Do I Need a Master’s in Psychology to Be a Behavioral Counselor?

If you like helping others face their problems, you might be interested in the requirements to be a behavioral counselor. Like most careers in the social sciences, the path toward becoming a behavioral counselor begins with a bachelor’s degree. Other necessary education and certifications will be required based on licensure requirements in the state where you live and practice. Here’s a closer look at the process of becoming a behavioral counselor.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Your bachelor’s degree will lay the foundation for your graduate education and also help to inform your career as a behavioral therapist. Most undergraduate programs in social work and psychology provide a general understanding of behavioral health as well as an overview of other specialization in the field of counseling. You can choose a bachelor’s of science program that will include more emphasis on research, science and math, or you can choose a bachelor’s of arts program that focuses on art and theory.

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Choosing a Master’s Program

You can become a behavioral therapist with a master’s degree, but you need to make sure that the degree program you choose meets the licensing requirements for the state where you plan to practice. Behavioral therapists can practice in many states after completing a master’s degree in counseling, social work or psychology. In addition to completing a qualifying master’s program, you will need to meet licensing requirements. This may include a certain number of logged clinical hours as well as obtaining a state licensure, the requirements of which vary from state to state. In most states, you will be allowed to practice as a behavioral therapist with these qualifications. However, some insurance companies, as well as Medicaid and Medicare, may require different qualifications such as social work licensure or a doctorate in psychology before you can bill them for your services.

Doctoral Studies

Once you’ve completed the requirements to be a behavioral counselor, you might wish to pursue doctoral studies. Most counseling psychologists have doctoral degrees. This allows them to specialize in various aspects of counseling and psychotherapy. It also provides opportunities for pursuing clinical research. In fact, some behaviorists enjoy research so much that they choose to focus on that aspect of the field rather than seeing clients in a clinical setting.

As with many specializations in social science, those who study behavioral psychology and counseling can take a variety of career paths. Once you complete both your bachelor’s and your master’s degrees, you can choose to work in a clinical setting or pursue research with an advanced degree. You can also choose to specialize in working with a variety of patient populations. Some options include group therapy with families, one-on-one with children or consulting with the elderly living in nursing homes.

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There are many different career opportunities for those who enjoy helping others. Now that you understand the requirements to be a behavioral counselor, do you think this career is for you? It’s never too early or too late to start on the path toward the career of your dreams.