This is an area of psychology that concentrates on people whose issues may not necessarily be linked to problems of mental health. Daily life throws up situations that sometimes benefit from objective guidance. It is “the applied branch of psychology that facilitates lifelong personal and interpersonal functioning, focusing on emotional, social, vocational, educational, developmental issues and concerns related to health.”
Counselling families, helping people figure out their careers or working with those who have issues with self-worth are among the many concerns a counsellor might deal with. Counsellors also work closely with people who have diagnosed emotional disorders and physical drawbacks, among others. Counselling holds an important place in the well-being of society at large, as it aims to improve the quality of life of those in need of support. This field of study is linked with areas of psychology across the spectrum.
Students may choose to be general counselors or work with a specific and focused demographic groups. For instance, some Master’s programs are dedicated to child welfare and counselling children; there are others which train counsellors in working solely with special needs and disabled patients. The employment options for counsellors are many. They can work in mental health, educational or business institutions, in the social welfare sector, or as private practitioners, to name a few.
The Department of Education and Counselling Psychology at McGill University, Canada, runs an M.A. in Counselling Psychology that trains students to become professional counsellors. Apart from preparing students to become professional counsellors, “this program teaches them to be intelligent consumers of the relevant research literature in this field and to do research in the applied aspects of the profession. For this purpose, it draws on the findings of developmental psychology, career psychology, and neuropsychology among other basic sciences.” (http://www.mcgill.ca/edu-ecp/) There are two types of Master’s programs –
Concentration: Professional/Internship. This degree qualifies students to work as professional counsellors.
Concentration: Project. Students opting for this program are trained for doctoral research and will not qualify as practitioners. It is advised that you check the qualification requirements of the country in which you are planning to practice.
Keele University (U.K.), has a full time M.Sc. course in Counselling Psychology. This is a one year program, and integrates classroom teaching with research and practical application. The aim of the program is to “equip students with the knowledge and expertise to support their work as professional person-centred/humanistic counsellors.” (http://www.keele.ac.uk/pgtcourses/counsellingpsychology/#tabs-1)
NYU Steinhardt offers an M.A. in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness. This is a recognised and accredited degree for qualification as a licensed counselor. The program looks to guide students in “understanding people across the lifespan in cultural contexts, promotion of equity and social justice…”
Another option for students is the M.Sc. in Counselling Studies at The University of Edinburgh. This is offered as both a full time as well as a part time course. The program provides a firm background in counselling skills, acting as a stepping stone towards further specialist training for those wishing to become qualified and practicing counsellors.