A counseling psychologist provides advice, guidance, therapy and support to clients with temporary (but troubling) issues. Becoming a successful counselor requires excellent listening skills, compassion and behavioral training that best enhances and challenges the skills of a counseling psychologist.
Whether you choose a degree program in psychology, social work or education, a program in counseling can advance your career options and open the door to greater opportunities.
A doctoral degree is usually a basic requirement to work as an independent counseling psychologist. Some counselors who hold a master’s degree apply for certification by the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc. (NBCC), but this voluntary credential is not a substitute for the mandatory state licensing. All 50 states (and the District of Columbia) require psychologists in independent practice be licensed.
Counseling psychologists help people understand the basis of their problems, phobias, fears, crises and anxieties, and they provide guidance on how to cope with and resolve them. Through interviews and tests, counseling psychologists assist people to gain greater control of their lives. Counseling psychologists can specialize in some of the following fields:
The successful counseling psychologist in any specialty will possess certain key character traits, such as stability, empathy, compassion, discretion and patience. He or she will also be a good communicator with excellent listening skills.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of psychologists of all types will grow faster than average well into the next decade. Students who complete programs in counseling that focus on rehabilitation, substance abuse and behavioral disorders will be in the highest demand.
Although no specific figures are available for the position of counseling psychologist, the BLS reports that in 2006 the median annual salary of a counseling psychologist was $59,440, with a range running from less than $45,300 to a high of more than $77,750.