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Counseling psychologists work in a number of areas that include marriage, family, children, health, educational, career, correctional, and substance abuse counseling. Students in a Counseling Psychology graduate program will learn techniques of assessment and testing along with advanced counseling and diagnosis methods.

Graduate programs give students a wide range of experience. Courses teach how to counsel different client populations, including children, adolescents, adults, seniors, and various ethnic groups. Students also learn the theory-based techniques of biological, cognitive, and social behaviors, as well as strategies for alternative consultation and methods for dealing with those in crisis.

Research and practice provide invaluable experience for students. The integration of class work with field experience allows the student exposure to a variety of disorders and methods.

Degree Information

Graduate work in Counseling Psychology usually culminates in either a Ph.D. or an Ed.D., both of which take around five years to complete. The Ph.D. is more research-intensive than the Ed.D., and both are slightly less academically rigorous than the Ph.D. or Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. Though the programs are quite competitive, they tend to be slightly less competitive than clinical programs.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program

  • What are the research interests of the faculty and graduate students?
  • What sorts of research opportunities are available?
  • How connected is the program to the local counseling psychology community?
  • How successful are the graduates in finding jobs? Does the program help in job placement?
  • What sorts of field experiences are available for students?

Career Overview

Counseling Psychologists generally begin their psychology careers in hospitals, schools, clinics, group practices, or private practice. Their job entails helping and supporting individuals and groups with their personal problems through psychotherapy. Counselors may help patients deal with issues such as drug addiction, alcohol abuse, sexuality, or family problems. Some counseling psychologists devote themselves to serving particular populations, such as prisoners, domestic abuse victims, or people with mental handicaps, while other counselors become involved in welfare services. Those graduates with research interests often go on to teach at the university level and pursue individual or collaborative research.

Career/Licensing Requirements

After obtaining a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology, those students wishing to become practicing psychologists must become certified. The certification process and licensing requirements vary by state and usually require a period of supervision prior to full certification. After becoming licensed, psychologists can open their own private practice. Laws regarding private practice for psychologists with master’s degrees vary by state as well.

Salary Information

The starting salary for counseling psychologists is usually around $40,000, though this can vary depending on type of workplace, location, type of degree, and previous work experience.

Related Links

American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association offers information on all areas within the field.

American Counseling Association
The American Counseling Association offers information on all areas within the field, including information on state certification.


  • Introduction To Professional Counseling

  • Addictive And Compulsive Disorders

  • Advanced Clinical Methods

  • Advanced Human Growth And Development

  • Crisis Intervention Counseling

  • Group Counseling

  • Individual Assessment

  • Legal And Ethical Issues In Counseling

  • Marriage And Family Counseling

  • Multicultural Counseling

  • Psychodiagnostics And Treatment Planning

  • Psychopathology

  • Research Methods

  • The Mental Health Counselor As Professional, Practitioner, And Consultant