Updated on June 13, 2024
Edited by Evelyn Keener
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University Headquarters (HQ) is an industry-leading, independent educational organization that provides independent college rankings using a proprietary formula to create first class unbiased rankings. The team at University HQ strives to provide accurate and trustworthy rankings that highlights the best programs for child counseling in Illinois.

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What is Child Counseling?


Child counseling is a specialized field that caters to the emotional and psychological needs of children and adolescents. In Illinois, you have the opportunity to pursue degrees and programs designed to equip you with the skills to support young individuals in various developmental stages. Understanding the intricacies of child psychology and counseling techniques will prepare you to make a significant impact in the lives of children requiring professional guidance.

Illinois boasts several colleges and universities that provide comprehensive training in child counseling, with programs covering mental health, development, therapeutic strategies, internship opportunities, licensure preparation requirements, rigorous coursework requirements, and practical experience through internships. Graduates could find work at schools, private practices, mental health centers and elsewhere, contributing to improving mental well-being of younger generations.

The employment rate for graduates in this field remains promising, mirroring the growing recognition of the importance of mental health services for children and the ongoing need for qualified counselors. A strong educational foundation will not only enable you to meet the industry's standards but also provide a platform for a fulfilling career enhancing the lives of young people across Illinois and beyond. Those looking for an Illinois or Chicago school will find that there are a variety of psychology schools in the state that you can choose from either to start or finish your degree options. These include a bachelor's, graduate program, and doctoral programs.

 

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Online Child Counseling Education in Illinois


A child counselor is a mental health professional who specializes in providing therapy and support to children and adolescents. These professionals are trained to help young individuals navigate difficult emotions, behavior patterns, and life challenges. Child counselors work with children and their families to develop coping skills, improve communication, and promote overall mental well-being.

Child counselors typically come from backgrounds in psychology, counseling, social work, or another relevant discipline. Many possess at least a master's degree or higher in counseling related disciplines; additionally, they often possess additional specialized training and certifications related to child and adolescent therapy.

Child counselors rely on various therapeutic techniques to assist their young clients, such as play therapy, art therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and family therapy. They can work closely with children to help them express their feelings freely, understand themselves better, and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Child counselors work in an array of environments such as schools, hospitals, mental health clinics, private practices, and community organizations. In some instances, they may even collaborate with teachers, social workers, and healthcare providers in providing comprehensive support to children and their families.

Online Associate Degree in Child Counseling (AS)

An associate degree in child counseling will likely be difficult to find, but a degree in psychology, counseling, or social work can provide an entryway into child therapy. While less commonly earned, these degrees can give students a foundational understanding of psychological principles they can apply to children's development, and it can serve as a steppingstone toward higher qualifications.

An associate degree can also provide valuable hands-on experience through internships or practicum opportunities, giving students an edge when transitioning into child counseling roles in future roles. Furthermore, it may open entry-level positions at community organizations, schools, or mental health facilities specializing in child well-being.

Online Bachelors Degree in Child Counseling (BS)

Bachelor's degrees in child counseling may also be rare, but they do exist. Those focused on psychology counseling, social work, and child development are more common. These degrees typically span four years and provide deeper insights into child psychology, therapy techniques, and educational methods applicable to young clients. There is much flexibility and potential provided by this undergraduate degree, but you will not be able to obtain licensure as a counselor until you complete a master’s.

Illinois offers students who seek an online bachelor's degree in counseling or psychology the flexibility needed to juggle academic and personal commitments while maintaining academic pursuits. Individuals without access to traditional campus-based programs, or who prefer more self-paced learning environments, will find this approach particularly advantageous. Students pursuing online coursework can explore a range of theoretical frameworks, develop essential counseling techniques, and gain hands-on experience through internships or fieldwork placements within local communities. With demand for qualified child counselors increasing in Illinois and nationwide, earning a bachelor's degree in this field opens doors for graduates looking to make an impactful difference in children's lives.

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Online Masters Degree in Child Counseling (MS)

Gaining a master's of child counseling can be an invaluable asset to those hoping to make an impactful difference in the lives of young people facing emotional or behavioral challenges. Graduates of these advanced degrees possess specialized knowledge and abilities needed to effectively assist children and adolescents in creating coping strategies, improving communication, and increasing overall mental wellness. With programs focused on evidence-based practices and ethical considerations, graduates of such programs will be equipped to deliver high-quality counseling services that have lasting positive impacts in client’s lives. Students in graduate degree programs can also choose a different specialization at this level such as developmental psychology, child development, adolescent psychology, school psychology, crisis intervention, and other psychology majors and child development degrees to reach your professional psychology goals.

