Psychology Careers Guide
There are hundreds of career path options in the exciting and rewarding field of psychology. Even though the discipline of the scientific study of behavior is historically recent (late 1800s), the topics, or subject matter, of study have increased exponentially. Within the many subfields of psychology, there are researchers, practitioners, scientist-practitioners, or teachers. Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers are all licensed mental health professionals. There are a variety of different titles for mental health professionals based on the focus of their work (e.g. Licensed Clinical Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselor-LCADAC, Licensed Independent Social Worker-LICSW). This unique psychology career page highlights occupational options in the fields of psychology, therapy, and counseling.
Types of Psychologists
- Analytical Psychologist
- Animal Psychologist
- Applied Psychologist
- Aviation Psychologist
- Behavioral Psychologist
- Business Psychologist
- Child Psychologist
- Christian Psychologist
- Clinical Psychologist
- Cognitive Psychologist
- Community Psychologist
- Consulting Psychologist
- Consumer Psychologist
- Correctional Psychologist
- Counseling Psychologist
- Criminal Psychologist
- Design Psychologist
- Developmental Psychologist
- Educational Psychologist
- EMDR Psychologist
- Engineering Psychologist
- Environmental Psychologist
- Existential Psychologist
- Experimental Psychologist
- Family Psychologist
- Forensic Psychologist
- General Psychologist
- Health Psychologist
- Hospital Psychologist
- Human Factors Psychologist
- Humanistic Psychologist
- Industrial Organizational Psychologist
- Marriage Psychologist
- Military Psychologist
- Music Psychologist
- Nutritional Psychologist
- Pain Psychologist
- Pediatric Psychologist
- Personality Psychologist
- Personnel Psychologist
- Political Psychologist
- Positive Psychologist
- Psychodynamic Psychologist
- Psychometric Psychologist
- Quantitative Psychologist
- Rehabilitation Psychologist
- Research Psychologist
- School Psychologist
- Social Psychologist
- Sports Psychologist
- Transpersonal Psychologist
- Vocational Psychologist
Types of Therapists
- ABA Therapist
- ACT Therapist
- Addiction Therapist
- Adlerian Therapist
- Alternative Therapist
- Anger Management Therapist
- Animal Therapist
- Anxiety Therapist
- Art Therapist
- Autism Therapist
- Behavioral Therapist
- Child Therapist
- Christian Therapist
- Client-Centered Therapist
- Clinical Therapist
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
- DBT Therapist
- Depression Therapist
- Drama Therapist
- Eating Disorder Therapist
- EFT Therapist
- EMDR Therapist
- Exercise Therapist
- Existential Therapist
- Family Therapist
- Gender Therapist
- Grief Therapist
- Holistic Therapist
- Humanistic Therapist
- Hypnosis Therapist
- Laughter Therapist
- Marriage and Family Therapist
- Music Therapist
- Narrative Therapist
- Nutritional Therapist
- Occupational Therapist
- OCD Therapist
- Person-Centered Therapist
- Play Therapist
- Psychiatric Nurse
- Psychoanalytic Therapist
- Psychodynamic Therapist
- PTSD Therapist
- Recreation Therapist
- Regression Therapist
- Relationship Therapist
- School Therapist
- Social Therapist
- Social Worker
- Somatic Therapist
- Speech Therapist
- Sports Therapist
- Talk Therapist
- Trauma Therapist
- Wilderness Therapist
Types of Counselors
- Addictions Counselor
- Admissions Counselor
- Anger Management Counselor
- Anxiety Counselor
- Behavioral Counselor
- Camp Counselor
- Career Counselor
- Child Counselor
- Christian Counselor
- College Counselor
- Correctional Counselor
- Couples Counselor
- Crisis Counselor
- Depression Counselor
- Domestic Violence Counselor
- Drug and Alcohol Counselor
- Eating Disorder Counselor
- Education Counselor
- Elementary School Counselor
- Family Counselor
- Genetics Counselor
- Grief Counselor
- Guidance Counselor
- Health Counselor
- Holistic Counselor
- Juvenile Counselor
- Marriage Counselor
- Mental Health Counselor
- Military Counselor
- Nutritional Counselor
- Peer Counselor
- PTSD Counselor
- Residential Counselor
- School Counselor
- Therapeutic Counselor
- Transition Counselor
- Trauma Counselor
- Vocational Counselor
- Wellness Counselor
- Youth Counselor
Types of Therapy
An integral part of a successful career for some occupations in the field of psychology is proficiency in specific types of therapy. Understanding the different types of therapy that are used by mental health professionals is of paramount importance as you determine which psychology career path is best for you. We have highlighted over 70 types of therapy with descriptions of their origins, definitions, and well-known people in the field. Make sure to check out this essential information on our types of therapy page.
