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What is Counseling?
Students interested in becoming counselors can find many options for training at the undergraduate and graduate levels. There are counseling programs that focus on a variety of areas such as mental health, substance abuse, or marriage and family therapy. Some colleges offer a general counseling degree, while others may have more specialized programs.
Most states require counselors to be licensed, and licensure typically requires a master's degree in counseling from an accredited institution. Many states also have additional requirements, such as passing a background check or completing a certain number of hours of clinical experience.
Prospective students should research the requirements for licensure in their state and choose an accredited program that will help them meet those requirements. They should also consider their career goals and whether they want to specialize in a particular area of counseling.
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Counseling Education in West Virginia
A counseling professional is someone who works with individuals, families, and groups to help them overcome challenges and improve their lives. Counseling professionals may work in a variety of settings including schools, mental health clinics, and private practices.
Counseling professionals also use a number of techniques to help their clients including individual and group therapy, family counseling, and crisis intervention. They may work with clients to develop coping skills and teach them how to make positive changes in their lives.
Counseling professionals must have a master's or doctoral degree in counseling from an accredited program. The only exemption from this degree requirement is for those at lower levels of substance addiction counseling licensure. In addition to completing coursework in psychology and counseling theory, they must also complete a supervised internship or practicum.
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Online Associate Degree in Counseling (AS)
An associate degree in counseling can provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to work as a professional counselor in a number of settings. Students will learn about human development, psychopathology, and counseling theories and techniques. These programs also provide students with an opportunity to gain practical experience through internships or fieldwork placements.
Upon completion of an associate degree in counseling, which requires around 60 credit hours earned, graduates will be prepared to work in a variety of settings including mental health centers, community agencies, hospitals, etc. However, they will not be prepared to work one-on-one with patients or clients until they have earned a master’s degree and some form of licensure from the state. With the proper licensing, graduates may find employment as school counselors, substance abuse counselors, or a mental health counselor within a chosen specialty.
Online Bachelors Degree in Counseling (BS)
If you want to become a counselor, the most popular first step is to earn a bachelor's degree in counseling. These degrees will prepare you for your required master’s in the field. There are many different types of counseling degrees available, so you will need to choose the one that best fits your goals and interests. Once you have earned your degree, you will be able to continue on to a master’s and earn the degree and licensure that will let you work in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, and private practices.
A bachelor’s degree usually requires that students complete around 120 credit hours of both general education and counseling courses. This will put you in a great position to choose a specialty when you earn your graduate degree. Most counselors only have a master's degree in counseling, but some also choose to earn a doctoral degree. Counselors with a master's degree can work as independent practitioners or in private practices. Counselors with a doctoral degree can work as independent practitioners, clinical supervisors, professors, or researchers.
Online Masters Degree in Counseling (MA or MC)
When it comes to earning a master’s degree in counseling, there are many different types of programs available. Some students may want to earn their degree online, while others may want to attend a campus-based program. However, even those who earn their degree online will be required to complete a practicum or supervised work as a counselor before they can gain full licensure. There are a variety of counseling degrees available, such as clinical mental health counseling or school counseling.
No matter what type of program or degree you choose, you can be sure that you will receive the necessary training to become a successful counselor. In your courses, you will learn about topics such as human development, psychopathology, and ethics in counseling. You will also have the opportunity to gain practical experience through internships or field placements.
Online PhD Degree in Counseling (PhD)
A PhD in counseling is a terminal degree in the field; it prepares graduates for careers as counselors, researchers, or professors. No matter your specialty, counseling is a helping profession that requires both theoretical knowledge and clinical skills. A PhD in counseling provides students with advanced training in counseling theory and research methods, as well as opportunities to gain clinical experience.
Graduates of PhD programs in the field are prepared to work as counselors, researchers, or professors in a variety of settings including colleges and universities, private practices, hospitals, and community mental health centers.
However, it’s important to note that a PhD in counseling will take years to complete.
Online Counseling Certifications
There are many different types of counseling certifications available from a variety of organizations. Some common counseling certifications include the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the American Counseling Association (ACA), and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
To become certified as a counselor, you will need to meet certain education and experience requirements set forth by the certification organization. Once you have met these requirements, you will need to pass an examination in order to earn your certification.
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Counseling certifications can give you a competitive edge when seeking employment as a counselor. In some states, counselors may even be required to receive certain certification in order to practice in their specialty. Employers often look favorably upon candidates who have been certified by well-respected organizations such as the NBCC or ACA.
Become a Counseling Professional in West Virginia
In order to become a counseling professional in West Virginia, one must complete the following steps.
Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, or a related field
A bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, or a related field is a great way to start a career in counseling. You can earn an associate degree, but you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s sooner or later so that you can move into your graduate degree. Those with a bachelor's degree in counseling generally have good job prospects, even if they do not choose to continue and earn a master’s. While those who do not earn a master’s and licensure will not be able to work as counselors, a bachelor’s degree that gives you a good insight into people can be useful in many fields.
