The premise of counseling psychology is the human mind; the latter’s unlimited ability to comprehend the world around it in an equally infinite number of perspectives. In that respect, counseling psychology is a very recent development, but it has quickly grown out of its mould to encompass wide-ranging aspects of personal as well as interpersonal functioning of an individual with respect to his or her immediate societal setup.
Counseling Psychology vs. General Counseling Practices
As opposed to general counseling practices taken up in Christian and other theological organizations, counseling psychology is well defined in its approach, methods and manner of analysis, thus paying more attention to normative and absolute scientific procedures. Typically, it defines the pillars of professionalism:
- Such a person should have extensive post-graduate education in the field of counseling psychology from a recognized university.
- He or she should have to education to conduct research, evaluations and therefore know how to implement the same into therapeutic procedures for helping clients.
- He or she should be certified or licensed to practice by either the state or a central certification body.
- A counseling psychologist must follow the American Psychological Association (APA) Ethics Code at all times.
As such, the word ‘Psychologist’ is a legally protected term that is reserved only for individuals who have a doctor degree in a field of Psychology.
What Do Counseling Psychologists Do?
Counseling Psychologists are engaged in the any of the following areas where they put their education into practice and as a result offer their contribution while earning their salary:
Psychotherapy and Counseling
Here, a counseling psychologist can be employed in a varying number of organizations with wide-ranging responsibilities specific to the organization. Prime among them are counseling and clinical centers, Hospitals, VA’s, EAP (Employee Assistance Program), prisons, military and other government agencies.
Often, individuals with counseling psychology degrees enroll into professional schools, colleges and universities, as teachers and counseling experts. Some with an M.A. degree might also going into teaching in community colleges.
Research And Publishing
A lot of counseling graduates can take up posts in higher educational organizations, hospitals and professional organizations like the APA to further the research in their specific field of specialization.
Private consulting is another area that sees the inflow of counseling psychologists year after year. These professionals can offer their expertise to different industries or businesses, larger consulting firms (such as RHR) or even take up private practice or executive coaching as a profession.
Owing to the high degree of knowledge about interpersonal dynamics relating to individuals in an organizational setup, administrative posts are open for those with the right counseling psychology degree and license to ply their trade in community mental health institutions, hospitals, VA’s, Professional organizations, NGO’s and government organizations as well as educational institutions such as schools and universities.
Degrees In Clinical Psychology
Here are the different educational paths that you could take up in your quest to become a counseling psychologist, with a brief description of what they entail.
- Master of Science (M.S.) Or master Of Arts (M.A.)
This includes 2 years of study, culminating in the completion of a Thesis. Often students with the desire of a Ph.D. take this route. Apart from that, a Masters degree, with the right certification courses can qualify you for professions such as teaching in community colleges or overseeing clients as a supervisor in a health facility. Read more about Counseling Psychology Masters Program.
- Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
This course of study basically focuses on the scientist-practitioner Model, otherwise known as the Boulder Model. It is a 3-year course work, and takes an additional year for dissertation and a year of internship in an APA approved environment, thus totaling to 5 years of study and research. Public and private organizations accept only those university degree programs that are approved by the APA. Read more about Counseling Psychology PhD Programs.
- Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D)
Pronounced as ‘sigh-dee’, a Psy.D program is not research driven and do not generally take dissertation as a compulsory completion requirement as with Ph.D. degrees. This is typically a 4-6 year course, which includes a year of internship too. It focuses on the applied aspect of the discipline or the Professional Model (Vail Model) to be exact. The course work is offered in professional schools. Read more about Counseling Psychology Doctoral Programs.
Counseling Psychology As A Mental Health Profession (MHP)
Counseling psychology is an integral part of MHP (Mental Health Professions), a categorization, which envelops the following disciplines too:
- Clinical Neuropsychology
- Educational Psychology
- Rehabilitation Psychology
- Community Psychology
- Forensic Psychology
- IO (Industrial/Organizational) Psychology
- Social Work
- Marriage, Family and Child Counseling (MFCC) and
Visit MentalHelp.net to get a better understanding of MHP, and its associative professions. It offers an accurate and in depth analysis of each of these disciplines. MHPs differ in terms of their specialties in that each discipline requires a different type of education, training, licensing, and therefore, happens to have varying pay as well as prestige levels.
Now, counseling psychology takes the best of most MHP into its account and offers a therapeutic solution to the everyday challenges faced by adults mainly, be it in the field of work, personal space, or interpersonal relationships.
As such, the career opportunities presented by counseling psychology are immense to say to least. Click here to see what the 2008-2010 analysis of US Statistics concerning MHP has to say about counseling psychology.