Top Career Pathways in Counseling That Could Be for You

Are you a psychology student or mental health professional looking to build specialized counseling skills?

Completing a versatile industry qualification in mental healthcare – like an MSN or online Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, for instance – can lead you down several specialized career pathways as almost any type of counselor you can imagine.

Just think: you could become a child counselor, help those struggling with addiction, support people grieving loved ones, or provide guidance as a family violence counselor.

The best part? Your professional skill set as a counselor will be in high demand, regardless of which area of specialization you choose.

Keen to learn more about where your counseling qualification can take you? Just keep reading. 

Career Pathways in Counseling That Could Be for You
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What Areas Can I Specialize in As a Counselor?

Working as a counselor is about more than just earning a degree. Developing specialist knowledge is a good start, but putting these theories into practice as a professional takes years to fine-tune.

Working with clients and applying your knowledge is how you truly forge your career as a counselor, but it also means you’ll never be boxed into one particular career path.

Here are some of the varied counseling specializations you can choose from:

  • Addiction / Substance Abuse Counseling

This is considered one of the most challenging areas of counseling specialization. Due to the nature of their illness, substance abuse addicts are, at times, resistant to treatment.

This can be for several reasons. For one, the severity of their addiction and their dependence on a substance can cause reluctance to seek treatment.

In addition to this, they can be deterred from seeking help due to the stigma or shame they may be feeling around their addiction. This makes your job as a substance abuse counselor difficult, particularly if your patients are not responsive to your methods. 

Despite this, substance abuse counselors are in high demand today. Substance abuse is still epidemic in America: in a recent national survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it was found that as many as 70.3 million people aged 12 or older had used an illicit drug in the past year, with 48.7 million of them suffering from some form of a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). 

If you choose to become an addiction or substance abuse counselor, you will – no doubt – see it all. 

  • Domestic Abuse and Family Violence Counseling

In the United States and all around the world, domestic and family violence remains a major health, welfare, and social issue. Luckily, family violence counselors can provide much-needed support to those affected.

You’ll be exposed to confronting scenarios in this profession too: your clients will predominantly be victims of abuse and violence, and it will be your job to support them through it.

Often, victims of domestic violence are ‘too terrified to come forward’. For this reason, there are certain strategies family violence counselors must use to make clients feel like they can be upfront and share their traumas.

A key component of this includes being able to provide a non-judgmental, safe space for victims of violence to open up and access the care and support they need.  

  • Grief Counseling

Grief. For many people, it can be extremely overwhelming, and challenging to overcome. 

For some of us, grief becomes so insurmountable in the long term, that prolonged grief is recognized as a disorder in the U.S. – and is being treated as such. 

For grief counselors, there are certain strategies to guide patients through bereavement. These include adopting various counseling approaches, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Traumatic and Complicated Grief Therapy

One of the most important elements of being a grief counselor, though? Having genuine empathy and compassion for your patients. 

  • Child Counseling

As children, we all learn to navigate the world differently. Yes, it can be easy to dismiss the issues children experience as trivial.

But actually, it’s important to remember that all of us understand, process, and react to things in different ways – especially when we are young. This is where the expertise of a child counselor can step in, to help children make sense of what’s happening around them.   

As a child counselor, then, you can help children comprehend life events that seem overwhelming to them, as well as help them overcome personal problems. Problems like difficult relationships with other children, bullying, family and parental relationships, or complicated living situations – particularly if they come from broken homes. 

Becoming a licensed counselor doesn’t mean being pigeonholed into one particular role. On the contrary – once qualified, you can choose to become almost any type of therapist you can dream of. 

The best part? Irrespective of your area of counseling specialization, you can rest assured that your skills as a therapist will be in constant and high demand.


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