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How To Become A Counseling Psychologist: Degree & Career Guide

Have you ever wondered where do our emotions come from? Yes, we feel them in our hearts, chests, and the pit of our stomachs, but is that really the location of our emotions?

Like everything else, our emotions are controlled by our minds, and sometimes, it may seem like our emotions control us, but we are supposed to control our emotions. In the field of psychology, some clinical psychologists diagnose and treat mental illnesses, and there are counseling psychologists that help people through their emotions, decisions, and feelings.

To become a counseling psychologist, you would need to obtain your bachelor's and a graduate degree in the form of a master's or doctoral degree, you would need to garner experience, and then you would need to obtain licensure and certification to practice.

Let us take a look at counseling psychology and everything the field has to offer.

What Is A Counseling Psychologist?

Counseling psychologists deal with daily issues that an individual may face, that is not necessarily diagnosable, and that each person may face but have different responses towards. They, therefore, help people overcome daily stress, face grief, and face the anxieties that a life-changing decision may present as opposed to treating them for chronic stress, anxiety disorders, or depression.

But in order to help people, guide people, and counsel them through their emotions, it is important to understand the human mind, cognition, and the thought processes involved in a person's response to everyday difficulties.

They also need to be able to guide people through effective strategies in coping and dealing with their feelings. This means that they are required to understand the different personalities that people have, and they need to devise effective approaches to the way they should respond to external stimuli.

What Does A Counseling Psychologist Do?

A counseling psychologist carries out a number of duties, from assessing patients to devising treatment plans that vary from patient to patient.

They also provide talk therapy sessions, whereby they provide advice and guidance for patients. Counseling psychologists build very unique relationships with all of their patients, and they usually do whatever they can to ensure that they are available to their patients in times of distress, or when an emergency or trauma presents itself.

Counseling psychologists also have the expertise and the authority to diagnose other severe mental illnesses, and they often work with other medical experts such as clinical psychologists and psychiatrists in developing the optimal treatments for the patients' needs.

Steps To Become A Counseling Psychologist?

Step One: Decide On The Path You Hope To Follow

To become a counseling psychologist, you need to have a passion and drive towards helping people. You need to also know how to be a problem solver. If helping people is something you always hoped to do, then you would need to decide quite early on which path you hope to follow. This will make your academic career and coursework selection much easier.

Step Two: Pursue Your Bachelor's Degree

While you cannot practice as a counseling psychologist, you would need to obtain your bachelor's degree, along with selecting appropriate coursework, to pursue a career in counseling psychology. You could either obtain a degree in psychology or social work as both courses can guide you in learning counseling strategies for patients.

Step Three: Obtain Your Master's And Doctorate Degree

Once you obtain your master's degree, you can then earn your Ph.D. in counseling psychology. This will equip you with the skills and expertise you need to work with a variety of different individuals and provide them with counseling services that are effectively suited to meet their needs.

Step Four: Complete Licensure And Certification

To become certified and licensed to practice as a counseling psychologist, you would need to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. You would then need to become board certified to practice as a counseling psychologist, and you can obtain this certification from the American Board of Counseling Psychology or the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

Step Five: Gain Experience

You would then need to shadow a senior and experienced counseling psychologist to gain hands-on experience as a counseling psychologist whereby you can learn how to put your theoretical knowledge into practice and learn the skills required to effectively treat patients.

What Degree Do You Need To Be A Counseling Psychologist?

At the very least, to practice as a counseling psychologist, you will need a graduate degree, either in the form of a master's degree or a doctorate. It is important to check your state requirements as some states may accept a master's degree qualification, while others may require a doctorate.

What Is The Average Salary For A Counseling Psychologist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, clinical and counseling psychologists earn an average annual salary of $99,640, and the median salary is around $82,510 per year.

What Makes A Good Counseling Psychologist?

A counseling psychologist would need to have superior communication and listening skills. You will need to effectively take in and process what your patient is telling you and you would then need to rationalize it to formulate an effective solution or strategy for your patient.

In so doing, you would be required to have effective problem-solving skills, having the ability to create a viable solution where the patient cannot see a way forward for themselves.

You would also need to have a strong sense of empathy, being able to put yourself in your patient's shoes to know and understand what they are feeling.


What Is The Difference Between A Clinical Psychologist And A Counseling Psychologist?

A counseling psychologist focuses on helping patients through their daily struggles and maintaining their daily well-being, whereas a clinical psychologist works on diagnosing and treating specific mental disorders such as Alzheimer's, anxiety disorders, or eating disorders.

Is Counseling Psychology Easy?

At its most basic function, we may assume that counseling psychologists are required to give people advice. Many people think that this is very easy to do and sometimes offer their unsolicited advice. But that does not mean that this is an easy role to fulfill.

Being a counseling psychologist requires you to have an understanding of cognitive functions, and how each person may differ from the next and it requires forming advice in accordance with these parameters that may help better an individual's life.

What Are The Three Types Of Counseling?

There are three types of counseling offered by counseling psychologists, namely: event counseling, performance counseling, and professional growth counseling.


If you have a goal of dedicating your career towards helping people and you hope to help people through the difficulties that life so often presents, then perhaps the field of counseling psychology is the career for you to follow.

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