Military Counselor Career Information, Jobs, Degrees & Training Programs

Soldiers often meet with military counselors for a couple of sessions to discuss normal everyday stresses. Although it seems only soldiers with severe depression or anxiety seek assistance from counselors, this is not always the case. However, counselors are accessible for soldiers struggling with serious problems.

Military counselors frequently meet with soldiers attempting to overcome substance abuse and other destructive behaviors, cope with grief and anxiety, and resolve marital problems. Military counselors also recommend stress management techniques and other strategies, so soldiers not only cope with problems, but eliminate them as well. For example, if a soldier abusing alcohol only drinks during certain thought patterns, a counselor could recommend strategies to eliminate or avoid these patterns.

Military counselors also spend a lot of time assisting soldiers' family members struggling to cope with multiple deployments and other military-related issues. Angry children separated from their parents for long periods of time sometimes become bullies, abuse drugs, or struggle with other behavioral problems. Counselors address these problems by recommending healthy outlets to express anger.

Counselors also work frequently with soldiers returning from combat and transitioning back to the civilian world. Most soldiers struggle to make this transition since they spend a considerate amount of time reflecting on their experiences or coping with depression.

Injured and disabled soldiers returning home often require the assistance of a counselor to manage chronic pain, adjust to their disabilities, and assist family members struggling with grief. If grieving family members need more intensive treatment, counselors can refer them to psychiatrists, psychotherapists, or other medical professionals.

When necessary, counselors administer long-term treatments, including cognitive-behavioral or exposure-based therapies, especially when military personnel suffer with PTSD or severe brain injuries. Counselors administering these types of therapies have completed advanced training.

The military offers numerous opportunities for qualified counselors. Military counselors are usually assigned duties matching their qualifications. Certain branches of the military sponsor training programs for aspiring counselors. Civilian counselors are hired by the military to assist service members and their families.

Licensing requirements vary by state, but most counselors hold master's or doctorate degrees in counseling or related disciplines. Civilian counselors hired by the military are required to be licensed.

Counselors with doctorate degrees typically have more responsibilities and earn more money. The military sponsors internships for doctorate students at military hospitals and mental health clinics.

Clinical and counseling psychologists complete different training. Clinical psychologists administer therapy to address severe mental health disorders, while counselors typically recommend treatments to correct less serious problems and minor behavioral disorders.

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