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What is Counseling?

Oklahoma is a state known for its oil and gas, mining, and ranching. The state economy also relies on real estate, manufacturing, business services, and social programs including education and healthcare. Thus, Oklahoma is a diverse economy, which carries with it many of the same issues that are found in more urban states. That is, Oklahomans sometimes need assistance with their personal lives.

Since Oklahoma's fifth largest economic sector happens to include counseling professionals, therapists are a vital part of the system. Their work helps Oklahoma workers find a sense of worth and happiness. While some may say that therapists are not generative members of the economy, it's clear that their work helps to keep workers active and productive.

A counselor is a person who works with clients to help them solve problems and live their best lives. We often think of counselors as mental healthcare providers who practice psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups. These counselors need special training and licenses from the state of Oklahoma. However, there are ‘counselors’ who work outside of the mental healthcare sector to help people with their careers, genetic history, and even credit. This page only concerns those in the mental health field.

Regardless of their specialty, most counselors work in an office setting. They frequently interview their clients or otherwise conduct a talking approach to their counseling. These days, many counseling professionals work over the phone or using a streaming video platform, such as Skype or Zoom. Counselors may also be found working in schools, social services agencies, or in a medical environment where they collaborate with doctors to help those who have co-occurring disorders.

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Online Counseling Education in Oklahoma

Since counseling professionals are such a vital part of Oklahoma's economic picture, the state is active in supporting its college and universities who train these professionals. The state licensure board also collaborates with Oklahoma's graduate schools of counseling or social work to ensure that students are prepared for success. They apprise universities of new regulations regarding their licensing process and the schools make sure that students are fully aware of all licensing criteria. After all, the programs thrive by producing highly qualified individuals for state licensure.

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At the university level, Oklahoma's institutions of higher learning strive to hire the nation's best academics in the counseling field. They also look for highly qualified instructors who have extensive experience working as counselors in Oklahoma. Counselors with local experience may be able to provide students with special insights into the local mindset, both in terms of the clients they are likely to encounter and the specifics of state licensure.

Online Associate Degree in Counseling (AS)

Aspiring counselors may launch a career based on an associate counseling degree. This degree will not support a career as an independent psychotherapist who conducts one-on-one counseling sessions, but it could help you find work if you need to earn money while you continue your education. You might work in a counseling office, helping with intake or in a secretarial position. Some states offer licensure to those who have an associate counseling license for work in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. However, in Oklahoma, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree to access licensure for addiction counseling.

Students who wish to start by earning a degree at the associate level should look for degree programs in allied health, addiction counseling, or psychology. Any counseling courses will be very helpful but might be hard to come by at this level. Community colleges have academic advisers that will help students craft a series of courses that will help them launch a career while supporting a full bachelor’s degree program later.

An associate counseling degree is also a great way to start a career because community college courses are far more affordable than the equivalent courses at a four-year institution. Many community colleges even have agreements with four-year institutions that ensure that students can easily transfer their credits when that time comes.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Counseling (BS)

A bachelor’s degree is a stronger foundation for a counseling career. Students with a bachelor’s degree have a stronger background in their chosen field and the degree has the added benefit of setting students up to enroll in a master’s counseling degree program. Those who are eager to earn an Oklahoma state license for mental health counseling must necessarily earn a bachelor’s degree on the way to their master’s and eventual licensing. However, those who wish to work in addictions counseling can do so with nothing but a bachelor’s degree and some experience. So, if that is of interest to you, it’s accessible once you finish this degree.

Students who wish to counsel clients in areas such as career guidance and school counseling, marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, or behavioral therapy will find that this degree is a firm foundation for success. But they will still need to earn a master’s degree.

Online Master's Degree in Counseling (MS or MC)

Counseling professionals generally need a master’s counseling degree to achieve the success they desire. Only with a master’s counseling degree can they work as independent counseling professionals who is able to conduct one-on-one therapy sessions or maintain a private practice. To earn state licensure in counseling, students need to complete a master’s degree in social work (MSW), clinical psychology, or counseling. Full licensure will require a period of supervised counseling experience, successful passage of an examination, and other steps that may include a background check, an ethics course, etc.

A master’s counseling degree is a credential that can be useful in a variety of fields. While most will want to apply their degree toward a career as a therapist in the mental health field, it can be applied to work in other areas. Those who are skilled in counseling may also find that their skills are valued in human resources departments and in hospitals where counseling skills help people cope with their medical difficulties. In fact, many who become licensed clinical social workers may choose to work as independent therapists but also as social workers in a variety of environments.

