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How does a counselor figure out which areas they would like to specialize in? For example a person may specialize in Anxiety, Depression, and Anger Management and work in with the subgroups such as Self-esteem, Addiction, and Family Conflict.

Do counselors learn which areas they would like to specialize in while they are in school or do they learn while working for a number of years? #career-path #counseling

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Subject: Career question for you


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Daniela’s Answer

Hi Mounia,

Specialty areas are housed within a master’s degree program. Master’s degree programs may offer specializations in Addiction Counseling; Career Counseling; Clinical Mental Health Counseling; Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling; College Counseling and Student Affairs; Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling; and School Counseling:

  • CACREP accredits masters-degree programs in the following areas:

Addiction Counseling – Addiction Counseling programs prepare graduates to work with persons and families affected by alcohol, drugs, gambling, sexual and other addictive disorders (e.g., food-related).

Career Counseling – Career Counseling programs prepare graduates to help persons wanting to make career decisions. Sometimes known as vocational counselors, career counselors help clients explore the intersection of their education, skills, interests, and personality to determine and plan for possible career paths. Career counselors often make use of inventories and other assessment tools to assist persons in making decisions. In addition, career counselors understand and maintain resource information on employment and labor market trends. Career counselors may work in a variety of settings from private practice, to career resource centers or employee assistance programs associated with specific industries or organizations.

Clinical Mental Health Counseling – Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs prepare graduates to work with clients across a spectrum of mental and emotional disorders, as well as to promote mental health and wellness. Clients may be seen individually, in couples, families, or group settings. Clinical Mental Health Counselors are knowledgeable in the principles and practices of diagnosis, treatment, referral and prevention and often work in interdisciplinary teams with other health professionals (e.g., psychiatrists, social workers, MDs). Employment opportunities may include private practice, community-based mental health centers, hospitals and other treatment centers.

Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling – Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling programs prepare graduates to help persons with cognitive, physical, sensory, psychiatric, and other disabilities work through a variety of mental health issues and provide treatment of mental disorders, including co-occurring disorders. They are knowledgeable in the principles and practices of clinical counseling including assessment, diagnosis, treatment, referral, and prevention. Clinical rehabilitation counselors may work in a variety of settings from private practice, community-based mental health facilities, substance treatment facilities, schools, hospitals and/or other treatment centers.

Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling – Graduates of Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling programs have been prepared to work with individuals, couples and families from a family systems perspective. From this perspective, Marriage, Couple and Family Counselors work with clients across of variety of mental and emotional disorders, relationship issues, or communication issues and in a variety of work settings including inpatient facilities, community mental health centers, private practice offices, and social service agencies.

School Counseling – School Counseling programs prepare graduates to work with students ranging from kindergarten through high school. School counselors are prepared to promote the academic, career, and personal/social development of all K-12 students through understanding how to design and implement comprehensive school guidance and counseling programs that include time for individual counseling, group counseling, classroom guidance, family and teacher consultations within the school setting. School counselors work with in both private and public school systems at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Student Affairs and College Counseling – these programs prepare students to assume a variety of positions in higher education and student affairs offices after graduation. Such positions might include working at a college’s or university’s housing and residential life office, assisting with management activities at a student union, offering student leadership activities and orientation sessions, or providing counseling, career services, and multicultural support services. Students opting to specialize in student affairs and college counseling programs acquire a strong professional counseling knowledge base including: history of the profession, philosophy, ethics, theory and assessment, while simultaneously learning about the culture of higher education, its organizational dynamics, and administrative structure to enable them to provide leadership in student development issues and policy-making in student affairs.

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Thank you comment icon Thank you for this great answer! Mounia
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James’s Answer

There are several ways to assist you in selecting a particular field in an array of counseling. One such way would be signing up for an internship in the area of counseling that really interests you. There are hospitals, public schools, clinics, state correction facilities, boys town, etc. that are willing to let you "shadow" counselors in their day to day functions through an internship in your university program.
Should you decide to become a Liscenced Professional Counselor in your state, this would allow you to open your own professional counseling office whereby you could serve families, individuals, or groups. Seeking an LPC of course requires more "hours" and a mentor in order to become Certified. This method would allow you to narrow specific types of counseling more to your liking., i.e. Grief, drug abuse, marital, etc.
Good Luck and remember the possibilities are endless in the counseling field!

Thank you comment icon Thank you for your answer! This is very helpful! Mounia