Counseling is a branch of psychology that focuses on personal and interpersonal functioning across the lifespan of an individual and on emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental and organizational concerns. A counseling program aims to equip students with knowledge, skills, attitude and professionalism to practice counseling in a wide range of area with high level of competence and compassion. It also creates outreach programs to create awareness on wellness and mental health.
The word 'counseling' is of American origin and it was coined by Rogers. During the 19th century, the basic form of counseling was given in the form of advice and information as treatment to emotional problems. In 1896, Sigmund Freud introduced 'psychoanalysis' which is a form of therapy that focuses on a person’s unconscious and belief that mental illness is the result of repressed memories and emotions.
Counseling emerged as an applied specialty by the American Psychological Association (APA) in the 1940s. The two main organizations that are considered in the formation and development of counseling psychology are the Society of Counseling Psychology (SCP) of the APA and the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs (CCPTP).
In recent times, counseling psychology as a profession has expanded and is now represented in countries around the world.
- Interested candidates should have Evidence of English Language Proficiency test such as TOEFL, IELTS or PTE Academics.
- For admission to a bachelor’s degree, students should secure a minimum passing mark of 50% in 10+2 or equivalent.
- For admission to a master’s degree in counseling, interested candidates should have a Bachelor's degree in psychology with a minimum of 50% aggregate score.
Counseling as a career has evolved around the years due to the major problems faced in the society. Due to peer pressure, competition, societal pressure etc every individual face some kind of emotional or mental issues. Counseling helps individuals deal with problems which they face in their day to day life. It deals with the personal and inter-personal problems which any individual faces.
The main objective of counseling is as follows:
- Achievement of Positive Mental Health: An individual is said to have sound mental health when he is able to have a positive, meaningful and fulfilling life.
- Problem Resolution: counseling aims to help the individual to come out of a difficult situation or problem.
- Counseling for Decision-making: the ability to make right and timely decisions is important for success in life. Counseling helps in making an individual capable of making independent decisions.
- Help Change: An important objective of counseling is to bring change for development. Counseling helps individual to make changes in attitudes, perceptions or personality.
- Behavior Modification: Another objective of counseling is to help in modifying behavior.
Removal of undesirable behavior or self-defeating behavior and learning desirable behavior is considered necessary for attaining effectiveness and good adjustment.
In recent times counseling is required to solve a variety of social problems. It is necessary in different areas like Juvenile delinquency, Marriage, Weaker sections, Disadvantaged groups, Drug addiction etc. Scope of counseling is very vast as it is concerned with various problems and progress of an individual for example the planning relating to financial and health problems, problems related to family, society and emotional adjustments.
Types of Degrees
There are various types of degrees for students to opt for in counseling. Some of the most common types of degree are as follows:
- Marriage and Family Counseling: This type of counseling is related to treat issues such as marital conflicts, adolescent behavior problems, domestic violence, issues related to infertility etc. It offers guidance to couples, families and groups who are dealing with issues that affect their mental health and well-being.
- Guidance and Career Counseling: It helps an individual in making and implementing education and career choices for his/her future as per his abilities and interest.
- Rehabilitation Counseling: This type of counseling degree helps individuals with physical, mental or emotional disability to achieve personal and professional goals and lead their lives freely. Rehabilitation counselors mainly work in NGO's and drug rehabilitation centers. They mainly interact with disabled people and placement agencies that refer disabled people to employers.
- Mental Health Counseling: provides guidance to individuals, couples, families and groups that deal with issues that affect their mental health and well-being. Some of the common problems which mental health counselors treat are depression and anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, personality disorders and many other psychological issues.
- Substance Abuse Counseling: This type of counseling degree focuses on the diagnosis and assess of addiction problems. A substance abuse counselor mainly deals with people or individuals with drug and alcohol problems, eating disorders and other behavioral issues. They help individuals to modify their behavior and focus on full recovery.
- Educational Counseling: is related to counseling of students at all levels, from elementary school to college. There are 2 types of educational counseling.
- Child Counseling: Child counseling is an area of psychology that focuses on working with children who have a mental illness, have experienced a traumatic event, or are facing a difficult family situation.
- Youth or Adolescent Counseling: mainly treats adolescents who have mental or emotional problems, substance abuse issues etc. It mainly focuses on counseling of teenagers between 13 and 19 years of age.
Apart from the above mentioned common types of degrees, interested students can also study other types of degrees such as Debt counseling, Child development counseling, Eating disorder therapy, Grief counseling, Art therapy and Musical therapy.
Here is a list of colleges for studying counseling courses abroad:
- Stanford University
- University of California - Berkeley
- Harvard University
- UCLA (University of California Los Angeles)
- University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
- Yale University
- University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Princeton University
- University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
The fee structure for a Counseling course varies as per the degree and the university selected. However, the fee structures of some of the top universities are as follows:
Stanford University: The annual fee for a full time program is $69,109 for all students regardless of their residency. The fee break up includes $48,987 for tuition, $15,112 room and board, $1,455 for books and supplies and $630 for other fees.
Harvard University: The estimated fee cost of Harvard College without financial aid is $45,278 for tuition and $60,659 for tuition, room, board and other fees combined.
Princeton University: For the undergraduate for the year 2019-2020 the estimated tuition & fees at Princeton University is $53,757.
Yale University: The undergraduate 2018-2019 estimated tuition & fees at Yale University is $53,395.
The fee structures mentioned above are estimation and the above fee structure is subject to change depending on the university, degree etc.
Counselors are trained to help people and individuals who are struggling with variety of problems in their lives from marital or family difficulties to career or financial issues.
Hence, the following career prospects are available for counselors:
- Child Psychologist - deal specifically with the psychological, behavior, social and emotional needs of children. The place of work includes schools, private practice, hospitals and research settings.
- School psychologists - are dedicated in helping children succeed academically, socially and emotionally. School psychologists perform various functions such as providing counseling, diagnosing learning problems, creating positive learning environments etc.
- Family Therapists - help children and families to deal with emotional, social, cognitive and behavior problems that affect individuals and the family as a whole.
- Art Therapist - help people experiencing psychological distress and mental illness by using art as an expressive medium. They often work with children experiencing developmental delays, children suffering from anxiety and kids who have endured some type of trauma.
- Social Worker: have a wide range of duties. They mainly help single parents, arranging foster care and adoptions, counseling children etc are common tasks performed by a social worker.
These are some of the most common career opportunities available for students who have a degree in counseling.
Job Position and Job Description
Below are some job options or positions available for individuals with a degree in counseling:
- Rehabilitation Counselor.
- Clinical Therapist.
- Mental Health Counselor.
- Chemical Dependency Counselor.
- School and Career Counselor.
- Marriage and Family Counselor.
A counselor has the following duties and responsibilities to perform:
- Work with individuals, groups and communities to improve their mental health
- Encourage individuals to discuss and share their emotions and experiences
- Dealing with issues such as substance abuse, aging, bullying, anger management, careers, depression, relationships, LGBTQ issues, self-image, stress and suicide etc.
- Work with families and help them to overcome issues if any.
- Help individuals to define their goals, plan action and gain insight
- Develop therapeutic processes to treat individuals
- Refer individuals to psychologists and other services if needed
- Take a holistic approach to mental health care.