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Counseling Psychology Programs

Counseling psychology is a branch of psychology which focuses on facilitating normal development of individuals and supporting mental health for everyday functioning. Today’s fast-moving life requires individuals to balance a broad range of responsibilities related to work, family, etc. Often, these situations become stressful, and can leave one mentally and emotionally depleted. Counseling psychology aims at preventing, diagnosing, and treating problems related to inter-personal functioning through therapeutic measures.

  1. What is a Counseling Psychologist?
  2. How to Become a Counseling Psychologist?
  3. Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs
  4. Counseling Psychology PhD Programs
  5. Licensing and Certification
  6. What Does a Counseling Psychologist Do?
  7. How Much Do Counseling Psychologists Make?
  8. Where do Counseling Psychologists Work?

What is a Counseling Psychologist?

A counseling psychologist is a trained professional who advises individuals and families on how to manage and deal with various issues that are causing stress. These issues can be related to work and personal relationships. Following are the main job responsibilities of a counseling psychologist:

  • Administering and interpreting psychological tests to assess and diagnose problems among patients
  • Discussing different therapeutic counseling techniques with patients and advising them
  • Providing counseling services to patients/clients
  • Referring clients to other specialists for non-counseling treatment plans
  • Conducting research to develop improved diagnostic techniques

How to Become a Counseling Psychologist?

To become a counseling psychologist, certain educational and training requirements must be met. These may vary from state to state. Listed below are the general steps that may lead to a career as a counseling psychologist:

  • Complete a counseling psychology degree at graduate and post-graduate level
  • Acquire a minimum hours of supervised practice
  • Pass the licensing examination in your state

Counseling Psychology Graduate Programs

Education and training is an important requirement for this field. Without a degree in counseling psychology, you cannot practice as a professional.  A number of schools are offering APA accredited counseling psychology programs at masters level. This program is designed to help students acquire expert knowledge of counseling psychology and develop skills necessary to succeed in the field.
The program will cover scientifically-based psychological theories and concepts. Students will learn how to apply counseling theories and research interventions, and assess clients with the help of psychological testing and communication. The curriculum of a masters degree in counseling psychology may vary a little from college to college. Students will be required to cover a number of theory-based courses and field-training, and earn the required number of credit hours. It is important to remember that not all masters degree entail a thesis; there are many non-thesis masters programs available as well. Here are a few of the subjects students are most likely to encounter in the program:

  • Testing and assessment
  • Counseling diagnosis
  • Research methods
  • Counseling skills and procedures
  • Lifespan development
  • Counseling theories
  • Group counseling

Counseling Psychology PhD Programs

This is a post-doctorate degree aimed at providing students with training and advanced education needed for entry-level practice. The program will enable students to learn about diverse clinical settings and how to conduct, conceptualize, and evaluate research findings. Here are the main goals of the program:

  • Understand the role of professional psychologists and job responsibilities that fall within its context
  • Understand the application of scientific-based clinical practice and psychotherapy
  • Build strong research skills and analytical skills
  • Demonstrate ethical practice and an understanding of moral boundaries
  • Respond appropriately to individual differences and diversity in the practice field
  • Understand ethics that govern therapeutic relationship within the workplace environment

The coursework is advanced in nature and may differ from college to college. It can take anywhere from 4-8 years to complete the program. The duration will depend upon the pace of the student and chosen course of study.
During the first few years, students will be required to cover a range of fundamental and advanced courses. Most of the courses are covered in a classroom environment. These may include topics such as:

  • Social psychology
  • Cognitive and affective bases of behavior
  • History and systems of psychology
  • Personality and cognitive development
  • Advanced clinical interventions

During the final phase of the program, students can choose from a range of electives and specializations such as the psychotherapy, multicultural counseling, family counseling, etc. The specialization chosen must reflect the student’s interest area and career goals. Students must acquire in-depth knowledge of latest advancements within the field. They can get information from a number of external resources such as the Journal of Counseling Psychology which is published by the American Psychological Association. Apart from this, students must also conduct a research thesis and generate a dissertation. Completing the thesis is crucial and will allow students to practically apply skills and knowledge learned throughout the program.

Licensing and Certification

In most states, a license is required to clinically practice as a counseling psychologist. The requirements for licensing may vary from state to state. There are a number of professional organizations that offer certification in counseling psychology. Acquiring a credential or certification may not be mandatory, but can help improve career prospects. The American Board of Professional Psychology and the National Board for Certified Counselors are the leading credentialing organizations.

What Does a Counseling Psychologist Do?

These professionals work with patients and help them seek treatment for a range of mental, emotional, and behavioral issues. Their job duties will typically include assessing patients and determining core problems. Counseling psychologists may use a variety of tests to diagnose problems related to anxiety, depression, addiction, stress, etc.
Apart from diagnosis, counseling psychologists can also seek suitable treatments for patients. They aim at helping patients overcome difficulties and problems through counseling and therapy. It is important to remember, in most states, a counseling psychologist is not authorized to prescribe medication.

