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This article provides an overview of the masters in professional counseling degree program, some of the subject matters and courses that the degree covers, and why obtaining this degree could significantly advance your career. It also presents an online masters in professional counseling program that you may want to consider.
What Is a Masters in Professional Counseling?
A masters degree in professional counseling provides students with advanced skills in one to one and group therapy. It is common to have to undergo field experience and internships as part of the program, as this is needed for most states’ licensure requirements. Meanwhile, different schools set different admission standards, but most will require a bachelor’s degree.
Writing and research are essential components of this degree program. Students will be trained to have the diagnostic and treatment skills for specific forms of counseling. They will also learn about the mental and psychological processes of human thinking and behavior. Generally, there is a focus on areas such as:
- Study of Group Dynamics
- Human Development
- Advanced Counseling Techniques
- Professional Identity and Ethics as a Professional Counselor
- Methods of Research
- Individual Appraisal
Upon completion of the degree and after obtaining a license, graduates can begin to work with communities, families, and individuals to help them achieve optimal development and growth. Graduates have the skills to empower their clients to solve difficulties in their life, including interpersonal conflicts and mental health issues. To do this, they have to become an LPC (licensed professional counselor), so it is important to make sure that the degree program you enroll in meets licensure requirements. Students must also find out what these requirements are in their particular state.
The curriculum of a standard masters in professional counseling includes courses in areas such as:
- Human Sexuality
- Human Growth and Lifespan Development
- Research Methods
- Multicultural Counseling
- Assessment and Evaluation
- Advanced Counseling Techniques
- Advanced Psychopathology
Some schools also offer concentration in areas such as, marriage and family therapy; and substance abuse.
Why Earn a Masters in Professional Counseling?
By earning a masters in professional counseling, you will be ready to take your state’s licensure examination, enabling you to become a professional counselor. Alternatively, you can continue your studies towards earning a doctorate. By completing the master’s degree, you can get to work in specific areas of counseling, having an increased understanding of emotional and mental problems, how to diagnose these, and how to treat them.
As the stigma on mental health is being broken, there is an increased demand for people to provide professional counseling skills. This is true across the lifespan. There is an increased understanding about the importance of good mental health in children and how this links to their educational attainment. At the same time, people understand the importance of good mental health in the workplace and the risk of burnout. Furthermore, we now know the impact of loneliness and other issues on the aging population. This demonstrates just some of the different areas in which a counselor can get to work, and how much demand there is for these types of skills.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that school and career counselors had a median salary of $54,560 per year as of May 2016. They have also reported that there will be an 8% increase in demand for these professionals from 2014 to 2024, which translates into some 22,500 new jobs.
Online Option for Masters in Professional Counseling
Grand Canyon University
One excellent online masters in professional counseling program is the Master of Science in Professional Counseling offered by Grand Canyon University. The fact that this is a master of science is quite unique, as most other universities offer it as a master of arts. The degree program provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to work with a range of counseling clients, dealing with their various emotional, behavioral, social, and psychological issues. The degree, while offered online, does require the completion of an internship and a supervised practicum, during which time students can apply what they have learned to real life situations.
The program has been developed to meet the licensure requirements set by the National Board for Certified Counselor. The program also meets the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners’ requirements. Students can choose among a range of specializations, including group counseling theory and practice, substance use disorders, and more.
Graduates are expected to have the skills and knowledge to help patients have better lives. Students learn about psychoanalysis, as well as behavioral and cognitive counseling theories. Furthermore, the program focuses on social and cultural diversity in counseling, as well as on trauma counseling. It also looks at the role of substance abuse in spousal and child abuse, and on psychopharmacology and addictions. Lastly, it looks at ways to perform group tests, how to gather the results of these tests, and how to analyze the results.
The degree program is made up of 62 credit hours that can be completed online, as well as through evening courses. It is flexible, such that it allows students to earn their degree at a time that is convenient to them. The faculty have in-depth practical experience and academic background, and are all fully trained adjunct instructors.
The core courses include:
- Introduction to Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences
- Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethics
- Counseling Theories
- Introduction to Addictions and Substance Use Disorders
- Group Counseling Theory and Practice
- Social and Cultural Diversity Issues in Counseling
- Psychopharmacology and Addictions
- Human Sexuality, Aging, and Long-Term Care
- Counseling Skills in the Helping Relationships
- Human Growth and Development
- Marriage and Family Therapy
- Spousal and Child Abuse, Crisis, and Trauma Counseling
- Tests and Appraisal in Counsel
- Career Development and Counseling
- Research Methods
- Diagnostics, Assessment, and Treatment
- Psychopathology and Counseling
- Evaluation of Mental and Emotional Status
Popular careers for someone with a masters in professional counseling include:
- School guidance counselor
- Mental health counselor
- Substance abuse counselor
- Marriage and family therapist
As you can see, completing a masters in professional counseling is a great way to significantly advance your career. It will prepare you to meet the relevant licensure requirements that will enable you to practice as a counselor in your chosen field. You will have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others, helping them become the best versions of themselves. This will rightfully give you a lot of professional pride. Furthermore, being educated at the graduate degree level, you will also earn a lot of professional respect.
- School and Career Counselors. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm
- Master of Science in Professional Counseling. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gcu.edu/degree-programs/master-science-professional-counseling