How to Become a Counselor in Indiana

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What is Counseling?


Even the happiest and most well-adjusted people can have issues from time to time. Maybe a person wants to stop smoking but is having a hard time doing it on their own. Perhaps a person fell on hard times, which have resulted in a drug or alcohol dependency situation, and they want to finally live a clean and sober life. Or maybe someone is just confused about what their life is supposed to be and needs a sounding board to work through their issues and find solutions. This is where a counselor comes in handy. Whether a person has severe issues from childhood trauma or just needs someone to show them a new perspective in life, counselors can assist a variety of people with a variety of problems.

Counselors are people who either offer advice or provide a person the tools to come up with solutions to their issues. There are many types of counselors and many types of issues that require a counselor’s help. Substance abuse, career, and general life issues can all be areas where a counselor can help people sort through their feelings and find solutions to their problems. Counselors can work individually, in a group setting, in hospitals and treatment centers, or with social service organizations. Counseling can occur in a variety of situations and there is not just one cookie cutter, stereotypical type of person that becomes a counselor. Basically, anyone who feels the need and desire to help others could become a counselor of some sort.

However, it’s important to realize that there is a lot of education required before you can work to help someone through their life-altering issues or provide diagnoses to those who may be dealing with chemical imbalances and other problems. You must be willing to obtain that education if you want to succeed in the field and find a position in a hospital, rehabilitation facility, or run your own private practice.


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Counseling Education in Indiana


In order to work as a counselor in Indiana, a person must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Below are some details regarding the educational levels a person can choose from in Indiana if they want to work as a counselor.

In the state of Indiana, there are 13 million people, many of whom will have an issue at one point or another, and counseling services should be available to help them. If you are the kind of person that likes to listen to others and provide tools so a person can figure out their own solutions, then a career in counseling could be ideal for you. Below are some guidelines regarding how to get into the field of counseling and the types of positions you can expect to find once you have completed your education.

Associate Degree in Counseling (AS)

You can get an associate degree in psychology from several different colleges in Indiana. However, you will not be able to work in a counseling position with just an associate degree. Additional education will be required.

These degrees can help students to complete a large chunk of their education either closer to home or without paying the higher rate charged by a four-year university. By completing these first two years at a community college, you can lower the overall cost of your education, gain some experience through internships, and even possibly find an entry-level position working as an assistant in a private counselor’s office or elsewhere.

Bachelor's Degree in Counseling (BS)

In the state of Indiana, you can get an undergraduate counseling degree that will aim you in the right direction to become a counselor. Bachelor’s degrees in majors such as psychology, sociology, or social work will start you on the path to become a counselor in Indiana while providing you access to a variety of other career options, as well.

Some of the courses that you would take as a major in these areas include:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Child Development and Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Statistics
  • Theories and History of Psychology
  • Research Design
  • And More

In some cases, a student may be required to complete an internship of roughly 300 hours. This clinical can be completed at an organization, a hospital, or with a licensed counselor that is approved to provide assistance to an internee.

Master's Degree in Counseling (MS or MC)

A master’s degree in counseling is the next level needed to become a counselor in Indiana. Depending on specialization, a person will take numerous psychology, sociology, and social behavioral sciences courses. The degree generally takes three years to complete, and requires 700 hours of clinical internship and either a master’s thesis or a comprehensive exam. Upon completion of this degree students in Indiana qualify to take licensing exams.

The master’s is the level at which you are most likely to choose a specialization in research psychology or counseling. This may include child counseling, organizational psychology, grief counseling, geriatric counseling, and much more. Those who wish to teach may also require a master’s or doctorate in order to become a professor at the university level.

PhD Degree in Counseling (PhD)

For those who choose to become professors and teach others or who want to become subject matter experts in their field, a PhD is a good idea. A doctorate in psychology or sociology will set graduates up to be experts in their field and allow them to command the highest earnings of anyone in their field. They also can become directors of mental health agencies and organizations. A doctorate degree can take five to seven years to complete and usually requires a dissertation and the successful defense of said dissertation.

