Navigating the waters to become a counselor can be murky. Deciding which counseling course to take is like sailing a ship in the dark. Unless there is a lighthouse to show the way, who knows where you will end up?
In this article, we will highlight the best courses and degrees to consider and even mention online counseling courses to appraise.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology, including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.
This Article Contains:
Training in Counseling: Qualifications & Requirements
Before we light up your path, you have to decide what your end goal will be, as there are many options available. A few counseling categories include substance abuse, mental health, marriage and family, divorce, rehabilitation, career, school, and grief counseling.
For a thorough review, read our article How to Become a Counselor and then also browse our blog for more in-depth articles on Couples Counseling, Military Counseling, and more.
While some countries only require a high school diploma, others may require counselors to obtain a master’s degree with clinical experience. Further, the educational program may need to be accredited by a specific governing agency.
Let’s review your training options and requirements across the globe.
In Australia, the best option is to pursue a Diploma of Counselling as an introduction to the field and entry-level roles. To be registered as a fully qualified counselor, you will need to complete a Bachelor of Counselling or equivalent (Open Colleges, 2022).
Other options may include a graduate certificate or diploma in counselling or Master of Counselling. Refer to the Australian Counselling Association for more information, as this is Australia’s largest national registry with the mission to advocate and advance the profession of counseling and psychotherapy.
Many countries in Europe acknowledge the European Association for Counselling (EAC; European Association for Counselling, 2022).
Members of the EAC have the opportunity to qualify as an Accredited European Counsellor through the exclusive European Certificate of Counsellor Accreditation, which meets the criteria determined by the EAC.
More information can be found on the website for the European Board for Certified Counselors. There are credentialing programs for global career development facilitators, certified supervision professionals, and mental health facilitators.
In the UK, refer to the National Counselling Society. While counseling in the UK is not regulated (National Counselling Society, 2022), it would be wise to select a program that is accredited by the National Counselling Society, which holds an Accredited Register recognized by the Professional Standards Authority.
United States of America
The American Counseling Association (ACA) acts as the educational and professional organization that focuses on the growth and enhancement of counseling in the United States. This organization directs counselor candidates to state requirements for certification and licensure.
The ACA can be accessed here.
Best Psychology & Psychotherapy Courses
Without further ado, here is a list of universities which offer courses in psychology and psychotherapy.
The University of Melbourne is noted as Australia’s #1 university for psychology and #39 in the world (Edurank.com, 2021).
Programs in undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate levels are available including a professional certificate in positive psychology. Find more out about these programs on their website.
The #2 university in 2021 for psychology in Australia was the University of Queensland (Edurank, 2021). Undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate programs are offered. If you are interested in psychotherapy, look into the Master of Mental Health or Master of Counselling degrees.
Begin your own research here.
Maastricht University in the Netherlands is well known for its psychology program. The university offers over 350 bachelor’s and post-graduate degree semester enrollment programs and is noted as one of the best research universities in the Netherlands (Graduateshotline.com, 2021).
Conduct your own research on this prominent university here.
Also located in the Netherlands, the University of Amsterdam is one of the biggest and best research universities, and it is known for its quality of education (Graduateshotline.com, 2021).
This university offers courses with specializations in brain and cognition, clinical psychology, developmental psychology, methodology and statistics, social psychology, and work and organizational psychology.
Find more out about this prestigious university here.
The Professional Diploma in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy offered by the Counseling Academy at Sheffield Hallam University may be an option for you if you are interested in both counseling and psychotherapy.
More information can be found here.
The Welsh Psychotherapy Institute renders a P.G. Advanced Diploma in Gestalt/Integrative Psychotherapy. This brick-and-mortar option is a four-year part-time course where students attend Friday-to-Sunday modules and a five-day module.
Both of these programs are accredited by the National Counselling Society.
Columbia University in New York, NY, offers the following psychotherapy programs:
- Adult psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Child and adolescent psychodynamic psychotherapy
- Transference-focused psychotherapy
More information can be accessed on their website.
The Counseling and Mental Health Services’ one-year master’s program from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia opens the door to professional training in psychology, mental health counseling, school counseling, and research in these areas.
Find more information on this private Ivy League institution here.
With psychology and psychotherapy, it will be important to ensure that the American Psychological Association (APA) accredits the program and school. Both Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania’s programs are proudly APA accredited.
Top 8 Online Courses & Programs
Here is a selection of eight online options.
Open College may be of interest if you are pursuing a counseling career in Australia and wish to obtain a Diploma of Counselling.
While this program is offered online, the work placement will need to be completed in Australia.
Find more information here.
Train Smart may also be an option if you would like to earn the Diploma of Counselling; however, this program is offered fully online – even the practicum portion, which is available via teleconferencing equipment.
Seek more information here.
Both the Train Smart and Open College programs are nationally recognized in Australia.
Freie Universitat Berlin in Germany offers a master’s degree with a major in clinical psychology and psychotherapy. It is a research and application-oriented course of study that qualifies students for the state licensing examination in psychotherapy.
This program could most certainly enhance your counseling services. Additional information can be found here.
Stockholm University in Sweden extends a Bachelor of Arts in study and career guidance, which leads to a professional qualification. Find out if this program is right for you by exploring their website.
Chrysalis Courses Online, which is accredited by the National Counselling Society, offers certificates in counselling, humanistic counselling, and life coaching.
Get more information from their website.