Types of Psychologists
An analytical psychologist is a licensed psychologist who has advanced education and training in analytical psychology, or Jungian analysis. Analytical psychology/Jungian analysis was developed in the early 20th century by Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung. An analytical psychologist focuses on the client’s role of symbolic experiences in life, including one’s life history that contains seeds for future growth and development. Individuation is the ultimate goal for a client who receives analytical psychotherapy. This is defined as the achievement of a greater degree of consciousness with regard to individual psychological, interpersonal and cultural experiences (What is analytical psychology?, IAAP). Psychologists using Jungian analysis, or analytical psychotherapy, have treated mental health or emotional issues such as depression, anxiety, grief, phobias, relationship or trauma issues, and low self-esteem (Jungian Therapy, PsychologyToday). Due to the in-depth nature of analytical psychotherapy, regular weekly sessions are typically scheduled. The length of analytical psychotherapy treatment plans vary, depending on the client’s needs.
An analytical psychologist has a doctorate degree in a psychology related field of study, along with a stat license to practice psychology. Psychologists who formally call themselves analytical psychologists have also received extensive education and training in Jungian analysis, or analytical psychology, through multiple colleges and training organizations (Training Program, IAJS). Research or teaching in academia, or clinical application with clients are the two main career paths for analytical psychologists. Workplace settings for analytical psychologists normally include employment with colleges/universities, private practice, or group private practice. Salary amounts for analytical psychologists vary based on career path choice, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an analytical psychologist (PhD Psychologist) in the United States (2021) is $94,796-$118,318.
An animal psychologist, or comparative psychologist, is a mental health professional who studies nonhuman animal behavior to better understand both animal behavior itself and also how animal behavior might assist in better understanding human behavior. The American Psychological Association’s Division 6 is called the Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology (SBNCP). They state that comparative psychology is a sub-discipline of psychology and theology of biology (Comparative Psychology and Ethology, 2010). Research normally involves field or laboratory studies (or both), and use of the comparative method is typical.
Most comparative psychologists pursue postgraduate education. A Master of Science in Psychology, a PhD in Experimental Psychology, or a PhD in Cognitive Science are all degree programs that have concentration research in comparative-neurobiology, comparative animal behavior, or comparative cognition. Work environments for animal/comparative psychologists mainly include private or public sector laboratories or natural animal habitats which may involve work in zoos, aquariums, oceanariums, or farms. There are also career opportunities in academia for comparative psychologists, such as teaching classes at colleges or universities. Salary amounts vary for comparative psychologists depending on level of education, type of employer, and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the United States (2009 APA Study) for a comparative psychologist, based on figures in experimental psychology, is $76,090 to $116,343.
An applied psychologist is a licensed psychologist who uses psychology to solve problems, increase quality of life, or help groups of people work together more effectively and efficiently. Applied psychologist is a general title for a psychologist who works in one of the many different branches of applied psychology. Branches of applied psychology include educational psychology, vocational psychology, counseling psychology, commercial psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, engineering psychology, criminal psychology, forensic psychology, court psychology, military psychology, aerospace psychology, health psychology, clinical psychology, neuropsychology, experimental psychology, and sports psychology (Branches of Applied Psychology, 2019).
Most applied psychologists hold at least a master’s degree in applied psychology within the area of their particular branch. Depending on which career path, applied psychologists may also choose to pursue specialty certification/training from various organizations. Doctorate level degree programs are also available, and may be required, for certain careers in applied psychology. State licensing requirements must also be met for an applied psychologist to practice psychology. Workplace environments for applied psychologists may include schools, hospitals, businesses, military facilities, working with sports teams, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private practices or group private practices. Salary amounts for applied psychologists vary significantly based on career path, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual income for a psychologist in the U.S. (2020) is $46,270-$137,590.
An aviation psychologist is a licensed psychologist who has specific education and training to offer either clinical psychotherapy to people in the airline industry, or to research human factors to help improve the complex nature of certain aviation environments and the experiences of its users. According to CBS news, an airline pilot is the third most stressful career in the United States (The 10 most and least stressful jobs in America, 2019). Aviation psychologists offering clinical psychotherapy provide counseling for typical work-related stresses or anxiety. If traumatic events arise such as terror threats/attacks, crashes, crew member deaths, or equipment failure emergencies, aviation psychologists counsel all employees involved to help them through their trauma. Aviation human factors psychologists research and help design equipment and technology systems; assess safety features of equipment; investigate work-related accidents/crashes; and conduct safety research studies.
Most aviation psychologists hold a doctorate degree in cognitive, clinical, counseling, industrial, social, engineering, or human factors psychology. Many aviation psychologists have had experience in the airline industry before or while earning their psychology degrees. The United States has limited degree programs that are specific to aviation, but Florida Tech University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University both have human factors degrees in aviation. Workplace environment for an aviation psychologist depends on the chosen career path of clinical work or research work, but the most common general places of employment include commercial airlines, aerospace companies, government agencies, or some military settings. Salary amounts for aviation psychologists vary with factors such as level of education, type of training, years of experience, special credentialing, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an aviation psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $46,000-$105,500.