Become a Counselor in Indiana


In order to become a counselor in Indiana, a person must attain a license. But we need to backtrack a bit because we need to talk about the education required to get the license. First, to work as a licensed counselor in Indiana, a person must hold a bachelor’s degree in a field such as psychology, sociology, or social work. While a student is working on their bachelor’s degree, they must attain 300 clinical hours under the supervision of a licensed counselor. This counselor could work in private practice, for an institution, a hospital, or social service organization.

Once a person has accumulated the required clinical hours, along with completing all coursework, they are eligible to graduate with their bachelor’s degree. At this point, they can prepare to take the National Counselor’s Exam (NCE). Once they have taken this exam, they can work in a mental health facility, though they cannot work in a counselor capacity in Indiana.

In order to be a licensed counselor in Indiana, a person must take and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselors Exam (NCMHCE). In order to qualify to take the NCMHCE exam, they must accumulate an additional 700 hours of clinical internship. This is normally done in conjunction with pursuing a graduate degree. Once a person has finished their graduate degree and passed the NCMHCE exam, they can be licensed as a counselor in Indiana. In many cases, people are hired by the places where they interned or with their current employer, moving from a non-counselor position to a counselor position. However, if that's not the case, they can now apply for counselor positions at different organizations because they will be fully licensed and recognized to practice in the state of Indiana. These people could also open their own practices if they wish.

Careers for Counseling Graduates


There are many directions a person can take as a counselor. Below are some of the career avenues available to those who wish to be counselors in Indiana.

  • Career Counselor
    A career counselor assists a person in choosing the right career path. They most often work with people about to graduate from high school or college, or people with established careers but are seeking a different line of work. Between conversations with their client, specialized testing, and a series of questionnaires, a career counselor can help a person choose the career that suits them best. These career counselors can also help someone figure out the best path for their current career if there are several avenues available to them.
  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counselor
    Substance abuse and addiction counselors assist those who are attempting to live lives free of drugs and alcohol. These counselors work in a variety of situations, from treatment centers to hospitals to private practice. Many counselors specialize in the type of clients they work with. For example, some work with children, some work with veterans, and some work with the general public. Each subset requires special skills so, for those who want to work with specific people, learning those tools is vital in becoming a successful counselor. In many cases, substance abuse counselors choose to work with people they can relate to the most, for example a veteran that becomes counselor could choose to work with veterans or a person who had a substance abuse issue as a child could choose to work with children.
  • Community Health Worker
    Community health workers are on the front lines of communities, usually lower income or minority communities. They spend time in the neighborhood, getting to know the people and finding out what their needs are and then, in turn, they may take that information to local authorities and organizations in order to create services and solutions to help these people in need. For example, a community health worker could be the one to organize a blood pressure screening if the community he or she works in has a large population of overweight or generally unhealthy people. The same community worker could also organize exercise programs, after school care programs for children, or other needed services for the community. They are the bridge between the community they work in and the area’s leaders and assistance agencies.
  • Counselor (Private Practice)
    When people think of counselors, the private practice counselor is what they normally think of. That is, the person sitting in a chair with a notepad asking people about their feelings. But there is much more to a counselor than that stereotype. Counselors are literally people trained to listen to other people explain their problems and help guide them to a solution. They are trained to listen and watch for certain attributes that will help them assist the person. A counselor generally does not offer advice other than what is needed to get their client to work through their issues on their own and come up with their own solutions. Counselors can be in private practice or could work for organizations and agencies run by governmental authorities.
  • Child Counselor
    Child counselors specialize in helping children. They are specially trained in ways to help children open up about their experiences and problems and they have special tools they can use with children to help them work their way through their issues and find solutions. Child counselors are often in private practice, but they can also be attached to schools, hospitals, and other social service organizations.
  • Marriage and Family Counselor
    Marriage and family counselors work with married couples, families, and individuals. When a family comes to counseling, it’s important that each member receives their own special counseling; a husband and wife might receive counseling and the family as a whole might be counseled, as well. A marriage and family counselor is trained to offer assistance to the individuals and the group as a whole.

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