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.

Join ACA Today

  • Maximize your Professional Development
  • Stay ahead of the educational learning curve
  • Advocate for the counseling care of tomorrow
  • Expand your networking connections

Learn More

Join Now!

Latest News

New Partnership Promotes Nationwide Conversations on Mental Health

by Amber McLaughlin | Jul 29, 2013
Earlier this year, President Obama called on Americans to start a “national conversation to increase understanding about mental health," and directed the secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education to launch the National Dialogue on Mental Health. ACA is answering the President's call by partnering with Creating Community Solutions, an integral part of the National Dialogue initiative.



Creating Community Solutions aims to foster discussions on mental health issues by organizing community conversations in cities and towns across the nation, as well as through social media outreach. More than 53,000 counseling professionals are part of ACA, and it is our hope that members will lend their professional expertise by participating in these local conversations and engaging people through social media channels.

Through this partnership, you can find information on pre-scheduled local conversations hosted by Creating Community Solutions, as well as resources that will help you plan and host your own community conversation. ACA's partnership with Creating Community Solutions also provides detailed instructions for using social media to connect with other interested parties who may want to participate and/or share your thoughts during and after an event. By leveraging Facebook and Twitter, you will have a greater chance of engaging more members of your community.

These National Dialogue conversations provide a great opportunity for counseling professionals to contribute expert advice, learn more about the mental health needs of their surrounding communities, and help create lasting and meaningful solutions to our nation's mental health challenges.

Though Creating Community Solutions has already hosted events in Albuquerque and Sacramento, the program is still in its infancy. If counseling professionals get involved, we can ensure that these community conversations become constructive steps toward reducing stigma and making mental health a priority for everyone.