Religious Counseling is a subfield of counseling that uses techniques specific to certain religions to provide care to clients. Religious Counselors may often use scripture or values found within religion to help guide their clients through difficult circumstances in their lives, assist with decision-making, and provide comfort during times of loss or need. Professionals seeking a career in counseling may choose to pursue Religious Counselor as a way to connect people with a supporting resource for use at all times during their lives. Degree and certification programs in Religious Counseling can be a great way for upcoming professionals to learn more about their field and how to apply different methods to clients in their communities. If you might be interested in becoming a Religious Counselor, there are degree programs available to help you along the way. There could be different methods for obtaining this type of counseling credential for your career, including a Masters in Counseling with a specialized Certificate Program in Religious Counseling. Students may discover several potential options for Religious Counseling such as Christian, Catholic, Muslim, and Mormon Counseling. Your religious background can be a potentially useful tool for determining which aspect of Religious Counseling could be a great fit for you. If you would like to learn more about this fascinating field, read more in our guide below.
Earnings Common for Religious Counselors
Before you take the plunge into any educational program, you should take a look at the earning potential for professionals within your field. Our team of experts relies on data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for our income references. When you read below this section, you can see some actual yearly earning statistics for mental health counselors that provide practice in Religious Counseling all over the U.S. Depending on where you live, the demand for counselors within your field, and the type of experience you have, your earnings could vary from the national average.
- Counselors – Individual Services: $41,920 on average per year (BLS).
- Counselors – All Other: $47,600 on average per year (BLS).
Career Outlook in Religious Counseling
Another important factor to consider prior to enrolling in a degree program is how widespread your services may be once you are licensed and prepared to work in the field. The outlook of a certain career path can be a deciding factor for some students, since the investment in higher education can come at a hefty price. People all over the U.S. may be growing more comfortable with talking about their feelings and emotions, which means they may be more willing to speak with professionals about methods useful for emotional growth. While working as a Religious Counselor, you may assess clients that are seeking help with emotional or spiritual issues. This can include analyzing symptoms and issues, developing treatment plans, and monitoring their progress from start to finish. Most Religious Counselors use prayer or other means of worship to help support their treatment plan for clients within their denomination. More insight into the importance of immediate counseling after traumatic events such as family separation, relationship issues, and violence can also make the field of Religious Counseling more attractive for upcoming professionals. As society becomes more supportive of counseling services for great emotional health, the demand for professionals in this field may continue to rise.
Religious Counseling Work Environment and Career Expectations
A potentially interesting component of Religious Counseling may be that professionals can be found in variety of settings. Some licensed counselors in this field may work for religious organizations, churches, or places of worship in the public domain. However, Religious Counselors may not be limited to just these areas. Some Religious Counselors can be found in schools, places of employment, or even general mental health offices. Your actual role in these agencies may be to see individuals or groups interested in finding solutions to emotional or behavioral issues within their everyday lives. Professionals might work with people that are seeking religion as a method of coping with loss in their personal lives or even those seeking shelter from substance abuse and addiction. There are many different specific elements that can be assessed by professionals in this field depending on where they are employed and the organization they work for.
Personal Characteristics that Can Work to Your Advantage
One of the most powerful tools for becoming a successful Religious Counselor can be found from within. People with the right characteristics and traits for counseling may already be started off on the right track for success. While there are many different personality traits that can be useful – depending on the client being seen – there are certain attributes that stand out among others for future Religious Counselors. As you look at the list beneath this section, you should consider whether or not these characteristics match your personality and the services you can provide to the public.
- Spiritual Maturity
- Good Listening Skills
Degrees Available for Religious Counselors
If you have met all of the personal requirements for this program, you might be curious about what is available to you in the form of educational programs. There are certain stages that all counselors must work through in order to work with clients in the field. You do have the option to choose from differing paths throughout your educational experience, which can help you gain entry into specific fields and responsibilities in Religious Counseling. All-in-all, Religious Counselors interested in working directly with clients can stop at the masters level. If you are interested in a more widespread influence throughout your career, doctoral level programs might be a better option for you to consider. Read more about these different programs below.
- Undergraduate Counseling Programs: Great Religious Counselors may begin with an in-depth and counseling-relevant undergraduate degree program. Some students may choose to pursue Bachelors programs that include aspects of their personal religion, while others may choose just a general major in counseling or psychology. These 4 year programs can help to prepare you for further learning and training within the field of Religious Counseling at later stages.
