Doctoral Degree in Counseling Psychology: Program Overviews

Apr 24, 2020

Essential Information

A doctoral counseling psychology program, whether it be Ph.D. or Psy.D., concentrates on preventive elements of mental health. Practitioners focus on an individual's normal adjustment to life situations; their goal is to help their clients manage daily problems or crises, and mental or emotional challenges. This can include career planning and marriage or family counseling.

Most states require psychologists who practice independently to be licensed, and a doctoral degree is usually a requirement. Other requirements include an internship and passing a national competency exam.

Doctoral Degree in Counseling Psychology

Counseling psychology doctoral degree programs require students to have master's degrees in psychology; an alternative is to extend the doctoral degree program by a year and earn the master's degree during the program's first year. Along with a master's degree, applicants to a doctoral degree program in counseling psychology usually need previous research and counseling experience and must submit GRE scores, a written statement of goals, a writing sample and letters of recommendation.

Coursework for a doctoral degree program in counseling psychology will have a core of general psychology courses and a set of courses specific to counseling psychology. Some common courses might include the following:

  • Statistics and research
  • Assessment and psychological testing
  • Interventions
  • Multicultural issues and human diversity
  • Cognitive and biological origins of behavior
  • Psychopathology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) joined clinical, counseling and school psychologists into one group for career statistics. The BLS anticipated that job opportunities for these psychologists would grow 15% between 2018 and 2028, forecasting that the need for psychologists' services will increase in hospitals, schools, mental health centers, social services groups and substance abuse treatment centers. The median annual salary for counseling, clinical and school psychologists were $78,200 as of May 2019.

Continuing Education

As is true for medical doctors, post-doctoral residencies and fellowships are available in psychology. The National Institute of Mental Health offers post-doctoral, two-year collaborative research programs.

Students interested in helping individuals deal with normal life changes and manage specific mental and emotional challenges should look into counseling psychology Ph.D. or Psy.D. doctoral programs. These programs provide students with a foundation in psychology and an in-depth research focus on specific issues pertinent to the counseling process and profession.

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