There are a variety of degrees available in counseling as graduates must be prepared to work in a diverse range of industries. A counseling degree typically requires students to study the fields of communications and social sciences. This means that students will not only learn about public speaking and intercultural values but also psychology and human development.
Trauma counseling teaches students about the psychology theories, intervention strategies and treatment models required to support people experiencing crises. Students will learn about crisis management, trauma analysis and leadership skills. Vicarious trauma, or secondary trauma, is a serious challenge that anyone helping victims of crimes, disasters and emergencies will experience. Students will learn they are susceptible to the chronic negative effects of secondary pain and suffering. Similarly, students will learn the red flags of compassion fatigue so they can avoid becoming emotionally numb and indifferent to trauma. Students will master the proactive self-care strategies that are used by nurses, social workers and law enforcement. These include exercise, assessments, workshops and peer support groups.
Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy states that marriage and family therapists are one of the five primary mental health professionals. This degree teaches students about the entire counseling process, so they learn the theoretical values and cross-cultural perspectives needed to work within legal requirements and ethical guidelines. MFT students must know how to counsel clients through the human lifespan, so they must understand developmental psychology from child, elderly and couple perspectives. A central part of MFT practice is applying psychopathology to analyze and diagnose individual and family dysfunctions. A comprehensive familiarity with the DSM-IV classification will be necessary for graduation.
People suffering from drug and alcohol abuse disorders rely on these counseling professionals to apply evidence-based practices to help resolve their behavioral obsessions and substance addictions. These professionals may work in diverse fields like parole, health care and social services, but they must all obtain the appropriate state addiction counseling certification. Addictions counselors analyze client information to determine treatment recommendations and guide the planning process. They use well-established diagnostic criteria to make all professional decisions related to participation expectations, performance evaluation, placement criteria and continuum of care. They must know medical resources and pharmacological standards for treatment.
Academic counselors learn the tools and strategies to meet the needs of their students. They must know how to create comprehensive solutions for social, school, personal and career problems. This degree includes classes in leadership because academic counselors work in small teams that do everything from advocacy to system change. Growing areas of concern are educational disability and IEP (Individual Education Plan) management. School counselors must be familiar with special education law, definitions, assessment processes and emotional/behavioral disorders. The curriculum of an academic counseling degree will include titles such as research methods, individual appraisal and lifestyle development.
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There are also other degrees available in counseling that specialize in military, rehabilitation, community health and case management. Keep in mind that most states require counselors to obtain official licenses and sometimes maintain membership in national accrediting organizations.