Online Degrees in Counseling
Degrees in Counseling: Counseling provides a framework with which an individual, family, or group can work through issues and find solutions. Counseling covers a broad area since it covers several different types of therapy. This offers perspective on behaviors and situations. It allows people to work through patterns of thinking and behavior. It can alleviate stress and anxiety levels. It allows people to open up lines of communication. It can help people work through grief and find comfort. These goals are necessary for the counseling professional.
Professional counselors need to understand many things to provide an effective therapy for their clients. Understanding the human mind and the way humans interact with each other is only the start. They need to know how to bring forward hidden concerns and let the client work through those hidden items. They also need to uncover what may be causing problems without a clear cause. All of this requires training and hands on work.
When looking at an online program in counseling, you need to keep in mind that you will need to complete clinical and practicum hours either on campus or in a third party location to complete a counseling degree. Look at each degree program and see how they handle this with online students. The effort to find the right degree program will make a big difference.
Counseling Degree Levels Available Online
Undergraduate/Graduate Certificate: 1 year to complete
Associate Degree: 2 years to complete
Bachelor's Degree: 4 years to complete
Master's Degree: 1-3 years to complete
Doctorate Degree: 4-6 years to complete
Online degrees in counseling begin at the associate level and go up from there. Each student should be aware of what is involved with any program they enter online or on a traditional campus. The nature of counseling means that a student will need to complete didactic classwork as well as practical training in how to conduct training.
At the associate level, students learn how the counseling process works. Besides completing general academic coursework, the student takes classes in general psychology, addiction, and basic counseling. With this degree, students may work as case coordinators or patient advocates in counseling programs. Most states will not license a person in counseling with an associate degree.
A bachelor's degree requires the student to take more in-depth courses. They complete more general coursework for the degree requirements. After that they concentrate on topics such as psychological testing/assessment, developmental psychology, sensation/perception, drugs & human behavior, and neuropsychology, among many other potential topics. The student can choose electives to help them focus their counseling education where they want it to go. With this degree, students can work in counseling programs.
At the master's degree, students focus in the counseling field on topics like counseling skills, group counseling, and counselor ethics. This education also includes a practicum in counseling as taking an internship with a qualified counselor.
At the doctorate level, studies become even more focused into therapy and how it works. These programs require the student to develop and present a dissertation. Most who get a doctorate want to teach or do research.
The admission requirements to most counseling programs vary. Most associate degree programs require an applicant to have a high school diploma or a GED. Some programs require students to complete some college classes with an acceptable GPA before being accepted to the counseling program. Due to concerns about patient safety, most programs require students to pass a background check before entering the program.
At the graduate levels of counseling, a bachelor's degree is required for entry. At the master's most need to present acceptable GRE or GMAT scores along with personal recommendations. At the doctorate level, a master's degree is required along with professional recommendations.
Online Counseling vs. Traditional College Programs
Online classes are a bit more challenging that traditional college programs. With online classes, students must work independently most of the time. They do not have the instant interaction with instructors and students as in a traditional classroom. Students in an online program do communicate with instructors and students, but instantly or face-to-face. That lack of instant interaction can be a negative for some students.
The upside to an online program is that you can work your classwork around your personal and professional life instead of the other way around. One reason why many do not pursue additional education is the fact their schedule does not make it easy to run to campus classes multiple times per week. Online classes can be done during down time, on the weekends, in the evenings, and on breaks at work.
Now counseling programs, online and on campus, often require students to complete internships as well as clinical hours before graduation. The different between these different approaches is that the online programs will require students to travel a few times per year to complete their hands on work.
Tuition and Accreditation
The cost of gaining an associate degree in counseling can be $5,000 to $10,000 while a bachelor's program can cost $10,000 to $20,000. The variance in tuition happens due to the school and location of each program. Master's and PhD programs can cost $10,000 or more per year. Online programs can cost a different amount than a traditional on campus program.
Accreditation is very important in the world of counseling. The program should have accreditation from one of three bodies at a minimum: Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), or the American Psychological Association (APA). These accreditations are important for those who want to pursue a higher degree and those who want to find work.
Choosing the Best Counseling Degree
When selecting a counseling degree, it is important to know what type of counseling you want to do. At the master's level, most professionals begin to specialize in one area of study or the other. Some choose to work with addiction counseling while others go into family therapy. There are several other specialties available. Knowing what you want to do will help in finding a good counseling degree for you.