Step 2: Complete a master’s degree in counseling or a related field
A master’s degree in counseling will provide you with the skills, knowledge, and access to licensure necessary to pursue a career as a counselor. With a master’s degree, you will be able to work with clients of all ages and backgrounds, providing them with support and guidance through difficult times. Counselors with a bachelor's degree often work in mental health settings, such as hospitals or clinics. They may also work in private practices or government agencies.
Step 3: Join a professional organization
Joining a professional organization is a great way to network with other counselors, learn about new techniques and resources, and stay up to date on the latest industry news. There are many different organizations to choose from, so it's important to do your research to find one that's a good fit for you.
What Can I Do with a Bachelor's in Counseling?
A bachelor's degree in counseling can lead to many different career paths, though it won’t help you make your way into counseling unless you choose to work as a substance abuse counselor. However, those with a bachelor’s in this field may find themselves in careers in business, publishing, content management, human resources, marketing, and many more fields. Most counselors need at least a master's degree to be licensed, but a bachelor's degree can give you a solid foundation in the field. If you're interested in becoming a counselor, you should consider pursuing a bachelor's degree in counseling.
Potential Careers for Counseling Graduates
- Educational Counselor:
An educational counselor will provide guidance and support to students in order to help them reach their academic goals. They will also work with parents and teachers to ensure that each student has the resources and support they need.
- Bachelor's degree in counseling, education, or a related field
- Experience working with students in an educational setting
- Knowledge of college and career planning
- Strong communication, organizational, and interpersonal skills
- The median annual wage for school and career counselors and advisors in the US in 2021 was $60,510
- The mean annual wage for educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors in West Virginia is $51,110
- Counselor in Private Practice:
A counselor in private practice can provide therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families. They work with clients to help them overcome challenges and improve their overall well-being. These counselors are responsible for setting their own schedules, marketing their services, and maintaining their own clientele. They may also provide supervision to other counselors or therapists looking to gain licensure.
- Must have a master’s degree or higher in counseling or a related field
- Must be licensed or certified as a counselor in the state in which they practice
- Must have liability insurance
- Must maintain professional continuing education requirements
- The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520; rehabilitation counselors earn $38,560; and counselors (all other) $45,160
- The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral, and mental health counselors in West Virginia is $41,520; rehabilitation counselors earn $42,480; and counselors (all other) earn $37,080
- Family and Marriage Therapist:
A family and marriage therapist is responsible for providing therapy to families and couples in order to help them improve their relationships. This may involve working with couples who are experiencing marital problems, families who are dealing with conflict, or individuals who are struggling with personal issues that are impacting their family life. The therapist will work to help the clients identify and understand the issues they are facing, develop coping and communication skills, and make positive changes in their lives.
- Master’s degree in counseling, social work, or a related field
- Licensed as a professional counselor, social worker, or marriage and family therapist
- The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists in the US in 2021 was $49,880
- The mean annual wage for marriage and family therapists in West Virginia is $43,550
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- Community Health Worker:
A community health worker will be responsible for providing community education and outreach on health and wellness topics. They will also provide referrals to health and social services and connect individuals and families to resources in the community.
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Completion of a community health worker training program
- Ability to effectively communicate with individuals from diverse backgrounds
- The mean annual wage for community health workers in the US in 2021 was $47,780
- The mean annual wage for community health workers in West Virginia is $33,970
- Mental Health Counselor:
A mental health counselor is responsible for providing counseling and therapy services to patients with mental health disorders. They collaborate with other members of the healthcare community to develop treatment plans and provide support to patients and their families.
- Master’s degree in counseling or a related field
- Licensed as a mental health counselor in the state of practice
- 2-3 years of experience in counseling or a related field
- The median annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in the US in 2021 was $48,520
- The mean annual wage for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in West Virginia is $41,520
A psychiatrist is responsible for the care and treatment of patients with mental illness. They work with a team of mental health professionals to develop and implement treatment plans, and they also provide counseling and support to patients and their families.
- Must be licensed to practice medicine in the state where he or she will be working
- Must have completed a residency in psychiatry
- Board certification in psychiatry is preferred
- The mean annual wage for psychiatrists in the US in 2021 was $249,760
- The mean annual wage for psychiatrists in West Virginia is $312,560
A psychometrist administers, scores, and interprets psychological assessments for patients of all ages. They may work with psychologists and psychiatrists to develop treatment plans and diagnoses.
- Master’s degree in psychology
- 2+ years of experience administering psychological assessments
- Experience with a variety of assessment tools
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills/li>
- The mean annual wage for counselors (all other) in the US in 2021 was $49,730
- The mean annual wage for counselors (all other) in the US in 2021 was $37,080
- Clinical Therapist:
A clinical therapist is a professional who provides therapy to patients suffering from mental illness, emotional distress, and other behavioral problems. These therapists use a variety of techniques to help patients cope with their problems and make positive changes in their lives.
- A master's degree or doctorate in psychology, counseling, or social work
- A license to practice in the state where you will be working
- Experience working with patients suffering from mental illness, emotional distress, and other behavioral problems
- The mean annual wage for therapists (all other) in the US in 2021 was $65,030
- The mean annual wage for therapists (all other) in West Virginia is $56,000