Types of Counseling Careers
Find out what you'll do in a career in counseling.
Definition of "Counseling"
The American Counseling Association (ACA) defines professional counseling as "the application of mental health, psychological or human development principles through cognitive, affective, behavioral or systematic intervention strategies."
Counseling, says the ACA, is a "professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education and career goals."
What Does a Career in Counseling Encompass?
A career in counseling psychology is more than listening to people's problems. Counseling involves:
- Objectively and accurately assessing needs
- Determining causes of behavioral disorders
- Planning a course of action to address them
In this capacity, a degree in counseling can be put to use anywhere that people are involved:
- Social work
- Community involvement
- Policy making
- Human resources
People who become counselors are genuinely interested in human behavior and have a strong desire to help others, individually or in groups, and improve their mental well-being. They are also skilled at interacting with people on a personal level, while maintaining a professional relationship.
Explore the various types of counseling:
Why a Career in Counseling?
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that:
- One in four Americans ages 18 and up suffers from a mental disorder
- One in seventeen suffers from a serious mental illness
- Mental illness is the leading disability for people ages 15-44 in the U.S .and Canada
- Many sufferers can be diagnosed with more than one mental disorder at a given time
Approximately two-thirds of all psychologists are self-employed. Counselors who are not in private practice are often found in the following areas:
- Public and private clinics
- Detention facilities
- Nursing homes
- Rehabilitation centers
- Government agencies
- Social service organizations
Counseling Careers in the Private Sector
In the private sector, counselors and mental health professionals practice in businesses where people are the primary focus. By understanding the needs of people and organizations, professional counselors can help employers hire and keep the best employees.
Counselors may take on consulting roles for corporations in order to improve the corporate culture and maintain human resource quality standards. By assessing the needs of the employees, creating career-oriented employment, and determining what is most important to the company, a consultant with a degree in counseling can advise a company how to set goals and create an atmosphere that encourages productivity and positive growth.
Community Counseling Jobs
Community counselors play a similar type of role, only instead of counseling a company, they work within the community. They assess the needs of a community in areas such as crime reduction, better food sources or housing needs. Then they can determine a plan of action or intervention to improve resources and allow a community to grow beyond its current state.
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