Which Master’s in Counseling Program Is Right for You?

All counselors have one thing in common – a shared drive to help people overcome challenges and thrive. However, there are several different types of counseling careers you can pursue.

Each type of counselor uses specialized knowledge and skills to serve a different population. As you decide which counseling graduate program to pursue, it’s important to explore the differences between programs to determine which counseling specialty is appropriate for your interests and career goals.

Guide to Different Types of Counseling

There are many counseling specialties that involve working to meet the needs of different populations. Some of the most common types of counseling include:

  • Marriage Counseling: Help people improve their relationships by overcoming issues such as marital conflicts to ensure that each individual feels supported.
  • Family Counseling: Work through challenges including emotional issues, mental disorders, and adolescent behavior problems that impact all members of a family.
  • Addiction Counseling: Help individuals overcome dependence on drugs, alcohol, and destructive behavior.
  • Mental Health Counseling: Offer guidance to individuals dealing with issues like depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and more that affect their health and well-being.
  • School Counseling: Help students navigate academic and personal challenges.
  • Rehabilitation Counseling: Work with disabled people to help them overcome specific challenges and lead more productive lives.
  • Suicide and Depression Counseling: Offer guidance to people experiencing serious depression and help them develop coping strategies.
  • Grief Counseling: Help people cope with loss – usually the death of a loved one – when grief is interfering with their daily activities.
  • Behavior Analyst: Study how human behavior affects motivation, and work with caretakers to develop plans for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, and behavioral disorders.

How to Choose a Counseling Master’s Program

When you are applying to counseling graduate programs, you should research a variety of programs to choose the best possible one for you. Below are some questions you should ask that will help you find a counseling graduate program that meets your needs.

Do You Want to Earn a Counseling Master’s on Campus or Online?

There are numerous counseling master’s programs, both on campus and online, that provide a quality education.

First, you’ll need to determine if you want to attend an online or on-campus master’s program. Online programs in particular are an excellent option for individuals who want to complete a program on a part-time schedule or attend a non-local university without relocating. There are several online options that offer the same curriculum and field training opportunities as on-campus programs, such as Counseling@NYU, with increased flexibility.

Do Counseling Programs Require Field Training?

Though the exact number of hours varies by state, you must complete supervised clinical placement hours in order to become an LPC. It’s important that the master’s program you choose includes a field training requirement that provides hands-on learning opportunities that may help prepare you for licensure.

Learn about Counseling@NYU’s field training experience.

Who Do You Want to Help as a Professional Counselor?

There are many different types of counselors. While considering what programs to apply to, you will want to narrow down the clients you want to work with and help. Some counseling programs may offer specializations or courses that will prepare you to work with specific populations.

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School Counseling and Mental Health Counseling Comparison

Counseling@NYU offers a master of arts in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness and a master of arts in Counseling and Guidance online.

Educational Requirements

School Counseling

To become a school counselor, you must earn a master’s degree in school counseling and complete academic course work and field training to gain experience working with K-12 students.

Mental Health Counseling

To become a mental health counselor, you must earn a master’s degree in mental health counseling and complete academic course work and field training to gain experience working in the setting of your choice.

Counseling Skills and Techniques

School Counseling

To be a successful school counselor, you must learn how to communicate and work with children and adolescents. The ability to listen, have patience, and practice empathy are also good skills to develop.

Mental Health Counseling

Mental health counselors are likely to use techniques such as attentive listening, empathy, reflection, and affirmation. In addition, mental health counseling professionals should be aware of counselor self-disclosure, only sharing personal information with clients that is relevant to the therapeutic process.

Counseling Career Settings

School Counseling

As a school counselor, you can expect to work in an educational setting – specifically, in an elementary school, middle school, or high school in your community.

Learn more about the career options available to you in school counseling.

Mental Health Counseling

Mental health counselors work in a range of settings, from outpatient care centers and hospitals to family service centers and community agencies. You may also open your own private practice.

Learn more about the career options available to you in mental health counseling.

Populations You Will Serve

School Counseling

You will work with K-12 students from diverse academic and family backgrounds. Your students may be part of the LGBTQ+ community, have mental illnesses, or have special needs.

Mental Health Counseling

As a mental health counselor, your client base will depend on your work setting. For example, you may choose to work with individuals or in group counseling. Counseling@NYU graduates have chosen to work in mental health programs, university counseling centers, substance abuse treatment centers, and more.

Additional Responsibilities

School Counseling

In addition to providing counseling services to K-12 individuals, school counselors can:

  • Help create curriculums
  • Assist with college applications, jobs, and scholarships
  • Work on academic boards to improve learning conditions

Mental Health Counseling

As you work with individuals, families, and groups to improve their mental health, you may also:

  • Consult with other mental health professionals to create comprehensive treatment plans for your clients
  • Refer clients to psychologists and other services
  • Introduce a holistic (mind and body) approach to mental health care

Opportunities for Professional Development

School Counseling

After working for several years, you may choose to further specialize in a skill, such as college preparation, or a population, such as English as a second language (ESL) students. With experience, you could pursue leadership roles that enable you to oversee counseling and resources within a school district.

To continue expanding your professional network, you could attend the ASCA Conference – an annual four-day conference that brings together more than 3,500 school counseling professionals from across the world.

Mental Health Counseling

Some mental health counselors choose to pursue a doctoral degree, or will advance by moving into supervisor or administrative roles. Opening a private practice may also afford you a broader range of career opportunities.

To expand your professional network, you could attend the AMHCA Conference, an opportunity for mental health counselors to connect on personal and professional issues and discuss advances in the field.

Take the Next Step in Your Professional Counseling Career

Learn how Counseling@NYU, the online counseling graduate programs from NYU Steinhardt, can help you reach your goals and make a difference in the lives of people in your own community.

Request Information Today