Pursuing a master's of child counseling can open doors in multiple settings such as schools, community centers, mental health clinics, and private practice. Graduates typically find fulfilling roles as school counselors, child therapists, or consultants working with families and organizations to create supportive environments for youth. Not only are these degrees adept at honing clinical expertise but they can also emphasize cultural competence and the importance of advocating on behalf of young clients who may face unique challenges due to their background or environment.

University HQ National Rankings - Top 25 Online Masters in Counseling

Online PhD Degree in Child Counseling (PhD)

Earning a PhD in child counseling is a pathway to becoming an expert in addressing the complex psychological needs of children and adolescents. These advanced degrees equip professionals with the skills and knowledge to work with young clients facing various emotional, behavioral, and developmental challenges. With a deep understanding of child psychology, counseling techniques, and research methods, graduates can make a significant impact in the lives of vulnerable youth.

Moreover, pursuing a PhD in this field opens opportunities for specialized research and innovative interventions within the field. Graduates can delve into areas such as trauma-informed care, play therapy techniques, or school-based counseling programs to contribute to the advancement of child mental health practices. By combining theoretical knowledge with practical experiences through internships and clinical placements, doctoral students gain valuable insights that shape their ability to provide effective therapeutic support for children in need.

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Online Child Counseling Certifications

Earning a child counseling certification can open numerous career opportunities in the field of mental health for those passionate about helping children navigate emotional challenges. In Illinois, individuals seeking to specialize in child counseling can pursue certifications such as the Registered Play Therapist (RPT) or Certified Child and Adolescent Counselor (CCAC). These certifications require specific training and education focused on understanding the unique needs of children and adolescents.

Aspiring child counselors in Illinois may also consider pursuing certifications provided by established organizations like the Association for Play Therapy or the National Board for Certified Counselors. These certifications not only enhance credibility but also showcase a commitment to professional development in serving young clients effectively. Additionally, obtaining specialized certifications can help child counselors stay updated with current research and best practices in the evolving field of child psychology.

Certifications for Counselors

Become a Child Counselor in Illinois


Becoming a child counselor in Illinois is a rewarding career choice for those who have a passion for helping children navigate through difficult emotions and experiences. If you are interested in pursuing a career in child counseling, here are the steps you can take to achieve your goal.

  • Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

    To become a child counselor in Illinois, the first step should be earning a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, counseling, or another related field. During your undergraduate studies, it's essential that you take courses that cover child development, abnormal psychology, and counseling techniques as part of your coursework.

  • Step 2: Pursue a Master's Degree

    To become a licensed child counselor in Illinois, a master's degree in counseling or a related field is necessary. Programs accredited by CACREP (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) are highly recommended.

  • Step 3: Gain Clinical Experience

    As part of your master's program, it will likely be required that you complete a specified number of supervised clinical hours working directly with children and families. Gaining this hands-on experience is crucial in honing counseling skills necessary for becoming an effective child counselor.

  • Step 4: Obtain Licensure

    Illinois child counselors must obtain a license to practice. To become licensed, you will need to pass either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) or National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). You will also be required to complete certain supervised clinical hours and meet other state-specific requirements.

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What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Child Counseling?


Earning a bachelor's degree in child counseling opens a world of possibilities for those passionate about helping children thrive. With this qualification, you can work in various settings such as schools, community centers, or even private practice. Your expertise will enable you to assess and address the emotional and behavioral needs of children, working closely with families to provide support and guidance during challenging times. Additionally, a bachelor's in child counseling can lead to opportunities in advocacy roles, where you can be a voice for children who may not have the resources or support they need.

Furthermore, having a bachelor's in child counseling equips you with valuable skills that are transferable to other related fields within the mental health sector. You may find yourself exploring avenues such as child welfare agencies, non-profit organizations dedicated to child well-being, or even pursuing further education to specialize in areas like play therapy or art therapy. The foundation laid during your undergraduate studies will serve as a springboard for your future career endeavors, allowing you to make a meaningful impact on the lives of children and their families through counseling and support services.

