Is counseling the right career for you?

What does the counseling profession entail?

Professional Counselors are graduate-level (either master’s or doctoral degree) mental health service providers, trained to work with individuals, families, and groups in treating mental, behavioral, and emotional problems and disorders.

A Professional Counselor will possess a master’s or doctoral degree in one of the following areas:

  • Addiction Counseling
  • Career Counseling
  • Clinical Mental Health or Community Agency Counseling
  • Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling
  • School Counseling
  • Student Affairs and College Counseling
  • Gerontological Counseling, or
  • Counselor Education & Supervision

Becoming a Counselor

Education

  1. Obtain Bachelor’s Degree as a prerequisite, in a liberal arts major
  2. Obtain Master’s Degree in a counseling program

The national accrediting bodies for counseling programs include: Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) and Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE).

  • CACREP is an independent agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to accredit master's degree programs in Counseling and related Education Programs.
    Review CACREP here.
  • CORE accredits graduate programs which provide academic preparation for a variety of professional rehabilitation counseling positions.
    Review CORE here.

 Experience

  1. Practicum
  2. Internships
These experiences will be outlined and included in your Counseling program to receive hands-on experience in the counseling profession.

License/Certification Process

After completion of graduate-level coursework, in order to find meaningful employment, professional counselors have the option(s) to become a National Certified Counselor (NCC), Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, and/or a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). 

The National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) certification program recognizes counselors who have met predetermined standards in their training, experience and performance on the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE), the most portable credentialing examination in counseling.  Read more.

The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities.  CRCC sets the standard for quality rehabilitation counseling services through its internationally recognized certification program. Read more 

For more information regarding professional licensure and requirements contact your state board.

Considering a PhD

A doctorate is not necessary to practice; most practitioners are educated at the masters-level.

A doctorate is for professionals who want to become expert Researchers, Educators, Supervisors, or Consultants.

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Latest News

ILT 2013 Attendees Spend a Day on the Hill

by Ashwini Yelamanchili | Jul 29, 2013
More than 130 ACA leaders spent the day on Capitol Hill meeting with members of Congress and their staff to lobby for legislation in the areas of mental health, school and career counseling, and veterans affairs.


ACA members meet with Representative Steve Womak (R-AR) during ACA's 2013 Institute for Leadership Training "Day on the Hill."

Counseling leaders from around the country visited Capitol Hill on Thursday, July 25, where they lobbied for important legislation.

Participants were dropped off in front of the Capitol building where they posed for a photo on the Capitol’s historic steps before heading off to meetings with members of Congress. The first stops were the Russell, Dirksen, and Hart Senate Office Buildings, where participants had in-person meetings with their respective senators. After that, the group made its way to the Cannon, Longworth, and Rayburn House Office Buildings to meet with representatives.

During these face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and their staff, Day on the Hill participants discussed three specific policy initiatives (as well as an existing piece of legislation) that would benefit both professional counselors and Americans with mental health needs:           

  • Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program – helps school districts establish or expand school-based counseling services by providing funding to hire qualified state licensed or certified school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers in order to improve school safety and increase students’ academic achievement.
  • Counseling for Career Choice Act – a grant program that will allow professional school counselors to better prepare students for making educated decisions about post-secondary options, and will increase career planning resources and services for students through partnerships with state industries and businesses.
  • Seniors Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2013 – establishes Medicare coverage of both licensed professional counselors and licensed marriage and family therapists for the provision of medically necessary outpatient psychotherapy, at the same reimbursement rates as clinical social workers.
  • Veterans Affairs Integration – despite the fact that the Veterans First Contracting Program (which explicitly recognizes licensed professional mental health counselors as clinicians within VA facilities) was enacted in 2006, there is little evidence that many of the 1,600 newly hired mental health professionals in VA facilities are counselors.


ACA member Chad Mosher with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) during ACA's 2013 Institute for Leadership Training "Day on the Hill."