What does a Counselor do?

Median Pay $43,860
Growth Rate 23%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

A counselor helps individuals, couples, and/or families overcome problems such as emotional disorders, mental disorders, or relationship issues. They help people understand their problems and go forward with needed counseling for improvement and healing.

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How to Become a Counselor

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Counselors must obtain a bachelors degree or master’s degree in counseling or social work. Some states require you to take a licensure exam though requirements may vary from state to state. However, there is generally a minimum amount of hours you must complete under the supervision by a licensed practitioner as well. The requirements for a counselor is very similar to a therapist, but usually requires less hours and is less rigorous. Therefore, you may be able to work with a bachelors degree unlicensed in some settings. Courses usually include social sciences, psychology, and developmental studies.

Job Description of a Counselor

Counselors assist client to identify their problems and deal with their behaviors or feelings. They develop techniques such as interviewing, observation, discussion, and testing to gather important information about an individual, couple, or family. A treatment program is developed and applied to treat destructive behavior patterns, family relationship problems, and personal issues. A counselor will follow their client’s progress to determine the effectiveness and results of their sessions.

Counselors can work in a variety of settings to include but not limited to schools, vocational settings, religious organizations, or even summer camps. In all of these settings the counselors primary goal is to guide, facilitate, and assist individuals in discussing and coping with emotions and experience that evoke positive or negative reactions.

Counselor Career Video Transcript

Individuals struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse often need focused help to recover their well-being, and make changes in behavior that will improve their lives. Counselors offer the treatment and support that helps people recover. Substance abuse counselors and behavioral disorder counselors, teach clients how to cope with life’s problems without turning to substances, modify problem behaviors, help them rebuild relationships and, if necessary, reestablish their career.

Mental health counselors treat clients with a variety of mental and emotional health issues and relationship problems. They may specialize in a population such as students, children, or the elderly. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors work in a wide variety of settings, including mental health centers and hospitals, prisons, and addiction or eating disorder treatment centers. Although rewarding, the work can be stressful, with large workloads, and often limited resources. They also may have to intervene in crisis situations or work with disturbed clients. Most counselors work full time.

In some settings, they may need to work evenings, nights, or weekends. All states require mental health counselors to be licensed, which requires a master’s degree, internship, and a period of professionally supervised practice. For substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor positions, educational requirements can vary from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree. Licensure requirements vary by state and position, though all who work in private practice must be licensed.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors.

National Center for O*NET Development. 21-1014.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.