Child Counselor Certification and Education
Education for Child Counselors is crucial to being able to perform the best job you can as a Child Counselor. Child counselors become adept at making assessments of children’s individual needs and setting appropriate treatment goals.
Children experience their own range of psychological challenges through the years. While adults might be proactive about going to a counselor for help with their challenges, children may need a guiding hand, and adult supervision, in seeking treatment for any of the following: anxiety, depression, PTSD, or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Child (Pediatric) counselors work with children who have experienced a wide range of issues. Examples of situations or issues may include trauma as a victim of abuse or witnessing domestic violence in the home. Some children are going through the struggles of their parents’ separation or divorce. Some are dealing with identity issues and might be subject to bullying at school. Child counselors are there to help with all of these issues and more.
Frequently, child counselors will employ innovative therapies or other modalities such as play therapy. The counselor may also be a contributing member of a team that includes other mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and specially trained nurses; the foremost goal is to always get the child the most appropriate treatment possible.
How to Become a Child Counselor
To become a child counselor, one must first achieve an education at the master’s level and obtaining licensing from their state. In most cases, candidates will have a master’s degree in child counseling or another form of counseling. Know prior to embarking that counseling degrees can be highly competitive, but if possible, find a program specializing in child counseling. Although competitive, you should not be dissuaded from applying, but knowing the facts can prepare you. While looking at programs, make sure they line up with the counselor requirements in your state.
Furthermore, other avenues to continue your goal (of working professionally with children) include pursuing special training in play therapy. Many reputable universities (online or in a classroom) offer graduate certificates in play therapy. Some schools will allow you to pursue play therapy as a focus in your Master’s program. Play therapy has proven very popular in the counseling milieu.
There will be some cases where students will be able to choose a license that certifies them as professional and school counselors. For child counselors this opens up the settings in which they can assist children. This flexibility has been shown to lead to an increase in career satisfaction.
It is wise to choose an undergraduate major in a field such as child development. You can also gain valuable volunteer experience at a place such as a child crisis center. Any environment that gives you the chance to work directly with children’s issues will benefit you greatly for this worthwhile career you are choosing. This invaluable experience you gain will provide you a much better chance of getting admitted to the program of your choice. Having the right experience and academic background will help you achieve success as a professional child counselor.
Licensing for Child Counselors
A child counselor must have a state license in professional counseling or a related field. You may also have attained additional certifications through another organization.
For counselors in the United States looking to be certified in Play therapy, you will have to complete a graduate education to become certified by the Association for Play Therapy. In addition you will need to be already licensed as a mental healthcare professional and complete 150 hours of play therapy instruction. A counselor looking to be certified in play therapy must complete 500 hours of overseen practice as well as complete course work in areas such as child and adult psychotherapy.
Salary and Job Outlook for Counselors
There is a growing need for child counselors, with the job outlook for child counselors looking very good. Visit our jobs page to see available positions Elementary and school counselors can make as high as $63,000 according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics.