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how can i become a counselor with only a bachelors degree?

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Grant’s Answer

Generally, to be a counselor, you need to obtain a Masters Degree. This can be in Counseling or Social Work. You also have the option to pursue a PsyD (Doctorate of Psychology) or a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in Psychology instead of getting a Masters degree. It is generally possible to go directly into a PsyD program once you get your Bachelors degree. PhD programs generally require you to first get a Master's degree in Psychology before applying for the PhD program, so keep that in mind. With a Bachelors Degree in Psychology or Human Services, you can obtain work at a Psychiatric Hospital working as a "Mental Health Worker" or "Psychiatric Technician".

For me personally, I obtained a BA in Psychology & Human Services (double major), worked for a year as a Mental Health Worker in inpatient psychiatry at a major hospital in Chicago, then went on for a MSW (Masters in Social Work).

I will add that for bachelor's programs, if you are interested in counseling, look for Human Services major -- which tends to be more hands on than Psychology majors, which are more academic in nature. In other words, Human Services tends to be practical, hands on discussion and role playing counseling scenarios, such as Crisis Management (e.g. working a suicide prevention phone line), whereas Psychology tends to be a lot of in class listening to the professor talk about psychology theory.

For a Master's Degree, Social Work offers a ton of flexibility when you finish. There are social workers in private practice, school social workers, social worker in hospitals, drop in clinics, addiction clinics, etc.

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Summer’s Answer

Most counselor's are going to need a Master's Degree in Counseling. Are you interested in being a counselor for a school district or a counselor in a therapy type practice?