Employment Outlook & Career Guidance for Transformational Counselors
“Transformational Counseling” is a relatively new term which counselors use to describe the modality or style of counseling they practice. Unlike a Marriage and Family Counselor who has concentrated study in the field of Marriage and Family Counseling and received a degree in Marriage and Family Counseling; there is no Transformational Counseling degree. An analogy to this would be dentists who label themselves “Holistic Dentists.” The term is used to describe how they approach their dental practice; it is not a specialty degree to which they refer. These dentists have acquired all the degrees, licenses and certifications that any dentist would be required to obtain. However, they practice their work by treating the “whole” person; not just their teeth. Transformational Counseling is referring to a counselor who has met all the state requirements and then practices counseling in a transformative, possibly “coaching” style.
Transformational Counseling vs. “Transformational Coaching” or “Life-Coaching”
A “Transformational Coach” is one who helps others to transform their lives via a coaching style. This is not to be confused with a Transformational Counselor. Individuals who are motivational speakers or “life-coaches” are not necessarily degreed or licensed by the state. (Irrespective of a sporting reference, any individual may refer to themselves as a “coach.”) There are certification programs available for coaches that vary in their credibility and industry-related stature as well as instructional courses and requirements. Again, this form of employment is not to be confused with those persons with Master’s Degrees or higher who are practicing a type of counseling that involves transformation by utilizing a “coaching-style approach.”
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has yet to integrate the title of “Transformational Counseling/Coaching;” therefore specific statistics are not available. Since transformation involves the changing of life patterns and activities it is reasonable yet tenuous to consider the field of practice under the category of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counseling. A quick look at the outlook for Behavioral Counseling provides merely an idea of opportunities in the industry; it is by no means intended to address the unique situation of the Transformational Counselor.
The job outlook for Behavioral Counseling is one of the best in the nation. While the median growth for overall employment from 2021-2031 is 5%, the field of behavioral counseling is projected to increase by 22%. Translated to job numbers, in 2021 there were 351,000 of these types of counselors employed in the US; the number estimated by 2031 is 428,500. That’s a total of 77,500 new jobs expected within the 10 year span.
Learn more about how to become a transformational counselor.
Where is a Transformational Counselor Most Likely to Find Employment?
The largest market for the Transformational Counselor is within the corporate business structure. Within this employment sector, Transformational Counselors are subject to a term-of-art related title: “Executive Coaches.” In 2004 an article published by the Harvard Business Review, authors Stratford Sherman and Alyssa Freas report,
“Many of the world’s most admired corporations, from GE to Goldman Sachs, invest in coaching. Annual spending on coaching in the United States is estimated at roughly $1 billion.”
“The Wild West of Executive Coaching” Harvard Business Review, November 2004
Given the fact that the article was published a number of years ago, the amount being spent annually must now be substantially higher.
There is a highly-documented fierce struggle within the field of Executive Coaching which has increasingly become the subject of scholarly study and research. The conflict exists between the two professional categories that are being employed by key corporations as Executive Coaches: Psychologists as Executive Coaches and Human Resource Specialists as Executive Coaches.
A fascinating (scholarly) article on the history and current situation of the conflict is “Executive Coaching: A Study of the Evolution of the Program at a Top European Business School.”
The study is especially interesting because its author, Dr. Hyun Jung Kim was the first psychologist ever to be hired by Samsung, then employer of 45,000 individuals. Dr. Kim’s perspective is highly unique because she became both a business expert through her employment at Samsung and yet she was able to process situations through a trained psychological perspective. As one of the first Executive Coaches ever to straddle both the business aspect of coaching as well as the psychological implications; Dr. Kim describes the conflict as being one where those who have only a background in business believe a psychologist cannot understand business; the psychologists hold that businesspersons cannot understand the workings of the mind.
Owning a private practice as a Transformational Coach is also an option for those pursing this career modality. The counselor would be performing the dual tasks of both business owner and therapist; a fact which must be given serious consideration. Experts report that one of the key obstacles to success for the private practitioner is the failure to embrace both aspects of the career choice.
Inside the Ranks
One of the nation’s top Executive Coaches is Debbie Robins, M.A. Also a journalist and book author of books such as Shovel It: Kick-Ass Advice to Turn Life's Crap into the Peace and Happiness You Deserve, Ms. Robins believes that Executive Coaching is as imperative to good business practice as a Senior Coach is to a professional sport’s team. She believes that the following are essential to being a top-level Executive Coach:
“The best coaches provide leaders with…
- Clarity about their vision
- Altitude to access their goals
- A variety of perspectives and strategies that attain results
- A level of accountability required to move ahead
- A form of positive tensioning designed to stretch their thinking process
- Smart action plans
- Insistence on growth as a core competency
- A confidential space to work through challenges before imposing solutions on the team
- Emotional support and encouragement from someone whose only agenda is your achievement
…which is why ninety-three percent of business leaders who have experienced executive and leadership coaching have made it an ongoing part of their leadership practice.”
-Debbie Robins, M.A.
Spotlight Masters in Counseling Degree Programs
Ways for a Counselor to Increase Desirability as a Job Candidate
In light of Dr. Kim’s well documented research into the field of Executive Coaching for the corporate sector, it would behoove aspiring Transformational Counselors to attempt to acquire both a business perspective as well as classical psychological training. This might include educational pursuits (i.e. a Master’s in Business Administration) or employment within the corporate structure. While the latter might be challenging, it would certainly pay off in the long run; the candidate would bring both knowledge of the inner-workings of business organizations as well as the skills and expertise of a psychologist to the table.
Ways for Transformational Counselors to Increase His/Her Salaries
Discussing income for Transformational Counselors is as tricky as projecting job opportunities. The reason being, there have not been formal parameters or definitions put onto the field and therefore there are no governmental assessments of the industry. Using Behavioral Counseling statistics is far from adequate; the numbers include vastly different areas of practice. Acquiring a perspective on income will be a unique and time-sensitive search. According to the survey expounded upon in Dr. Kim’s report,
“The median hourly cost of coaching is 500 dollars with the range from 200 to 3,500 dollars: the median is equivalent to that of a top psychiatrist in Manhattan.”
Clearly income will be a function of ability to secure employment, reputational factors, networking proficiency, market forces and the candidate’s experience and education. With any new field, thinking outside of the box is basically the only place to contemplate; there is no system to think within.
2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends and salary figures for behavioral counselors are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed June 2023.