A behavioral psychologist is a licensed practicing psychologist who uses therapies to help patients identify and change unhealthy or destructive behaviors through learning theory and conditioning. Behavioral psychologists may use different psychotherapeutic techniques to help treat patients, but at the core of the interventions is functional analysis. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) and cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) are the two main approaches behavioral psychologists use to help their patients. Within these two approaches, there are numerous application techniques psychologists can choose to use, such as aversion therapy, relaxation training, virtual reality therapy, shaping and graded task assignments, modeling, social skills training, contingency contracting, token economies, response costs, and habit reversal training. A few of the problems behavioral psychologists treat through therapy include chronic pain, stress-related behavior problems, anorexia, chronic stress, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, insomnia, obesity, and intimacy and forgiveness in couples.
Practicing behavioral psychologists normally have a doctorate degree, have passed comprehensive board exams, and are licensed in the state where they practice. Most psychologists who have master’s degrees work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. The amount of time it takes to complete education requirements varies based on which degree program and type of work (clinical or academia). Most doctoral degree programs also require a one year internship. An average doctoral program takes five to seven years to complete. For further research, here is a list of the most affordable schools in the U.S. offering a master’s in applied behavior analysis which includes doctoral programs. Behavioral psychologists may also choose to specialize in treating people with specific psychological disorders (e.g. anxiety, schizophrenia, depression). The salary for behavioral psychologists varies depending on factors such as level of education, experience, geographical location of practice, and type of work environment. The average annual salary range for a behavioral psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $50k-$140k.
A biopsychologist, or behavioral neuroscience psychologist, is a psychologist who studies physiological, genetic, and developmental mechanisms of behavior in humans and animals through the applications of the principles of biology. A few synonyms for biopsychology are behavioral neuroscience, biological psychology and psychobiology. Behavioral neuroscience psychologists strive to answer questions about how the mind and the body are connected. Humans have been used for experimental subjects for biopsychologists, but animals such as rats, mice and monkeys are the typical subjects most documented in experimental literature in behavioral neuroscience. The work of behavioral neuroscience psychologists has contributed important information in aiding treatment of diseases and disorders such as parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, alzheimer’s disease, clinical depression, schizophrenia, autism, anxiety and drug abuse.
Behavioral neuroscience psychologists typically pursue a postgraduate degree in clinical psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience or a PhD in behavioral neuroscience. Classes in biology, human physiology, life science, neurobiology, and psychology are all a part of becoming a biopsychologist. Work environments vary in the field of behavioral neuroscience based on level of education and career path focus (e.g. clinical research, supervising clinical research, higher education teaching). A few examples of work environments for biopsychologists may include: biotechnology/chemical industries, business or private sector, laboratory clinical psychology, government agencies, health care facilities, mental health clinics, non-profit organizations, and pharmaceutical manufacturing (Behavioural Neuroscience, SFU). Salary amounts vary considering factors such as level of education, experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary of a behavioral neuroscience psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $21.5k-$126k.
A business psychologist specializes in business psychology methods to help individuals and systems in the business industry to thrive. Psychology, neuroscience, and business techniques are all used by business psychologists to create better, more effective and healthy workplaces. A few key areas of work for a business psychologist include clarifying desired outcomes, assessing systems, improving decision making, building awareness of approach options, managing bandwidth, supporting talent management, managing change, improving employee well-being, and identifying business opportunities (What Is a Business Psychologist?, 2020). A business psychologist may also be called an industrial/organizational psychologist.
A business psychologist must have a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related area of study, but most pursue doctorate degrees. Both master’s and doctorate degrees may be in general psychology or applied psychology with a focus on business psychology, or there are programs specifically in industrial/organizational psychology. Certifications in specific specializations are available for business psychologists through organizations such as the Center for Creative Leadership. Workplace environments for business psychologists may include private practice consulting, private businesses in management or leadership roles, public businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations, public or private schools, healthcare systems, and academia (research or teaching). Salary amounts for a business psychologist vary based on level of education, credentials, specialty education/training, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a business psychologist (I/O Psychologist) in the U.S. (2020) is $57,440-$192,800.
A child psychologist is a specialist within the field of psychology who has extensive education and training with infants, toddlers, children and adolescents. They offer personalized psychological services to infants, toddlers, children, adolescents, and their families using both clinical practice and scientific research. Child psychologists conduct tests and develop a therapy treatment plan for the child. The therapy sessions may be done individually or in a group setting. They are able to treat a wide range of various mental health illnesses and psychological disorders.
Child psychologists are normally required to complete a doctorate program with speciality study or emphasis in clinical child and adolescent psychology. They are also required to be licensed in the state where they practice. Many child psychologists have private practices, but some work in the public sectors of schools, government agencies, and hospitals. Board certification information and continuing education/training resources are available to child psychologists through the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology is Division 53 of the American Psychological Association. Salaries vary depending on the work environment, education and specialty of the child psychologist. The average annual salary range for a child psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $64,760-$91,420.
