According to the American Psychology Association (APA), counseling psychology focuses on promoting the health and functionality of people through therapeutic conversations and interventions.
Counseling psychologists improve the personal, emotional, vocational, interpersonal functioning for clients of all ages. They provide services to individuals and groups for behavioral and mental health problems using remedial, preventative and developmental approaches. Counseling psychologists provide a wide range of activities including diagnosis, assessment, psychotherapy as well as teaching, research, supervision and career development.
They employ a variety of tools and techniques that are based on scientific theories and research to help individuals and groups optimally function and remediate dysfunction. They are typically asked to conduct clinically relevant research, provide prevention and treatment interventions and perform mental health assessments and formal psychological tests. They are tasked with consulting others health care and mental health professionals in diverse settings. Some will conduct training, staff supervision and management activities such as program development and administration.
Counseling psychologists provide clinical intake services to determine new patient’s medical and treatment needs. They develop clinical treatment plans and participate in treatment team meetings. They recommend intervention techniques specific to client needs to case management teams. They participate in multidisciplinary teams to recommend proper treatment plans. They maintain documentation related to therapy sessions and client communication according to legal and organizational regulations.
Counseling psychologists consult with family, friends and other acquaintances to address client behavioral issues and other major areas of concern. They train professionals and the case management team on supportive counseling techniques. They document any noted concerns and potential issues in the appropriate files. They are expected to complete and submit case notes within one business week of service. They develop behavior management plans and provide behavior management as requested.
Job candidates will need two five years of experience in a human service related field. They must have excellent technological skills to navigate and execute various software programs, such as medical databases, patient dashboards and electronic health records systems. They need to know how to track time and enter data in an accurate manner. They must have the ability to identify issues and cooperatively discuss with appropriate teammates. They need to be able to adhere to scheduled meetings and unscheduled deadlines. They will also need to pass multiple interviews and all required criminal background checks.
Counseling psychologists need to have a valid mental health practitioner’s license in counseling, psychology or social work. An LCSW, LMHC or LMFT license is preferred. In order to gain these qualifications, job candidates will need to have obtained a master’s degree in social work or counseling psychology. Job candidates with a master’s degree in general psychology with a concentration may also be eligible for hire. These areas include clinical, mental health and rehabilitation counseling required. Graduate programs prepare students to be psychology practitioners through research in counseling methods, hands-on clinical practice and interactive internships.
Those who want to enter the field of counseling psychology must be prepared for state licensure or professional certification exams. Most states require a doctoral degree to qualify for licensure as a clinical psychologist.