Pursuing a Master’s Degree in Counseling is a wonderful way to be able to help others. As you embark upon this very important profession, there are some essential considerations for you when choosing among programs. When selecting the appropriate school, these factors will help determine how you eventually gain the exact licensing you seek and acquire the skills needed to practice independently.
Degree Plan for Counseling
A Master’s Degree in Counseling can take a specific emphasis, such as one of the following: school counseling, mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, or addictions counseling. Consider what area of interest would most appeal to you and make your plan accordingly.
You usually must adhere to specific coursework requirements in order to determine the direction of your career down the road. Talk to school administrators to ensure that you are on the right path. Make sure that you ask about separate licensing agencies that oversee different divisions within counseling.
Consider how long your degree program will take for completion. Are you interested in adding a sub-specialty to your main focus? In many states, you will be able to add additional coursework without having to enroll in another educational program; this is with the prerequisite that your initial program met minimum length requirements and basic standards.
Many degree plans will empower you to take a licensing exam and apply for an associate or “lower level” license after you have graduated. It is usually required to work under supervision for about two years in order to attain full licensure. School counselors are usually subject to different regulations, so make sure that you educate yourself accordingly. Know the facts.
Master’s Degree in Counseling Program Accreditation
Most reputable counseling programs gain accreditation through CACREP (The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs). Rehabilitation counseling programs are usually accredited by CORE (The Council on Rehabilitation Education).
It is usually a smoother process to become licensed when your program maintains the standard accreditation. These programs also often maintain good connections with certain agencies or groups with specific standards. Proper accreditation is one of the most important factors in your process of becoming a Counselor.
Reputable counseling programs seek accreditation by CACREP. Rehabilitation counseling programs are often accredited by CORE.
Students often ask the question of “Should I consider a Master’s program that isn’t accredited?” There are psychology departments that provide Master’s programs in counseling psychology that effectively integrate include coursework that is required in counseling or marital and family therapy; these programs are often designed to meet licensing requirements in each state. Though they might not be accredited by CACREP or CORE, if the program has been pre-approved by the state, the licensing process may be just as smooth going this route. Make sure that you are aware of your state’s requirements before deciding to go this path. You might be choosing a program that has applied for accreditation and will soon be approved. Contrarily, if the school has been repeatedly turned down for accreditation, this is a fact to certainly consider, as well.
Some of the established art therapy programs have curriculums that mirror the CACREP-accredited counseling programs. You might be eligible for the same licensing, depending on the state in which you are practicing.
Other Factors in Choosing a Program
Choosing the right program for you is one of the most important decisions you will make. You should consider factors such as cost and location of the program. The American Counseling Association outlines strong considerations such as details programs and nuances of the faculty. Consider the diversity of the staff. What is their sensitivity level with regards to gender and ethnic issues? Are they involved in any pioneering therapy techniques or innovative methods? Not only read the literature on the school, but stop by the campus at random times to see the interactions of the faculty and students. Get familiar with the physical grounds of the campus and how the buildings are situated. Ask yourself if you can see yourself going to that school.
Consider other factors, such as whether the program includes a thesis.
A Master’s Degree in Counseling can prove to be rewarding career when you take all the right steps.