Counseling Psychology - American Psychological Association

What Is Counseling Psychology?
A Brief Description of the
Discipline and Comparison to
Other Psychology Professions
In This Presentation, You Will …
• Learn more about counseling psychology
• Develop an understanding of the differences and
similarities between counseling psychology and
other psychology disciplines
• Gain information to help you make informed
decisions regarding your career path
Counseling Psychology Is One Specialty
in Professional Psychology
• According to the website of the Society of
Counseling Psychology, “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” (
• Counseling psychology is a broad and diverse
discipline within mental health care
▫ Can lead to many different careers
Psychology Is Very Broad
• There are many different subfields of psychology:
Counseling Psychology,
Clinical Psychology,
Cognitive Psychology,
Developmental Psychology,
Experimental Psychology
Forensic Psychology,
Health Psychology,
▫ Industrial/Organizational
▫ Neuropsychology,
▫ School Psychology,
▫ Social Psychology,
▫ Sport Psychology,
▫ the list goes on and on …
• Additionally, the type of degree earned can differ:
▫ Ph.D., Ed.D., Psy.D., M.S., M.A.
Scientist-Practitioner Model
• Counseling psychologists are usually trained
to be scientists as well as professional
• Learn how to understand and conduct
scientific research
• Learn how to conduct therapy
• Doctoral level degree is required to be a
counseling psychologist in the United States
(e.g., Ph.D., Psy.D., Ed.D. )
Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001
*Note. Models of training may soon be eliminated in
favor of competencies.
Becoming a Counseling Psychologist
Typical Requirements to
Become a Counseling
• Graduate School
▫ Full-time study in a doctoral
program (Post Bachelor’s
Degree or Post Master’s
• Post-doctoral training
▫ Not required in all states
• Licensure
▫ Must pass nationallyadministered examination
▫ Must meet state
requirements, including state
policies for psychologists
Typical Components of
Doctoral Programs in
Counseling Psychology
• Course work
• Practica
• Comprehensive exams
(i.e., doctoral qualifying
• Internship
• Dissertation
What Do Counseling Psychologists Do?
• The majority of counseling
psychologists have described
their primary role as either a
clinical practitioner (working
with clients) or an
academician (faculty member
at a college or university;
Watkins et al., 1986).
• However, many counseling
psychologists participate in a
wide range of activities
▫ Psychotherapeutic and
Counseling Practice
▫ Teaching
▫ Research
▫ Career Development
▫ Testing, Assessment, and
▫ Supervision
▫ Consultation
▫ Administrative Activities
▫ Facilitate social justice,
diversity, and multicultural
agendas and initiatives
Where Do Counseling Psychologists
Typically Work?
College or University (Faculty Member)
Independent Practice
College or University Counseling Center
Human Services (nursing home, rehab facility, etc.)
Government (military, government, criminal justice system)
School/Education Setting
Medical School
Business and Industry
Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001 (Based on the 1995 APA Directory Survey)
Counseling Psychology Trends
• May be likely to work with clients who are closer to
the “normal” range of functioning
▫ This is not always the case, as many counseling
psychologists work with clients with more “severe”
• Focus on strengths instead of a focus on
psychopathology only
▫ May focus on taking clients past normal functioning to
an “optimal” level of functioning
• Focus on early intervention and prevention
efforts, setting counseling psychology apart from
many other disciplines
Sources: Gelso & Fretz, 2001, & Society of Counseling Psychology Website
Counseling Psychology Trends
• Focus on career-related issues
▫ Vocational choice and development are often
▫ Often work with clients who have problems in the
career realm
• Place an emphasis on multicultural research,
practice, and training
▫ The role of culture in therapy and in society is
• Place an emphasis on social justice issues
Sources: Gelso & Fretz, 2001, & Society of Counseling Psychology Website
Counseling Psychology vs.
Related Disciplines
Clinical Psychology
▫ There is much overlap
between counseling
and clinical
▫ More emphasis on
psychopathology in
clinical psychology
Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001
Community Psychology
▫ Focuses on personenvironment interactions
▫ Moves beyond the
individual and examines
community settings
▫ Not likely to involve
direct counseling /
Counseling Psychology vs.
Related Disciplines
• Psychiatry
 Medical doctor
 Prescribes medication
 May conduct psychotherapy, but much less common
• School Psychology
 Primarily work with children in schools
• Industrial/Organizational Psychology (I/O Psychology)
 The study of behavior in work settings
• Psychiatric Social Work
 Conduct counseling (Master’s or Doctoral level)
• Mental Health Counseling
 Conduct counseling (Master’s or Doctoral level)
• Marriage and Family Therapy
 Conduct counseling (Master’s or Doctoral level)
Source: Gelso & Fretz, 2001
In Conclusion
• Counseling psychology is a very broad degree
that can lead to employment in many different
• Although this PowerPoint may be a good
starting point, you will probably need to learn
more in order to determine if earning a degree in
counseling psychology is the best fit for you.
For More Information On Counseling
• Student Affiliates of Seventeen (SAS) Website:
• Division of Counseling Psychology website
 Look for resources under the “Student” subheading.
• List of APA Accredited Counseling Psychology
References and Additional Resources:
• Fitzgerald, L. F., & Osipow, S. H. (1986). An occupational analysis of counseling
psychology: How special is the specialty? American Psychologist, 41, 535544.
• Gelso, C., & Fretz, B. (2001). Counseling psychology (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA:
• Norcross, J. C., Sayette, M. A., Mayne, T. J., Karg, R. S., & Turkson, M. A. (1998).
Selecting a doctoral program in professional psychology: Some comparisons
among PhD counseling, PhD clinical, and PsyD clinical psychology programs.
Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 29, 609-614.
• Norcross, J. C. (2000). Clinical psychology vs. counseling psychology: What’s
the diff? Eye on Psi Chi, 5(1), 20-22.
• Society of Counseling Psychology (2010). Society of counseling psychology,
division 17. Retrieved from
• Watkins, C. E. (1983). Counseling psychology versus clinical psychology: Further
explorations on a theme or once more around the "identity“ maypole with
gusto. The Counseling Psychologist, 11, 76-92.
• Watkins, C. E., Lopez, F. G., Campbell, V. L., & Himmell, C. D. (1986).
Counseling psychology and clinical psychology: Some preliminary
comparative data. American Psychologist, 41, 581- 582.
• Watkins, C. E., Lopez, F. G., Campbell, V. L., & Himmel, C. D. (1986).
Contemporary counseling psychology: Results of a national survey.
Journal of Counseling Psychology, 33, 301-309.

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