There can be numerous reasons why you would choose to visit a counselor throughout your life. Counseling professionals can be great motivators for people interested in meeting goals, finding solutions to everyday problems, or discovering methods for a happy and healthy lifestyle. One aspect of a person's life that could be a great target for counseling professionals is health and wellness. People interested in receiving support and guidance towards eating better, getting more exercise, or managing long-term illnesses can seek out Health Counselors to assist them along the way. If you choose to pursue a degree and career in Health Counseling, you can potentially learn more about methods available for use with clients in the field. Degree programs in Health Counseling might teach you more about connecting with clients on a personal basis, engaging clients about their barriers to good health, and implementing plans to assist your clients with staying on track. Counseling techniques commonly used in mental health disciplines can also be used a tools for success in this field, which you can learn more about during your degree experience.
Potential Earnings as a Health Counselor
Health counseling can be a rewarding career. Professionals in this field help people cope with painful or traumatic health conditions that can affect their quality of life. These can include chronic conditions which provide on-going struggles or sudden, unexpected illnesses. Being physically ill also weighs on the mental health. Qualified health counselors can help their clients through trying times.
If you are interested in this field, there are many things you should consider. One of the most popular questions about this career field surrounds the earning potential. While earnings are related to your location, experience, and target population, there are averages available to review to get a better idea of your earning potential.
Below this section, you can see a couple of earnings estimates provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These figures can be representative of the U.S. population – specifically those that are currently working in the positions listed.
- Counselors – Individual Services: $41,920 on average per year (BLS).
- Counselors – All Other: $47,600 on average per year (BLS).
Career Outlook and Expectations in Health Counseling
Over the years, the need for counseling professionals in society may have grown as people become more open about their positive and negative emotions. In society as it stands today, you could possibly be a determining factor in whether or not people have the right tools to cope with difficult health care situations.
If you are like most students, you will want to learn more about the influence of this field and whether or not it can withstand the test of time. Like many other fields concerned with the health of citizens, Health Counseling could potentially be one that lasts a lifetime. One of the first factors to consider in the resilience of this degree program may be growth. Since more people might are interested in exploring their own emotions for positive growth, fields in counseling may see a rise in demand over the next few years. According to the BLS, the field of counseling could see a growth of 23% over the next decade. That growth rate is much larger than other career fields.
Along with growth, Health Counselors could also see changes within their practice as the field of medicine and counseling adapt over time. These adaptions can make practice more efficient for those engaging in it, which can mean more positive results for society. Each of these elements can be determining factors in how pursued you can be as a professional and the time frames in which you can expect to be a vital piece of the counseling field.
What to Expect When Working as a Health Counselor
Before you make the commitment to a degree or certification program, you should look deeper into what your career field looks like from a professional perspective. Part of one’s enjoyment with a career may be focused on the actual working environment, setting, and people partnered with on a daily basis.
The field of Health Counseling can be integrated into different areas of society in an effort to assist people with increasing their overall quality of life. As a licensed Health Counselor, you could extend your expertise to people in the healthcare setting. Counselors in this field may work for hospitals or healthcare clinics concerned with guiding patients to healthier life choices.
In addition to hospitals and other medical facilities, Health Counselors can also be a part of general counseling centers. Counselors in this domain can work alongside counselors in other specializations such as Mental Health Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, or Trauma Counseling. Some of the services that professionals in these areas can provide may focus on daily progress plans, self-reporting, and exposure treatment. Common areas addressed by Health Counselors may also include eating disorders, depression, long-term illnesses, and rehabilitation.
Personality Traits Beneficial to Health Counselors
Health Counselors should have a strong understanding of counseling techniques that can be used with people in diverse settings. Counselors within this field should also have an interest in health, wellness, and medical data that can be helpful in leading people to better health. These skills may be best complemented with personality traits that are both welcoming and warm. In the list below, you can see several personality traits that could be beneficial when working in this incredible field.
- Active Listening
- Strong Reasoning Skills
- Medical/Healthcare Knowledge
- Critical Thinking
Degrees Available in Health Counseling
Most counseling specializations begin at the master’s level. Students should explore what types of specializations can lead to a career that suits them. Our team of educational experts has researched some of the programs that could be beneficial for students thinking about becoming Health Counselors. These options can assist you in learning more about how the field of counseling can help people improve their wellness or manage a difficult diagnosis.
