Step-By-Step Guide To Becoming A Counselor

Do you have aspirations of becoming a counselor? The world needs more counselors in a time where an increasing number of people are suffering from mental health difficulties, and it certainly can be a rewarding area to work in, because you can make such a big difference to people’s lives. As such an important role, it can be challenging to become a counselor, and you will want to do all that you can in order to provide the best level of care to your patients. Read on to find out how you can embark on a successful and rewarding career as a counselor. 

Decide On A Speciality

There are many different specialities and positions within counseling, and each will have its own different path. A few of the main ones to consider include:

  • General counselor—someone who helps people to overcome a wide range of issues.
  • Mental health counselor—someone who works with those who are struggling from mental health difficulties, including anxiety, depression, and obsessive behaviors.
  • Marriage & family counselor—someone who works with couples or families to overcome personal problems in order to restore harmony to their lives and relationships.
  • Rehabilitation counselor—someone who works with those with disabilities to cope with the physical, social, and psychological issues that they may be facing.
  • School counselor—someone who works with children and young adults in a school setting to help them to overcome the difficulties that they may be facing socially, academically, or personally.

Develop Your Skill Set

A successful counselor is one that possesses a wide range of important skills, and you will need to work on these skills from the moment that you decide that this is the profession for you. The main skills to work on include:

  • Listening
  • Communicating
  • Critical thinking
  • Curiosity
  • Compassion
  • Problem solving
  • Organization

Gain Any Kind Of Experience

It is helpful for you to obtain any kind of relevant experience at this stage, so that you can see if this field is right for you, and also so that you can learn from real-life situations, build a professional network, and show future employers that you have experience. This might involve volunteering at a crisis center or suicide hotline, reception work at a mental health facility, or anything else related to this field. 


In order to become a counselor, you will need to obtain degrees at both the bachelor and masters levels. In today’s day and age, this is easier than ever because you can receive a mental health counseling online masters, which can provide greater flexibility with your studies while you learn everything that you need in order to succeed in this field.

Supervised Experience

Before you can receive a license, you will need to carry out some form of supervised experience, and the type of experience that you require can vary depending on where you are. This is a key step, because it will help you to get hands-on experience and show that you are capable of succeeding as a counselor by helping people in real-life situations.


You will then be ready to earn a license to become a counselor. This will involve having to pass an exam, after which you can become a professional counselor and/or add to your credentials with further training.

Starting Your Career

From here, there are many ways in which you can begin your career as a counselor. It will depend on your specialist area, but here are a few options to consider when you start looking for work:

  • Mental health clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Schools
  • Nursing homes
  • Government agencies
  • Community agencies
  • Private practices

Advancing Your Career

Once you have started your career path, you will then want to find ways in which you can advance your career. This can take time, and gaining relevant experience is the best way to do so, but there are a few other ways in which you can advance your career, which should help you to find greater success and provide the best level of care. These include:

  • Finding a mentor
  • Networking
  • Further study
  • Staying current with the latest developments
  • Starting a private practice
  • Seeking feedback
  • Developing new skills/improving areas of weakness

Counseling is an important profession and those that have an interest in the field should follow their ambition. Mental health problems are increasing around the world, so there has never been a greater need for counselors, and it can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding work, where you get to make a huge difference to people’s lives. This article outlines the main steps that you will need to take in order to find work in this profession, and should put you on the path to success.

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