Online Bachelor's Degrees in Counseling
Online bachelor’s degree programs in counseling typically focus on substance abuse, addictions, and human behavior. While enrollment in a bachelor's degree in counseling provides an introduction to the field, most states require counselors to earn at least a master's degree in order to become licensed.
Undergraduate programs in counseling typically follow the standard admissions protocol for all bachelor's programs. Most schools require a high school diploma or GED, SAT/ACT scores, a resume, and letters of recommendation. Prospective students may be required to have a GPA of 2.8 or higher.
The classes counseling students take as undergraduates often mirror the courses they may take as graduate-level students, but the undergraduate curriculum revolves around learning existing theories rather than developing one's own ideas and techniques.
Learners enrolled in online counseling degree programs study general psychology and sociology through classes such as child development, addiction, abnormal psychology, and emotional disorders. Other courses discuss particular counseling issues, such as case management, drugs and behavior, substance abuse recovery, counseling skills, and counselor ethics. Counseling majors also take a broad array of general education classes in math, sciences, communications, and social sciences. Some schools also require students to complete some type of capstone project.
In order to gain the hands-on work experience that an expert counselor needs, most online bachelor's in counseling programs require students to complete a practicum and internship experience.
In order to gain the hands-on work experience that an expert counselor needs, most online bachelor's in counseling programs require students to complete a practicum and internship experience. Practicums put students in mock counseling settings, which allow them to work on their counseling skills in low-stakes situations. Internships in a counseling office allow students to shadow experienced counselors and practice their counseling skills under the watchful eye of a professional. The amount of fieldwork required will depend on the state in which the training takes place and the type of counseling the student specializes in. Online students may need to take greater responsibility for their practice experience by finding an internship in a local school, clinic, or community agency to acquire the clinical practice hours they need.
Common Courses in an Online Bachelor's in Counseling Program
The core courses and electives required for online bachelor's in counseling degrees vary widely, often depending on the area of specialization or focus of the program. In general, they require students to complete extensive reading and writing assignments, and they provide opportunities for students to develop their counseling skills through role play activities, group work, and class discussions. The following is a list of courses often included in counseling programs.
This class discusses how personality and personal interaction can manifest in the client-counselor relationship. Students explore different methods of working with clients, depending on what the client wants to get out of counseling. Coursework covers different tools, such as standardized questionnaires, which can be used to determine a patient's diagnosis.
Clinical and Counseling Psychology
An introductory course in general psychology gives students a broad overview of the science. In addition to covering the history of psychology and various theories, coursework explores fundamentals such as cognition, perception, motivation, and learning. This course discusses how people change from childhood to adolescence and into adulthood and old age. All aspects of human development are covered, such as cognitive, physical, and emotional development. Coursework may include methods of helping people adjust to common life changes. At its core, multicultural psychology is the study of the ways in which culture can affect how people think, feel, and act. Some of the common topics discussed include racial identity, prejudice and stereotyping, and adaptation. This field of psychology explores the biological basis for behavior, specifically the relationship between the brain and a person's actions. Coursework covers the nervous system, sensory perception, sleep, emotions, and memory. Students may also learn how physical injury and trauma can alter behavior.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Counseling Degree?
Counselors are found in many healthcare settings and populations, so a wide variety of career paths are available. Possible work environments include community agencies, schools, colleges, hospitals, and private practice.
Although graduate study in counseling is necessary to become a licensed counselor, graduates with a high school or bachelor's degree and relevant experience may qualify for counseling-related positions, such as social and human service assistant, social and community service manager, and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor. With a master's degree and a state-issued license, graduates can go into clinical mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, career counseling, and marriage and family counseling.