What Can You Do With a Counseling Psychology Degree?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 2, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Those who are passionate about science and helping others may enjoy courses in a counseling psychology program. There are many professional opportunities for counselors with this degree, including adult counselor and sports psychologist. If you're interested in psychology or counseling, learning more about what you can do with this degree can be beneficial. In this article, we explain what a counseling psychology degree is, describe the courses you take in one and review eight jobs you may pursue with this degree.

Related: How To Become a Counseling Psychologist (With Skills)

What is a counseling psychology degree?

A counseling psychology degree is usually a master's degree that focuses on psychology and treating patients with counseling. Counseling is the practice of having conversations with patients to help them process emotions and mental health issues. Before pursuing a counseling psychology degree, you earn a bachelor's degree in a related field, like psychology or biological sciences. After earning a master's in counseling psychology, you may pursue a Ph.D., which is a terminal degree in the field.

Related: Clinical vs. Counseling Psychology: What's the Difference?

What courses do you take in a counseling psychology degree?

The courses you complete in a counseling psychology degree can vary depending on the school and the faculty. Researching the curriculum at each educational institution can help you determine which is best for you and your interests. Different universities require different amounts of foreign language or elective credits. These are some courses you may take during a counseling psychology degree:

  • Behavior deviations

  • Psychopathology

  • Multicultural counseling

  • Professional ethics

  • Psychological counseling

  • Techniques in counseling

  • Vocational behavior

  • Fundamentals of group counseling

  • History of psychology

  • Advanced social psychology

  • Personality assessments

  • Applied psychological measurement

  • Family interaction dynamics

Related: 9 Types of Counseling Jobs To Consider

8 jobs you can get with a counseling psychology degree

Learning more about counseling psychology jobs can help you determine if you want to pursue the degree, or help you develop your professional career. These are some jobs you can get with a counseling psychology degree:

1. Adult counselor

National average salary: $30,067 per year

Primary duties: Adult counselors are professionals who work with adults to assess their symptoms and diagnose their conditions. Some counselors work with families or youth, but adult counselors work only with mature patients. These counselors talk with their patients about their emotions, experiences, thoughts and plans for the future. Counselors monitor their patients for harmful or dangerous behavior and help develop effective treatment plans their patients can follow.

2. Crisis counselor

National average salary: $30,954 per year

Primary duties: Crisis counselors specialize in helping their patients cope with the trauma of major crises. They are highly skilled in recognizing and treating acute distress and mental instability. Crisis counselors can help patients ease some physical symptoms through emotional and mental counseling, as with phantom pain or a conversion disorder. These counselors focus on helping their clients return to normal life following a major event in their lives or in society.

3. Counselor assistant

National average salary: $33,100 per year

Primary duties: Counseling assistants assist counselors and psychologists with their administrative duties. As a counseling assistant, you may schedule appoints, organize files, complete paperwork and prepare materials for group sessions. You may attend counseling sessions, depending on the setting and the clients. Some counseling assistants help register new patients and coordinate counseling events.

4. Counseling department coordinator

National average salary: $40,913 per year

Primary duties: A counseling department coordinator, or coordinator of counseling programs, is the leader of long-term planning in counseling operations. They organize and plan expansive counseling policies and practices within an organization and communicate with counselors to determine their schedules and clientele. As a counseling coordinator, you establish much of the structure of the counseling programs within your organization.

Read more: Learn About Being a Coordinator

5. Researcher

National average salary: $71,577 per year

Primary duties: Counseling or psychological researchers conduct experiments and organize studies to gather information about counseling effectiveness and create new practices. They can study both physical and emotional trauma and how patients can work through them during counseling sessions. Psychological researchers may be skilled in assessing brain scans and understanding how symptoms appear in their subjects.

6. Group therapist

National average salary: $72,191 per year

Primary duties: Group therapists are professionals who counsel more than one client at a time. This can include dynamic groups, like families, but it often refers to groups of similar individuals. Groups counseling sessions allow clients to share their feelings and learn more about how others experience their condition. A group therapist is skilled at conflict resolution and leading their clients through the discussion.

7. Mental health technician

National average salary: $84,688 per year

Primary duties: Mental health technicians, or psychiatric technicians, are an important part of the mental health treatment program for patients. They help patients with mental health conditions by administering medication, assisting the counselors and psychologists during sessions and monitoring the patient's behavior and vital signs. Mental health technicians also complete paperwork for incidents and track how patients recover and progress.

8. Sports psychologist

National average salary: $94,924 per year

Primary duties: A sports psychologist studies how people behave and improve when playing and practicing for competitive sport. They can work for sports teams, universities and counseling offices. A sports psychologist may use a counseling psychology degree to counsel athletes and help them overcome injuries and psychological conditions. Sports psychologists are skilled at helping players overcome setbacks and improve their competitive performance and mental toughness.

Skills you can develop in a counseling psychology program

The courses in counseling psychology programs prepare students to be proficient as professionals in the field. These are some skills you can develop in a counseling psychology program:

  • Active listening: Active listening is the practice of providing the speaker with cues that you're listening to them. This includes small nods or vocal indications of affirmation, and they're important for counseling psychologists because it encourages their clients to continue sharing.

  • Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to assess a situation, determine the causes for an issue and suggest viable solutions. Counseling psychology programs teach this by helping students assess symptoms and associate them with conditions.

  • Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is feeling and treat them with care. This is important for counselors and psychologists because they often interact with mentally ill patients who respond well to care and empathetic treatment.

  • Confidentiality: Confidentiality is important for psychology-related professionals because they often work with sensitive information. Programs teach policies and procedures for keeping patient information secure and private.

  • Record keeping: Reviewing a patient's history can often reveal a lot about their current status, so it's important that counselors and psychologists keep consistent records. Programs help them learn this by teaching the process for taking notes and tracking patient behavior.

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