Types of Counseling Specialties and Certification Requirements

There are numerous types of counseling specialties. Counselors and therapists have plenty of options when it comes to choosing the field they’d want to focus on. Depending on your situation, you can purpose to pursue a counseling field that best suits your training background or matches your past career.

For instance, if you have a strong background in investment banking or financial management, you may want to choose from counseling specialties that would help you advise your clients in financial matters, such as being a financial advisor, financial counselor and so on.

If you have prior experience in drugs, you may want to become a substance abuse counselor, the same way someone trained in education would have a passion to become a school counselor and so on. All the same, success in counseling, just like in any other profession, depends on the passion and desire to provide help to those in need of it.

If you still feel uncertain regarding the counseling field you want to work in, then here are some of the most common counseling specialties to help you make a more informed choice.

  1. School counselors

The duty of a school counselor is to prepare and help students at different stages, including elementary, middle and high school levels. This is in regard to developing academic and social skills as well as helping them cope with behavioral and personal challenges.

A school counselor mainly focuses on developing students’ academic, social and personal skills with a view to prepare them in career development and college readiness. They also aim at empowering the students deal with problems currently facing them before they could get out of hand.

Just as in other counseling specialties, a school counselor requires certification before he or she can be referred to as a credentialed school counselor. You can get certified in two ways.

One of the ways is getting certification through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). To be eligible for certification through this process, you’ll need to have completed not less than 48 semester hours of a counseling graduate program. The other route to becoming a certified school counselor is through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

  1. Mental Health Counseling

A mental health counselor works with individual clients, or where necessary their families, to help them in a variety of emotional or mental problems. Just as in other counseling specialties, mental health counselors are trained to handle their patients professionally.

In this regard, a mental health counselor ought to be skilled in various therapeutic practices, which help them evaluate and ably address the problems that face their patients. Some of these issues may include anxiety, depression, stress, trauma, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse or addiction among others.

Licensing process for this filed, just like other counseling specialties differ from one state to another. To be licensed as a mental health clinical counselor in some states, you’ll be required to sit the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

  1. Substance Abuse counselors

The duty of a substance abuse counselor is to work with people, who may be individuals or groups who have problems with drugs or alcohol, with an aim of helping them acknowledge and identify the problems connected to their addiction.

  1. Marriage and Family Counseling

Marriage and family counselors also referred to as marriage and family therapists MFTs provide help to couples, families to help restore their relationships as well as groups or individuals who are faced with challenges that affect their emotional or mental health and wellbeing.

  1. Rehabilitation Counseling

Rehabilitation counselors provide help to persons with cognitive, emotional, mental, developmental physical disabilities, empowering them to live independently. Rehabilitation counselors obtain a national credential from the Commission on Rehabilitation Counseling Certification (CRCC).

  1. Grief Counseling

The duty of a grief counselor is to provide psychotherapy help to people faced with grief and bereavement or any form of a situation that may cause grief. Unlike in most of other counseling specialties, the level of education required to participate in grief counseling differs considerably.

While individuals with just formal education can still offer some level of grief counseling in voluntary basis, prospecting career counselors should at least complete an undergraduate degree and subsequently a Master’s degree.

  1. Financial Counseling

Financial counseling is one of the broadest counseling specialties, which also includes or may be referred to as debt counseling, credit counseling or financial advising, based on the client’s financial needs. To become a certified financial counselor or certified financial advisor, you’ll have to get certification from the Financial Planner Board of Standards. You’ll also need to have completed a bachelor’s degree and have not less than three years of experience working as a financial planner.

  1. Child Counseling

Child counseling refers to a type of therapy that focuses on children or young people with mental disorders. These disorders are similar to those experienced by adults, such as anxiety, depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and even grief.

Just as in other types of counseling specialties, child counseling or child development counseling requires high level of schooling. To become a child counselor requires that you attain a graduate degree program and later a Master’s degree. You’ll further need to obtain a doctorate or a PhD program to practice as a child psychologist

  1. Guidance and Career counseling Specialty

Guidance and career counseling or vocational counseling focuses on helping individuals or groups achieve their vocational, personal or educational goals. To become a guidance and career or vocational counselor, you’ll need a program that focuses on developing your knowledge in terms of education, career exploration and planning.

To become a certified career and guidance counselor, you’ll need to obtain a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree. Licensure to practice differs from one state to another.

  1. Pastoral Counseling

Pastoral counseling is a type of therapy administered by clergy and ministers who have obtained religious studies as well as behavioral sciences. This is a type of counseling specialties that focuses on assessing and helping patients who require psychotherapy but specifically reflecting on individuals’ spiritual beliefs.

To become a certified pastoral counselor, you’ll in addition to experience and pastoral training be expected to have obtained a postgraduate degree and credentials from a religious community. While you may be able to practice as a pastoral counselor, state licensure is only offered in a few states, which include Tennessee, North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Maine.

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