Continuing professional development courses are available in person or online through KRD Training. Courses include Creative Interventions in Counselling, Working with Bereavement, Supporting Clients with Anxiety and Chronic Stress, Working with Suicide and Suicidal Ideation, and An Introduction to PTSD and Trauma. Book one of these trainings here.
These programs are accredited by the National Counselling Society.
In the US, it is best to find a program that is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). The following schools are both CACREP-featured online schools for Master of Counseling programs.
Also, endorsed by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Therapy Education and the Higher Learning Commission, Capella University’s master’s degree in counseling may be a good choice for you.
Capella offers an MS degree in addiction studies, school counseling, clinical mental health, and marriage and family therapy. A PhD in advanced studies in human behavior and counselor education and supervision are also options for this online university.
Find more information here.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges Senior College and University Commission and is an active member of the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology.
This well-known school for psychology offers an MA in clinical mental health counseling and an MA in forensic psychology, with a professional counselor licensure track that will help you advance your career in counseling.
More information can be gleaned by visiting their website.
8 Master’s Programs & Degrees to Consider
Consider the following options if getting your masters is the goal you have in mind.
The Australian College of Applied Psychology offers a fully accredited Bachelor of Counselling degree that combines online and on-campus study. The on-campus portions of study are located in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney. There are 250 hours of supervised work placement included in this degree program.
Discover more on their website.
Mentioned above for its #2 rank for psychology in Australia, the University of Queensland also offers a Master of Counselling degree, which is accredited by the Australian Counselling Association and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia. Find more out about this exciting opportunity here.
If you are interested in a master’s of school counseling degree, the Universidade da Coruña in Spain may be a good fit.
The degree program covers secondary education, baccalaureate, vocational training, and language teaching, with a specialization in educational guidance.
Find more information on their website.
The Universidad de Murcia, also in Spain, offers master’s degrees in family counseling, counseling, and mediation. These face-to-face, year-long programs include an internship in the second semester. Have a look for yourself here.
The Northamptonshire Centre for Counselling Studies offers the following progression to become a qualified counselor:
- Level 2 certificate in counselling studies
- Level 3 certificate in counselling studies
- Level 4 diploma in therapeutic counselling
The coursework is a mix between in-person and online classes, with the majority of the courses being taught in person.
Please see their website for additional information.
A diploma in therapeutic counselling (Level 4), certificate in counselling young people (Level 5 equivalent), and an advanced specialist certificate diploma in counselling supervision (Level 6 equivalent) are presented by the Mindspace Foundation. You may apply to the program and seek additional information here.
Both of these programs are accredited by the UK’s National Counselling Society.
Northeastern University offers a Master of Science in counseling psychology. This program is unique in that they offer students a choice of specific concentrations within the general Master of Science program.
More information can be found here.
Walden University offers several CACREP-accredited options for a Master of Science, including in clinical mental health counseling, school counseling, and a dual degree encompassing both.
More information can be accessed here.
If you prefer in-person classes and are a working adult, Minnesota’s Bethel University may be a viable option. This program fulfills the educational requirements for licensure in the state of Minnesota, which would require you to complete and meet all requirements of the licensed professional (clinical) counselor applications, pass a national exam, and complete additional supervision and clinical hours required by the state.
Find more information here.
PositivePsychology.com’s Helpful Resources
Do you want to know if you have what it takes to be an effective counselor before diving in? Please see our article, Characteristics of Effective Counseling and Counselors.
What Is School Counseling? 14 Roles and Goals of Counselors will help you understand the responsibility of a school counselor and if this profession is right for you.
If you are specifically looking for courses regarding couples counseling, please see our article, 17 Best Courses for Relationship and Couples Counseling.
If you are interested in career counseling, you may want to check out our articles on Career Counseling Resources: 10 Techniques for Your Sessions and Career Counseling Training: 9 Certifications, Courses, and Degrees.
Perhaps grief counseling caught your attention, in which case you may want to check our article on How to Do Bereavement Counseling: Resources and Interventions.
Are the helping professions all blending together? Please see our article, Social Work vs Psychology, Counseling, and Occupational Therapy for clarification. Additionally, How Do Coaching, Mentoring, and Counseling Differ? may be another helpful article for you.
If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, check out this signature collection of 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners. Use them to help others flourish and thrive.
A Take-Home Message
No matter which program or school you choose, it is critical to ensure that both the program and school are accredited by the appropriate local governing agency. Failing to do so may result in lost time and money or a degree that doesn’t get you where you need to go.
The counseling profession is growing at a miraculous pace. For example, employment in the fields of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to grow by 23% within the next 10 years (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022). School and career counseling are projected to grow by 11%.
It is not surprising that counselors are in demand; however, the restrictions for becoming a counselor remain unwavering despite the need. Whether you determine that a face-to-face institution or an online university is right for you, and whether you’re pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree, we wish you the best in your exciting journey to becoming a counselor.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free.
- Edurank. (2021). 39 Best universities for psychology in Australia. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://edurank.org/psychology/au/
- European Association for Counselling. (2022). About the European Association for Counselling. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://eac.eu.com/membership-applications/about-european-eac/
- Graduateshotline.com. (2021). Study psychology in top European schools. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://europe.graduateshotline.com/psychology.html
- National Counselling Society. (2022). FAQs. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://nationalcounsellingsociety.org/counselling-courses/faqs
- Open Colleges. (2022). How to become a counsellor in Australia – Career salaries, job stats & education. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/careers/why-how-to-become-a-counsellor
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Occupational outlook handbook: Health educators and community health workers. U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved March 27, 2022, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm
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