Counseling Psychology Jobs & Career Guide 2023

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Counseling Psychology CareersWhat is a Counseling Psychologist?

Counseling Psychologists specialize in facilitating personal and interpersonal functioning in patients of all ages. A specialty of professional psychology, Counseling Psychology addresses emotional, vocational, social, educational, health, and developmental issues.

Counseling Psychologists provide a wide range of services to different client populations. They counsel patients in therapeutic settings, to improve their overall mental health and well-being. They assist patients by talking through their challenges and providing them with tools and skills to improve their quality of life.

What is a Counseling Psychologist Responsible For?

Counseling psychologists are trained to help individuals with a range of personal, social, and emotional issues. Here are some specific responsibilities you will have:

  1. Providing therapy: provide one-on-one therapy sessions to individuals dealing with a range of personal and emotional issues, such as anxiety, depression, relationship problems, grief, and trauma.
  2. Conducting assessments: conduct assessments to diagnose mental health disorders, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop treatment plans.
  3. Creating treatment plans: These plans may involve therapy sessions, group therapy, or other interventions designed to improve their clients’ mental health and wellbeing.
  4. Collaborating with other healthcare professionals: work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as psychiatrists, social workers, and primary care physicians, to coordinate care for their clients.

“As a counseling psychologist, my day-to-day work typically involves providing individual counseling to clients, conducting psychological assessments, and collaborating with other healthcare professionals to coordinate care for my clients. I also spend time preparing for therapy sessions, documenting client progress, and engaging in ongoing professional development to stay up-to-date with the latest research and techniques in the field.”

See also; what is the difference between a counseling psychologist and a clinical psychologist?

Where Does a Counseling Psychologist Work?

Counseling Psychologists work just about anywhere there are people in need. Frequently, they are found working in either private or group practices, however there are a variety of settings which employ counseling psychologists:

  1. Private practice: Many counseling psychologists work in private practice, either as sole practitioners or as part of a group practice.
  2. Mental health clinics: providing a range of services to individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues. In these settings, they may work as part of a team that includes psychiatrists, social workers, and other mental health professionals.
  3. Hospitals: Some counseling psychologists work in hospitals, where they may provide therapy to patients who are dealing with acute or chronic medical conditions.
  4. Schools and universities: providing individual or group counseling to students, as well as consultation services to teachers and other school personnel.
  5. Government agencies e.g. Veterans Administration, Department of Defense or the Department of Health and Human Services: counsel active military or veterans, often assisting them with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), dealing with loss, transitioning to civilian life, or depression.

A day in the life of a counseling psychologist

Here is a possible example of a typical day for a counseling psychologist working in a mental health clinic:

8:00 AM – Arrive at the clinic and check email for any urgent messages or updates from colleagues.

8:30 AM – Begin seeing clients. Depending on the clinic’s policies and scheduling practices, the psychologist may see clients for 50-minute sessions with a 10-minute break in between each session, or they may see clients for longer sessions with longer breaks in between.

12:00 PM – Take a lunch break.

1:00 PM – Resume seeing clients. During this time, the psychologist may conduct intake assessments with new clients, provide ongoing therapy to existing clients, or work with clients who are in crisis or need immediate support.

4:00 PM – Finish seeing clients for the day. Spend some time documenting progress notes, updating treatment plans, and responding to any urgent messages or requests from colleagues or clients.

5:00 PM – Wrap up for the day, making sure to organize any materials needed for the following day.

How do become a Counseling Psychologist

It takes 7-10 years to become a counseling psychologist, below we will walk you through the process from obtaining your degrees to obtaining your license.

Bachelor’s Degree

The first step is to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. Students in a Bachelor’s degree program in psychology will likely cover topics such as counseling theories and techniques, human development, abnormal psychology, and group therapy.

It will provide a strong foundation of knowledge and skills that you will build upon with a Master’s and Doctorate.

Master’s Degree

A Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology is a graduate-level program that typically takes 2-3 years to complete. The program covers topics such as counseling theories and techniques, human development, abnormal psychology, group counseling, assessment and diagnosis, and professional ethics and standards. Students typically gain hands-on experience through a supervised internship or practicum component. The program is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue further education at the doctoral level.

The program should be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Learn more in our guide to a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology.

Supervised Internship

After earning a Master’s degree, aspiring counseling psychologists must complete a supervised internship of at least 2,000 hours. The internship should be completed at a site that is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) .

Doctorate Degree

A PhD in Counseling Psychology is a doctoral-level program that typically takes 5-7 years to complete, depending on the specific program and the student’s course load. The program builds upon the foundational knowledge and skills learned in a Master’s degree program and provides students with advanced training in areas such as research methods, advanced counseling techniques, and specialized areas of counseling psychology. The program typically includes coursework, a comprehensive exam, a supervised practicum, and a dissertation. Graduates of a PhD in Counseling Psychology program are prepared to work as licensed counseling psychologists, conduct research in the field, or pursue academic careers in teaching and research.

Learn more in our guide to a PhD in Counseling Psychology.

Postdoctoral Internship

After earning a Doctoral degree, counseling psychologists must complete a postdoctoral internship of at least 1,500 hours. The internship should be completed at a site that is approved by the APA or the APPIC.


Licensing requirements vary by state – consult our guide for more detail.

The licensing exam for counseling psychologists is the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), which is administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

Continuing Education

Counseling psychologists, as is the case for all licensed psychologists, are required to engage in ongoing continuing education to maintain their licensure and stay up-to-date with the latest research and techniques in the field.

Learn more about continuing education requirements by state.

How Much Does a Counseling Psychologist Earn?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average salary is $81,000 in traditional settings. Many practitioners work in private practice where there are opportunities to earn more.

Geographic location and level of degree factor prominently in income potential with urban counseling and doctorate degrees in higher demand. Experience is a significant element in determining compensation.

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