Counseling Psychology Careers

What is Counseling Psychology?

Therapist Listening to PatientAt times, with all of its ups and downs, life can feel little like a roller coaster. People in general are emotional creatures. Feeling happy, enamored, sad, angry, and scared is normal, and these emotions are part of what makes us human. At times, however, these emotions - particularly the negative ones - can be overwhelming and take on a life of their own.

Counseling psychology is a type of applied psychology that can be used to help people gain control of their feelings. This type of psychology focuses on treating individuals with a variety of different emotional, behavioral, and social problems or disorders. Long with clinical psychology, counseling psychology is one of the most common and widespread psychological specialties.

Because the two are so similar, clinical psychology and counseling psychology are often mistaken for each other. Although these two areas are very similar, they are also somewhat different as well. Clinical psychologists and counseling psychologists both treat wide variety of mental and emotional problems, for instance. However, Counseling psychologists typically focus on individuals whose symptoms are less severe, such as those coping with everyday stresses and adjusting to life's rollercoaster ride. Clinical psychologists, on the other hand, often treat patients with more serious symptoms and disorders.

Most psychologists and historians will agree that counseling psychology has been around for a very long time. Sigmund Freud opened his private practice in 1886, treating his patients with counseling and therapy. Lightner Witmer opened one of the first psychological clinics a short time later, in 1896.

Popular Counseling Psychology Degree Programs

What are the Education Requirements for a Counseling Psychology Career?

Those interested in counseling psychology careers will usually start by earning a four year Bachelor's degree in psychology. In order to start their careers, however, advanced degrees are usually necessary. A number of universities offer Master's and Doctoral degrees in counseling psychology.

The curriculum requirements to become a counseling psychologist are typically very similar from one university to the next. In addition to learning the fundamentals of psychology and research methods, future counseling psychologists will also often learn about different therapy and counseling techniques.

What Types of Therapy do Counseling Psychologists Provide?

Carl Rogers was also one of the founding fathers of person-centered therapy, which is a type of therapy that is based on the patients' own individual life experiences. This type of therapy is still one of the most popular and effective forms of treatment in counseling psychology today. It involves the psychologist listening to and trying to understand his patients. In doing so, the psychologist can then help steer his patients toward changing themselves for the better.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is another common type of treatment used by cognitive psychologists. This type of therapy focuses on clients identifying and understanding their negative beliefs. Since these negative beliefs often affect a person's mood and emotions, the client and the psychologist then work towards changing them.

What Does a Counseling Psychologist Do?

A cognitive psychologist's goal is often to help his patients overcome their negative thoughts and emotions. In general, a psychologist will try to treat patients with a variety of different problems, including depression and anxiety. Those looking to pursue counseling psychology careers, however, can also choose to specialize in certain areas, like grief counseling or vocational stress. The number of patients that a counseling psychologist works with at one time can also vary. Some only work with their patients on a one-on-one situation, while others may work with small groups of people.

The majority of counseling psychologists interact with their patients each and every day. They are often presented with a wide range of mental and emotional problems that people face every day.

In order to treat their patients, counseling psychologists will typically create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. They should also be understanding and non-judgmental, so that patients will open up to them. Cognitive psychologists will then encourage their patients to talk about their feelings and behaviors, possibly asking questions occasionally. By getting to know their patients, cognitive psychologists can then work to help them deal with and remedy their problems.

Where Do Counseling Psychologists Work?

A counseling psychology career can often lead a person in several different directions. In general, counseling psychologists should have no trouble finding work. For example, they can often find employment in places like mental health clinics, hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and schools.

For those looking for a little more control over their counseling psychology careers, opening their own practice is another option.

What is the Median Salary For Counseling Psychologists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of clinical and counseling psychologists was $72,540. Salaries are highly dependent on the counseling psychologist's area of specialization, which may push their salary up or down.

For example, those that worked in health practice offices earned a median salary of $86,700,  while those that worked in employment services earned a median salary of $96,700. Individuals working in educational support services made a median salary of $66,420, which represents the low-end of salaries for counseling psychologists.

To learn how to begin an education and become a counseling psychologist request information from psychology program advisors for Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral programs.

Influential Counseling Psychologists
  • Carl Rogerswas one of the founders of person-centered therapy during the middle of the 20th century. This type of therapy is still widely used today, and it focuses on maintaining a positive relationship between the patient and the psychologist, as well as helping the patient understand his own feelings and behaviors.
  • E.G. Williamson adapted Frank Parson's trait and factor theory of career development to create what is believed to be the first counseling theory.

Additional Resources and Further Reading