Online Licensed Professional Clinical Counseling Degrees and Programs
As a licensed professional clinical counselor, you have the training and tools to work with patients in a private setting. You can become certified and licensed, which approves you for working with patients. However, the pathway to training to be a clinical counselor is lengthy compared to most other types of counseling. Learn more about what it takes to earn an online degree in clinical counseling and to get licensed as a professional in this career field.
Earning an online degree is a requirement in order to be licensed as a clinical counselor. This occupation involves counseling patients with mental and substance abuse disorders. Training that takes place in a degree program covers all aspects of this job. To be the best licensed professional clinical counselor, start with the most applicable degree.
Choose from accredited programs by the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). An associate degree in counseling is required to work with patients. However, most counselors must complete a bachelor’s degree and master's degree program before being licensed professional clinical counselors.
An online bachelor's degree in science or arts in a counseling-related field will place you on the path to being a licensed clinical counselor. Here you have the opportunity to focus your studies on substance abuse, mental health, or types of therapy.
At the graduate degree level, counselors hone their interpersonal skills by working with patients directly. This is achieved through internships and clinicals that must be completed for most master's degrees in clinical counseling.
An online graduate certificate covers skills learned through continuing education or in order to sit for a board exam. There are several board exams that are applicable to the graduate level. You can earn a certificate in a graduate program that leads to becoming certified as a licensed clinical counselor.
There is also the option to work towards a doctorate degree online in counseling-related fields. This includes clinical psychology and clinical psychiatry. The Doctorate of Psychology or PsyD degree program is the most common for licensed clinical counseling. However, a doctor of philosophy or PhD program can also be applicable to a professional counselor.
|Bachelor’s Degree||Master’s Degree||Graduate Cert||Ph.D. or PsyD|
|I am interested in gaining entry-level experience in clinical counseling||x|
|I want to get started in my clinical counseling career before I pursue more education||x|
|I want to become a licensed professional counselor||x|
|I want to pursue or switch to a niche counseling specialty||x||x|
|I already have a counseling degree and want to gain specialized knowledge||x||x|
|I want to work in academia, administration, or clinical practice||x|
In order to become a professional clinical counselor, study the human brain in anatomy, as well as human behavior and social interaction. Start with a program leading to a bachelor's degree in a counseling-related subject.
- Bachelor's: 120 credits
- Master's: 30 to 60 credits
- Graduate Certificate: 15 credits
- Doctorate PsyD and PhD: 120 credits
Take courses that focus on treating individuals who have certain disorders and can benefit from counseling. This includes substance abuse, mental disorders, marriage/family therapy, and social work.
Internships and externships provide students with essential in-person training. Pick up interpersonal skills and learn how to read signals related to your area of expertise. This comes from working with patients, but until you are a licensed professional clinical counselor, you lack this opportunity.
A guided, educational internship or externship with a counselor or therapy center will give you the training you need. In fact, most schools that are ACA or CACREP accredited require students to complete at least one internship in order to graduate.
Clinical placements are offered in the last semesters of an online bachelor or graduate-level training program. Depending on the type of training, you may be able to complete more than one internship before you graduate.
For example, if you are in an applied clinical counseling or psychology program, you will have more opportunities to work in internships. This is because, instead of a thesis paper, you are expected to complete a project that applies to an area of clinical counseling.
Most of the time, schools allow online students to choose their preference of where they complete an internship program. However, it is up to you and your advisor or professor to help you select the best fit for an internship for your particular goals. Look for a facility or type of intern placement that is either stimulating or would be somewhere you might want to work someday.
In fact, that is one reason why students appreciate completing an internship or two while in college. You can either use the experience to fill in your job resume, or you might be able to apply directly to the place you intern for a job when you graduate from school.
Therefore, your internship could be a great way to find your first job as a licensed professional clinical counselor.
Looking for an online or campus-based licensed professional clinical degree program near you? Browse our state-by-state school listings below.
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