The field of child counseling presents many opportunities for those that are interested in helping today’s youth. Children that are experiencing challenges in their lives whether through some type of trauma, school experiences, or their home life need the expertise of someone that has the patience to work through and make sense of what is going on in their world. Children lack the sophisticated coping skills necessary to handle life’s challenges, and child counselors can help provide the beacon they need to find their way.
How to Become a Child Counselor
Becoming a child counselor can happen in a variety of ways depending on the age of the children that you want to work with and what environment you want to work in. There are several opportunities to become a child counselor including school counselors and licensed professional counselors. The path of how to become a counselor for children can also take many different turns because not every position or situation requires the same education or training.
Responsibilities and Requirements
School counselors work with students in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade within the school setting. They may work one-on-one with a student in individual counseling, with children that have similar issues in small group counseling, or by teaching whole classrooms in classroom guidance lessons. The work of a school counselor primarily is teaching necessary emotional, social, and behavioral skills to help make students successful. They may also focus on careers and learning strategies. These child counselors require a Bachelor’s degree and either a Master’s Degree in school counseling or Education Specialist certification in School Counseling. School Counselors work to help students overcome whatever barriers they may be facing that would impact their work at school.
Other child counselors work in private practice, and will generally see a client between one time a week and once a month. These counselors are Licensed Professional Counselors, and they work closely with children through interactive play therapy, art therapy, and traditional talking therapy to find root causes to the issues that they are facing. Typically, a child counselor in private practice would also do work with families to help reinforce the work that is done in therapy. These counselors require a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree in counseling, and a license to practice. The license requirement is fulfilled through the attainment of several hundred hours in supervised work. Many counseling programs build these hours in so that when a counselor graduates, they are ready to be licensed and begin work.
Becoming a Youth Counselor is Slightly Different
Youth counselors are generally regarded slightly differently than a child counselor because they primarily work with adolescents age 12-17. Youth counselors can have an associate’s degree, but most entry level jobs require a Bachelor’s degree in counseling. These counselors work for social agencies, government agencies, group homes, juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters, and clinics. Becoming a youth counselor requires being part of a treatment team, in most cases, to help young people through difficult situations. They may also be involved with working with the family.
Youth counselors are typically also responsible for building some type of Youth Engagement Program in order to help children find healthy ways to interact with others and the world around them. These programs can include community service, sports teams, and other opportunities to become more productive citizens. Youth engagement programs have recently become more and more popular because it seems that many young people can find their passion in working for others and making a difference in the world around them.
Annual Average Salary
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual average pay of a child counselor is approximately $47,240.
Those that are interested in becoming a counselor for children should take the time to talk with someone in the field. They will find that these counselors are dedicated and passionate with varying life experiences. These counselors will also tell you that the job is tiring, demanding, and, most of all, tremendously rewarding.