A christian psychologist is a licensed psychologist who embraces religious beliefs with their psychological training in their professional practice. The term “Christian Psychologist” is typically used by Protestant Christian psychotherapists. Eastern Orthodox Christian and Catholic mental health practitioners normally use the terms such as “Orthodox Therapist” or “Catholic Therapist.” Christian psychologists also may refer to themselves as “Christian Counselors,” because the title explains more clearly that they may not accept all psychological ideas, especially ones that deny the existence of God or contradict the teachings of Jesus Christ within the Church and the scriptures of the Bible. Aspects of psychology are therefore allowed to be explained within the contexts of Christian beliefs. The understanding of the mind is looked at as both psychological and spiritual.
Education and training for a Christian psychologist is similar to someone pursuing an education to become a psychologist. Most earn a doctorate degree, complete state licensure requirements, and acquire specialized Christian credentials from specific organizations such as the International Board of Christian Care (IBCC) or the Christian Association for Psychological Studies. There are also denomination specific organizations such as the Orthodox Christian Counseling Institute (OCCI) or the Catholic Psychological Association. Both public and private universities offer Christian psychology courses that have been approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) and are based on applied science with Christian understanding. Private Christian colleges or universities offer psychology degree programs. The annual salary of a psychologist practicing Christian counseling in the United States (2021) is $48,651-$63,237.
A clinical psychologist is a psychologist who applies the science of psychology through clinical and counseling methods to treat diverse human problems with the ultimate goal of positive change. This mental health profession can focus on research and teaching, or the practice of professional services. Education for research and teaching normally includes completing a Ph.D. program. Education for clinical psychology practice usually includes completing a Psy.D. program, along with supervised training/experience and passing a written (and sometimes oral) examination through the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).
Clinical psychologists who focus more on research into the assessment and treatment of mental health illnesses might be found in universities or hospitals. Others who focus on clinical practice can be found in a variety of work settings both in the public and private sector such as private practices, schools, businesses, mental health facilities/organizations, hospitals and non-profit agencies. A few clinical psychology specializations include child and adolescent; neuropsychological disorders; family and relationship counseling; health; sports; and specific disorders, e.g., obesity, insomnia, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, trauma, or addiction. For further research and to see more specializations visit the “most affordable” clinical psychology master’s and doctorate programs page. The annual salary range for clinical psychologists in the U.S. (2021) is $73,284-$83,269.
Cognitive psychology can sometimes be referred to as brain science and cognition psychology. Psychologists working in the area of brain science and cognition are mental health professionals who work in a wide variety of environments helping all different ages of people with the main goal of aiding people understand how individuals learn, process, and store information. According to the American Psychological Association, most psychologists in the field of brain science and cognition psychology spend most of their time “studying human thought processes and the capacity for understanding, interpreting and retaining information” (A Career in Brain Science and Cognitive Psychology, 2014). This may include particular focuses on specialties, health issues, or populations. A few examples include developmental disorders in children, memory disorders in older adults, substance use problems, language use/comprehension, sensory study, technology use and design, organizational/occupational research.
Cognitive psychologists typically have postgraduate education and can be found in numerous career environments. Although some work in brain science and cognition psychology can be done with a bachelor’s degree, most career paths require a cognitive psychology master’s or doctoral degree. Many cognitive psychologists work in public and private sectors conducting research and/or teaching. There are also brain science and cognition careers in clinical settings such as aiding in the treatment of people with mental health issues in hospitals, rehab facilities, and mental health clinics. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for a psychologist with cognitive assessment skills is $61k-$116k.
The Society for Community Research and Action is a part of the American Psychological Association’s Division 27 for community psychology. They define community psychology as integration of “social, cultural, economic, political, environmental, and international influences to promote positive change, health, and empowerment at individual and systemic levels.” (What is Community Psychology? SCRA) A few goals of community psychologists include wellness promotion, program development, research, and collaborative community work to address social issues. Community psychologists often work towards positive social change and use a two step process called first-order (individuals) and second-order (groups/systems) change to address social issues. Areas of work for a community psychologist may include prevention and health promotion, empowerment, social justice, diversity, individual wellness, citizen participation, community collaboration, and empirical grounding.
There are job opportunities in community psychology for people with undergraduate or graduate education. Most community psychologists who are engaged in research and academia pursue graduate degrees in community psychology or clinical-community psychology that may or may not have emphasis in specific areas of work such as multicultural community, social justice, forensics, correctional psychology, clinical health, and integrative psychology. Common work environments for community psychologists are within academic settings in colleges and universities, health and human service agencies, schools, community organizations, advocacy groups, religious institutions, public policy organizations, research centers, consulting groups, and private practice. Salary amounts for community psychologists vary depending on level of education, experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a community psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $19,500-$113,000.