How Much Do Counseling Psychologists Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, counseling psychologists made a median annual income of $67,760 in 2013. A counseling psychologist salary will vary by state and can also be influenced by factors such as specialization, employer organization, skill, and certification.

Where do Counseling Psychologists Work?

Counseling psychologist can work in a different range of settings depending upon their specialization. For example, school counseling psychologists will most likely work in educational institutes whereas a family counseling psychologist can be found working in a healthcare facility. Most counseling psychologists are employed in health practitioner offices.


States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 16600.111.2618.1337720
Florida 11300.141.6817.9737370
Illinois 9600.161.9217.937240
Texas 7600.070.7816.6234570
New York 6500.070.8520.1241840


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What are the counseling psychologist education requirements?

A:To become a counseling psychologist, you need to earn a four year bachelor's degree in psychology. This will, in most cases, provide you entry in the field. However, in order to take your career to a step higher, advance degrees will usually be necessary. Several universities offer masters and doctoral degrees in counseling psychology. The course requirements vary a little, but overall remain the same across different universities. They will revolve around concepts of basic psychology and different therapy and counseling techniques.

Q:What are the counseling psychology graduate programs in California?

A:There are several colleges in California that offer programs in biopsychology. These programs are nearly similar in nature and course materials, but vary slightly in the number of credits required for completion, the types of courses required, pre-requisites and GPA requirements. Keep in mind though, that these factors are only slightly different for different colleges. On the whole, the degrees offered across California and quite uniform.

Q:What degree do you need to be a counseling psychologist?

A:People interested in counseling psychology need to start by earning a four year bachelor's degree in psychology. However, most careers in this field require an advanced degree. There are a number of universities that offer masters and doctorates in counseling psychology. The basic course structure of this degree pretty much remains the same across different universities and revolves around fundamentals of psychology and research methods and counseling techniques.

Q:What do counseling psychologist do?

A:Counseling psychologists listen to their patient's concerns, instruct them on how to solve their problems, manage stress, live normal lives after adjusting to changes or having been through traumatic experiences and improve relationships. In order to perform these tasks, counseling psychologists conduct evaluations by carrying out various tests and asking directed questions.

Q:What do the counseling psychology education requirements typically include?

A:Typically, counseling psychologists hold a masters and doctoral degree in the field. Although it is not mandatory to pursue counseling psychology as a major in psychology, it is still highly recommended. A doctoral program is an advanced degree that emphasizes on research, scholarly work, and prepares individuals for careers in the field. Please remember that the minimum education and certification requirements may vary a little from state to state.

Q:What will I learn in counseling psychology graduate programs in Texas?

A:Counseling psychology programs will prepare you for a career as a psychologist ahead. The coursework of such programs will equip you with knowledge and skills. You will learn about the various theories of psychology, practices in the professional world, and skills. Some important topics that are usually covered in counseling programs include interpersonal communications, human behavior, case management, social policy, etc.

Q:What is the minimum duration of a masters degree in counseling psychology?

A:Typically, a masters level degree will take around 2 years to complete from a accredited college. Individuals must complete the coursework and earn a minimum number of credit hours in this time span. However, individuals looking for a shorter academic route can opt for an accelerated masters degree in counseling psychology.

Q:What are the careers in counseling psychology?

A:A counseling psychologist might find employment in mental health clinics, hospitals, psychiatric hospitals and schools. As part of the job, you will be required to help patients overcome their negative thoughts and emotions. Dealing with problems such as depression and anxiety disorders would be a frequent matter in this career field.

Q:What is clinical counseling and school psychologists?

A:These professionals are responsible for diagnosing and treating mental disorders, learning disabilities, cognitive and behavioral problems and emotional stress using individual, child, family and group therapy techniques. Some professionals in this field also take part in designing and implementing behavior modification programs. Their median annual wage according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, is $74,030. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Q:What are the differences between a clinical psychologist vs counseling psychologist?

A:A counseling psychologist works with people with minor psychological health problems, and fewer pathological mental issues. On the other hand, a clinical psychologist deals with individuals with a psychosis or serious mental illnesses. Another difference exists between the two in terms of places of employment. A counseling psychologist is typically employed by a university or school, providing counseling services to the student body and faculty. A clinical psychologist on the other hand, is usually employed by hospitals.

Q:What is a counseling psychologist's salary?

A:A counseling psychologist is responsible for diagnosing and treating mental disorders, learning disabilities, and cognitive and behavioral problems utilizing individual, child, family and group therapies. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists counseling psychologists under the broader category for Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists with a median annual wage of $74,030 as of May 2014. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Q:What is counseling psychology

A:Counseling psychology is a type of applied psychology that is used to aide people in gaining control of their emotions. It focuses on treating individuals with a variety of different emotional, social and behavioral problems. It helps people understand their relationships and try and make them more fruitful through the use of in-depth psychological analyses. (Source: American Psychological Association)

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