The common factors with all counselors include a minimum Masters qualification, hours of supervised clinical experience and accreditation or licensing by state regulatory body. Counselors specialize after Bachelors degree. They all work with persons experiencing social, emotional or mental issues. There are other areas that are not necessarily emotion or pain related. They include polishing your career, relationships, difficult family decisions, etc. Here are common counselor specialization areas and their requirements. Some may differ depending on your state.
• Family and Marriage Counselor
Marriage counselors or therapists provide an independent eye for marriages especially when they are facing problems. In most cases, it is for couples trying to avoid divorce. However, there are instances like when there is a loss, illness, change in financial status, etc. Therapists help the families to find a compromise position and restore peaceful co-existence. This field is projected to grow by 40% in the 2010-2020 decade. To work as a marital therapist you must have completed your Masters degree in counseling. You will then seek accreditation by sitting for the licensing examination. An average of two years supervised experience is required. It gives you the mandate to work anywhere in country.
• School Counselor
You will be based in learning institutions. This is one therapist who does not have to deal with emotions and pains. Your role in school is to guide the kids in developing a vocational and academic road map. You will be required to evaluate the strengths of individual students, provide necessary information and direct the student to achieve his or her career goals. Counseling takes place at individual or group level. This field is poised to grow by around 20% in the next decade. The licenses begin with Masters in counseling especially up to high school counseling. Colleges and universities require doctorate holders who do not necessarily require licenses.
• Mental Health Counselor
This is a clinical psychologist with a responsibility to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. The growing need for mental health specialist will push their demand by over 35% over the next decade. The cases you should expect at your desk include difficulties with physical illnesses, death, divorce, relationships, trauma, etc. The patients are usually at risk of violence or suicide. You may specialize with children, elderly, women, groups, etc. You need a Masters degree with accreditation and supervised internship hours.
• Addiction And Substance Abuse
Judges are sending people to rehab jails other than ordinary prisons. As a counselor, you will be dealing with substance abuse and behavior change for most of the time. You work as a private practitioner or are employed by the government or private facility. You must be a Masters holding counselor with specialization in substance abuse. Accreditation is also required with up to three years of supervised experience.
• Rehabilitation Counselor
Your duty is to assist disabled persons to regain confidence and physical ability. The largest number is of those with developmental delays and autism. The obstacles could also be debilitating injuries that make it difficult to earn a living or live a normal life. Employment is in health, social or community facilities. Non-profit organizations also employ rehabilitation counselors. Average earning is between 30,000 and 47,000 dollars a year. This is a practical counseling engagement that also requires a lot of dedication. A bachelor degree will be sufficient especially in helping profession but a Masters degree is preferred. You need licensing as a professional counselor which can be transferred from one state to another.
• Spiritual Counselor
Your duty will be to guide people through spiritual growth. This enables them to find a purpose in life, overcome obstacles, find an explanation or perspective for pain and grief, etc. This is one of the professions that integrate spiritual care with psychological health. You do not need graduate training in most cases, but you must be ordained as a minister. In most cases, you will be working under a spiritual umbrella like church or ministry.
• Child Pediatric Counselors
The main duty or a pediatric counselor is to assist in adjustment, OCD – Obsessive Compulsive disorder or OCD, anxiety, depression, etc. Children need assistance to deal with death, divorce, trauma, separation, relocation, etc. You will be required to assess their needs and recommend possible solutions. A Masters in counseling is mandatory with specialization in child counseling. There are licensing requirements based on your state, most of which require supervised experience.
• Geriatric Counselor
The elderly also face serious challenges and need guidance. Your duty as a counselor is to assist the person deal with the aging process, retirement, death of child, spouse, senior living, impairment, poor health, loss of independence, etc. You must love to work with old people and handle their sensitivity. Consider that they are all older than you are. Average earnings for such a counselor is 42,000$ with the sector bound to expand by around 37% in the decade ending 2020.
• Transformational Counselors
At one point you have wanted to change your life after academic failure, career stagnation, or deviation from your path of dreams, etc. Transformational counseling is about identifying beliefs that limit your growth potential especially attitudes, thoughts and habits. The tool used is talk therapy. Art and dance are also used to enable you drop old living and embrace new life. Most of these counselors build a brand through research and publicity. They hold seminars, motivation talks and conferences targeting different challenges. Certification is usually voluntary for credibility purposes. Most of these counselors have overcome certain difficulties and thus teach by example. Earning depend on personal effort.
There are numerous counseling specializations, some of which are profession based while others are based on passion. In most cases, you have to work with an institution with a clear focus on the needs of the elderly, children, students, families, prisoners, veterans, etc. In other cases, personal effort will help you build a brand. Accreditation for most of them requires supervised experience and a minimum of Masters in counseling. In general, Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the decade ending 2020 will witness between 25-35% growth in counseling needs. With mental health being included in ACA, earnings for counselors can only rise.