A consulting psychologist is a psychologist who applies psychological knowledge in advising others (individuals, groups, organizations) on how to work more effectively, create conditions of high satisfaction and motivation, and help people get along better with one another. The main models of consulting include generic, client-centered, consultee-centered, consultee-centered administration, behavioral, organizational, statistical, and litigation or risk management. Advising, coaching, mentoring, training, learning, and technology are a few of the types of consulting services that a consulting psychologist may choose to offer to teams, groups or businesses. The Society of Consulting Psychology is Division 13 of the American Psychological Association and offers collegial community support and useful resources for consulting psychologists.
Consulting psychologists normally have doctorate degrees to practice as a licensed psychologist. Consulting psychologists can be educated in a variety of different areas of psychology such as business psychology, clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or industrial and organizational psychology. Typical workplace environments for a consulting psychologist are private practice or employment for businesses, non-profit organizations or non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for consulting psychologists vary with factors such as educational background, years of experience, credentialing, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a consulting psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $51k-$117k.
A consumer psychologist is a psychologist who employs theoretical psychological approaches to understanding consumers. Consumer behavior has been studied as early as the 1940s through market research, but has evolved into a social science blending parts of psychology, sociology, social anthropology, anthropology, ethnography, marketing and economics. The basic goal of a consumer psychologist is to use psychology methods to better understand why and how individuals, groups and organizations seek to purchase and use goods and services.
Most consumer psychologists earn master’s or doctorate degrees in general psychology or clinical psychology with concentrations in social and consumer psychology. Research is the main work of a consumer psychologist, along with analytics and documentation. Businesses, government agencies, political campaigns and non-profit organizations all look to consumer psychologists for answers to help determine how best to market products, candidates, or ideas. Workplace settings vary for consumer psychologists and may include private practice consulting, marketing or research companies, government agencies, businesses, or academia. Factors such as geographical location, education level and type of workplace all influence salary amounts for consumer psychologists. The average annual salary for a consumer psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $20,500-$125,000.
A correctional psychologist is a licensed psychologist who applies psychological science or scientifically-oriented professional practice to the justice system to inform the classification, treatment, and management of offenders to reduce risk and improve public safety (Neal, 2018). Most correctional psychologists typically work with offenders who have already been through the court process and are in a jail/prison setting or are on probation. Correctional psychologists collaborate with healthcare professionals and correctional facility staff, administer and interpret psychological assessments, and prepare comprehensive reports (BOP Clinical Psychologist). Mental health screenings, emergency/crisis interventions, psychological intakes, therapy, and court ordered appearances are all a part of the regular duties of a correctional psychologist (My Work as a Psychologist in Prison, 2009).
A doctorate degree (PhD or PsyD) in clinical psychology with specializations in corrections psychology or forensic psychology is normally required to work as a corrections psychologist. State licensing requirements must also be met. Workplace environments for correctional psychologists are typically in correctional facilities such as prisons, jails, private correctional institutions, or juvenile detention centers (Breaking Down the Different Types of Prisons in America, 2019). Salary amounts for a correctional psychologist vary based on type of correctional facility (employer) and geographical location. According to Comparably.com, the average annual income for a correctional psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $111,983.
A counseling psychologist is a licensed psychologist within the specialty field of counseling psychology. Both research and applied work are implemented within multiple broad counseling areas such as process and outcome; supervision and training; career development and counseling; and prevention and health. The main goal of a counseling psychologist is to help clients improve their overall mental, behavioral, and emotional health by using psychological techniques in a therapeutic counselor-client relationship. Counseling psychologists assess, diagnose and treat mental health issues. They also focus on research questions regarding the counseling process (how/why counseling started for the client and progresses) and the outcome (was the outcome of counseling effective for positive change).
To become a counseling psychologist you must have a counseling psychology master’s degree or higher (Ph.D., Psy.D. or Ed.D.); must complete a supervised internship; and must be licensed in the state they are practicing. Careers in counseling psychology vary based on specialty focuses, services provided, and client populations. Many practice independently to provide mental health care to individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations. Universities and colleges often employ counseling psychologists as teachers or researchers. Other environments where counseling psychologists practice include mental health centers, Veterans Administration medical centers, rehabilitation centers, business/industry organizations, and schools. Salaries vary for counseling psychologists, based on education and experience. The average annual salary range for a counseling psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $36k-$92k.
A criminal psychologist, or sometimes called a legal psychologist, is a licensed mental health professional who uses criminal psychology (study of the views, thoughts, intentions, actions and reactions of criminals and all who participate in criminal behavior) to assess the mental and physical states of individuals who have committed a crime. They analyze someone who has participated in criminal behavior to see if the offender was sane or insane at the time of the offense; if the offender is able to stand trial; and if there is a risk of re-offense if the individual is put back into society. They also complete investigative work such as examining crime photos, interviewing suspects, and forming hypotheses of potential future behavior of the offender.