If you are planning to obtain you license as a counselor, the minimum degree accepted during the licensing process is a Masters in Counseling. When searching for the right degree program, you might find different masters programs that consist of variations of the Masters in Health Counseling degree you are seeking. Some universities offer the Masters in Counseling and Health Psychology or even the Masters in Counseling and Clinical Health Psychology. Each of these degree programs should be accredited for the purpose of licensure within your field.
There are counseling doctorate programs which only require a Bachelor’s and others that require a Master’s. Often, programs which only require an undergraduate degree will grant a MA after completing part of the program. These programs are typically quicker to finish than completing a Master’s and Doctorate separately.
Doctoral degree programs can be found in both Ph.D. and doctoral format, which can help you find more focus before entering into the field. If you choose to pursue a Ph.D. in Health Counseling, you might focus more on the research-oriented aspects of counseling within this field. Doctor of Health Counseling programs can assist students in learning efficient ways to counsel clients through difficult health-related circumstances in their personal lives.
Another method for gaining specialization in the field of Health Counseling is the addition of a certificate program related to your program area. Certificate programs are often found at universities that provide Masters or Doctoral programs in Counseling.
The Certificate in Health Counseling program allows students to engage in 1-2 years of extended education in order to learn more about their concentration area and how it applies to their current degree. This can allow students to complete their initial degree program, become licensed, then train further within their specialized area.
Becoming Licensed as a Healthcare Counselor
One of the most important steps toward becoming a Health Counselor is obtaining a license. Students that wish to counsel members of their community can obtain their license through extensive training in educational programs, as well as in the professional field. This type of training can ensure that students have met all of the recommendations for practice within their state.
If you have conducted any research on counseling careers or degree programs, you might have run across some information about the licensing process. Each state has different rules and regulations that must be completed to obtain a license. Thus, you should compare this information to what your state provides as a reference for future counselors.
Please keep in mind – the minimum requirement for licensing in counseling is a Masters in Counseling and supervised experience in the field. Some states may require students to engage in 1-2 years of experience in a clinical setting, while others may require varying supervised hours.
The Licensing Process
- Bachelors Degree: The first and most basic step towards gaining your license in counseling is to enroll in and complete a bachelors program through an accredited university. This introductory program can prepare you for a more in-depth experience at higher degree levels.
- Masters Degree: Graduate degree programs can assist you in meeting the minimum degree requirement for your license as a counselor. Some students may choose to go even further and enroll in Ph.D. or Doctoral programs in Health Counseling.
- Supervised Experience: Depending on the state you live in, you may have to engage in 1-3 years worth of supervised work experience under the supervision of a licensed counselor. These experiences typically take place at mental health or counseling organizations.
- Counseling Examination: Licensing examinations, such as the National Counselor Exam (NCE), are often required prior to licensure. Students can be tested on what they have learned through educational programs and their supervised work experience.
- Obtaining Your License: Completing all of the steps listed prior can be helpful during the application phase. During this step, students must complete an application for licensure through their state, submit all necessary documentation, and pay licensing fees.
Health Counseling Organizations to Know
Entering into a new career field can be intimidating for new licensed counselors. Methods to thwart these negative feelings can include partnering with counseling agencies and joining professional organizations. Professional organizations can be a great way to learn more about changes within your field, engage with other professionals within your line of work, and research current trends making their way into common practice. Check out some of the most common professional organizations for Health Counselors below.
The American Counseling Association
The American Counseling Association is a professional resource for current and upcoming counselors. This organization can assist practitioners in becoming better ethically and practically prepared for working with clients in the field, while also protecting the rights of those that seek high-quality counseling services.
The American Mental Health Counselors Associationa
Organizations such as the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA) seek to encourage change and progress within their field through teaching others, working together, and research. If you are entering into a mental health field, choosing to join a professional organization can be a great way to extend your understanding of your role in the improvement of society.
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
After you complete your counseling program and finished the experience requirement, you might contact agencies such as the NBCC to obtain your credentials. This organization focuses on ensuring the new and existing counselors obtain the right level of education, a high quality degree program, and have met all of the criteria for licensing in the field of counseling.
Specializing within Counseling
Most people will have a need for a counselor at some point in their life. As a result, many professional counselors choose to focus their practice on a specific population or need. Below you will find details about different counseling specializations and degree programs within that specialization.
- General Counseling
- LGBTQ Counseling
- Marriage Counseling
- Religious Counseling
- Trauma Counseling
- Substance Abuse Counseling