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Start a Career as a LGBTQ Counselor
Individualized counseling services available to the public can come in many different sizes, shapes, and specialties. Counselors interested in catering to the specific needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities can enroll in degree programs to help extend their understanding of LGBTQ Counseling methods useful in this practice area.
The role of the LGBTQ Counselor can be to provide a supportive environment in which clients feel safe enough to work through issues in their personal and professional lives. People planning to pursue a career in LGBTQ Counseling can take advantage of degree programs that can help them to explore proven-effective counseling methods.
Unique counseling techniques that can be used in LGBTQ Counseling may include those that consider the struggles and experiences common for members of this diverse group. Students of counseling degree programs may learn how to address insensitivity, prejudice, isolation, and self-worth with their clients in an effort to increase their positivity and self-acceptance.
Degree Programs Available for LGBTQ Counselors
If you are seeking an educational path to LGBTQ Counseling, you have come to the right place. Our team of educational experts has reviewed some of the common educational programs and degree paths taken by current professionals in the field. During our research, it was determined that there can be different methods for acquiring this type of career for students from various educational backgrounds.
If you have the desire to help people within the LGBTQ community, you should read through the degree programs provided in the list beneath this section to see which option would be a better fit for you. Other factors to consider throughout your search should be the accreditation of your degree program and the amount of time it can take to complete your degree. Accreditation is a huge factor for people interested in pursuing a license in counseling after graduation.
Your first resource should be your state's counselor licensing agency. These departments typically list the licensing requirements for counselors for you to use as a reference during your journey. Degree length can also be a varying factor depending on where you look. Your search through different degree programs should include a close look at the length of time it takes to finish you program compared with the costs. Some students can find tremendous deals on their degrees by simply putting in the extra time and effort needed to find the right one.
- Bachelors in Counseling Psychology degree: Preparation for licensing in counseling should begin at your entry into college. Undergraduate degree programs could be considered initial training programs for upcoming professionals in all degree fields. Future LGTBQ Counselors may choose to complete a Bachelors in Counseling or Psychology as part of their foundation for later education. Each of these programs can provide you with valuable insight into how the human mind works, how emotions are developed and processed, and influences within the environment that can make emotional regulation easier or more difficult.
- Masters in Counseling Psychology degree or a Masters focused on LGBTQ Counseling: There are currently may different types of specialization for Masters in Counseling degree programs. You can take different paths towards your licensing and certification within varying career areas. Counselors interested in focusing on practice with the LGBTQ communities should seek out masters programs suitable for their goals. Degrees focusing on human sexuality and lifestyle could also be acceptable degree programs for work in this field.
- Doctoral Programs in LGBTQ Counseling: Practicing counselors might also consider advancing to the doctoral level in their education. These programs can be 2-4 years in length and can provide depth to the field of LGBTQ Counseling. PhD programs in Counseling can help students learn more about field improvement through well-designed research, while Doctoral programs in Counseling can extend a student's abilities in providing services to clients in their field.
- Certification Programs: The field of counseling may have several certification opportunities for students interested in working with particular groups throughout their career. Certificate Programs in LGBTQ Counseling can take 1-2 years to complete and may provide specific focus into the emotional, behavioral, and cultural needs of the LGBTQ community. These programs can be found at universities offering graduate programs in counseling.
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Choose your path at Pepperdine: pursue licensure as either an LMFT or LPC and serve diverse clients with our online master’s in clinical psychology.
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Gain the skills for diagnosis, clinical interview procedures, behavior analysis, and more.
|University of Texas Permian Basin||Online BA in Psychology
Program provides a broad foundation of psychological science knowledge and emphasizes vital written communication and research skills that can inform and assist you in helping professions.
|Butler University||Online Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling
Cover topics like fundamental counseling theory, trauma and crisis response, and psychopharmacology. No GRE Required.
What it Takes to Become a Licensed LGBTQ Counselor
Whether you are just beginning your journey or you are almost to the point of licensure, you might need to reflect on what it takes to completely finish the process. Licensing is long process that can help to ensure that you have received all of the necessary educational elements, in-person training, and testing required to prove your knowledge of counseling techniques. Even after this long journey, there still may be some steps to take to register as a counselor in your state and obtain the right credentials for practice with the public. The steps in the list below can help you as you plan out your program leading up to licensing.
- Obtaining an Accredited Masters Degree in Counseling: Students interested in playing a role in LGBTQ Counseling should be prepared to obtain a minimum of a Masters in Counseling through accredited universities. While the bachelors program is an important step for upcoming counselors, there is no licensure available at this level. Masters degree programs can assist you with training in the actual application of counseling techniques in a professional setting. Masters in Counseling programs should also contain accreditation through the CACREP to be eligible for licensing later down the line.
