Types of Counseling Degrees & Programs

The field of counseling psychology is a strong career choice in the 21st century, with a 19% increase in job demand anticipated by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This demand is being driven by a general increase in demand for healthcare services overall. There is going to be particular high demand for psychological services in schools, hospitals, mental health centers and social service agencies.

It is also thought that the demand for both counseling and clinical psychologists will rise as people are turning to mental health providers to cope with their problems. People are focusing more on these issues as they are living longer and healthier lives physically. It only makes sense that they will strive to deal with their mental health issues as well and there are good number of degree options available in this field.

As you are considering a career as a psychologist or counselor, it is important to understand the types of counseling degrees that are available, as well as what you need to do to get your counseling license:

Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology

A master’s in counseling psychology is a graduate degree that usually requires two or three years of study beyond your bachelor’s degree. The most common type of counseling master’s degree is the Master of Arts and the Master of Sciences.

The Master of Arts often has more of a liberal arts and theoretical focus, while the Master of Science is often focused more on research and practice.

To get a good understanding of what a typical master’s in counseling degree program involves, let’s take a look at a good online master’s program: Northwestern University. This is a two year, intensive, online Master of Arts program in counseling and clinical psychology. The program studies the depths and complexities of psychodynamic perspectives, the importance and centrality of therapeutic relationships, and how important therapeutic self reflection is.

Each student is immersed in counseling and clinical work for six quarters throughout the two year program. At each stage of development as a counselor, you learn the clinical skills and knowledge that are required to be a successful therapist.

After you complete your master’s in counseling, you have to complete your licensure requirements in your state. This requires you to pass a national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors, and also to complete several hundred hours of supervised clinical work.

This master’s program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which is the top accreditation organization for counseling programs in the US.

Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling

Marriage and family counselors and therapists are specifically focused on helping couples and families to overcome various mental and emotional disorders. They need to listen closely to their clients and to help them to understand their problems more clearly and to enact solutions.

Many marriage and family counselors help their patients to deal with anxiety and depression disorders, and help their clients to better talk about their emotions and experiences.

Most therapists use several proven techniques to help their clients to overcome their problems. Many may use cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a goal-oriented approach that helps people to understand harmful feelings, thoughts and beliefs, and to teach them how to supplant those negative thoughts with positive ones.

Counselors also may use cognitive behavioral therapy to teach their patients how to get rid of damaging and negative behaviors and replace them with positive ones.

If you are interested in a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy & counseling, consider the two year degree program offered by Capella University. This program includes online classes that also incorporates a residency with academic credit, and also a practicum or internship that allows you to apply what you have learned in your local area.

This program also has been accredited by CACREP and has both rigorous online and face to face counseling experiences that will ready you for state licensure. Courses include the following;

  • Research in Human Development for Professional Counselors
  • Assessments, Tests and Measures
  • Foundations of Addiction and Addictive Behaviors
  • Theories of Personality
  • Introduction to Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Professional Ethics in Family and Marriage Counseling
  • Methods of Family Research

Fieldwork requirements in this master’s in counseling program are based upon industry standards as set up by CACREP and included 100 hours of practicum hours and 600 hours of internship hours.

Master’s Degree in Addiction Counseling

Some professionals who are interested in counseling have a special interest in helping people deal with substance abuse and behavior disorders. These counselors often work with people who suffer from drug problems, alcoholism and other behavior-related problems that have a negative effect on their lives. These counselors provide these patients with support and treatment so that they can live more fulfilling lives.

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors may also be referred to as addiction counselors. They can work with clients one on one or in groups. Many counselors will use 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, to provide structure to their practices. They teach their clients how to deal with the problems and stresses of life without using drugs and alcohol.

Addiction counselors may work with many other mental health professionals, such as Nurses & RNs, social workers, doctors and psychiatrists. This is a particularly in demand profession, with 22% increase in job demand by 2024.

For a high quality addiction counseling master’s degree, the accredited program offered by Grand Canyon University online is an excellent choice. With this two year online degree, you can possibly own your own counseling clinic after you obtain your license. You also can work in a substance abuse clinic, group practice facility or in a hospital.

Your classwork will include:

  • Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethics
  • Counseling Theories
  • Introduction to Addictions and Substance Use Disorders
  • Group Counseling Theory and Practice
  • Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling
  • Psychopharmacology and Addictions
  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling

Ph.D. in Counselor Education

For licensed counselors with a master’s degree who want to earn a doctoral degree to either open their own practice or to provide supervision and oversight to other counselors, you should consider earning your doctoral degree in counselor education.

One such program is offered by Liberty University. This program is typically attended by experienced counselors who want to become:

  • Advanced clinicians
  • Faculty members
  • Researchers
  • Consultants
  • Program directors and managers
  • Administrators

This program is rooted and grounded in counseling leadership principles and on the emphasis of diverse areas of knowledge and skills in the counseling field. Courses include:

  • Advanced Group Counseling
  • Supervision and Consultation
  • Advanced Family, Systems and Development
  • Issues in Integration
  • Qualitative Research
  • Advanced Assessment
  • Advanced Career Counseling
  • Advanced Psychopathology and Its Treatments

The field of counseling psychology is a diverse and growing profession. With a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling psychology, you will be able to find a highly desirable and rewarding counseling position.