Counselling Psychology (A complete guide)

Sporadically, with all its peaks and valleys, life sometime feels like a roller coaster. Human beings are emotional creatures predominantly.

Emotions are component of what makes us human. Feeling happy, rapt, gloomy, fuming, and frightened is normal and natural.

Sometimes, conversely, these emotions specifically the negative emotions can be devastating and seize on a life of their own. 

Counseling Psychology helps people to gain control over thoughts and feelings.

It is a category of applied psychology and usually used with individuals having cognitive, emotional, behavior and social problems as well as with mental disorders.

Accompanying clinical psychology, counseling psychology is one of the most familiar and rife psychological area of expertise. 

Counseling Psychology Definition 

Differently from other fields of psychology, Counseling psychology particularly has a strong concern about providing effective healing treatments to help individuals who are going through a wide range of symptoms.

Counseling psychology is explained by   Society of Counseling Psychology, as specialized psychology field that focus on emotional, vocational, educational, social, mental health related problems, developmental and organizational concerns that normally influence person’s routine life.

Counseling psychology is an invention of culturally based techniques or practices for managing school adjustment and study related issues, important life transitions, difficulties of relationships which people may struggle, learning disabilities, stress and anger management, industrial issues, and career choices.

Counseling psychologist provide mental health services to a wide range of population from children to adults and older age people both in an individual and group setting.

Difference between Counseling and Clinical Psychology

Ever since counseling and clinical psychology shares many similarities as a sub field of psychology but they still are two different categories of psychology.

As they are somewhat similar people often make mistake about both the fields. 

 If we take a look at the origin of the word counseling, it is a consequent of Latin word “Consulere” which is used for advise or consul.

On the other side work Clinical is derived from “Kline” which has its origin in Greek and means Bed.

It may refer to the treatment patients get at his/her bedside. 

So it is important to understand the major differences in their perspective and trainings.

Counseling and clinical psychology differs in origin, practice, theory and career path.

Main focus of counseling psychology though is mentally and emotionally healthy people, major concern of clinical psychology is to provide mental health care to the individuals having serious mental disorders/illnesses. 

Emerging point of counseling psychology is vocational psychology which contains a strong educational factor along with assortment of essential therapeutic expertise.

While, clinical psychology is more medical oriented field which provides help to individuals having serious psychological disorders (e.g. depression, Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, OCD, somatic symptoms disorder, personality disorders) by using specialized skills and psychological therapies. 

What Does a Counseling Psychologist Focuses On?

Counseling psychologists focus on various issues across all fields and stages of life like, they help children with their important early life transitions and crises of adolescence, as well as adults and older age individual get help from counseling psychologist to deal with their emotional, cognitive and social life’s ups and downs.

Here are some points on which counseling psychologist focuses:

  1. How career is important have impact in an individual’s life.
  2. Problems related to diverse cultural backgrounds and social justice 
  3. Influence of culture on individual’s life.  Role of environment in shaping people experiences. 
  4. Positive domains and strong point of individuals in different roles such as couples, groups, industries and families.

Issues Counseling Psychology Deal With

Counseling psychology not just limited to school and career related problems but it also deals with various problems from developmental and environmental/cultural viewpoint.

Here are some issues counseling psychology have to deal with:

  1. Problems faced by people in their relations e.g. marital problems, family issues and relationship difficulties.
  2. Learning Stress management skills and coping strategies to deal with negative life circumstances.
  3. Work life issues and dealing with work stress
  4. Help people making career choices.
  5. Learning of new coping strategies to deal with physical disabilities and diseases.
  6. Help people to identify their strengths and developing new qualities
  7. Making important decisions about school, career and personal life

Counseling psychology also focuses on helping people cope with loss of a beloved. 

Therapies in Counseling Psychology

 There is lot more skills and therapies counseling psychology utilizes to help people deal with different challenges in their lives.

Here are some of the techniques or skills used in counseling psychology but it is not limited to only below mentioned techniques:

  1. Counseling psychology first of all uses different tools and test to assess the problem of a client. 
  2. For trauma and management, crises intervention is the first priority of counseling psychology. 
  3. Counseling psychology also provides family counseling so that client can have understanding environment. 
  4. Group counseling is also the major therapeutic technique which helps client to know that there are many other individuals having same kind of issues and it also help to analyze the coping strategies of other individuals which client can corporate in his/her coping strategies. 
  5. Counseling psychology also focuses on new requirements of the society and work passionately on updating and construction of new test and assessment tools. 
  6. Counseling psychology consult with the industry so that new challenges can meet easily in the industry.
  7. Counseling psychology take serious note of client’s progress
  8. Programs/workshops that teach and inform the public about mental health, school, family, relationship and workplace problems so that issues can be disallowed before they start or reduced before they get bad.

