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Getting Your Counseling Degree

Updated on November 10, 2013

Are you the kind of person who loves helping other people? Do people tell you that you are a great listener? Do you have a knack for getting at the root of people’s troubles, for breaking it down into language that helps them see what they are feeling and thinking? If that sounds like you, then you are likely a natural candidate for a counseling degree. A counseling degree, at whatever level of education you are currently at, can lead to an extremely rewarding career helping others to help themselves. More than ever, the field of counseling is wide open, with careers at many different types of clinics, offices, hospitals, schools, and more. The types of people you can work with are wide open, too, from small children to those in their later years.

Schools across the country offer degrees, with each program specially suited to different students. Counseling degrees are even offered online, so that you can receive a degree in counseling form the comfort and convenience of your own home.

A counseling degree, at whatever level of education you are currently at, can lead to an extremely rewarding career helping others to help themselves
A counseling degree, at whatever level of education you are currently at, can lead to an extremely rewarding career helping others to help themselves

Educational Levels of Counseling Degrees

At the undergraduate, bachelor’s degree level, counseling degrees are generally broad based and provide students with a background in general psychological principals and theories and give them the basic tools they will need to begin working with people as a counselor. Many of these programs begin with classroom instruction in the early years and lead to some field work at the junior or senior level. Those seeking bachelor’s degrees in counseling may find intern positions at such places as addiction clinics, family counseling centers, or within schools or colleges that offer their students counseling services.

Most people looking for a career in counseling go on to receive higher education. Generally speaking, jobs as counselors require a master’s degree. These counseling degrees further prepare the student by providing more in-depth background on the practices of counseling and by giving them intensive hands-on experience in the field. Master’s students often work with experienced counselors to aid them in research and field trials. At this level, those seeking counseling degrees often begin to specialize, tailoring their studies to some particular branch of counseling. You may decide to work with teens, with children, or with adults. Each school offering master’s degrees in counseling will emphasize different sub-specialties including aging issues, job counseling, or eating disorders.

Those students interested in research opportunities in counseling or who may want to set up their own counseling program often find themselves seeking PhDs in counseling. A doctorate in psychology, psychiatry, or counseling is an intensive commitment on the part of the student to delve into the field of counseling at its deepest levels. These students will not only work extensively in the field, they will also very likely develop their own research projects under advisement from their professors and working counseling professionals. Many PhD holders in counseling go on to teach and conduct research at colleges and universities.

Brick and Mortar versus Online Counseling Degrees

These days, more and more people are pursuing college degrees through online venues, and this is certainly true of counseling degrees as well. Some universities are strictly devoted to providing online degrees while some brick and mortar colleges offer online programs in addition to programs on campus. The question is, when looking for a counseling degree, which should you choose, online or on campus?

This decision will depend on your resources and the other commitments in your life. Are you already a working professional in the field of counseling or other field who is looking for an advanced degree in this area? For you, the online courses in counseling may be ideal, allowing you to study and pursue your interests from wherever you are in the country without interrupting you established life. Those counseling students with families may be especially interested in online degrees and universities.

Of course, attending a brick and mortar college for a degree has its advantages as well. You can receive one on one attention from your professors for one thing. For another, networking in the counseling field may be easier for those who come face to face with teachers and other professionals. Thus, those new to counseling may benefit from the contact that an on campus counseling degree can offer.

Surviving the Process of Earning Your Degree

Obtaining a degree in counseling is a lot of work, sweat, and tears. No matter how you go about doing it - holding down a job while doing classes online, or working on campus to offset your tuition fees - you're going to need some encouragement along the way.

Stress can get the better of you during the college experience - it can make you lose your mind at finals or decide to take a semester off, from which you may never come back. The important thing is to remember to relax. Earning a counseling degree is going to put you into careers where you are one on one with people, and some may be difficult. Learning how to relax now rather than trying to figure it out later is all too important.

Studying for all of those exams can be tedious and cumbersome, and you might end up losing valuable information in the process of learning because you're only worried about passing the exam. With a degree as important as counseling, you want to focus on strategies to improve memory. That way you will be prepared for exams and papers, and still have some retention for real world application.


Self confidence gets a person a long way in a career, and it starts with having confidence while getting your degree. The people your degree get you in the future will also be more able to trust you if you are confident in yourself. Take time to validate yourself and what you are doing during the degree-obtaining process.

Finally, learning how to be a good student will make graduating quicker and less stressful. Repeating classes, getting bad grades, or falling behind in class is going to waste your time and keep you from your future counseling career. You can learn how to be a good student with free hypnosis downloads, as well as how to have self confidence and be stress free for your college life. Improving yourself now will help you in the long run in such a rewarding and challenging degree.

Whatever you decision in a counseling degree, whether online or on campus, and whether you are pursuing an undergraduate degree or an advanced degree, the outlook for careers in counseling is very good. Rest assured that your degree will not only help you to the lifestyle you seek but also to helping others as well.

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