Psychology and Counseling Careers and Professional Certifications

By Kirsten Hughes

Psychology and Counseling Careers

Careers in Psychology and Counseling often focus on working with individuals, families, or groups to facilitate personal and interpersonal functioning across the lifespan. Countless career opportunities are available to those that obtain a psychology or counseling degree. Options range from psychotherapy to research and/or teaching in disciplines from healthcare to technology. The following careers are divided by the degree (Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate) needed to work in the profession

Bachelor’s Degree

Behavioral Counselor • Behavioral counselors work with clients to identify and alter negative behavior patterns usually related to mental health and/or substance abuse issues.

Case Manager • Case managers collaborate with clients and their community in assessment, planning, care coordination, and advocacy for options available to meet an individual and families comprehensive health needs.

Psychiatric Technicians • Psychiatric Technicians provide educational, recreational, and/or therapeutic care to people with mental illness and/or developmental disabilities.

Sexuality Counselor • Sexuality Counselors support clients in resolving issues related to sexual health and/ or intimacy.

Master’s Degree

Sexuality Educator • Sexual Health Educators provide sexual health education to all age groups through numerous settings such as schools, health care facilities, and community based programs.

Child Protection Case Manager • Case Managers working for Child Protection Services (CPS) develop interventions and provide case management services to families before, during and/or after investigations.

Clinical Supervisor • Clinical Supervisors use their experience to support students and interns in professional training as they develop their skills and work towards licensure.

Eating Disorder Therapist • Eating Disorder Therapists frequently work in intensive outpatient or inpatient settings and collaborate with dietitians, psychiatrists, and physicians to provide wrap around services to clients with eating disorders and co-occurring disorders.

Group Therapist • Group Therapists facilitate, or co-facilitate, groups of 5-15 clients typically in sessions that meet for 1-2 hours weekly. Groups are typically focused on a specific issue such as anxiety, substance abuse or grief and loss.

Human Resources Manager • Human Resource Managers coordinate administrative functions of an organization, often serving as a liaison between the organizations employees and management.

Marriage and Family Therapist • Marriage and Family Therapists practice psychotherapy to treat mental health disorders within the context of couples and family systems.

Mental Health Counselor • Mental health counselors collaborate with clients and provide assessment, diagnosis, treatment planning, psychotherapy and crisis management.

Psychotherapist • Psychotherapists treat mental health conditions by talking with clients about their moods, feelings, thoughts and behaviors and supporting them in developing healthy coping strategies to deal with challenging circumstances.

Rehabilitation Counselor • Rehabilitation Counselors support individuals with disabilities set and achieve their personal, career, and independent living goals.

School Counselor • School Counselors collaborate with students, parents and teachers to support students in academic achievement, personal/social development and career development.

Sex Therapist • Sex Therapists hold a mental health license (in addition to ASSECT certification) and provide psychotherapy to support individuals and couples in increasing intimacy and sexual satisfaction.

Social Service Manager • Social Service Managers oversee social service agencies and supervise the staff that work at the organization.

Doctoral Degree

Child Psychologist • Child Psychologists specialize in using scientific knowledge to deliver psychological services to children and adolescents within the biopsychosocial model.

Clinical Psychologist • Clinical Psychologists integrate scientific and professional knowledge and skills to further psychological science, the practice of psychology, and human welfare.

Cognitive Psychologist • Cognitive Psychologists study how people think, perceive, remember, and learn.

Developmental Psychologist • Developmental Psychologists study human growth and development across the lifespan.

Experimental Psychologist • Experimental Psychologists focus on conducting and publishing research exploring behavior in people and animals.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist • Industrial-Organizational Psychologists study the workplace and people within organizations.

Social Psychologist • Social Psychologists use science to study how people think, act, and relate to one another in social situations.

Sports Psychologist • Sports Psychologists apply research and theory to support athletes in reaching their full potential.

Professional Certifications

Certifications are available to applicants who have acquired a degree (B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S., M.Ed., or Ph.D.) in psychology or counseling and go on to meet certification requirements; usually including supervised clinical work and passing a standardized exam. Certifications are offered at the state and national level. State certification and licensure grants permission for an individual to practice within that state. National and International certification validates levels of knowledge, training and expertise to clients, employers and the public.

*Unless specifically identified as a State or International Certification the following are National Certifications.

*In addition to the certifications listed it is often possible, with additional experience, to obtain certification as a supervisor in the specified field.

Board Certified Psychologist (ABPP) • The ABPP certification process includes a credentials review, peer-reviewed practice samples, oral examination and depending on the psychology specialty a written examination.

Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS) • The ACS credential assures that mental health professionals have met national supervision standards and encourages the professional growth of clinical supervisors.

American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (ASSECT) Certified Sexuality Educator • This certification is available to members of ASSECT who hold a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree plus 2-4 years of qualifying professional experience as a sexuality educator and specific core knowledge.

American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (ASSECT) Certified Sexuality Counselor • Certified Sexuality Counselor is intended for applicants with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree and two years of professional counseling experience but that are not licensed counselors. Core knowledge and supervised clinical experience is required.

American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (ASSECT) Certified Sex Therapist • To become a Certified Sex Therapist Licensed Clinicians must obtain specific core knowledge and ASSECT supervised clinical experience.

Certified Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist (CCBT) • To become a CCBT applicants must have a masters or doctoral degree in psychology, counseling or related field, six years of post-graduate experience providing CBT, letters of recommendation and successful completion of introductory certification program in CBT. Certified Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapist (CBGT) certification is also available.

Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) • A specialty certification for counselors in clinical mental health earned in addition to the NCC credential by completing additional clinical client contact hours and passing the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.

Certified Eating Disorders Specialist (CEDS) • Professionals who demonstrate clinical expertise through education, experience, and examination are eligible for certification as a CEDS.

Certified Group Psychotherapist (CGP) • This international certification is offered to masters level clinicians who meet internationally accepted criteria of education, training and experience in group psychotherapy.

Certified Gottman Therapist (CGT) • Licensed Clinicians complete three levels of home study and live training as well as supervised clinical hours and video review to become a CGT.

Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) • This internationally recognized certification aims to set the standard of quality rehabilitation counseling for clinicians working to support individuals with disabilities.

Dialectical Behavior Therapist (DBT) • Candidates must be licensed as a psychologist, counselor or in a related field and must complete DBT educational criteria, skills training, educational requirements and supervised clinical hours.

Equine Assisted Psychotherapist (EAGALA) • The EAGALA model requires a co-facilitating team that must include a mental health professional and an equine specialist professional in all settings. The mental health professional must have a degree in psychology, counseling or a related field and be under a governing board or association that that they are accountable to hold up standards of practice.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) • Licensed Clinicians with two years of experience in their field, who have completed an approved training program, clinical sessions, consultation and continuing education in EMDR are eligible to works towards certification in EMDR.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) • To become licensed in this core mental health profession therapists must graduate from an accredited program, gain supervised clinical experience and then pass the state licensing exam.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) • Certification for LMHC is approved by the state in which you will practice. Licensing requirements vary by state. Each states professional licensing board is listed here.

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) • Certification for LPC is approved by the state in which you will practice. Licensing requirements vary by state. Each states professional licensing board is listed here.

Master Addictions Counselor (MAC) • Counselors who hold the NCC credential, three years of supervised experience as an addictions counselor, specific addictions coursework, and want to demonstrate their expertise, skills, and competence in addictions counseling are eligible to acquire the MAC status once they pass the Examination for Master Addictions Counselors.

Music Therapist, Board Certified (MT-BC) • Music Therapists are eligible to become board certified once completing the academic and clinical training requirements identified by the American Music Therapy Association and passing the board certification examination.

National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level I (NCACI) • Certified or Licensed Substance Use Disorder Counselors with three years of supervised experience, continuing education, and a passing score on the national examination for Level 1 are eligible to apply for NCACI.

National Certified Addiction Counselor, Level II (NCACII) • The NCACII is a step up from NCACI because applicants must also have a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of supervised experience as a Substance Use Disorder Counselor.

National Certified Counselor (NCC) • The NCC certification is offered to clinicians who have completed an eligible Master’s program, post-graduate supervised clinical experience and passed the National Counselor Exam.

National Certified School Counselor (NCSC) • A specialty credential for counselors who work in schools with students, parents and teachers.

Registered Expressive Arts Therapist (REAT) • Clinicians with a Masters or Doctoral degree and one of five combinations of clinical work and arts involvement can work towards becoming a REAT.

Registered Play Therapist (RPT) • Licensed mental health professionals with core coursework, supervised clinical experience, and training in play therapy are eligible to work towards RPT.

About the Author

Kirsten Hughes is a Family Therapist, with her Masters in Education from the University of Oregon, and has been working with youth and their families for over ten years. She relishes the opportunity to work with and support young people as they navigate change and make important life decisions in the transition from high school to college and beyond. Living in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband and two young sons, Kirsten enjoys spending time exploring the beautiful outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.

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