While it is true that many licensed professional counselors work in a traditional therapist’s office, many others treat patients in schools, substance abuse centers, and family homes. With each setting comes its own mixture of skills and concentrations, making licensed professional counseling a viable field for students who may want to help future patients with a focus in mental health, but are unsure of where to practice.
The discussion surrounding licensed professional counselors can make it difficult to determine their daily duties. It is important to recognize that counselors are not psychiatrists. Counselors work closely with patients and examine their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors – but they do not prescribe medication. With his recorded observations, a counselor can draft a plan to help the patient improve, and that plan may involve referring the patient to a psychiatrist. Much of a licensed professional counselor’s tasks will require strong communication skills as he interacts with patients during therapy sessions; maintaining a comfortable and ethical environment at times when a patient feels stressed or vulnerable. When necessary, a counselor may also communicate with a patient’s confidante, such as a parent or friend.
Many counselors begin their studies in broad fields like psychology when they are undergraduate students. During this time, there may be elective courses that are more specific to students who are interested in becoming licensed professional counselors. After receiving their bachelor’s degrees, students must choose a master’s degree that will be specific to their profession. School counseling, family therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy are just some of the specialties one can choose for a master’s program. Although licensing as a counselor will vary by state, students working toward their degrees are often required to complete a certain number of hours of clinical experience under the supervision of a licensed counselor. Once the student receives his degree and license, he can then obtain certification by taking the National Certified Counselors Exams.
Mental health counseling jobs are expected to grow by 19% between 2014 and 2024. Like many other jobs in the healthcare field, this is a higher than average rate. With greater awareness of the importance of mental health as well as the increasing flexibility in where a licensed professional counselor can work, the field is expected to continue growing. Ardor Health Solutions has assisted licensed professional counselors with finding new positions around the country. Curious about your options? Give us a call at 855-GO-ARDOR or view our list of licensed professional counselor positions to see where you can work.