According to one of the UK’s leading clinical psychologists, Lionel Haward, there are four different ways a criminal psychologist may be asked to professionally participate in criminal proceedings. These four ways include clinical assessment of an offender; experimental testing to illustrate a point or further provide information for court; actuarial involvement by using statistics to provide information for questions of probability; and advisory by offering helpful information to justice system members for aid in the proceeding of investigations or court hearings. Criminal psychologists work in a variety of different settings including government, private consulting, or in education for criminology training or university level teaching. They work closely with criminal justice system members (law enforcement, prosecution, defense attorneys, courts, and corrections). The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for a criminal psychologist is $45,000-$100,500.
A design psychologist is a licensed psychologist who uses design psychology to help individuals, groups, businesses and organizations make lives better and achieve organizational objectives. Design psychology is the practice of interior, environmental and landscape design in which psychology is used as a tool for design. Design psychologists use the combination of design and psychology to help employers of all types to enhance performance, increase creative thinking, improve health, smooth socializing, encourage sales, and foster positive mental states (Design With Science, 2021).
A design psychologist has a minimum of a doctorate degree, normally in environmental design or human behavior and design. Design psychologists must also meet state licensure requirements. Workplace environments for design psychologists may include private consulting or employment with manufacturers, service providers, design firms, and government agencies in environmental development/planning (national, city, county). Salary amounts for design psychologists vary with factors such as area of work (architecture, landscaping, interior design), type of employer, years of experience and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a design psychologist (environmental psychologist) in the U.S. (2021) is $51k-$104k.
According to the American Psychological Association, developmental psychologists “study changes in human development across the lifespan, including physical, cognitive, social, intellectual, perceptual, personality and emotional growth.” (Developmental Psychology Studies Humans Across the Lifespan, APA) Developmental psychologists strive to find the answers to help explain why and how thinking, feeling, and behaviors change throughout life. Social, cognitive, and social emotional change are all examined with specialty exploration in topics such as personality, self-concept, emotional development, identity formation, social change, moral understanding, language acquisition, executive functions and motor skills. Developmental psychologists work with clients of all age groups, and can choose to specialize in therapy for specific age groups and/or developmental disorders.
Most states require developmental psychologists to have earned a doctoral degree and to have obtained a state-specific license to practice psychology. Similar to most psychology careers, developmental psychologists must complete an internship and supervised clinical experience. The doctorate developmental psychology programs focus on more intense, specialty areas of study. There are typically two main career paths for developmental psychologists. Research or teaching in the university/college setting is one career path that developmental psychologists may choose to pursue. The other career path involves clinical applied work in facilities such as hospitals, elderly homes, mental health care clinics, schools, or government agencies. The average annual salary range for developmental psychologists (2020) in the U.S. is $61,733-$80,239.
An ecopsychologist is a psychologist who incorporates a variety of ecological concepts into their psychotherapeutic practice (What is Ecopsychology?, 2021). Ecopsychologists can be found in many different areas of clinical practice or research. Clinical practice of ecotherapy may include a combination of techniques such as horticulture therapy, wilderness/adventure expeditions, time stress management, and animal-assisted therapy (A Look at the Ecotherapy Research Evidence, 2009). Research opportunities for ecopsychologists focus on how humans both shape and are shaped by the world. Ecopsychologists focus on “the holistic, embodied, and existential aspects of humans’ connectedness and inter-being with the rest of nature and a characteristic therapeutic response to the emotional impacts of issues like species extinction or global climate change.” (Ecopsychology and environmentally-focused psychologies, 2011)
An ecopsychologist typically has a doctorate degree from an eco- or environmental psychology graduate program. There are organizations such as the TerraSoma Ecopsychology Training Institute that offer post graduate certifications in ecotherapy for psychologists who have a psychology related degree, but would like to incorporate ecotherapy into their practice. Workplace settings for ecopsychologists vary based on career path choice between clinical practice and research; however, much of the work done by either career path involves nature/outdoor environments. Employers may include colleges/universities, government agencies or non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for an ecopsychologist vary based on factors such as specialty education/training, area of research, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an ecopsychologist (psychologist) in the U.S. (2021) is $46,270-$137,590.
An educational psychologist is a licensed psychologist who specializes in the psycho-educational assessment, counseling, intervention, and coordination of referral to other professionals. Their expertise can be used in all levels of the educational system. They work with students, teachers, parents, academic authorities, and community organizations to help solve educational dysfunction. The work of educational psychologists also entails future prevention of educational dysfunction.
An educational psychologist must have a minimum of a master’s in educational psychology with at least three years of experience including two years as a credential school psychologist and one year of supervised professional experience in an accredited school psychology program; however, most educational psychologists continue to earn a PhD or a PsyD in Educational Psychology. An educational psychologist is also known as a LEP or Licensed Educational Psychologist. There are typically two main areas of work that most educational psychologists pursue: academia with research or teaching education psychology in a college/university setting and applied work in a school setting. Educational psychologists in the U.S. (2021) can earn an annual salary range between $63,401 and $150,549, depending on the career path. Generally speaking, the academia/research careers earn more than those in a school setting.
An eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) psychologist is a licensed psychologist that has advanced training in using EMDR psychotherapy methods in treating people who have experienced trauma and other distressing life experiences. EMDR therapy is a short-term exposure therapy that uses eye movements and hand tapping techniques in a structured, eight-phase therapy treatment plan to help the brain in its natural healing process. (About EMDR Therapy, EMDRIA) EMDR psychologists are able to use EMDR therapy to effectively treat mental health problems such as PTSD, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders, personality disorder, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, addictions, and depression.
An EMDR psychologist has a doctorate degree in a psychology related field, a state license to practice psychology, and credentialing/certification in EMDR therapy. Other mental health professionals who can offer EMDR therapy (with training/certification in EMDR therapy) include psychiatrists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists and social workers. The EMDR International Association and the EMDR Institute both offer training and certification in EMDR therapy. Workplace environments for an EMDR psychologist include academia (research or teaching), private practice, group private practice, mental health clinics, hospitals, schools, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for an EMDR psychologist vary based on factors such as years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an EMDR psychologist (EMDR therapist) in the United States (2021) is $57,000-$126,500.
An engineering psychologist, or human factors and engineering psychologist, applies the science of human behavior and capability to the design and operation of systems and technology. The American Psychological Association defines this applied field of psychology as focusing on improving and adapting technology, equipment and work environments to complement human behavior and capabilities. (A career in human factors and engineering psychology, APA) The goal of an engineering psychologist is to improve overall system performance with both human and machine elements by adapting the equipment and environment to people based on their capacities and limitations. Engineering psychologists use knowledge about human behavior that they have acquired through scientific research to assist businesses in designing products, devices and systems. Brain science and cognitive psychology mostly inform engineering psychology, but sometimes the research done through engineering psychologists can inform the area of cognitive psychology.
Most engineer psychologists have at least a master’s degree in psychology with concentrations in engineering, human factors, or human factors/applied cognition. Other graduate degrees engineer psychologists may pursue include experimental psychology, cognitive psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology with concentrations in engineering and/or human factors. Doctorate level degrees are also available for engineer psychologists interested mainly in research or teaching. Even though the private sector businesses employ most engineering psychologists, government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Transportation, NASA, the Federal Highway Administration, and the U.S. Department of Defense also employ engineering psychologists. Salaries for engineering psychologists vary based on education, experience, geographical location, and type of employer. The average annual salary range for an engineering psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $27,500-$181,500.
An environmental psychologist, or climate and environmental psychologist, studies the relationship between humans and the environment or surroundings that shape them. The environments studied can be both natural and structural. The goal of an environmental psychologist is to discover how people live in and respond to the world around them. Improving interactions with people and the world is also something climate and environmental psychologists strive to achieve. Recycling, pollution, climate change, urban development, and environment or interior design are all areas of research an environmental psychologist may choose to study.
The majority of environmental psychologists pursue master’s or doctorate degrees in a branch of psychology with a focus on ecopsychology, environmental psychology or other areas of environmental studies. Architectural or ecological focus are normally the two main options for doctoral degrees in environmental psychology. Although graduate degree programs in environmental psychology are few in number, there are many different types of job opportunities for environmental psychologists. Nonprofit organizations, government agencies, businesses, colleges and universities all employ environmental psychologists. Much of the research done by climate and environmental psychologists who focus on ecological change is done outdoors including places such as zoos, parks, or places in the community. Salary amounts for environmental psychologists vary according to level of education, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary of an environmental psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $19,500-$157,000.
An existential psychologist is a licensed psychologist who has been educated and trained in existential psychotherapeutic practices. Existential psychology focuses on the unfolding of human experience and encourages curiosity to what it means to be human, revealing the way in which each human comes to understand and construct “being.” (About Existential Analysis, SEA) Human capacities such as creativity and love are positively applauded in existential psychotherapy. Along with this positive focus on human self-actualizing capacities, human limitations are also acknowledged and examined by the client with an existential psychologist. (Existential Psychotherapy, GoodTherapy) Existential psychologists treat issues and conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse/dependency, and PTSD. Symptoms such as apathy, alienation, nihilism, avoidance, shame, addiction, despair, guilt, anger, rage, resentment, embitterment, purposelessness, psychosis and violence can also be addressed by an existential psychologist. (Existential Therapy, PsychologyToday)
A doctorate degree is the normal educational path for an existential psychologist, along with a supervised internship/training and a state license. There are numerous varying avenues in psychology for an existential psychologist to receive education and training, but most seek degree programs in a psychology related field with concentrations in philosophical counseling, existential psychoanalysis, and/or applied phenomenology. Career paths may include clinical application, research, or academia (teaching). Organizations such as the Existential Psychoanalytic Institute & Society (EPIS) offer advanced training in the study of existential psychology. Workplace settings for existential psychologists may include private practice, group private practice, mental health clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, government agencies, religious institutions, academia environments, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for an existential psychologist vary with factors such as choice of career path, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an existential psychologist (PsyD) in the U.S. (2021) is $80,000-$127,500.
