Psychologists and counselors are both mental health practitioners. Individuals in both fields are state licensed. They provide services that are reimbursable by insurance companies. In fact, they often have overlapping duties. However, there are some distinctions, both in their training and their scope of practice.
Training for Counselors and Psychologists
Counselors have master’s level education, though their master’s programs are longer than those in many fields. Clinical mental health counseling programs are transitioning to a 60 semester hour minimum. Some counseling specialties, like school or career counseling, require only 48.
Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers several Online Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral programs in Psychology including Counseling Psychology and Clinical Psychology. Capella University, also offers four online CACREP - accredited master's programs: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Addiction Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, and School Counseling. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their programs.
Counseling programs follow curriculum standards set by CACREP. Many of the standards focus on the practical skills needed to help individuals through their life challenges.
Psychologists are more likely to work with individuals with serious mental illness.Human growth and development, diversity and multicultural issues, and career development are among the core concepts.
Counseling programs do include coursework in research, but the focus typically is on being a good consumer of research and using the latest information to inform practice. Mental health counseling programs include some coursework in psychopathology and some in assessment. Overall, there’s less quantitative work in a counseling program, though, and less “number crunching”.
Most psychologists, on the other hand, have training at the doctoral level. Some specialties, like occupational industrial psychology require less, but it takes a doctoral degree to sit down and work one on one with clients as a clinical or counseling psychologist.
All graduate level mental health programs are competitive, but PhD programs for psychologists are especially so. A strong GPA and test scores are a must. Programs vary in the degree of importance they place on research. Some like to see undergraduate research.
Programs follow standards set by the APA. The program typically includes more statistics and quantitative work. Psychometric assessments are covered in depth. A psychology candidate does put in many hours in the field. A lot of time, though, may be spent completing a dissertation and participating in other research activity.