Is Counseling a Growing Field?
There is an increasing need for mental health services, and counseling is integral to providing these services. Counseling is a growing field expected to continue to have even higher demand in the coming years. Many people seek counseling to address a wide range of issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, and other mental health concerns.
Besides mental health counseling, there are many other types of counseling specialties, including couples counseling, career counseling, family counseling, and group counseling.
Types of Counseling
Counseling is an exciting field with a wide array of specialty areas to choose from. There are many different types of counseling specialties, which we have expanded on below.
Licensed Mental Health Counseling
A Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) is a professional who has completed a master’s degree in mental health counseling and has met their state’s requirements for licensure. LMHCs provide a range of mental health and behavioral health services, including individual, family, and group counseling to help individuals manage and overcome problems, such as depression, anxiety, and stress. They may also provide crisis intervention and support to individuals experiencing significant emotional distress, such as environmental disasters, sexual assault, divorce, and unexpected losses.
The job outlook for LMHCs is excellent. Job opportunities for mental health counselors including LMHCs are projected to increase by 22% from 2021 to 2031. This growth is expected to be driven by an increase in those who seek counseling services, states that recommend counseling services instead of jail time, and the need to replace counselors who have left the workforce for various reasons.
Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling
Substance abuse and addictions counselors help individuals struggling with addiction overcome their dependence on drugs or alcohol. Overall, the demand for substance abuse and addictions counselors is expected to remain strong in the coming years, making it a rewarding and growing field for individuals interested in helping others overcome addiction and turn their lives around.
Marriage and Family Therapy
Marriage and family therapists help couples and families improve their relationships and resolve conflicts. This counseling specialty may include children as well as adults. It helps improve family communication and resolve family-of-origin issues. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that opportunities for marriage and family counseling jobs are projected to grow 14% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average.
While the majority of career counselors may focus on career exploration, they also provide assistance related to involuntary job changes, relocations and acclimation to new communities, military support for deployment and reentry, workplace bullying, and other life events. Career counselors can work in a variety of settings, including:
- Private practices
- Universities and colleges
- Career centers
- Government agencies
- Nonprofit organizations
- Human resource departments
- Community agencies
Career counseling has a solid outlook partially due to the many varied applications. Job outlook is expected to increase by 10% between 2021 and 2031.
There is a growing demand for school counselors, and job opportunities are expected to be good in the coming years. School counselors work in K-12 schools and provide academic, behavioral health, personal, and career counseling to students. They help students overcome barriers to learning, such as peer relationships, emotional issues, or family problems in order to help students develop the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in school and beyond. According to the BLS, the market for school counselors is projected to grow from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average. This growth is expected to be driven by an increasing number of colleges offering career services for students, as well as to replace career counselors leaving the workforce.
Other Related Counseling Fields
Human Services Professionals
Human services professionals help individuals, families, and communities overcome social and personal challenges, such as poverty, addiction, homelessness, and mental health problems. They work in various settings, including government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and community agencies, and may specialize in working with specific populations, such as children, seniors, or individuals with disabilities.
There is a growing demand for human services professionals, and job opportunities are expected to increase in the coming years. The BLS reports that the job growth of human services professionals is projected to increase by 12% from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average. This increase is expected to be driven by the need for social services resulting from an increase in the number of older adults needing services, more people with substance use disorders using treatment programs instead of being sentenced to jail, and replacing workers leaving the labor force.
The justice system provides a variety of opportunities for counselors. Counselors involved with the justice system may work in correctional systems, conduct mental health evaluations, provide forensic testimony, conduct fitness evaluations for police and correctional officers, and work with offenders at various points of involvement in the justice system, such as probation, pre-sentencing, background reports, and evaluation. Clients may include children, adolescents , teens, and adults. Counselors may work at the local, state, and federal level.
Counselors may work in human resource settings or private practice providing services to individuals through human resources departments. Some counselors contract to provide trainings related to mental and emotional health, work-life balance, manage trauma after workplace shootings or the death of a coworker, or even screenings for potential employees. Counselors may also receive referrals from Human Resource offices for short term counseling and evaluations of employees. They can also provide employee assistance related to individual needs, family issues, and mental health needs.
Counseling Education and Trainings
While a master’s degree is typically the minimum education requirement for most human services and counseling careers, a bachelor’s degree in a related field can be a helpful foundation before working on a graduate degree.
Most human services and counseling careers, such as mental health counseling or marriage and family therapy, require a master’s degree.
Many human services and counseling careers, such as mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy, require state licensure. To obtain a license, individuals typically need to complete a specific amount of education and supervised experience, pass an exam, and meet other requirements set by the state in which they practice.
Some human services and counseling careers offer professional certifications, which may be required or recommended for employment or advancement in the field.
Individuals interested in human services and counseling careers need to research the specific requirements for their desired career path and obtain the necessary education and credentials to meet those requirements.
Professional Organizations in Human Services & Counseling
The following professional organizations provide resources, support, and advocacy for individuals working in human services and counseling careers:
- American Counseling Association (ACA)
- American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA)
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)
- National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)
- Association for Play Therapy (APT)
- American Association of Community Counselors (AACC)
Is a Master’s in Counseling Worth It?
A master’s degree in counseling may be worth it for those interested in a counseling career. A master’s degree may also be helpful for individuals interested in advancing their careers or increasing their employability in the counseling field. Many types of counseling careers require a master’s degree as one of the minimum requirements for licensure.
Many Ways to Serve Others
There are many ways to serve within the counseling and human services field, with many varied career options available. According to Public Health Online, “there are numerous jobs in the field that branch out from [more common roles], and in some cases, they might not be what one would consider a ‘typical’ job in health and human services.”
The overarching goal of human services is to provide additional support and resources to those in need. Some specialized areas that may be particularly rewarding include working with:
- Veterans returning from military service
- Teenage parents
- Immigrants and refugees
- Indigenous and Tribal groups
- Homeless individuals and families
- Faith-based organizations and initiatives
- Individuals in need of grief counseling
- Offenders and victims of family violence
- Hospice patients and their families
As our society becomes increasingly diverse and complex, professionals with the cultural sensitivity and empathy necessary to effectively serve these populations may be in high demand. If you possess the skills and qualities needed to help others in a compassionate and understanding way, a career in human services may be the right path for you.
Post University’s online master’s in counseling and human services provides students with the opportunity to attend classes from the comfort of their own homes. Students are encouraged to engage in critical thinking and apply theory to real-world situations through an interactive online community. Taught by faculty members with experience in professional counseling and other related mental health areas, each course offers a meaningful and practical learning experience. Whether you are just starting out in your career or looking to advance to the next level, Post University’s online Master of Science in Counseling and Human Services program can help you reach your full potential. Contact us today for more information.
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