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5 Credentials or Licenses Held By Many Counselors

What is a Certified or Licensed Counselor?

In the field of mental health services, certified or licensed counselors are essential mental health professionals who play a pivotal role in assisting individuals dealing with a spectrum of mental health challenges. A certified or licensed counselor, often referred to as a professional counselor, is a dedicated expert within the counseling profession, trained to address a variety of mental health issues. These professionals undergo rigorous education, supervised experience, and additional training to become well-versed in understanding and addressing underlying causes of mental illness, relationship issues, and other difficult situations.

Operating in various settings, such as private practices, clinical mental health centers, or even within collaborative teams alongside licensed psychologists and social workers, these professionals offer individual therapy, relationship counseling, and invaluable guidance. Their counseling specialties encompass diverse areas, ensuring that individuals can find a good fit for their unique needs. With a focus on promoting well-being and enhancing emotional resilience, certified or licensed counselors provide advice and interventions that empower individuals to navigate life’s challenges effectively. Keep reading as we delve into the certifications that are required of these mental health professionals, and as we shed light on their training, expertise, and their pivotal contribution to society’s mental health all around.

Common Certifications for Counseling Professionals

  • Academic Degrees
  • School Counseling
  • Addiction and Rehabilitation
  • Life and Family
  • Mental Health

The field of counseling covers almost every aspect of personal and professional life, so there are plenty of opportunities for career specialization as a mental health professional. This also means that there are dozens of different types of certification and licensing available for counselors. Licensing and credentials may be optional or mandatory depending on the location and nature of service provided. Even in cases where counselors can operate without any kind of certification, professional licensing can help bolster their professional reputation and prepare them for the challenges they are likely to confront in their work.

Academic Degrees

A relevant degree from an accredited academic institution is a requirement for many types of advanced certification in the fields of counseling and therapy. Either a doctorate in psychology (PsyD) and doctorate of philosophy (PhD) are acceptable for many programs. Professional counselors with a background or focus in medicine may pursue a doctorate in medicine (MD) instead, which usually entails a prolonged residency period in addition to academic coursework.

School Counseling

Many high schools and colleges across the United States employ full-time educational counselors to help guide students in their academic pursuits. Most jurisdictions in the United States require school counselors to have a relevant master’s degree as well as credentials issued by state government authorities, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. State certification usually requires proof of education and experience as well as completion of a formal examination.

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Addiction and Rehabilitation

Addiction and substance abuse are extremely destructive behaviors that impact thousands of people every year. Due to the sensitive and complex nature of addiction disorders, many professional counselors in this field pursue certification to better equip themselves to help clients. Becoming a certified addictions counselor (CAC), master addiction counselor (MAC) or national certified addiction counselor (NCAC) are common ways to gain credibility in the field of substance abuse therapy.

Life and Family

Counseling is often associated with a diagnosed problem or current crisis, but many professionals also help clients overcome personal or domestic challenges. A licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) helps couples, parents, and children resolve their issues in a constructive manner. Counselors in the social work field may also pursue a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) qualification as part of their career-building efforts. Counselors who specialize in occupational or relationship counseling may also pursue specific credentials related to their niche.

Mental Health

There are dozens of specializations within the field of mental health counseling, with some requiring advanced education and certification depending on state laws. Practitioners of applied behavior analysis often pursue recognition as a board-certified behavior analyst (BACB). Some mental health counseling positions require national certification based on their specialization through the American Board of Professional Psychologists (ABPP).

Interested in Becoming a Certified or Licensed Counselor?

Counseling is an incredibly broad and diverse field, so it’s not surprising that there are dozens of distinct certifications available to professionals. Whether it’s managing addiction disorders, helping couples overcome differences in personality, or any other one area of psychology, recognized credentials and licenses can significantly boost professional reputation and prepare counselors to better help their clients. Best of luck on your journey to becoming a professional counselor and be sure to check out some additional resources below.

Related Resources:

What are the Different Types of Counselors?

5 Biggest Challenges for Licensed Mental Health Counselors