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What is Counseling?

New Hampshire is a picturesque state in New England. While many joke that it's a suburb of Boston, New Hampshire is very much its own state, while being an active part of the greater New England economy. The state's growing economy may not be as robust as much larger states such as New York or California, but it does have notable strengths.

Indeed, the New Hampshire economy is led by its real estate market which ranks #38 in the nation. Other industries in the top ten include professional and business services, social services including education and healthcare, manufacturing, retail and wholesale trades, and information. These industries add up to hundreds of billions of dollars in annual revenue, an impressive figure considering New Hampshire's small size.

Given New Hampshire's robust and growing economy, the state also faces significant challenges. The stresses of modern life visit even the most bucolic New Hampshire village, which need counselors and other supports to help citizens overcome difficulties and live their best lives. These counseling professionals need to come from somewhere.

A counselor is a professional who works with clients to help them solve a problem, make a decision, or live a better life. We typically think of counselors in the context of the mental health field, where they conduct psychotherapy with clients one-on-one or in a group therapy environment. While mental health counselors need New Hampshire licensure to work one-on-one with clients in therapy, other counselors do not. This page will primarily consider counselors in the mental health field.

Counselors, regardless of their industry, tend to work in offices. They most often work with clients in their office on a one-on-one or other intimate setting. A marriage and family, for instance, may work with a couple in private sessions. These days, however, many counselors are conducting some, if not all, of their counseling sessions online using streaming services such as Zoom or Skype. Counselors also use the telephone to work with their clients.

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Online Counseling Education in New Hampshire

To meet the rising demand for counselors in New Hampshire, the state's colleges and universities ensure that their counseling degree programs are strong and continually adjusted to include the latest and best practices for counselors. Not only do New Hampshire's institutions of higher learning train students for work as fully licensed mental health counselors who practice individual therapy, but they also prepare students to gain other vitally important credentials, such as licensure in substance abuse counseling.

Credentials in the field of addiction counseling are available for those with less than a master’s degree. When students earn these credentials and work with addicts and alcoholics, they gain experience that will pay off should they decide to earn a credential at the master’s degree level. New Hampshire's network of colleges and universities has risen to help the state generate enough highly qualified counseling professionals in order to meet the need.

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Not only do New Hampshire institutions seek to hire the most academically qualified faculty members but they also seek faculty with experience counseling in New Hampshire or elsewhere in New England. This is because counseling is inherently personal, and people resonate with others from their area. When counselors share the same accents, values, and heritage as their clients (or students) their work may resonate all the more strongly.

Online Associate Degree in Counseling (AS)

An associate counseling degree can be a great way to kick-off a career in counseling. While the state of New Hampshire requires that all counseling professionals hold at least a master’s degree to practice psychotherapy or to have a private counseling practice, an associate counseling degree can be very helpful.

Those with an associate counseling degree may be able to find work in the mental health field as technicians or staff in a rehabilitation facility. They may also work as addiction counselors or perform other types of counseling in the healthcare field. An associate degree can also be helpful when looking to get into the field of social work. In fact, this can be a great way to gain an introduction to any field, which can be helpful when making a decision as to whether to move forward to a bachelor’s counseling degree and then a master’s degree in clinical psychology.

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Online Bachelor's Degree in Counseling (BS)

Though still not able to earn full licensure in New Hampshire, a bachelor’s counseling degree holders can still work in related fields. A bachelor’s degree in allied health, psychology, or social work can be useful in seeking work that helps others. When professionals work with people in need they can get a good sense of how to improve their communication skills to best serve their clients.

A bachelor’s degree is not only a gateway to terrific work experience but it's also useful for ensuring long-term success. It is an excellent credential all on its own, providing many graduates access to a huge variety of careers where they work with people but not as counselors, but it's also required for entry into graduate school. Along the way to graduation, many bachelor’s counseling degree students gain valuable experience in internships accessed through bachelor’s degree programs.

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Online Master's Degree in Counseling (MS)

For those interested in a career as a mental health counselor who conducts individual therapy, perhaps in a private practice, a master’s counseling degree is the way to go. The New Hampshire state licensure board will only qualify those with a graduate degree for a license, and there are still plenty of choices when it comes to selecting the right degree at this level.

Some will go the more traditional route and earn a master’s clinical psychology degree that trains students explicitly for counseling individuals. Others can work towards a specialized counseling degree such as a master’s degree in child psychology, art therapy, or family and couples counseling. All of these will still require that the student completes licensure requirements to earn their New Hampshire credentials. They will need to pass an examination, satisfy the state's supervised work requirement, and provide references and a background check.

