Duties and responsibilities
A counselling psychologist uses psychological theory and research during therapy to help clients with a range of difficult life issues or mental health conditions. Such issues/conditions may include: bereavement, domestic violence, traumas, anxiety, depressions or eating disorders. They can work with children, adults, families, couples and groups. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Undertaking assessments, including assessment of mental health needs, risk assessment and psychometric testing
- Formulating an explanation of the client’s issues, based on psychological theory
- Establishing collaborative working relationship with the client, based on trust and respect
- Planning and implementing specialist psychological treatments to help clients to understand their feelings/behaviour
- Empowering clients to address their issues, take control of them and make positive changes to their behaviour
- Monitoring and evaluating the outcome of treatments
- Communicating complex, technical and/or clinically sensitive information clearly to clients, their families and carers
- Contributing to research, service evaluation and audit, either individually or as part of a team
Typically, counselling psychologist will need a bachelors degree in psychology. To become licenses, they will then need a masters degree in counselling psychology. Licensing requirements vary by state, but counselling psychologists are likely to need several thousand hours working under a licensed counselor.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as enough supervised hours, counselling psychologists will need skills such as:
- Interpersonal skills, as part of the counselling process is building a trusting relationship with clients
- Analytical skills, as counselling psychologists will need to evaluate their patient to discover their issues
- Written communication skills, as counselling psychologists will need to keep detailed reports of their clients progress. They will also contribute to research papers and must be able to write well
- Empathy and compassion, as counselling psychologists will have to work with clients with lots of issues
- Verbal communication skills, as counselling psychologist will need to communicate effectively with their clients and with other healthcare professionals (e.g., psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians)
- A non-judgemental approach, as counselling psychologists must not pass judgement or advice onto a clients actions or feelings
Many counselling will work full-time, but they can also work part time if they choose. They may set up their own private practice or become self-employed and will therefore often set their own hours. However, they may have to work evenings or weekends to accommodate clients.
According to salary.com the median annual salary for a counselling psychologist in the United States was $70,277 in 2020. The lowest 10% earned less than $54,094 and the highest 10% earned more than $88,069 per year.
The importance of mental health will always be recognized, and therefore, there will always be a demand for experienced counselling psychologists. Counselling psychologists can further progress their knowledge and skills by taking doctorate degrees. They may even decide to specialize in a certain part of counselling psychology, such as domestic abuse or post-natal depression. Furthermore, psychotherapists can easily become self-employed or set up their own practice.