Counseling and psychology are our best responses to trauma and mental illness. They help prevent or respond to major crises, and work to get people the help they need so that they can pursue more normal lives.
And College Choice is eager to get you started and join this great field! We’ve compiled rankings like the Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology, to help you get your career started off right!
Counseling & Psychology FAQs:
- What Are Counseling & Psychology?
- How Much Can I Earn With a Degree in Counseling & Psychology?
- What Kinds of Degrees Are Available in Counseling & Psychology?
- What Kinds of Counseling & Psychology Degrees Are There?
- What Are the Requirements for a Career in Counseling & Psychology?
What Do Counselors & Psychologists Do?
Counselors and psychologists work with clients who need or want mental health treatment. A trained, skilled counselor or psychologist listens well, focuses intently as the client speaks, and steers the discussion toward solutions.
People who seek counseling often struggle with issues such as depression, chemical dependency, romantic relationships, childhood abuse, anger, sexual dysfunction, grief, and family strife. Other times, people go to counseling just for life direction and an opportunity to reflect more deeply about their lives and relationships.
Counselors may meet with individuals, couples, families, or groups. These mental health professionals form action plans and periodically review patient progress.
A psychologist often sees clients, but many prefer teaching, research, and consulting. Research psychologists usually work as faculty at colleges and universities. They research, conduct experiments, and publish their results in industry journals.
Counseling psychologists see clientele with milder mental health challenges. Clinical psychologists treat the seriously mentally ill. A person coping with bipolar disorder, major depression, or psychosis sees a clinical psychologist first before referral to a psychiatrist for medication.
The ideal counselor or psychologist feels empathy, compassion, and understanding toward their clientele. They are ethical, maintain strict boundaries, and communicate very well. Psychologists and counselors find ways for clients to achieve their goals.
How Much Can You Make If You Study Counseling & Psychology?
Firstly, there are slated to be a number of job openings in psychological fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics makes projections for job growth between 2014 and 2024.
Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists will see 32,500 new openings for an increase of 20 percent. Industrial-organizational psychology jumps by 19 percent with an additional 30,500 jobs.
An additional 26,400 mental health counseling jobs will lead to a 20 percent hike by 2024. Marriage and family therapy will grow by 15 percent with 5,000 new jobs added.
These jobs will cover a wide range of working environments, as, according to the APA, postsecondary schools employ 26 percent of psychologists. Medical facilities hire 25 percent. Another 16.3 percent work for the government and veteran hospitals. Fewer than 6 percent have private practices.
And in terms of pay, psychologists earn a national average of around $75,000 per year. However, in states like California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey this number rises to more than $100,000. Or one can look to the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Maryland, which have the most jobs per 1,000 people.
Other career options include Community Mental Health and Vocational Rehabilitation.
Salary data for these fields tend to get bunched together, with the BLS reporting that non-school counselors have a salary range of anywhere between $32,850 and $59,900.
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What Kinds of Counseling and Psychology Degrees Are Available?
The typical educational path begins with a four-year Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. Students study human development, biology, statistical reasoning, and abnormal psychology. By junior year, psychology majors should research graduate schools.
Some schools have dual Bachelor’s-Master’s programs. These degrees take five years.
Graduate school is the big difference between psychology and counseling. A counselor holds a Master’s degree while psychologists have a PhD or a PsyD.
Graduate schools may vary, but most want an undergraduate GPA of 3.5, a minimum 1200 on the GRE, and evidence of work experience. While pursuing a Master’s degree, graduate students learn more about ethics, personality, and individual assessments. Master’s programs last anywhere from one to four years.
Internships of at least one year are mandatory in General Psychology. The American Psychological Association (APA) must approve all internships. The APA warns that good internship opportunities are scarce, so secure yours as quickly as possible.
After the Master’s level, students planning for careers in psychology enter a doctoral program. Admissions may or may not require a Master’s degree. Some combine the Master and Doctorate into a longer program of study. Anticipate spending four to seven years studying at the doctoral level.
PhD candidates conduct research and learn to apply results in the real world. Students write and then defend their dissertation before earning the degree. A PsyD candidate works with patients much like a medical student would.
They next sit for the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Once a person graduates with a PhD or PsyD, he or she works under supervision for two years. Only then will states grant licensure for working as counseling or clinical psychologists.
A PhD or a PsyD?
A PsyD candidate focuses on clinical training with clients rather than the scientific models needed for PhD research. Coursework may include personality assessment, psychotherapy, and ethics. The Clinical PsyD degree takes 4 to 6.5 years to complete.
PhD programs, on the other hand, train “scientist-practitioners,” which includes both research and clinical practice. Students write a thesis and dissertation, and they see clients while supervised. Classes might teach neurobiology, psychodiagnostic testing, and research methods.
Programs last four to eight years.
Most PhD in Psychology programs provide stipends and assistantships to defray the cost of graduate school. PsyD options lack the tuition reductions of PhD programs. Students interested in this degree must carefully research programs and their success rates.
Admissions standards vary based on the school program, but the American Psychological Association provides collective information. The median GPA of incoming PhD candidates is 3.70 while PsyD students present a median of 3.47. Both programs report 100% placement in year-long internships.
These are competitive programs. Of PhD applicants, a median of just 5.75 percent were chosen. In PsyD programs, however, a median of 36.46 percent received offers.
The differences in curriculum translate to differences in career. A Psychology PhD will lead to careers in research but also as college faculty, consultants, and administrators. A PsyD usually works in private practice, or specializes in industrial psychology, neuropsychology, or even forensic psychology.
Despite these differences, both PhDs and PsyDs fall within the occupational title “Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists.” These careers will continue to expand by 20 percent with over 30,000 new jobs through 2024.
What are the other branches of psychology?
There are a number of specializations within psychology, such as a career in Forensic Psychology. Forensic psychology asks psychologists to apply their expertise to legal cases, both criminal and civil.
These professionals might assist in mental health assessments of criminal defendants, or assist in custody law matters. Median salaries for this sub-field are within the range of $70,000.
Another example is Group Psychology, which specializes in social, industrial-organization, military, and sport psychology.
These psychologists attempt to help groups operate more effectively as a team, through analysis and coaching. Group psychology can be a very lucrative field, with Glassdoor reporting average salaries of around $110,000.
And finally, Geropsychology is the field of psychology concerned with applying the knowledge and methods of psychology to understanding and helping older persons and their families maintain well-being and overcome problems to live their best life. Professionals in this field work in a host of different settings, including private care facilities or veterans hospitals. Median pay in this field is around $90,000.
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