Since all counselors help patients or clients cope with the problems in their lives, including mental or emotional disorders and stressful life changes, you might think their employment options are limited. However, counseling is a diverse field, encompassing several specialties. The workplaces where counselors find jobs are equally wide-ranging. Depending on your level of education, relevant work experience and specialty, you may work in hospitals, government agencies, private practices or any number of healthcare or other professional environments.
Workplaces for Mental Health Counselors
As you might expect, some mental health counselors work in outpatient mental health centers or residential mental health facilities. Others find employment in hospitals or substance abuse rehabilitation facilities. They can also work in colleges and universities, counseling students just as they may counsel patients in any other environment. Some counselors find employment in employee assistance programs, where they work with companies to offer help to employees who are dealing with stressful life changes, mental health concerns or substance abuse problems.
Of course, some counselors who have entrepreneurial spirits establish private practices, where they run their own practice as well as counseling clients or patients. These counselors have the opportunity to decide on an office location themselves and determine their own work schedule.
Workplaces for Other Counseling Specialties
Certain counseling specialties may qualify counselors to work in particular employment settings. However, these professionals still have many career options. Essentially, any facility, agency, organization or business that has a need for a specialty of counseling could potentially become a workplace option.
As the job title implies, school counselors work in educational facilities. Nearly half of all school counselors work at the elementary or secondary school level, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, other school counselors find work at vocational or technical schools, community colleges or four-year colleges and universities. Career counselors work in a similar capacity in college settings, but they can also work for government agencies, prison systems and private businesses.
Likewise, you would expect substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors to find employment in inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment facilities. You might be surprised, however, to learn that these counselors also work in hospitals, prison and juvenile detention facilities, family services organizations and government agencies. Like mental health counselors, they can even find work with employee assistance programs.
Rehabilitation counselors, who help disabled patients adapt to living with a disability by developing treatment plans to increase independence and coordinate medical care and access to resources, have a similarly wide range of possible workplaces. While nursing care facilities and independent-living communities often employ these counselors, they may find work in educational facilities and vocational rehabilitation services as well.
The types of facilities where counselors find work are as varied as the number of specialties within the field of counseling. When deciding what specialty of counseling to pursue, you may wish to consider the settings where you are most interested in working as well as your long-term career goals.