Online PhD Degree in Counseling (PhD)

A PhD is a terminal degree that can well serve many counseling professionals. While this degree level isn't always found in the social work sphere, those with master’s clinical psychology degrees often advance into a doctorate program. They seek this degree because it not only helps them deepen their psychotherapy practice, but it also elevates their status in the counseling community. Only with a PhD in the field can you work as a psychologist or psychiatrist, though these roles are also very different and will require earning completely different degrees at the PhD level.

Many counseling professionals who earn a doctorate are able to use their credentials to expand their professional lives. They often are found at the head of counseling practices where they may oversee multiple other counselors, or they can earn top administrative positions in mental healthcare facilities, including drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. PhDs in the counseling professions may also find that their credentials are helpful when they want to publish articles or even books.

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Become a Counselor in Oklahoma

Counseling is a popular career choice for many. It offers the unique opportunity to make a healthy salary while also helping people. The profession can also be very intellectually stimulating and can support ongoing research, much like an academic career but without the intense competition for tenure or other status. Here are some steps you can follow to become a counselor in Oklahoma.

The first step towards a career in counseling is to earn a bachelor’s degree. During these formative four years, future counselors can fully explore the field of psychology. Along the way to a degree in psychology, they can explore the helping aspects of the profession as well as the research side. In fact, many discover that they would rather advance the field from a research perspective than a counseling one.

Those who wish to become counselors can pursue internships or full-time work in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center after earning a bachelor’s or they can continue to earn a master’s degree. This experience can be invaluable because it allows first-hand experience working with people in a very difficult time of their life. The experience may also be counted toward later credentials, but that must be confirmed with the Oklahoma licensing board.

To achieve the career they truly desire, students will need to complete a master’s counseling degree from an accredited university. Here, there are two choices: a master of social work or a master of clinical psychology. The MSW option is attractive because it opens the possibility of licensure to practice psychotherapy while also supporting a career as a social worker. A master of clinical psychology is clearly focused on the counseling profession and can be the foundation for a doctorate degree and a career as a licensed psychologist.

Note that any licensure will require that professionals satisfy a set of requirements. They will need to not only complete a degree, but every counseling professional must complete a set number of supervised hours of active counseling. The number will depend on one's degree level and may be subject to change by the Oklahoma board. Academic advisers should have more information. Students will also need to pass a professional examination and submit to a background check, on top of other requirements. All licensed counselors will also need to submit proof that they have completed a set number of continuing education hours for each licensure period.

Careers for Counseling Graduates

  • Psychiatrist:
    These mental health professionals must first complete medical school and a psychiatric residency before they can hold this position. Most of their practice is concerned with analyzing lab results from their patients and prescribing psychiatric medications, such as anti-depressants. Psychiatrists are often affiliated with a hospital or may work with various mental health clinics.
  • Career Counselor:
    These counselors are not mental healthcare professionals, but they still work with individuals to help them improve their lives. Most career counselors work at a college or university, where they also arrange career fairs or other recruiting events for students.
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  • Substance Abuse/Addiction Counselor:
    These mental healthcare professionals work under a variety of state licenses. They work to help patients who suffer with substance abuse disorder. Those with less than a master’s counseling degree cannot conduct individual therapy sessions, but those who have a graduate degree and a state license may practice psychotherapy.
  • Counselor (Private Practice):
    A counselor in private practice must hold a master’s counseling degree, such as a master of social work or a master of clinical psychology. Therapists in private practice may be part of a larger consortium of counselors or may have their own offices, even in their own home.
  • Clinical Therapist:
    This profession is comprised of licensed practitioners who hold a master’s degree. There are two degree options for therapists: a master of social work or a master of clinical psychology. Licensure involves an extensive period of supervised counseling, an examination, and often an ethics course.
  • Social Worker:
    This helping profession is found in government agencies as well as non-profit organizations. Social workers can perform a variety of tasks. Some are case managers who help clients find the resources they need; others take a more active role and provide training for individuals on their caseload. A social worker who holds a master of social work degree can become a licensed clinical social worker and then conduct one-on-one counseling sessions.
  • Psychologist:
    These mental healthcare professionals hold a PhD in counseling psychology and often work in private practice. They hold a state license that requires an advanced degree, successful passage of an examination, a background check, and an ethics course.
  • School Counselor:
    To become a school counselor, professionals must earn a master of education degree with a concentration in counseling. They must also earn a teaching credential by passing the subject specific Praxis exam (or the equivalent). School counselors are licensed to work with specific age groups who may have trouble in school, need access to various resources, or be struggling with emotional trauma.
  • Child Counselor:
    To work with children, counselors often complete specialized coursework. Those who earn a standard master of clinical psychology or master of social work may add a certification that attests to their expertise with children. Child counselors can help traumatized or otherwise troubled youngsters by employing art or play therapies on top of the usual techniques.

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