Studying towards and obtaining a Masters in Counseling Psychology can lead to a range of different careers. When studying towards your Master’s, you will need to choose a certain specialization, which will greatly determine which area you will be working in. Oftentimes, schools that offer degrees in counseling psychology will also offer degrees in social work or addiction therapy, for instance.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for someone with a master’s in counseling psychology is $70,000. However, there are great variations depending on which geographical area you work in and the type of institution you work for. Additionally, salary will also grow if you take part in further training and gain more experience.
About Counseling Psychology
Counseling psychology is usually a two-year degree program that leads to either a Master of Arts or a Master of Science degree. With the degree, you will be able to counsel both groups and individuals. Depending on your school of choice, you can have a certain specialization, such as community counseling or addiction treatment. The degree will include some clinical training through hands-on experience, and you are also likely to have to complete a thesis or a capstone research project.
The curriculum of your course will include things such as research methods, group dynamics, assessment and interview techniques, laws that are applicable to the field of psychology and professional ethics. Usually, there is very little difference between the Master of Arts and the Master of Science and many schools offer both options. It is common, however, for the requirements for the Master of Arts to include a few less scientific skills, such as knowing a foreign language.
In terms of the clinical experience, it is likely that this will be the biggest focus of the overall program. Different schools will have different requirements in terms of the setting in which you can obtain this experience and in terms of how many hours you will have to spend on this program. It is likely that you will be encourage to work in places such as public schools, mental health hospitals, women’s shelters, prisons and court clinics.
What Jobs Does This Lead To?
There are many different jobs that you could become involved in as a counseling psychologist.
- Family Therapy – According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, family therapy is the most popular field of work. Here, your role will be to help people in crisis find a new balance in their life, and reopen the lines of communication between them.
- Mental Health Therapy – You could also become involved in mental health therapy, which is another highly popular field of specialization. Here, you will assess the mental health of patients before designing and delivering treatment plans for them. In this position, you will hold records of the patients you treat, develop plans for intervention and prevention and create treatment strategies that are individual to each of the people you work with. Counseling psychologists also often work in schools. Here, they will address the mental health needs of students and ensure they are able to meet their educational goals. They will often work together with students’ parents as well as the various teachers in order to address the mental health needs of the student while still ensuring their educational attainment is as high as possible.
- Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health – Choosing to work in substance abuse and behavioral health is another interesting option. There has been a tremendous increase in the number of addiction treatment centers and homeless shelters, where substance abuse is very common. Furthermore, you could work in outpatient clinics in hospitals, or you could be employed in a college or university.
- Rehabilitation Counselor – You could also choose to work as a rehabilitation counselor. In this role, you are likely to be employed in hospitals or prisons, dealing with people whose mental health issues have led to incarceration.
The American Board of Professional Psychology can certify professionals who have completed a doctoral degree. They offer a number of different specialties, which include clinical psychology and counseling psychology. However, not all those who have a masters in counseling psychology will work on to achieve their doctorate degree. But all states have laws in place to regulate the type of work that someone with a degree in psychology (be that master’s or doctorate) is allowed to do.
There are great variations in salary depending on the type of counseling that you become involved in. On average, salaries are:
- Between $33,780 and $57,800 for school counseling psychologists.
- Between $31,300 and $$44,130 for substance abuse counselors.
- Between $29,950 and $45,510 for mental health counselors.
- Between $39,690 and $50,770 for marriage and family counselors. The top 10% earn $70,830 in this field.
- Between $25,950 and $45,350 for rehabilitation counselors.
- $72,540 for counseling psychologists with a doctorate degree.
There is an expected growth of 12% by 2022 in the demand for counselors, particularly school, vocational and educational counselors. This is due in part to the fact that many current counselors are approaching retirement age. However, it is also because crisis intervention that is available on site is in higher demand, and because there is a greater awareness of attentional and behavioral disorders and how these affect educational attainment.
Growth in demand for substance abuse and behavioral health counseling is expected to be 31%. This is due to the fact that there is greater understanding about addiction being a disease rather than a criminal act. This means there is a greater need for treatment as well.
There is also a significant growth expected in mental health counseling. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says growth will be 29%. This is mainly due to the fact that mental health counselors can work in many different settings. Marriage and family therapy is expected to see the same growth.
For rehabilitation counselors, growth is expected to be 20%. This is much higher than the national average for most other professions too. This expected growth is mainly due to an aging workforce and greater links between health care professionals and mental healthcare professionals.