Why Get a Masters in Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology is an important area of psychology because it is useful in helping people to gain control of their feelings and personal issues, so they can live a normal life. Counseling psychology treats people who have many types of behavioral and emotional problems, such as anxiety, personality disorders, and depression.

Many professionals who want to dedicate their careers to helping others earn a master’s degree in counseling psychology. Once you earn your master’s in this field, you can work in a variety of counseling settings, under the supervision of a psychologist with a doctoral degree. Eventually you may decide to earn your doctorate so that you can practice independently.

Some counseling psychologists with a master’s degree may be employed as instructors in colleges and universities, mental health centers and VA hospitals, while others may work as counselors, researchers and service providers. Wherever you end up working, the job outlook for these professionals is bright, as more people are looking to treat their mental health conditions as they age.

With a master’s in counseling psychology, you can work in these exciting careers:

  • Counseling psychologist: Help their patients to deal with major life issues at home, at work and in their community. Through expert counseling, they work with their patients to identify what their strengths are and identify the resources that they can use to solve their problems.
  • Clinical psychologists: These psychologists assess, diagnose and treat serious mental health disorders. While they may work with patients on mild depression and anxiety issues, many clinical psychologists help their patients deal with serious, long term mental health conditions. They usually will interview patients in depth, perform diagnostic tests, and may provide group and family psychotherapy.
  • Mental health counselor: These mental health professionals diagnose and treat various mental health and emotional problems, most often anxiety and depression. They also help their clients to better process their reactions to difficulties in life, and help them to cope. Some of these difficulties include divorce and job loss. This role is similar to that of a psychologist, but generally, counselors are more limited in the types of tests that they can give to their patients. Psychologists also tend to work with people with more serious mental illnesses.
  • Health psychologist: They study how various behavioral and psychological factors can affect health and illness. They often educate patients and medical staff about psychological issues that affect health.

Why Earn a Master’s in Counseling Psychology?

The biggest reason to become a counseling psychologist, other than wishing to help people treat their mental health problems, is that the demand for these professionals is soaring as our population is growing older.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for psychologists by 2024 is excellent: There will be a 19% increase in job demand for clinical, counseling and school psychologists. Generally, experts state that higher demand for psychological services in schools hospitals, medical clinics, mental health centers and social service centers will be driving employment growth.

The increased demand is also related to the population of the US aging. People are living longer because of preventative health care and better medical care. As they live longer, they will often be dealing with various mental health issues that are part of aging, including depression and anxiety. Also, more psychological counseling services are needed for people who suffered from war trauma in service to our country.

Admission Requirements

Counseling psychology programs tend to be highly selective. To increase your chances of being admitted into a good program, you should meet these requirements:

  • GRE scores required for most programs
  • 25 GPA or higher in undergraduate work
  • Statement of purpose
  • Writing sample
  • Updated resume
  • 3 professional or professor recommendations
  • Interview may be required
  • Undergraduate degree in psychology or sociology

Curriculum and Courses

Texas Woman’s University has a Master’s in Counseling Psychology that provides a unique, feminine perspective, while preparing students for a career in psychological counseling. Students will learn to work with couples, families and individuals so that they can promote the optimal mental well being.

This program take two years, and it focuses greatly on being able to understand yourself and others in multicultural and social contexts. This university is strongly committed to the development of every counseling student as a self reflective and ethical professional. The program also provides training based upon the most modern practices of counseling psychology.

Required courses include:

  • PSY 5501 – Seminar in Counseling and Family Psychology
  • PSY 5163 – Psychology of Women
  • PSY 5304 – Advanced Psychological Statistics I
  • PSY 5353 – Research Design
  • PSY 5313 – Psychological Tests and Measurements
  • PSY 5513 – Advanced Psychopathology*
  • PSY 5523 – Clinical Therapeutic Group Processes*
  • PSY 5653 – Theory of Psychotherapy and Counseling*
  • PSY 5541 – Psychotherapy Skills I: Microskills Lab*
  • PSY 5674 – Theory and Practice of Family Psychology
  • PSY 5923 – Supervised Practicum (4 Semesters)**
  • PSY 6833 – Ethics in Psychology*
  • PSY 6613 – Advanced Developmental Psychology
  • PSY 6383 – Cross Cultural Psychology

Career Outcomes and Job Titles

You could have one of the following job titles with your master’s degree:

  • Community counselor
  • Psychologist
  • Instructor
  • Clinical researcher or manager
  • Case manager
  • Therapist

Job and Salary Outlook

  • Counseling Psychologist — Demand in this profession will increase by 20% by 2024 as more people will be seeking psychological services to deal with their problems as they age. The median salary in this field is $70,500 per year.
  • School Psychologist — Demand in this field will also increase by 20%, as more people are aware of the connection between our ability to learn and our mental health. More schools are now providing mental health services on campus, as not every child has the means to get the mental health services they need in their home environment. The median wage in this field is $70,000.
  • Career Counselor – The demand for career and school counselors will increase by 8% by 2024, as rising enrollments for primary and secondary schools could cause a greater demand for career and school counselors. Career counselors are most often employed at community and technical colleges, and more of these facilities are opening, so there could be more jobs available there as well. Median pay in this profession is $53,600.

Scholarships and Grants

Getting your master’s degree in counseling psychology is a good move for your career. But how will you finance your education? Check out these scholarships and grants:

  • National Board for Certified Counselors: This leading foundation of certified counselors offers several scholarships and fellowships every year. The foundation is especially interested in funding students who are going to serve communities that are chronically short of mental health counselors and psychologists.
  • American Counseling Association: This leading association for mental health professionals has several scholarships and awards each year for students in master’s degree programs in psychology or counseling.

Additional Resources

Review these psychology resources to learn more about this exciting career:

  • American Psychological Association: This is the largest, leading psychology association in the world. You will have many opportunities to improve your counseling skills as there are hundreds of educational opportunities each year.
  • American Counseling Association: This organization represents more than 56,000 certified counselors around the world. It offers webinars, publications, journals and annual conferences to provide you with the tools and resources to improve your skills and practice.