Counselors May Specialize in One of These 5 Areas

  • Mental Health
  • Marriage
  • Substance Abuse Disorders
  • Rehabilitation
  • School and Careers

A person who plans to earn a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling, social work, psychology, or a related area of expertise should be aware of these five areas of specialty in counseling. Most counselors have a specialty for their practice or their career path. Awareness of what these five specialties involve could help a person choose the best career path for their skills and personal preferences.

1. Mental Health

A mental health counselor is a specialty that focuses on people with mental health disorders and diseases. For example, the counselor might diagnose a person with narcissistic personality disorder and provide cognitive behavioral therapy to that individual. Counselors also work with people who have mental illnesses, including anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. They offer individual and group therapy. These counselors often work in concert with the patient’s psychiatrist or primary care physician.

2. Marriage

The specialty of marriage counseling involves providing therapy to married couples and couples who are about to be married or who are considering a divorce. The counselor may meet with each person separately and with the two as a couple. Marriage counselors often deal with difficult marital issues, such as infidelity, financial problems or disagreements about parenting or family relationships. Some religious officials require that people participate in marriage counseling for a specific period before they will perform a wedding ceremony.

3. Substance Abuse Disorders

Substance abuse disorder counselors work with people who have an addiction to alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal drugs. They may offer inpatient or outpatient services. Many of these counselors work at addiction treatment centers, clinics or hospitals. The counselor may provide individual or group therapy. They may also help a person find local resources, including addiction treatment programs, job placement programs and other essential services for people who are trying to overcome a substance abuse disorder.

4. Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation counselors work with people who have just experienced an illness or injury that has caused them to become disabled. For example, they may work with a person who was the victim of gun violence and became paralyzed as a result of their injury. The rehabilitation counselors may also work with people who have mental disabilities. The counselors help people with their physical limitations and coordinate services to help them with their daily needs and their social lives.

5. School and Careers

School and career counseling is another popular specialty of counseling. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 27,200 people were employed as school or career counselors as of May 2018. This type of specialty involves helping students in kindergarten through college plan their academic careers. In elementary schools, counselors may focus on individualized education plans or misbehavior of students. In high school, counselors often focus on helping students plan for vocational school, military service, a job or college. In college or vocational schools, counselors help students plan for careers.

Related Resource: Top 30 Most Affordable Master’s in Counseling Online Degree Programs

Each of these five areas of specialty for counselors has some overlap. For example, mental health counselors might also deal with people who are having marital difficulties, and school counselors might need to assist children with mental illness or substance abuse disorders. Being aware of these five areas of specialty for counselors could make it easier for a person to choose which type of practice to enter when they search for a job.