Gerontological counselors assist elderly individuals struggling with life changes, health problems, and emotional disorders. These specialists are categorized as gerontologists, professionals that work exclusively with elderly people. Gerontological counselors meet patients in senior citizen centers, hospitals, and convalescent centers.
Gerontological counselors conduct evaluations, recommend treatments, and frequently meet with patients' of family members. Most gerontological counselors hold degrees in sociology, psychology, counseling, nursing, and related disciplines. Aside from working directly with the elderly, many gerontological counselors write articles published in academic journals, organize seminars, and set-up support groups.
Gerontological counselors should possess excellent interpersonal and problem-solving skills and be empathetic.
Education and Training
No specific degree or training is required to become a gerontological counselor. However, most gerontological counselors hold graduate degrees since they’re typically licensed counselors or psychologists. Many gerontological counselors come from human services backgrounds.
Many colleges and universities now offer online certificate and degree programs in elderly care.
- Licensing: Each state has separate professional licensing requirements, which typically include successful completion of a master's degree program, the accumulation of 3,000 hours of clinical experience, and passing a test.
The National Board for Certified Counselors offers professional certifications for aspiring counselors. Certified gerontological counselors usually obtain higher paying jobs.
- Entering the Field: Since this is a relatively new branch of counseling, finding gerontological counseling jobs is usually not as difficult as other counseling jobs. Medical technicians, nursing aides, and other patient care specialists often transition into gerontological counseling after acquiring some work experience and satisfying any state licensure requirements.
- Career Changers: Since other types of counseling disciplines share similarities with geronotological counseling, it's possible for social workers, medical and patient care specialists, psychologists, and other counseling professionals to make career transitions into gerontological counseling.
Job growth for gerontological counselors is projected to increase by 21-36 percent for the foreseeable future. Aging baby boomer populations will spur growth for years to come.