why become a counselor? if you have a strong desire to serve the community and help others deal with challenges and hardships that they may come across in life, counseling may be a good career choice for you. counselors are responsible for assessing and evaluating their clients' needs and problems with the help of investigative tools like interviews, case histories, and observations. based on their evaluation, they provide different kinds of support services with the purpose of helping individuals in achieving more effective personal, social, educational, and professional adjustment.
although many professionals work as independent free-lance counselors, others are employed by private and public organizations and agencies. counseling is a very broad and diverse field. you could choose an area that is specifically in accordance with your interest and career objectives. however you need to understand the difference between the various areas of counseling. some of the common specialties include:
mental health counseling: this involves helping people cope with various mental and social disorders like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
career counseling: also known as vocational counseling, it involves assisting students with formulating and exploring various career plans based on their education, experience, skill set, and personality traits. in order to provide proper guidance, career counselors are supposed to remain well-informed with employment and labor market trends.
marriage and family counselors: these counselors work closely with individuals, couples, and families to help in resolve issues like relationship problems and communication issues. they help in correcting behavior and enhancing communication and understanding between couples and family members.
addiction counseling: it involves working with people who suffer from alcohol, drugs, gambling, sexual, and food related addictive disorders. addiction counselors also extend help to the family members who have been affected by the main client's actions and behavior.
rehabilitation counseling: rehabilitation counselors work with people who are suffering from different types of physical and emotional disabilities that adversely affect their personal, social, and professional lives.
education and licensure requirements:
most professional counselors hold a master's degree or a phd in counseling, psychology, or social work from a program that is accredited by the council for accreditation of counseling and related educational programs (cacrep). the curriculum of these programs is designed to provide students with a strong grounding in subject areas like psychology, sociology, statistics, and research and counseling techniques.
getting certified is a good way of indicating to your potential employers and clients that you meet national standards and are committed to the field. you may obtain certification from the national board of certified counselors (nbcc) if you pass the national counselor examination for licensure and certification (nce). as a pre-requisite, you should have completed a counseling degree and have a certain level of work experience (usually two years). the certification needs to be renewed after every five years. you may also be required to obtain a state specific license. the educational and certification requirements may vary depending on the state where you want to practice.