- Masters Programs for Religious Counselors: The Masters in Counseling or Religious Counseling is where the potential for future licensing begins. This is the lowest degree program available for licensure, which may explain why this is likely the most popular degree level for licensed counselors in the field. These programs consist of 2-3 years of educational opportunities to help advance your ability to help others. Some programs may have Religious Counseling as a potential specialization, while others my require additional certification.
- PhD/Doctoral Programs in Religious Counseling: Just like any other degree field, Religious Counseling can benefit from additional research and development in the field. Pursuing a higher level degree can help you to obtain positions responsible for changing the quality of research in the field of Religious Counseling, teaching upcoming professionals in a collegiate setting, and providing advanced services in the counseling setting. Each of these options can be great for higher level positions in your field.
- Certification Programs in Religious Counseling: Certificate programs in Religious Counseling may include 1-2 years worth of courses that include aspects of counseling specific to your chosen religion. These courses can help shape your practice into one that focuses on spiritual or religious aspects, rather than simply the counseling-specific approaches taught through general counseling programs. Completion of this program and testing can allow you to receive paper certification within your field of practice. Organizations such as the National Christian Counselors Association (NCCA) were designed to help you reach your goal of helping others through the use of religion.
How to Become Licensed as a Religious Counselor
If this is your first review of the requirements for licensed Religious Counselors, it might be surprising to see so many different levels of expectations for you to pursue. However, working with the public in such a sensitive and personal aspect may require you to have extensive training and approval prior to implementing your work in society. One huge component in this entire process is obtaining your license. The licensing process can be different depending on where you live, so you should always verify your state’s requirements prior to choosing a program. Read more about the general licensing requirements for Religious Counselors in the list below.
Step 1: Complete all Required Degree Programs
Residents of the U.S. should consider the Masters in Counseling the very minimum degree program allowed for licensing in counseling. These programs consist of practical requirements that can help you better understand the skills required to provide emotional support to people in your community. Techniques such as counseling methods, communication, and group counseling can be learned through these programs, which might be useful to you as a professional in the field.
Step 2: Gain Relevant Experience Hours
Once you have learned all of the necessary educational topics in counseling, you must then be able to prove your knowledge in the real-world counseling environment. Some students choose to pursue internship experiences within the field they plan to work, so Religious Counselors might connect with counseling agencies offered through different churches or religious organizations. This requirement may be around 2 years for most students seeking a license.
Step 3: Receive Certification/Exam
If you want to be a Religious Counselor specifically, you should look into organizations that certify counselors in this domain. Religious Counseling may require techniques that differ from what is found in general counseling, so some certification agencies may require you to take courses through certification programs after your degree. As part of certification, students may also take an examination that focuses on the practice specific to their chosen concentration.
Step 4: Obtain State Licensing
Proving that you have all of the necessary skills to become a counselor is only part of the journey towards licensing. At the final stages, you should be contacting your state licensing agency in order to provide all of the necessary proof you have gathered throughout your educational experience. Degrees, testing, certification, and experience documentation should all be sent with your application for licensure in order to be considered as a qualifying candidate.
Professional Organizations to Know
Having your license and certification as a Religious Counselor can be a great feeling. The hard work and dedication that goes into this training process may be for those that are determined to make a difference in the lives of those around them. Once you are licensed and ready to work in the field, you might be wondering how you can receive support from others within your field. Since your degree program has concluded, you might feel slightly disconnected from others that have received similar certifications. One way to stay involved with other licensed counselors and keep up with changing requirements in your field is to join a professional organization in counseling. These organizations can be an excellent resource for you throughout the duration of your career. Check out some of the professional organizations provided by our team.
The American Counseling Association
Becoming a Religious Counselor can include a great feeling of accomplishment. In order to maintain positive influence within your field and continue those feelings of influence, professionals should seek out organizations such as the American Counseling Association to increase their involvement in the professional field. This organization can be a great supportive resource for new and existing counselors in the field.
The American Counseling Association
Counselors that focus on mental health as part of their practice can enjoy the benefits of agencies such as the American Mental Health Counselors Association. As a member, counselors can learn more about how their field influences society, review ethical changes to practice, and intermingle with other licensed professionals within their field for vocational growth.
The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
The NBCC could be consider the gate-keeper for incoming counseling professionals. If you have researched licensing and accreditation for counselors, you might be aware that this organization works hard to ensure that upcoming professionals have completed the right degree programs and moved through all necessary steps for working in this field.