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Do I need to get a doctorate to be most successful in counseling?

I have heard different opinions about the education level I would need to be a successful counselor. #counseling

Thank you comment icon Hi Hunter, I believe that getting a doctorate in counseling is the highest degree you can obtain, however, you do not need a doctorate to be the most successful. I have recently applied to graduate school to get my Master's in Social Work (MSW) with dreams of starting my own private practice. With an MSW you would be able to make your own rules in private practice and numerous other routes to be the most successful. Even with a Bachelor's Degree, you can end up successful in counseling. I hope you choose this field :) Brendan

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From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

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Cassandra’s Answer

Hi Hunter,

Counseling is a great field to consider, as working with the public can be very rewarding. I think there are a few areas to consider when it comes to what kind of education you may need to excel in the counseling field. Are you considering being a school counselor, a psychologist, or even a substance abuse counselor? There are many different areas of counseling, and different credentials and requirements that go along with them. Certain states also have different guidelines based on the field you are interested in. Personally, I went to college for to be a substance abuse counselor in New York, and most jobs required you to have at least a Master's degree to be considered. I moved to North Carolina several years later, and there are quite a few positions that you can have with a bachelor's degree, and some are even certificate based, therefore you do not need a degree. I would advise for you to review the positions and requirements in your state, as that can provide additional guidance.

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Annemarie’s Answer

Success as a counselor can take many forms. Since mental health care providers get a broad variety of training experiences, it helps to really evaluate the different professions (psychologists, social workers, counselors, marriage and family therapists, etc.), the scope of practice within each profession, and the nature of the education and licensure in each field (which can vary from state to state). There are advantages to having a doctorate, such as broader career opportunities and activities. For example, only clinical psychologists can conduct full psychological evaluations, so those with interest in having this kind of assessment in their work should consider clinical psychology training. Having a doctorate also opens up opportunities, such as teaching and research, and higher reimbursement rates for many mental health care services. However, many individuals interested in counseling careers enjoy great opportunities to help individuals, couples and families after much shorter training programs. Developing mastery as a mental health provider takes many years, so I advise people to plan on being a lifelong learner no matter what kind of training program you pursue.
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