Counseling psychologists listen to patients, and they teach them how to manage stress, adjust to change, enhance relationships, and solve problems on their own. To determine what their patients need, counseling psychologists ask thought-provoking questions and administer psychological assessments. Counseling psychologists can meet for patients for weeks, months, and years. Counseling psychologists often apply new research into counseling sessions. Counseling psychologists work at hospitals, private clinics, universities and colleges, community centers, and substance abuse rehabilitation centers.
Counseling psychologists typically focus on:
- Conscious and unconscious memories and experiences
- Present life circumstances, rather than previous ones
- Accountability and role functioning
- Everyday problems that can be resolved, rather than serious mental health problems
Counseling psychologists assess their patients’ problems and offer suggestions. Since they usually do not meet with patients who’ve been diagnosed with serious mental health problems, they typically discuss minor substance abuse, career, and relationship problems with patients. Counseling psychologists typically recommend lifestyle changes and stress management strategies to their patients. Counseling psychologists meet with people of all ages.
What is the difference between counseling and clinical psychology?
Clinical and counseling psychologists specialize in different problems and complete different training. Counseling psychologists usually counsel patients with common problems, while clinical psychologists assist patients with major psychological problems, such as bi-polar disorder. Simply put, counseling psychologists focus on stress management, while clinical psychologists treat serious disorders.
Counseling psychologists do not typically specialize, and clinical psychologists typically possess specialized knowledge. Some counseling psychologists specialize, but they typically counsel patients with common problems. Although these careers differ significantly, both types of professionals assist patients with similar problems, most frequently substance abuse.
Education and Training
Most counseling psychologists hold graduate degrees in counseling. Graduate students enrolled in doctorate programs usually complete more clinical training, which is very beneficial if private practice interests you. The American Psychological Association (APA) usually accredits counseling psychology doctorate programs sponsored by universities that offer internships.
Counseling psychologists must become licensed in the state where they intend to practice. Licensing requirements differ by state. Most state licensing boards require counseling psychologists to hold a doctorate degree, complete a recognized internship, and complete a required amount of clinical hours before becoming licensed.