What is the Fastest Way to Become a Counselor?
What is the fastest way to become a counselor?
Counseling is a growing field that helps people navigate a variety of issues, including family relationships, substance abuse, career challenges and other areas that affect health and well-being. It is a rewarding and challenging job that allows you to help others.
There are several ways to get started in this career, but the most effective route is to pursue a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Having both will give you the tools you need to be successful as a therapist.
1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in counseling or another human services related field.
Having a bachelor’s degree is the first step in becoming a licensed counselor. You can find a program at a local community college, an accredited four-year college or university, and even online. You can also find accelerated programs that combine an undergraduate and a master’s degree, which saves you time and money.
2. Take a state examination to obtain licensure in your home state.
Depending on the state you live in, there are many different exams you may need to take in order to become a licensed counselor. You might also need to complete supervised work experience before you can become fully licensed. You’ll need to accumulate 2,000 to 3,000 hours of supervised experience before you can apply for licensure in your state.
3. Become a Licensed Professional Counselor
After you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to continue your education by earning a master’s degree in counseling or another human services field. The curriculum for this type of degree will vary depending on your area of specialization, but you should select a program that is regionally accredited. You can also choose to pursue a doctoral degree in counseling or another human services field.
4. Submit documentation to your state licensing board to begin the application process for licensure.
The process to get licensed as a professional counselor can be lengthy, but it’s well worth the effort. Licensing requirements vary by state and by counseling specialty, but they typically require a graduate degree, supervised clinical experience, and passing an exam.
5. Volunteer or intern to gain real-world experience.
Getting some counseling experience is the best way to learn how to be a counselor, and there are a number of volunteer or internship opportunities available at schools, hospitals and other organizations. This can give you a taste of what it’s like to be a counselor and allow you to see whether this is the career for you.
6. Identify your strengths and choose a counseling specialty that suits you.
A counselor’s responsibilities can be complex and demanding, so it’s important to pick a specialization that’s a good fit for your interests, skills, and personality. This will ensure that you can help your clients reach their full potential and achieve their goals.
Choosing a counseling specialty is the next step in your education and will help you focus your study. Your master’s coursework should include courses that provide you with the in-depth knowledge and practical skills you need to be successful as a Licensed Professional Counselor. For example, if you’re interested in working with adolescents, your coursework should include courses that teach you how to assess the needs of this population. You’ll also need to learn about the underlying causes of mental illnesses and disorders so you can develop a treatment plan for them.