Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychologists foster and improve normal human functioning across the life span by helping people solve the problems, make the decisions, and cope with the stresses of everyday life. Typically, counseling psychologists work with normal or moderately maladjusted people, individually or in groups. This contrasts with clinical psychologists (see section on clinical psychology) who work both with this group and with severely mentally or emotionally disturbed individuals. Counseling psychologists work with people by assessing their needs and providing a variety of therapies ranging from behavior modification to interpersonally oriented approaches. They apply systematic, research-based approaches to help themselves and others understand problems and develop potential solutions to them.

Counseling psychologists often use research to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments and to search for novel approaches to assessing problems and changing behavior. Research methods may include structured tests, interviews, interest inventories and observations. They also may be involved in a variety of activities such as helping people to stop smoking, to adjust to college, or to develop techniques that students can use to reduce their anxiety about taking examinations.

Many counseling psychologists work in academic settings such as university counseling centers. Others work in community mental health centers, Veterans Administration hospitals, and private clinics. Those with master's degrees are often found in educational institutions, clinics, business, industry, government, and other human service industries.

The preparation for graduate training in counseling psychology is similar to that for clinical psychology. Do read and follow the suggestions there. Again, if you seek a doctorate, you are strongly advised to pick only from APA approved programs as students from non-APA approved programs are limited in job opportunities (e.g. they cannot work in the VA hospitals) and in internship opportunities. Also, those from non-approved programs will find it increasingly difficult to get licensed, particularly if they wish to locate in another state than where they received their degree. Doctoral programs in counseling psychology can be found both in departments of psychology and in schools of education, depending on the school you select. In general, admission requirements in counseling psychology are less stringent than for clinical psychology. However, a good GPA remains essential. Check with the "APA Guide to Graduate Study in Psychology" for the specific requirements of each program you are interested in.

Recommended Courses:

Group A:
PSY 3308 Introduction to Counseling
PSY 3330 Psychopathology
PSY 3350 Lifespan Human Development
PSY 3425 Group Processes
PSY 4327 Theories of Personality

Group B:
PSY 3319 Clinical Neuroscience

Group C:
PSY 3360 Psychology of Gender
PSY 4302 Human Development
PSY 4312 Behavioral Medicine
PSY 4355 Psychology and Aging

Courses outside of Psychology:
Anthropology: 3301, 3305, 3320
Religion: 3390
Social Work: 3313, 3382, 4329, 4342
Sociology: 3311, 3322, 3330, 3354, 3360, 4310