Counseling Training: Is It For You?

Counseling training can be pursued by way of formal education in psychology or social work or, in some states, counseling training can be obtained in specialty areas such as addictions by way of hands-on experience while being supervised by a credentialed counselor. In most states, to become a licensed profession counselor (LPC), licensed marital and family therapist (MFT), licensed social worker (LSW) or a licensed psychologist, it is necessary to obtain a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology, counseling or social work. Oftentimes, once a degree is obtained, the requirements for licensure include approximately two years of practical experience under the supervision of a licensed counselor as well as the successful completion of a state-issued examination.

As previously mentioned, there are ways to obtain field-specific certifications such as becoming a certified addictions counselor (CAC) which do not require formal education. Professional organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Counseling Association (ACA) as well as your state’s mental health credentialing office would have more specific information on how to obtain specialized certifications.

If Personal Satisfaction is the Main Goal

If you simply want to help others but are not interested in formal training to obtain professional licensure or hours of supervision prior to certification, there are many types of organizations which require no training in order for individuals to interact with mental health clients. Often, general counseling positions are available in residential treatment facilities and with agencies that send counselors out into the local community to work with children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral problems. These types of positions pay significantly less than those requiring formal education or training, but provide an equal level of personal satisfaction. They are also a great starting point for those who are pursuing higher education in counseling.