Counseling Psychologist Career, Salary, and Education Information

Counseling psychologist with patient

What You Should Know About Counseling Psychology

What Does a Counseling Psychologist Do?

Modern life can be very stressful. Many people struggle to cope properly with stress, career problems, depression, anxiety, and relationship problems, so they seek the services of counseling psychologists. These specialists meet with individuals and groups to help people cope with problems during various life stages.

In addition to listening to patients’ concerns, counseling psychologists instruct them on techniques they can utilize to solve problems, manage stress, adjust to life changes, live normal lives, and improve relationships. Before this can be done, counseling psychologists conduct evaluations by administering various tests and asking numerous questions. Many people meet with counseling psychologists for just a few months or many years.

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Counseling psychologists frequently implement new concepts developed from recent research into patient treatment. In addition to patient care, counseling psychologists are also interested in recognizing and preventing major social, physical, and mental disorders before they’re unmanageable.

Counseling psychologists typically focus their efforts with clients around:

  • Unconscious functioning and consciousness
  • Current life experiences rather than past ones
  • Emphasize role functioning and accountability
  • How to cope with normal life stress, rather than severe mental health disorders

Job Description of a Counseling Psychologist

Counseling psychologists evaluate their patients’ current situations and problems and then offer advice. Since they typically do not work with people struggling with severe mental health disorders, their patients usually consult with them to discuss relationships, substance abuse, career, and other problems. To help patients make life changes, counseling psychologists often recommend behavior modification strategies. Children, adolescents, and adults all consult with counseling psychologists.

Where Do Counseling Psychologists Work?

Counseling psychologists are employed in private and group practices, substance abuse rehab facilities, hospitals and other medical clinics, community centers, and colleges and universities.

Counseling Psychologist Salaries by State

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The Difference Between Counseling and Clinical Psychology

Clinical and counseling psychologists undergo different training and address different client problems. Counseling psychologists typically meet with patients who are struggling to cope with everyday stresses, while clinical psychologists work with patients who are diagnosed with more severe psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In other words, counseling psychologists teach people how to manage stress properly; whereas, clinical psychologists specialize in disease treatment.

Most counseling psychologists are generalists, and clinical psychologists usually specialize. It’s possible for a counseling psychologist to specialize; however, they usually work with people struggling with general types of problems. Although clinical and counseling psychologists differ in many ways, they do occasionally work with similar types of patients, such as people addressing and recovering from substance abuse.

Education and Training for Counseling Psychology

To begin a counseling psychology career, you should earn a master’s degree or PhD in counseling psychology. You’ll probably work under the supervision of a psychologist holding a PhD if you obtain a master’s degree. Graduate students who earn a PhD typically acquire more clinical experience, which better prepares them for private practice. The American Psychological Association (APA) typically recognizes counseling psychology PhD programs offered by universities that sponsor internships.

Every state requires counseling psychologists providing patient care or running private practices to satisfy licensing requirements, which vary in each state. Most states require counseling psychologists to obtain a PhD, complete an internship, and acquire 1-2 years of applicable work experience before they can practice professionally.

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