The demand for mental health counselors has seen a drastic rise, as the numbers increased from 37% in 2020 to 62% in 2021. And there’s no denying that the whole world is in need of more psychological counselors.
So, if you’re someone who likes to help someone find a way out of their problems and live a happy life ahead, counseling can be a great career option for you.
But let me tell you, counselors have a great impact on the lives of their patients, sometimes even greater than their own family members – so it’s extremely crucial for you to seek the right education before you face a patient.
And for that, I’ve enlisted a few important steps you need to follow if you wish to become a practicing counselor.
Table of Contents
1. Opt for Psychology as a subject in high school
Once you complete middle school, the honeymoon days at school are over, and you’re now required to make career-related decisions. So, if you know you want to make a career in psychology, start early and while choosing the subjects for your high school, opt for Psychology.
In high school, the subject is taught only at a preliminary level, but it helps you build a foundation and enter university with some understanding of the subject. You will be more acquainted with the basic terminology and foundation of psychology, and it will be easier for you to catch up with a detailed study in college
2. Pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology or Applied Psychology
Once you’ve successfully completed your high school, make sure to apply for a bachelor’s degree in Psychology or Applied Psychology or any other related courses if available. The course program requires three years of devoted study and is sure to act as a kick-start to your counseling career.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology will also make your post-graduation a lot easier than others. Courses like biology and sociology are closely related to psychology. So, if you have a bachelor’s degree related to that, you can still apply for post-graduation in psychology.
3. Focus on gaining practical experience
While pursuing your bachelor’s in psychology, many universities provide various internships to the students. Internships are very crucial to any student as they provide a real-world experience and give you the opportunity to alongside qualified psychologists.
Also, multiple internships can make your resumé or your application more lucrative than others and can greatly help you while applying to famous colleges.
Another important way of gaining field experience is to volunteer at hospitals or psychological wellness centers. Aspiring mental health professionals should consider working at a clinic, long-term treatment center, or community youth organization.
Look for volunteering activities with various types of institutions based on your professional aspirations.
4. Apply for a master’s degree program in Psychology or Applied Psychology
Mental health counselors need to have a lot of educational qualifications before they step into their professional careers. So, to help you stand apart from the crowd, it’s best to seek a postgraduate program in psychology.
At this stage, the course of the study becomes even more advanced, with the branch of psychology having at least four to five specializations. You can choose from clinical psychology, psychological counseling, research, and many more.
5. Apply for a doctorate degree
The list seems never-ending, right? But this is the last thing you need to accomplish before starting to apply for jobs. After you’re done with your post-graduation, you can either pursue a PG diploma or go for a doctorate program. I would suggest a Psy. D or Doctor or Psychology as they are much more helpful and reliable in getting you the job you’re working so hard for.
The duration of the Doctorate degree generally ranges from two years and more depending upon the topic of research you have chosen. This degree is especially important for candidates who are looking forward to becoming a professor or a researcher.
A doctorate degree is the highest level of academic certification a psychologist can have, but if you want to also pursue something on the side to further expand your CV, you can always TAFE courses and sign up for the ones that you find best for your industry.
Over to you…
If you’ve successfully completed all the steps, then now you are ready to get hired by top volunteering associations and hospitals as a professional psychological Counselor. However, before you apply, make sure to first acquire your license. Of course, don’t let go of that dream to open a clinic of your own, one day!