Counseling

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Articles on Counseling:
   Major in Counseling
    A future in Psychology
   Counseling / Psychology Major...A Closer Look
    Explore a Major in Counseling
   Help and Healing; Careers in Mental Health

Major in Counseling

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain.” ~Proverbs 10:11

Counseling is a cooperative process in which a trained professional assists a client in recognizing and moving through personal sources of stress, difficulty or concern. The goal of counseling is to motivate and educate clients to make positive behavioral changes in order to accomplish specific life goals and/or improve overall mental health. Counselors deal with issues like depression, anxiety, grief/loss, family conflict, job stress, athletic pressure and difficulty in aging. In this major you will learn about counseling techniques and wide-ranging methodologies such as cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, narrative-focused and client-centered therapy.  You will begin to understand how to help people with complex issues like substance abuse, eating disorders, mental illness, addictions, self-harm, ADHA and low self-esteem. You will gain skills in stress management, active listening, decision-making, conflict-resolution and assessing complicated relational dynamics. Whether you end up counseling children, teens, married couples, families or individuals, and whether you work in a school, rehab center, cooperate setting, counseling office or private practice you will begin to understand yourself better, as well as the people around you.

Psychology majors are generally people-oriented. Typically, these are the individuals inquisitive about the personalities of those around them, who notice patterns in behavior and crave knowledge about how the mind works. But it takes more than an interest in social interaction to succeed in this relatively new college major. In a field where application of knowledge must be wisely shared and assessments must be accurate, critical thinking is a must. It is helpful to be a creative and flexible problem-solver, able to lay out achievable, measurable objectives. If your ultimate goal is to become a counselor or therapist, it is imperative to possess traits of compassion, helpfulness and patience in order to empathetically walk clients through a process of self-discovery and gradual behavioral change. This one-on-one teaching of life skills sometimes requires time and persistent dedication, as well as good communication (both verbal and nonverbal). Finally, it is important to be self-aware, emotionally healthy and to have strong coping skills in a career where stress and high burn out are expected.

So, what are some of the classes you can expect to take as a counseling major? Once your general credits are complete, you will take an array of psychology courses like Abnormal, Social, and Child Psychology. You may spend time doing research and conducting some sort of internship or senior project. Other classes you may encounter are:

  • Methods of counseling
  • Group dynamics
  • Prevention and crisis intervention
  • Statistics
  • Personality theories
  • Survey of social problems
  • Human behavior and environment
  • Interpersonal communication

Counseling is a diverse major with all sorts of specializations and career outcomes. Some specializations you might narrow in on include: guidance counseling, gerontology, marriage and family therapy, human services, substance abuse and art or play therapy. In order to become a licensed therapist or counselor, an advanced degree (at least master’s level) is required. Students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in counseling may find employment in other fulfilling roles:

  • Social worker/case manager
  • Career counselor
  • Human services educator
  • Rehab specialist
  • Addictions counselor
  • Mental health technician

People will always have emotional needs. Recent trends show that the job of mental health counselor is projected to rise by 23% over the next decade--far above the average employment growth rate. If you enjoy building rapport with people and desire to instill hope and act as an advocate in the lives of future clients, then a major in counseling might be the perfect fit for you!