistics. The most recent figures states that counselors can earn $47,640 on average per year while working throughout the country (BLS;2015). These numbers can change drastically depending on the field in which you work, where you work, and how much experience you have working with military members.