What Is the Curriculum of a Counseling PhD Program?

The curriculum of a counseling PhD program includes courses, labs, an internship, a practicum, research and a dissertation. Continue reading for information about coursework topics, including descriptions of some courses. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

PhD in Counseling Overview

Students enrolled in a PhD in counseling degree program examine current treatment approaches for various disorders and issues. Most counseling PhD curricula focus on counselor supervision, advanced practice, research and counselor education. Students may be able to choose from a practitioner or academic track. Some programs allow you to specialize in marriage and family counseling, child counseling, school counseling, organizational counseling, multicultural counseling or another counseling field. A counseling PhD curriculum provides students with knowledge and skills in several core areas, including:

  • Human development and growth
  • Helping relationships
  • Mental assessments
  • Group therapy
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Program evaluation and research
  • Individual behavior

In order to apply to this type of program, you typically must hold a bachelor's or master's degree in counseling or a similar field.

Important Facts About Counseling Education

Online Availability Some coursework online; clinical/residency in-person
Key Skills Interpersonal, communication, critical-thinking, organizational
Licensure Most types of counselors must be licensed to practice; requirements vary by state
Continuing Education Required to maintain license
Median Salary (2018) $76,990 (for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 14% (for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Curriculum and Descriptions

Many counseling PhD programs allow students to specialize in a certain area of counseling, such as child, school, private practice or mental health counseling. Most programs include courses in research methods and statistics, as well as a practicum, an internship and a dissertation. Below are some courses typically included in counseling PhD curricula, regardless of specialization.

  • Professional Consultation: The course covers professional consultation practices and theories, stressing interventions in social services agencies, mental health centers and schools.
  • Counseling Supervision: Doctoral candidates examine how to provide students and practicing counselors with counseling supervision. You may study pedagogy and leadership topics.
  • Leadership: This course is a study of leadership, advocacy, and social change.
  • Counseling Theories: You can learn how to use new and traditional theories in specific situations. Examples of theories include multicultural, solution-focused, and psychoanalytic.
  • Assessment Techniques: Students develop their skills and knowledge in administering, interpreting and scoring risk assessments as well as custody and juvenile evaluations.
  • Research Techniques: The course stresses research design and research methods, and it may cover both qualitative and quantitative techniques.
  • Quantitative Methods used in Research: Topics examined in this course include quantitative procedures, data analysis, ethics and analysis of variance.

Career Information

After graduating from a PhD in counseling program, you have several career opportunities. You could work directly with patients, practicing as a counselor at a health facility or your own private practice. You might delve into the research side of counseling, or you could pursue an academic career, teaching and also performing research.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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