“101 careers in counseling?” “Are you kidding me?” “Can you count?” These are types of questions people have asked me both in virtual and in-person formats regarding my recent book 101 Careers in Counseling. I can understand the skepticism in such questions. When former Acquisitions Editor Jennifer Perrrillo first mentioned the topic, I was skeptical. After all, as a 25 year veteran in the counseling profession 101 seemed unbelievably high. But after doing some research on the matter, doors I had never considered opened the way to more variation in the job market than I, a former vocational and employment counselor was aware existed. This eye popping experience facilitated a burgeoning interest in authoring the book.
My hypothesis is that if you poll counseling professionals and graduate students in counseling on the different types of counseling careers, they likely will mention the traditional 6-8 fields: Mental Health Counselor, School Counselor, Rehabilitation, Counselor Educator, etc. In point of fact, several readers of my book have expressed they were surprised by the sheer volume and variation of counseling and counseling-related occupations. They could not have been any more surprised than me as I had previously been in the skeptical category regarding anything approaching 101! It just goes to show we all have our blinders!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), Counseling has become one of the fastest growing professions in the country. In fact, Mental Health Counseling is the fastest growing of all mental health professions; faster than all fields of Psychology and Social Work. But these statistics don’t tell “the rest of the story” as the iconic Paul Harvey was fond of saying. The vast majority of counseling occupations are either variations of the four general counseling fields BLS tracks (e.g., Mental Health Counseling and Marriage & Family Therapy, Rehabilitation Counseling, Addiction Counseling, and School & Career Counseling or an entirely different type of counseling. For example, there are many variations of the relatively recent field of Creative Arts Counselor (Art Therapist, Play Therapist, Music Therapist, Dance Therapist, etc.) along with Animal Assisted Therapies. Granted, these are a thin slice of the counseling pie, but they are growing. Then, we have emerging counseling-related profession like Genetic Counseling which is a combination of counseling and STEM fields. Genetic Counseling is a related profession with HUGE growth potential.
In addition to traditional and nontraditional counseling occupations, there are the nontraditional counseling occupations. Student Affairs has long been a profession with a strong counseling influence and while most Student Affairs graduate program are now housed separately from Counselor Education, many have retained a counseling influence. Many graduates of Counseling programs migrate into broader student affairs work and this makes sense given the plethora of mental health concerns on college campuses. Counseling graduate also serve as Case Workers and Case Managers in human service agencies. Counselors also run homeless shelters, work in pastoral counseling centers, religious institutions and many other places. Counselors working as Professional Coaches are a rapidly growing specialization of counseling and many counselors have attained or are pursuing the Board Certified Coach (BCC) credential through the Center for Credentialing Education.
But the most interesting dynamic I discovered during the research for the book, was in the emerging international Counselling (double l’s outside the U.S.) profession. Counselors now work in diverse settings such as the Australian Outback, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, China, New Zealand, etc. In fact, counselors seem to be everywhere! Now, in many of these countries counselors are small in number, but growing. Having traveled extensively overseas and having contacts in numerous countries, I am hearing more about counselors. Given that this world is now in a global economy (for better and worse!) it makes sense that the Counseling profession would be part of the global village. The good news is that in the near future, counselors interested in working overseas will find gainful employment there. The international Counselling profession likely needs about a decade to strengthen but rest assured it will definitely become vibrant in time.
Also, regarding international counseling, in the near future graduate students will do a variation of study abroad. Imagine, traveling to South Africa or Singapore for a semester in an overseas counseling program. Or, completing an internship in New Zealand or China! This will be a reality in the not too distant future. Very exciting times!
Finally, no book regardless of author, length, or how well written can ever tell the entire story of a profession as professions are living organisms themselves and thus every evolving due to marketplace changes. But I would say books such as 101 Careers in Counseling provide the looking glass for the future. Fortunately, for the Counseling profession, the future is very bright indeed!