Who can seek services from a Counseling Psychologist?

Services of a counseling psychologist are provided to people, groups e.g. families and couples.

Organizations and industries are also get help from a counseling psychologist. There is no age restriction in get help from a counselor.

Children, adolescents, adult and older age people can get help from them for problems they are having like, study related, stress, family issues, relationship difficulties, identity crises, old age crises etc. people having behavioral issues such as, anger, procrastination, underachievement, career choices confusions and facing retirement can get help from counseling psychologist.

They also work in group settings to help people having same kind of problems as well as to improve personal and interpersonal relationships of group members.

Counseling psychologist also provide services in industrial setting to help industries to increase productivity of the workers by providing them positive and healthy work environment. 

Settings where counselling psychologist can work

Consumer psychology Caree Normally a counseling psychologist should have no difficulty in find a job.

Career in counseling psychology can lead individual to various different directions.

There are several different setting in which a counseling psychologist work such as

  • Health Clinics or service centers (such as, Network Counselling)
  • Psychiatry wards in Hospitals 
  • Schools
  • Industries
  • Multinational Companies
  • research firms,
  • Sports Club
  • University’s Counseling Office
  • substance abuse treatment centers                                               
  • Rehabilitation Centers                                            

 Furthermore, to excel in their career, counseling psychologists can also practice in their private clinics. 

Steps to be a Counseling Psychologist 

If you are looking forward to becoming a counseling psychologist you must follow these steps in order to meet the educational requirements.

  • Received bachelor’s degree (4 years) in psychology
  • Then you have to earn doctorate e.g. Ph.D (Doctor of Philosophy) or Doctor of psychology (Psy.D)

To ensure the quality and standard of your education you must enroll yourself in program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA).

There are number of universities around the world offering counseling degree programs.

After you have received the degree in counseling psychology you have the testimonials required to work as a licensed counseling psychologist in private practices, government agencies, rehabilitation centers, businesses, hospitals, mental health clinics, substance abuse treatment centers, research firms, multinational companies, universities, and schools.

Curriculum Requirements 

Usually, it varies from institution to institution in duration, but curriculum requirements to become a counseling psychologist are in general very parallel from one university to the next. In addition to learning the 

  • Fundamentals of psychology 
  • Research methods,
  • Therapies
  • Diagnostic and Assessment Tools
  • Report Writing

 Future counseling psychologists will also often study about diverse therapy and counseling practices.

Check out below given infographic on counseling psychology:

Further Reading and Resources

  • TCP – The Counseling Psychologist
  • – Advice from a Counseling Psychology Student
  • International Section of Counseling Psychology

Books on counselling Psychology 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Should I Be A Clinical Or Counseling Psychologist?

It depends on what you choose to study.

If you are interested in psychopathology and working on serious mental health issues then you must become a clinical psychologist.

On other hand if you are more interested in helping people making career choices,  managing work stress, helping organizations to provide suitable work environment to their employees then you must specialize in counseling psychology.

How much a Counseling Psychologist earn?

Salary of a counseling psychologist is highly dependent on the area where counseling psychologist work or is specialized in. 

The mean salary of a counseling psychologist in 2017 was $88.395.

What are the basic communication skills counsellor must have?

Counseling psychologist needs below given skills to be more efficient and helping 
– Be attentive and notice verbal and non verbal messages client is giving, 

– Good listening skills are the most important part of any counseling psychologist as well as counseling psychologist must be Empathic

– Probing or questioning skills, Summarizing, and Integrating communication skills.

How long does it take to acquire degrees in psychology?

Bachelor degree programs consist of 4 years where as master degree programs are for 2- 1-2 years.

Doctoral degrees are consisting of 5 years in case you don’t have master’s degree. 

Which Degree is better BS or BA in Psychology?

If you want to pursue a more research oriented field than go for BS in psychology.

But if you are intending to pursue international travel then BA is more appropriate.

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