Potential Careers for Child Counseling Graduates


Special Education Teacher (Kindergarten)

A special education teacher for kindergarten will be responsible for providing tailored instruction and support to children with special needs in a kindergarten classroom setting. This position requires possessing extensive knowledge about various learning styles as well as adapting teaching strategies accordingly to fit each child's specific requirements.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in special education or a related field
  • Valid state teaching certification in special education
  • Experience working with young children with special needs, preferably in a school setting
  • Knowledge of special education laws and regulations, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Strong communication and collaboration skills
  • Patience, empathy, and a passion for supporting students with diverse learning needs

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for special education teachers in the US in 2022 was $62,950
  • The mean annual wage for special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary school in Illinois is $72,270
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Social Workers

Social workers provide support to individuals and families in need by assessing their situations, developing care plans, and connecting them to resources and services. They work with diverse populations to address a wide range of social issues such as poverty, mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's or master's degree in social work or a related field
  • State licensure or certification as a social worker (requirements vary by state)
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work effectively with diverse populations
  • Knowledge of social service systems and resources
  • Experience in case management or counseling is preferred

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for social workers in the US in 2022 was $55,350
  • The mean annual wage for social workers, all other in Illinois is $65,630

Psychologists

Psychologists are professionals that study human behavior, emotions, and mental processes to help individuals navigate and overcome various psychological challenges. Psychologists work closely with clients by offering therapy, counseling, and support services designed to address mental health issues and foster growth and well-being for both personal and societal advancement.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Doctoral degree in psychology or a related field
  • State licensure as a psychologist
  • Strong interpersonal skills and empathy
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality and ethical standards
  • Experience in conducting psychological assessments and providing therapy services

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for psychologists in the US in 2022 was $85,330
  • The mean annual wage for clinical and counseling psychologists in Illinois is $102,400
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Substance Abuse Counselors

Substance abuse counselors provide essential counseling and support services to individuals suffering from substance use disorder. They work directly with clients to devise treatment plans, attend therapy sessions, and assist them in overcoming substance addiction issues.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Master’s degree in counseling, psychology, social work, or a related field
  • Certification or licensure as a substance abuse counselor (e.g., CADC, LCADC)
  • Strong understanding of addiction and substance abuse disorders
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality and adhere to ethical standards in counseling practice

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2022 was $49,710
  • The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in Illinois is $54,840

Child, Family, and School Social Workers

Child, family, and school social workers provide various support services to children and families in need. These professionals often work within schools, social service agencies, or community settings, and they specialize in areas like family conflicts, abuse or neglect allegations, mental health concerns, and educational challenges.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's or master's degree in social work or a related field
  • State licensure or certification as a social worker
  • Experience working with children and families in a social services setting
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Knowledge of child development, family dynamics, and social service systems

Estimated Salary

  • The mean annual wage for child, family, and school social workers in the US in 2022 was $56,680
  • The mean annual wage for child, family, and school social workers in Illinois is $60,740

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors help individuals living with physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities live more independently and improve their quality of life. They assess clients' needs, devise treatment plans, and offer counseling and support services to overcome any obstacles to independent living.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Master's degree in rehabilitation counseling, psychology, social work, or a related field
  • Certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) may be required
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work effectively with individuals with disabilities and diverse backgrounds
  • Knowledge of disability rights laws and regulations
  • Experience working in a rehabilitation setting is preferred

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for rehabilitation counselors in the US in 2022 was $39,990
  • The mean annual wage for rehabilitation counselors in Illinois is $48,210

Special Education Teacher (Elementary)

Special education teachers in elementary schools are responsible for providing specialized instruction to children with disabilities in an elementary school environment. Working closely with students, parents, and other educators - they create individual education plans (IEPs) so that all children have access to support services necessary for academic and social success.

Necessary Requirements:

  • Bachelor's degree in special education or a related field
  • State certification or licensure as a special education teacher
  • Experience working with students with disabilities in an educational setting
  • Knowledge of special education laws and regulations
  • Strong communication, collaboration, and organizational skills
  • Patience, empathy, and a passion for supporting students with diverse learning needs

Estimated Salary

  • The median annual wage for special education teachers in the US in 2022 was $62,950
  • The mean annual wage for special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary school in Illinois is $72,270
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