- Gaining the Necessary and Required Training: Learning about counseling is only half of the battle towards gaining positions within this field. Students must also take part in around 2 years of supervised training in order to see their curriculum in action. While in these experiences, students my work with their own set of clients in a clinical setting. There must also be a licensed counselor on staff to observe you and sign off on your training hours.
- Passing Your Test: In the later stage of your training, you may want to register for the National Counselor Exam. This exam is required for all upcoming counseling professionals interested in becoming certified and licensed. This test may consist of elements concerned with ethical counseling as well as approved techniques for use in the field.
- Applying Through Your State: The application process for licensure involves contacting your state licensing agency for approval. You can provide proof of your degree, experience, and test to your state with a formal application in order to be reviewed for licensing. Once you receive your license, continuing education can be a part of your license throughout your career.
What You Can Earn as a LGBTQ Counselor
If you have considered a career in LGBTQ Counseling, you might have also looked into the earning potential for professionals in this career field. An interesting aspect of counseling is that it has many diverse options in terms of the people being treated, the settings in which these treatments occur, and the time it takes to complete a treatment program for those involved.
This can make the earning potential and work environment a very diverse aspect of this degree field. LGBTQ Counselors can possibly work with clients on a one-to-one basis or even with large groups. Depending on where you work, whether or not you are independent, and the state you live in, the amount of money you earn throughout your experience can vary. The figures listed in the short list below are representative of counselors within generalized areas of practices. As you gain experience and seek out higher-tier positions in the field, your earnings could differ greatly from what is provided.
- Counselors – Individual Services: $41,920 on average per year (BLS).
- Counselors – All Other: $47,600 on average per year (BLS).
The Present and Future of LGBTQ Counseling
In the last ten years, the field of counseling may have changed dramatically as the need for more diverse options has grown. LGBTQ Counselors can provide direct assistance to people that are accepting their own sexuality or relationship preferences, which can be vital to emotional health and growth for those included. Society’s effect on people in same-sex relationships or varying gender identities has not always been positive.
Although these preferences seem to be growing more acceptable in mainstream society, there are still people in the U.S. that need assistance with finding their own personal acceptance with their personal preferences. In the years to come, professionals in this field could see an increase in the amount of services requested by the LGBTQ community. The growth of the population added to the current need for professionals in this field can make growth apparent, making this a potentially beneficial field to pursue for your education and training.
The LGBTQ Counselor Experience
Some people have their own ideas about what counselors actually do during a normal day’s work. The truth is – counselors can have diverse roles and responsibilities depending on where they work and the groups that they work with. Counselors within this field can work for mental health organizations or even schools that wish to provide supportive services to people in need. Part of the responsibilities of these professionals may include developing awareness programs, community events, and outreach services to LGBTQ students in schools all over the country.
Counselors in this field may also work with individuals interested in finding their own acceptance or working through negative emotions or reactions from members of their family. LGBTQ Counselors may also work to develop more focused programs for the clients in which they serve. This may be done through research or development within the field, or through networking with other professionals in the counseling domain. The role of the LGBTQ Counselor can possibly range from personal support to widespread influencer depending on their efforts and dedication to excellence in the field.
Personal Skills and Attributes Recommended for LGBTQ Counselors
In current society, LGBTQ Counselors can be an important part of self-acceptance and pride among LGBTQ citizens. These professionals should have the ability to support and inspire their clients to find peace with the person that they are and seek out supportive resources within their personal lives. The personal attributes that can make a great counselor within this field can vary depending on the group you are working with or the setting that you wish to practice in. In general, there are some character traits that can promote your success in the field. Take a look at some of these traits below.
- Critical Thinking
- Emotional Intelligence
- Care and Empathy for Others
Organizations You Should Know
You should never be too proud to seek out support – even as a licensed professional. The field of counseling may constantly be changing throughout your career, making it necessary to stay in the loop with new regulations, practices, and expectations. The best method for ensuring that you meet all of these recommendations is to become a part of professional organizations in counseling. Our team has provided you with a few example organizations for you to consider as you move into your career as a LGBTQ Counselor.
The American Counseling Association
The American Counseling Association is an agency that welcomes new and long-term counselors in varying specialized fields. Through this department’s website, you can sort through articles pertaining to counseling in the field, information about events and membership perks, and even search through job listings.
The American Mental Health Counselors Association
Joining the American Mental Health Counselors Association can also have benefits for current counselors in the field. The organizations is dedicated to helping the field of counseling grow and develop through well-educated professionals with access to up-to-date information about practice in the field.
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
Upcoming counseling professionals can seek confirmation of their credentials through the National Board of Certified Counselors. This organization can review degree programs for accreditation, verify that supervised experience is valid by national standards, and assist students with moving forward to their next level of professional verification.
Specializations 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.