According to academic research published through the American Counseling Association, counselors must possess complex personality traits including an engaged demeanor, empathy, self-awareness and acceptance of people who are different from them. Students who have these traits and want to use them to launch a successful career in counseling can improve their job prospects with a graduate degree. These five popular concentrations for counseling graduate students let students focus on their area of interest for a specialized education.
Counseling students may want to transition into a job as a therapist, and psychology is the right concentration for these students. The concentration often gives students the opportunity to take coursework in specialized areas of psychology and therapy to give them a better foundation with which to launch a career. For example, many schools offer classes in family, couples and adolescent therapy. Students can even take coursework in meditation and other natural stress relief methods to help their future clients manage difficult periods in their lives.
A concentration in school counseling gives students the tools that they need to help grade school students succeed. In elementary schools, counselors are often responsible for helping younger students adjust to being in school all day and having to manage social interactions on a daily basis. As students get older, counselors may provide guidance related to career paths. When students are struggling with emotional issues that stem from their home lives or their interactions with peers, counselors help them talk through it and cope with problems.
As more research is done on the role that art plays in therapy, experts in art therapy are becoming more in-demand in the workforce. Counseling students who have a creative side may want to choose an art therapy concentration to fulfill their desire to help others while letting their artistic side show. Students learn how to incorporate art into therapy sessions for both adults and children, and it is common for students to have to complete a thesis in order to demonstrate their knowledge and ability when it comes to the application of art therapy.
Higher Education Student Development
College students deal with a lot of changes at one time, and managing emotional health as these changes occur can be a challenge. Academic institutions hire counselors to help students navigate through life changes. A concentration in higher education student development prepares graduate students to provide guidance related to career planning, emotional support for problems with social interactions, counseling for victims of rape and assault, stress relief methods and developing effective time management skills.
- Top 10 Online Master's Degrees in Student Affairs and College Counseling
- 50 Best Doctoral Programs in School Psychology 2015
Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Students who feel that their counseling skills are best used in a mental health facility will want to opt for this concentration. Coursework focuses on how to properly assess a patient who exhibits signs of mental disorders or substance abuse issues, running group counseling sessions, including family in the counseling process and encouraging personal growth in patients. Most students are required to complete an internship in a mental health facility to ensure that they are ready for their hands-on role in the mental
healthcare field after graduation.
- Top 15 Accredited Online Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Programs 2016
- 50 Best Psy.D. Programs in Clinical Psychology 2016
- 50 Best Ph.D. Programs in Clinical Psychology 2016
Getting a graduate degree in counseling helps to make students more marketable to organizations and companies that need counselors on staff. Undergraduate students who are thinking about making the transition to graduate school can consider the five counseling concentrations outlined above as they think about their long-term career plans.