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What is Counseling?

Projected growth is primarily due to an increase in people seeking addiction and mental health counseling services, as well as a collective trend toward treating multiple problems at one time through groups of specialists. Demand for qualified professionals will also rise in conjunction with states sentencing drug offenders to treatment rather than jail time.

Earning a counseling degree will allow you to pursue a wide variety of career paths within the field. Most focus their studies on a particular topic.

Some of the most common areas of specialization include:

  • Addiction
  • Eating Disorders
  • Bereavement
  • Mental Health
  • Family
  • Trauma
  • Military

Counselors can also specialize in working with a specific population, such as children, teens, LGBTQ, adults, military, or the elderly. These professionals may work in numerous settings, providing private or group sessions. Some even offer counseling on the phone in addition to face-to-face sessions.

While there are many different types of counselors, they are all dedicated to helping other people live healthier, happier lives. They are trained to assist with a variety of social, emotional, and mental health problems, as well as serving as advocates and helping their patients manage the physical and psychological difficulties that can accompany ailments. While counselors can evaluate the mental and physical health of their clients, they cannot prescribe medications of any kind; only psychiatrists can do that.

Every job and its specific requirements differ, but some of the most common responsibilities include evaluating clients and assessing readiness for treatment, developing and reviewing treatment plans and goals, and assisting in skills and behaviors development. It’s also not uncommon for counselors provide education and assistance in developing various coping strategies. Some may coordinate with other medical and mental health professionals when developing and managing patient treatment plans.

Most counselors work full-time in family services offices, care centers, hospitals, community / vocational rehabilitation facilities, outpatient mental health, substance abuse centers, service centers, hospitals, or residential substance abuse facilities, and schools. Some do also own and manage their own practices. While the work can be extremely rewarding, it is often stressful and highly demanding, with large workloads and long hours that require time during the evenings, nights, and/or weekends.

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Counseling Education in Delaware

Are you considering enrolling in a counseling degree program in Delaware? Individuals who are interested in helping others overcome challenging situations and create positive changes in their lives are well-suited for careers in this field. Graduates have the knowledge and skills necessary to assist with a wide variety of social, emotional, and mental problems. They also learn how to work with different demographics such as children, couples, and the elderly. While counseling can be an emotionally taxing profession, benefits include sustained job security and opportunities to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for many counseling occupations is expected to increase nationwide from 2019 to 2029. The professions that will see the greatest growth include substance abuse, behavioral disorder, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and genetic counselors. Projections indicate a rise in employment opportunities of between 21 and 25% for these careers, which is significantly more than the average of other occupations. Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors alone will see the addition of 79,000 jobs over the next several years.

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The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the fourth largest in Delaware. It accounts for $6 billion in revenue each year. Counselors of every kind can be found in the state, although there are more community and social service workers than anything else.

Those planning to pursue counseling positions in Delaware should strongly consider enrolling in a local college or university program. While options are available throughout the nation, and online learning allows students to complete requirements from anywhere an internet connection is available, every state has different licensing requirements for counselors. It’s possible to become certified after earning a degree in another state, but the process is often more complicated and time consuming. Institutions in Delaware, on the other hand, know how to prepare students to meet the state’s credentialing requirements. Local institutions also tend to offer the most geographically relevant coursework.

The majority of addiction counselors have some form of advanced education. While it is possible to find employment in Connecticut without a counseling degree, highly educated job candidates have better prospects. With programs available at every academic level, students can choose programs that align best with their individual academic and professional goals.

Associate Degree in Counseling (AS)

While the state of Delaware requires licensed professional counselors to have graduate degrees, earning an associate degree in counseling can lead to some entry-level employment opportunities. Graduates may qualify for jobs as counseling assistants, human service assistants, and caseworkers.

Associate degrees in counseling generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework. For full-time students, graduation requirements can generally be met within two years. These programs are often designed to introduce students to the foundational knowledge necessary to be successful in further study. This includes introduction to the various psychological theories and models used in practice. They also help prepare students for further specialization in the future.

Bachelor's Degree in Counseling (BS)

Most prospective counselors in Delaware choose to begin their education by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program. While this level of education alone will not be enough to become a licensed professional counselor in the state, having a bachelor’s is required to enter master’s programs. Students do not need to major in counseling specifically, but can choose from related fields such as psychology, sociology, or clinical social work.

Bachelor’s degrees consist of 120 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Those attending classes part-time may need an additional two to four years to graduate. Every college and university program is different, but most are designed to help prepare students to enter graduate counseling programs. Instruction tends to focus on the development of critical thinking and communication skills, as well as on important counseling theories and concepts.

Master's Degree in Counseling (MS or MC)

In Delaware, licensed professional counselors must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution. While the state does not require a particular major, programs relating to counseling, psychology, social work, and marriage and family therapy provide the best preparation for success in the field. Completing this level of education and obtaining the appropriate credential will give graduates the ability to find professional employment and begin assisting clients.

Most master’s degrees consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Programs are generally to provide instruction in advanced counseling practices and theories while also developing critical thinking and decision-making skills. Those enrolled should expect a combination of classroom learning, research, and practical applications. Most also incorporate supervised practicum and clinical internships to help prepare students for state licensure requirements.

PhD Degree in Counseling (PhD)

A doctoral degree is not generally required to practice as a counselor, although they are necessary for some specialty areas. School counselors, for example, can find entry-level employment with a master’s degree, but will need a doctorate in order to attain leadership positions. Regardless of your career plans, choosing to enroll in an academic program of this level can be beneficial. This is especially true for licensed professionals interested in pursuing positions in leadership, research, and/or education at the postsecondary level.

