Licensed Professional Counseling
Licensed professional counselors provide advice and therapy to many different groups of people, including families, students and recovering substance abusers. Most professional counselors must have a master's degree to become licensed. Along with the licensing requirements, students must decide on their own career path.
Those who wish to be professional counselors face different licensing requirements depending on which state they choose to practice in. All states do require professional counselors to be licensed, and most states' licensing requirements include a master's degree in counseling as well as a significant amount of supervised counseling experience. Master's degrees in counseling must be accredited by one of several different associations, the most common of which is the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), which does grant accreditation to some online programs.
There are several different possible career paths for professional counselors, including marriage and family counseling, substance abuse rehabilitation counseling and school counseling. Students may choose any number of different undergraduate degrees for a counseling career, but often psychology is a popular choice for those who cannot find an undergraduate degree specifically in counseling.
Online Education Programs
Master of Arts in Counseling
A master's degree in counseling prepares students for careers in various counseling fields. Online counseling degrees often allow students to complete coursework on a flexible schedule and only require students to turn in all work by a particular date at the end of the class. Some degrees may follow a more rigorous schedule, but normally online degrees at the master's degree level do not have any given class attendance times. Subjects include:
- Lifestyle and career development
- Mental health counseling
- Grief and crisis care
- Human growth and development
Master of Arts in School Counseling
Master's degrees in school counseling are also commonly available online. Subjects covered in this type of degree program closely resemble those covered in general counseling, but focus more on human development and children's' issues. The advantage of taking an online program is that students can continue working while pursing their educational goals and objectives. Students take courses in:
- Learning and behavior modification
- Counseling skills
- Abnormal psychology
- Research methods
Master of Arts in Family and Community Counseling
Master's degrees in family and community counseling are less commonly available online, but are offered by some institutions. Often, prospective marriage counselors, family counselors and some substance abuse counselors choose this degree. Students may need to understand how to use a school's web-based system in order to submit assignments, take exams and communicate with instructors. The program focuses on issues such as:
- Maladaptive behavior and psychopathology
- Substance abuse counseling
- Community mental health
- Couples and family counseling
Many schools offer online master's degree programs in counseling. These programs tend to be more flexible, allowing students to find a program that fits their current schedule.