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PhD Degree in Counseling (PhD)

A PhD in counseling psychology is enough to qualify the holder for the title of Psychologist. This degree level is the peak achievement for many in the counseling profession, though doctorate degree holders will still need to satisfy the general requirements of the New Hampshire licensing board. Even a PhD holder will have to complete a certain number of supervised work hours, pass an examination, and provide documents including a background check.

A PhD is a great degree to earn partially because it garners holders terrific status in the counseling community. It's easier to publish articles and books with a PhD, and some teach seminars to satisfy the New Hampshire licensing Board's continuing education requirements. On top of this, insurance companies allow a PhD holder to charge more per hour, which is very appealing to students on the fence of whether to pursue this peak academic credential.

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Become a Counselor in New Hampshire

It's not easy to become a counselor in New Hampshire. After all, counseling is a very demanding field that involves loads of responsibility and care. This is why students in New Hampshire should try to start their path to a counseling career as soon as possible. Those in community colleges can major in psychology or an allied health field as a way to start their preparation.

From that point, students should enroll in a four-year degree program. One of the best degrees to consider for a career in counseling is psychology. However, some major in fields such as social work, sociology, allied healthcare fields, or counseling, where available. During the course of a four-year degree, students should look for internship opportunities that help them gain experience and knowledge of the field. Internships in drug rehabilitation facilities or social work agencies can help students gain more knowledge of what it takes to work with people experiencing crisis situations.

For those who want a break after graduation or who are still on the fence about a counseling career, there are options. There are entry-level positions available in a wide number of social work or addiction rehabilitation facilities. The importance of these jobs cannot be overstated. This is because, not only do the hours may pay off later in terms of licensure but, more importantly, those with more experience will have a clearer idea of how to conduct their counseling careers. They may decide that the field is not really for them, or they may learn that they are drawn to counsel and help particular populations such as children, married couples, or those with severe mental illness.

Once prepared for graduate school, students should look for the best master’s counseling degree available in New Hampshire. That program should help them focus on the populations that are of the highest interest to them as well as being of high academic quality. To help determine this, students should find fully accredited counseling degree programs that have a high rate of licensed therapists among their alumni. Master’s counseling degree programs should also have loads of support for students in terms of internships and experiential learning opportunities in general. Students should also seek a master’s counseling program that offers a PhD option for those who wish to go farther.

After graduate school or a doctorate degree, students can proceed to earn a New Hampshire license. This is done by accruing a significant number of supervised work hours, passing an examination, and providing other documents, such as letters of reference and a background check. Since these requirements can change, students should consult with their academic advisers to ensure that they are on track for licensure.

Careers for Counseling Graduates

  • Career Counselor:
    These counseling professionals work with students to help them work toward the career of their dream. Though this is not a licensed position, career counselors usually have a master’s degree. They not only work with students to help them determine whether they are a good fit for certain fields, and they can also arrange campus events such as job fairs that facilitate every student's ability to succeed.
  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counselor:
    This field has been growing by leaps and bounds thanks to the opioid crisis. New Hampshire students may be able to work as licensed workers without a master’s degree. In fact, New Hampshire supports and regulates four levels of substance abuse professionals. Substance abuse counseling professionals work with addicts and alcoholics to help them work through the physical and emotional reasons behind their troubles with substances.
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  • Counselor (Private Practice):
    This is a licensed position that requires a master’s degree at a minimum. Private practitioners may work totally independently, or they may work with other therapists or healers to form a practice. This model enables practitioners to pool resources to pay for support staff who can assist with scheduling and billing. Those who work independently can choose to work from home or a small office, depending on what works best for them.
  • Social Worker:
    There are many job descriptions that fall under this general job title. Social workers can hold degrees that range from a high school diploma through a master of social work degree. Those with a master’s degree can opt to become licensed clinical social workers who see clients for psychotherapy sessions. Social workers can also work with governmental or non-profit social work agencies that service a wide range of populations.
  • Clinical Therapist:
    These counseling professionals must have at least a master’s degree and a state license to work with clients in New Hampshire. Licensed clinical therapists can forge a career that focuses on specific populations. Some treat children with art therapy and others work with geriatric individuals. There are also clinical therapists who work with couples and families, but others work with adolescents who struggle with substance abuse.
  • Family Therapist:
    These specialized counseling professionals have chosen to help couples and families work through their issues. Their sessions may involve multiple family members, if not the whole family, but some sessions are with individual family members. Licensed New Hampshire therapists can choose to include family members if an individual client is willing to go that route but often families seek therapists who hold credentials specific to family therapy.
  • School Counselor:
    This is a specialty for counselors interested in working with students who are struggling in school. School counselors have a Master of Education degree with a concentration in counseling. They also must hold a teaching credential, which involves passing the PRAXIS subject exam for counselors.
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