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Online Masters in Counseling
It takes a village, the old adage goes. . . .
This community-centered declaration rings true for caring for babies, kids, and even adults. All of us, whether six, sixteen, or sixty, need something at some point in life, whether it’s assistance, guidance, or emotional support. Enter soon-to-be you. A trained counselor. A person who earned an online masters in counseling.
While many people turn to friends and family during moments of need, others turn to counselors. Counselors, trained professionals who know how say the things people’s mothers and best friends can’t, help us develop, heal, and grow mentally and emotionally.
Counseling Education Starts with the Brain and Ends with the Brain
Have you ever considered that psychology and neurology are two disciplines in which the subject studies itself? We use the brain to study the brain. Interesting to consider, isn’t it?
And use the brain we must, if we want to earn a masters in counseling online. Counseling is much more complex than listening closely and giving advice. People can get advice, after all, from friends, family, strangers, and even billboards (how many times have you been advised to buy this, that, or the other to make yourself happy?). Much of the advice people receive is unsolicited, and most of it won’t work. Why? Because advice is often an opinion in disguise. And you know what they say about opinions—everybody has one.
When you earn your online masters in counseling, you’ll explore areas like:
- Theories of psychotherapy and counseling
- Group and organizational dynamics
- Ethics and legal issues in counseling
- Outreach, prevention, and advocacy
- Cultural diversity in counseling
- Psychodynamics of individuals and systems
Learning how the human brain operates and how you can support people as they navigate life are just some of the gifts you’ll glean from coursework in areas like these.
Over 50% of the U.S. population believes in psychic phenomena.
If One More Person Gives Me Advice….The limbic center helps categorize the world into safe or dangerous. It helps human beings decipher what is friend or foe. Back when we hunted animals and lived outside walls, having such a sensitive limbic response kept us protected. Now it serves a differ role: it protects us from advice. Yep, that’s right, advice! Studies show that when people receive advice, their limbic system lights up. Not because they’re overjoyed to hear advice, but because their brain perceives danger.i Ever feel particularly prickly when people give you advice? Now you know why.
Are you buying a product or is your brain? The brain regions involved in emotional processing and decision-making show high levels of activity when viewers see advertisements that provide logical information (such as how many miles a car goes per gallon or what safety features a car has). Those affected regions of the brain inhibit people’s abilities to prevent impulse buying. In short, when the brain sees logical information, it’s less likely to stop you from buying a product.
Separating Science from Speculation
How often have you heard people analyze and judge other people’s behaviors? We’re guessing quite often, whether you’re cognizant of it or not. Parents constantly assess why their kids do what they do. Friends condemn and condone other friends’ behaviors. And romantic partners give thoughtful, albeit completely biased, insight into what little adjustments their partners need to make. As human beings, we constantly think we know what’s causing others’ behaviors.
But we’re mere rookies in the realm of assessing human behavior. Trained and educated counselors, those who may have a masters degree in counseling psychology online, however, have evidence-based practices. That is, they:
- Conduct and analyze science-based research
- Learn the neurological and biological behaviors of the brain
- Become adept at scientific and quantitative reasoning
They don’t guess what’s “wrong” with an individual or group; they consult their databank of founded, scientifically supported knowledge. Furthermore, counselors don’t always assess what’s “wrong.” They often simply help people strip away the layers to facilitate personal growth.
DID YOU KNOW?
Maslow’s study of 3,000 college students found that none met the criteria for self-actualization.
The beauty of an online masters in counseling is that students learn how to stop pestering people with opinion-based assessment and start giving them research- and science-based analysis, guidance, and support. Counselors learn how to separate their opinions from truly useful, research-based insight.
What Subjects Are Studied
Given that counselors must know how to separate science from speculation, you’ll likely study subjects like these when you pursue your online masters in counseling:
- Research methods
- Quantitative research
- Qualitative research
- Assessment tools
- Clinical intervention
- Psych testing
Additional Topics of Study: You’ll also study subjects that engage you in the foundational theories of counseling. These will offer you a strong theoretical foundation from which to launch your practice. You might look at subjects like:
- Counseling psychopathology
- Theories in family, marital, and couples counseling
- Theories of substance abuse
- Skills for counseling and psychotherapy
Professionalism Provides Predictability
As you can imagine, it’s important that people trust counselors. Counselors hold secrets and hear sacred stories. They help people grow and develop and become better versions of themselves. They basically see what people don’t let anyone see: their inner workings.
Rorschach’s nickname as a child was “Inkblot.”
As such, when you earn your masters in counseling psychology online, you’ll learn how to operate professionally as an individual and a member of the counseling community. In many programs, you’ll take classes that teach you how to:
- Apply your knowledge
- Analyze research with a critical eye
- Analyze information critically
- Uphold professional ethics and standards
- Understand diversity and multiculturalism
- Communicate professionally (through writing, verbally, and using appropriate technology for the discipline)
“Conversational intelligence begins with elevating the level of trust that you create with others—and ends with the quality of interactions and conversations that result.” –Judith E. Glaser
What Online Masters in Counseling Psychology Should I Pursue?
There are many options! Here are some degrees you can earn:
- The Master of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in counseling
- The Master of Arts in Psychology with an emphasis in counseling
- The Master of Science in Counseling
- The Master of Arts in Counseling
- The Master of Science in Clinical Psychology
Within these and other types of programs, you might take a standard program, typically for people who already have a bachelors degree in psychology, or a bridge program, typically for people who have a bachelors degree in another subject. Bridge programs might require you to take additional classes in psychology or complete prerequisites before starting your program.
Areas of Concentration
You might opt to specialize your knowledge when you pursue an online masters in counseling. Some specializations include:
- Child and adolescent counseling
- Adult and geriatric counseling
- Applied research
- Clinical counseling
- Forensic psychology
- Sex therapy
- Pastoral counseling
- Chemical dependency
- Group counseling
DID YOU KNOW?
Schizophrenia does not mean “split personality” but instead means splitting of affect, thought, and behavior.
Besides Take Classes and Study Like Mad, What Do I Have to Do?
In addition to taking classes, you’ll likely write a thesis and perhaps take a comprehensive exam.
You’ll also likely participate in a practicum and/or internship. The practicum will pair you with a professional counselor to practice your counseling skills. The internship will help you gain experience with the administrative component of counseling, such as collecting insurance, providing customer service, and otherwise running a practice.
Once you’ve completed your online masters in counseling, you may have to test and apply for a license.
The requirements for licensure vary by state so find out about your intended state of practice.
Well That’s Unexpected
Optimists don’t always cope well with stress.
It Pays to Make a Difference, but Money Pays the Bills
While you likely want to be a counselor to help people live healthy, vibrant lives, you probably also want to pay the bills. So let's talk turkey.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s 2015 report:
- School and career counselors brought home the bacon to the tune of a median annual salary of $54,560.iii
- Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors earned a median annual salary of $41,070.iv
- Rehabilitation counselors earned a median annual wage of $34,670.v
- Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists earned a median annual wage of $44,170.vi
Help Yourself and Others Live Well
Anne Frank once said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”vii
So why wait? The faster you earn an online masters in counseling, the faster you’ll improve your own life and others’.
On this page, browse through programs. Click on icons to get more information and to contact schools through our site. Finding your perfect program is truly that easy. There’s no need to wait to be the person you’re meant to be! Get started now.
i /brillianceinc.com/why-brains-hate-advice/ | ii psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201110/25-surprising-facts-about-psychology | iii bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm | iv www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm | vi www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/rehabilitation-counselors.htm | vii bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm | viii www.psychologytoday.com/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201201/50-quotes-living-well