COUNSELOR

Licensed professional counselors help people to deal with problems or conflicts that they are unable to solve alone including: substance abuse, family, parenting, and marriage conflicts, managing stress, depression, suicidal thoughts, career concerns, and problems with self-esteem.  These counselors collect information through interviews, observations, and tests, and then decide on how best to treat the patient.  A counselor may work with individuals, couples, families, or in-group sessions made up of  people with similar problems.  They work closely with other mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers in caring for their patients.

HOW DO I BECOME A COUNSELOR?

The minimum education requirement for a licensed professional counselor is a master’s degree of arts or sciences.  A doctoral degree is rapidly becoming required in this field.  After completing course requirements, individuals must complete an internship before graduating.

State licensure is a requirement for professional counselors.  Candidates for licensure must hold at least a master’s degree, have three years of experience in mental health counseling, and pass a written exam issued by the National Board of Certified Counselors.

WORK ENVIRONMENT

Most counselors work in private practice, group practice, counseling centers, family service centers, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), hospitals, or government agencies.  Although a 40-hour work week is standard, some evenings and weekend hours are required to meet the needs of clients.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Growth in this field is faster than average and professional counselors may be in even greater demand if present trends such as high divorce rate, alcoholism, drug abuse, and child abuse continue to rise.

AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION FOR COUNSELORS

SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELOR

These counselors are involved in the assessment, treatment, and advocacy of people suffering from alcoholism, eating disorders, behavioral problems, or other types of addictions. Training programs for substance abuse counselors vary in length from two to eight years.  Most programs are two years and result in a certificate or an associate degree.

Substance abuse/Chemical dependency counselors work in facilities where those addicted to drugs and alcohol live while undergoing treatment.  They may also work in hospitals, correctional institutions, and drug treatment centers.  A 40-hour  week is standard, but as with all counselors, evenings, weekends, and holidays may be necessary depending on the setting. Job growth is projected to increase 27% over the next decade.

The demand for the service of substance abuse counselors will increase if the current trends toward chemical dependency continue.

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST

A marriage and family therapist is involved in the assessment & treatment of a wide array of relationship issues including diagnosis and treatment of mental & nervous disorders & problems within families. A six-year, master’s level degree is the minimum education required to enter this field.  Doctoral education in family therapy emphasizes the training of supervisors, teachers, researchers, and clinicians in the discipline.

Marriage and family therapists work not only in private practice, but also in clinics, schools, hospitals, family service centers, and agencies.  Flexible hours are a must in order to accommodate families in crisis and working people who must have evening and weekend appointments.

The job outlook in this field is expected to grow by 37% over the next decade..  As more consumers, health professionals, and employers understand the skills, educational and training standards, and the effectiveness of marriage and family therapy, the profession will gain clients.

PROFESSIONAL INFORMATION SOURCES:

National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates, Inc.
3 Terrace Way, Greensboro, NC 27403
(336)-482-2856
cce@cce-global.org

http://www.cce-global.org/

Louisiana Association of Substance Abuse Counselors and Trainers, Inc. (LASACT)
P.O. Box 80235 Baton Rouge, LA 70898
(225)-766-2992
admin@lasact.org

http://www.lasact.org

Louisiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (LAMFT)
108 Sand St. West Monroe, LA 71291
(318) 342-1281

http://www.lamft.org