Most doctoral degrees consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take full-time students five to seven years to complete. Programs are designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of the field, as well as enhance the skills necessary to perform research. Every institution is different, and curriculum will depend on your specific area of study.

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Become a Counselor in Delaware

If you want to become a counselor in Delaware, the first step is identifying your ultimate career goals in the field. Because there are many different types of counseling jobs available, it’s important to identify the type of professional you want to become. Knowing your specific objectives will make it easier to select the most applicable program and degree type. Taking time to set career objectives now ensures that you enroll in a program that will provide the knowledge, skills, and training necessary to be successful in the future.

As previously mentioned, most colleges and universities offer students the opportunity to select a concentration after completing general education requirements. Common examples include addiction, mental health, and marriage counseling. Identifying a specialty will tailor your learning experience to areas of greatest interest.

It’s important to realize that every state and the District of Columbia have different counseling licensure requirements depending on the area of specialization. For example, chemical dependency counselors in private practice must be licensed in every state. Genetic counselors, on the other hand, are only required to be licensed in about half of states.

In Delaware, licensing requirements for counselors are overseen by the Division of Professional Regulation. The state requires certification from the National Board of Certified Counselors prior to obtaining licensure, however. You are responsible for knowing the regulations and collecting the appropriate documents necessary to pursue your intended license. For more information regarding associated requirements, you will need to refer to your exact counseling profession’s License Law and Rules and Regulations. These are available as links from the Division of Professional Regulation website, but are also available via the State of Delaware and the Delaware Code Online websites.

Prospective counselors can apply for licensure by examination or reciprocity, which only applies to individuals who already hold a current license in another jurisdiction that is in good standing. Candidates must submit the State of Delaware and Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal background checks (CBC) and all applicable examination scores, such as the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Other requirements for exam applicants include an official transcript sent from the school showing 30 – 60 graduate credits and an evaluation of coursework. Individuals without 30 post-master credit hours will need to provide additional documentation. Those applying through reciprocity will also need state/jurisdiction licensure verification sent directly from the board office from each state or jurisdiction in which they hold or have held a license.

Careers for Counseling Graduates

Choosing to earn a counseling degree will open many career pathways in Delaware. While salaries and daily duties will vary, some of the most common positions available include:

  • School Counselor
  • Substance Abuse / Addition Counselor
  • Private Practice Counselor
  • Community Health Worker
  • Clinical Therapist
  • Social Worker
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Organizational Counselor
  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Sports Psychologist
  • Health Psychologist
  • Career Counselor
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Child Counselor
  • College Counselor
  • Military Counselor
  • Group Counselor or Therapist
  • Family Therapist
  • Marriage and Family Counselor
  • Residential Counselor
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Grief Counselor
  • Behavioral Therapist
  • Educational Counselor
  • School Counselor
    School counselors are responsible for helping students achieve their personal, academic, social, and development goals. They often assist students in adjusting to a new school and/or preparing to enter college. These professionals also often consult with parents, intervene during challenging situations, refer support services, and help students overcome various obstacles. According to PayScale, school counselors make an average base salary of $51,350 per year.
  • Clinical Social Worker
    Clinical social workers are responsible for providing therapy to individuals who require mental or emotional support. They often perform a variety of related tasks, such as coordinating patient care interactions, negotiating with their party groups, communicating with patients, and conducting psychosocial evaluations. These professionals may work in hospitals, mental health clinics, residential nursing facilities, home healthcare companies, or substance abuse treatment centers. According to PayScale, clinical social workers make an average base salary of $57,600 per year.
  • Substance Abuse / Addiction Counselor
    Substance abuse and addiction counselors are responsible for working with patients who are struggling with, or recovering from, substance abuse. They counsel individuals and groups, create treatment plans, implement therapeutic treatments, and evaluate patient progress. These professionals also maintain updated histories and notes regarding observations made. According to PayScale, substance abuse and addiction counselors make an average base salary of $39,900 per year.
  • Residential Counselor
    Residential counselors are responsible for providing counseling services to the residents of live-in patient facilities. Depending on the facility, they can oversee treatment for a variety of patient types, such as people with addictions and disabilities, as well as the elderly and troubled youth. These professionals also help to handle crises and conflict within the residence by providing individual and group counseling. According to PayScale, residential counselors make an average base hourly rate of $14.46, or approximately $39,700 per year.
  • Career Counselor
    Career counselors are responsible for helping their clients identify the most optimal career paths, as well as assist them in pursing job goals. They often provide advice regarding education requirements for possible professions and utilize assessment tests to gauge personality, interests, and aptitude. These professionals also assist with mock interviews, background evaluations, and career changes. According to PayScale, career counselors make an average base salary of $46,500 per year.
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  • Grief Counselor
    Grief counselors, also referred to as bereavement counselors, are responsible for helping people work through issues related to the deaths of loved ones. They guide patients through the various stages of grieving in the healthiest ways possible. These professionals tend to be excellent listeners as they must be able to understand the underlying feelings and emotions involved with each loss. According to PayScale, grief counselors make an average base salary of $46,900 per year.
  • Mental Health Counselor
    Mental health counselors are responsible for diagnosing and treating mental health problems and illnesses in patients. They help patients work through and/or resolve existing issues during one-on-one and group counseling sessions. These professionals may specialize in particular areas, such as young adult therapy or addiction. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $44,200 per year.
  • Psychiatrist
    Psychiatrists are responsible for determining whether or not mental disorders are present in their patients. They evaluate symptoms, behaviors, and past medical histories to help identify any issues that are currently present. These professionals also assist patients in managing, easing, or healing disorders with the use of treatments and/or medications. According to PayScale, psychiatrists make an average base salary of $215,600 per year.

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