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Counseling psychology as a psychological specialty facilitates personal and interpersonal functioning across the life span with a focus on emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns. Through the integration of theory, research, and practice, and with a sensitivity to multicultural issues, this specialty encompasses a broad range of practices that help people improve their well-being, alleviate distress and maladjustment, resolve crises, and increase their ability to live more highly functioning lives.

Though closely related to clinical psychology, counseling psychology differs from that field in a several subtle ways. First, counseling psychologists typically focus on less severe psychopathology (e.g., depression and anxiety), while clinical psychologists deal with more seriously disturbed individuals (e.g., those with schizophrenia or personality disorders). Second, counseling psychologists are more likely than clinical psychologists to assume a client-centered or humanistic theoretical approach. Finally, counseling psychology is unique in its attention both to normal developmental issues as well as the problems associated with physical, emotional, and mental disorders. Despite these differences, counseling and clinical psychology are becoming increasingly indistinguishable, leading some to suggest that these fields be combined.

Populations served by counseling psychologists include persons of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Examples of those populations would include late adolescents or adults with career/educational concerns and children or adults facing severe personal difficulties. Counseling psychologists also consult with organizations seeking to enhance their effectiveness or the well-being of their members.

Counseling psychologists adhere to the standards and ethics established by the American Psychological Association and the American Counseling Association. Counseling psychologists or counselors who work in K-12 school settings also need to follow the ethic standard established by the American School Counselor Association. In Australia there are several associations offering standards and ethics. Each professional or trade association has its preferred qualification and practitioner standards, and also suggesting other requirements.

Methodology[edit | edit source]

Counseling psychologists participate in a range of activities including teaching, research, psychotherapeutic and counseling practice, career development, assessment, supervision, and consultation. They employ a variety of methods closely tied to theory and research to help individuals, groups and organizations function optimally as well as to mediate dysfunction. Interventions may be either brief or long-term; they are often problem-specific and goal-directed. These activities are guided by a philosophy that values individual differences and diversity and a focus on prevention, development, and adjustment across the life-span which includes vocational concerns.

Employment settings[edit | edit source]

Counseling psychologists are employed in a variety of settings depending on the services they provide and the client populations they serve. Some are employed in colleges and universities as teachers, supervisors, researchers, and service providers. Others are employed in independent practice providing counseling, psychotherapy, assessment, and consultation services to individuals, families, groups, and organizations. Additional settings in which counseling psychologists practice include community mental health centers, Veterans Administration Medical Centers and other facilities, family services, health maintenance organizations, rehabilitation agencies, business and industrial organizations and consulting firms.

Training[edit | edit source]

Counseling psychologists are trained in graduate programs, generally in APA-accredited doctoral programs. There are about 70 APA accredited counseling psychology doctoral programs. Almost all grant a Ph.D, although a few grant a Psy.D. Most doctoral programs take 5-6 years to complete.

Graduate work in counseling psychology includes coursework in general psychology and statistics, counseling practice, and research. Students must complete an original dissertation at the end of their graduate training. Students must also complete a one year full-time internship at an APA accredited site before earning their doctorate. In order to be licensed to practice, counseling psychologists must meet various requirements set by each state (a declining number of which require postdoctoral supervision), and pass a national licensing exam.

Journals[edit | edit source]

Organizations[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

List of counseling journals

References & Bibliography[edit | edit source]

Key texts[edit | edit source]

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Papers[edit | edit source]

  • Pugh,Deborah & Coyle,Adrian (2000). The construction of counselling psychology in Britain: a discourse analysis of counselling psychology texts. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Volume 13, Issue 1 , pages 85 - 98. DOI: 10.1080/09515070050011088

Additional material[edit | edit source]

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