Experimental psychologists are psychologists who apply experimental methods to psychological study and underlying processes. Human participants and animal subjects help in this research effort to better understand topics such as sensation and perception, memory, cognition, learning, motivation, emotion, developmental processes, neurology, and social psychology. Collecting data and conducting research are the main means of exploration used by an experimental psychologist. Psychology, mathematics, and science are all used by an experimental psychologist to solve problems and answer specific questions with the ultimate goal of gaining knowledge to help people improve in important areas of life.
Most experimental psychologists dedicate their life’s work to research in a specific area of study. Some may do this to answer one important question about the specific area of study. Many experimental psychologists hold a doctorate degree and may teach in colleges/universities while conducting their research. Experimental psychologists who have master’s degrees can be found working in labs or on research teams. For further research and to see additional areas of study, here is a list of the most affordable experimental psychology master’s and doctorate programs in the U.S. Career examples (to name a few) for an experimental psychologist include conducting research for government agencies like NASA; working at a private company designing video games; teaching at a university; and working for companies that design and construct equipment and apparatus for lab studies. The annual salary for an experimental psychologist varies based on factors such as work environment, geographical location, level of education, and experience. The average annual salary range in the United States (2021) for an experimental psychologist is $84,418 – $109,727.
A family psychologist is a licensed psychologist who practices family therapy. Other mental health professionals such as marriage and family therapists, licensed social workers or licensed counselors may also practice family therapy. A psychologist who practices family therapy has had education and training in the social science of human behavior and can offer clinical care and diagnose mental illnesses along with psychotherapy. Family psychologists normally have credentials to show that they have had specific education and training in family therapy techniques. The number of sessions for family therapy depends on the situation, but the average is normally 5-20 sessions. The family psychologist will meet with several family members at the same time to be able to evaluate problems and develop treatment plans.
Most licensed practicing psychologists hold a doctorate degree. Because family psychologists are licensed mental health professionals who practice family therapy, they also hold doctorate degrees. Family psychologists differ from marriage and family therapists (MFTs or LMFTs) with education and training. Marriage and family therapists normally hold a minimum of a masters degree and have more of a supportive role in the lives of their patients. Psychologists who practice family therapy hold doctorate degrees and are able to diagnose mental health illnesses. Family psychologists are trained in family systems theories and a range of family therapy techniques. The goals of a family psychologist include reducing distress and conflict and nurturing change and development by improving systems of interactions between relationships within a family. Family psychologists can help with a wide range of family issues including (to name a few) those struggling with addictions, medical issues or mental health diagnoses. The average annual salary range in the United States (2021) for a psychologist is $49k-$114k.
According to the American Psychological Association, a forensic psychologist is a psychologist who uses all subfields of psychology to apply scientific, technical or specialized knowledge of psychology to the law. (Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology, APA) In other words, forensic psychologists apply psychology in the legal and criminal justice system in helping legal specialists such as judges and attorneys with the psychological factors of cases. They may testify in court and normally specialize in family, civil, or criminal casework.
Forensic psychologists typically hold a Ph.D or Psy.D. in counseling psychology, clinical psychology, organizational psychology, social psychology, experimental psychology, or school psychology. They also complete supervised or mentored postdoctoral training in the field of forensic psychology. Some degree programs offer a master’s in forensic psychology. The United States doesn’t require additional licensing for forensics. A psychologist may be licensed as a clinical psychologist, but does not need to do special forensic licensing; however, if the psychologist would like certification as a diplomate in forensic psychology, he/she may attain that through the American Board of Forensic Psychology. The role of a forensic psychologist has many facets, some of which involve the following: evaluation/assessment; treatment; consultations with law enforcement, trial consultants, and attorneys; expert testimony; research; and education and advocacy. The average annual salary range for a forensic psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $40k-$101k.
A general psychologist is a licensed mental health professional who studies the science of mind and behavior, including conscious and unconscious phenomena, feeling and thought. Understanding the emergent properties of the brain through scientific research, along with the phenomena linked to those emergent properties is the work of a psychologist. General psychologists also seek to understand individuals and groups in the area of social psychology. Most psychologists can be classified as a social, behavioral, or cognitive scientist. According to the APA’s Division 1 Society for General Psychology, the aim of general psychology is to create a coherence among psychology’s diverse specialties, other scientific disciplines and the humanities while encouraging analysis of the merits and challenges of bridging concepts, methods and theories.
A general psychologist normally holds a doctorate degree in general psychology. The two main types of doctorate degrees in general psychology are PhD degrees focusing on generating new knowledge through scientific research and PsyD degrees focusing on the providing of psychological services rather than conducting disciplinary research. (Doctoral degrees in psychology, APA, 2016) Most general psychology graduate programs equip psychologists with a broad base of knowledge both in research and application of psychology to use in numerous areas of interest. Workplace environments for general psychologists typically include schools, hospitals, clinics, research centers and businesses. Salary amounts for general psychologists are similar to psychologists that hold a doctorate degree in psychology and vary with factors such as credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a general psychologist (PhD or PsyD psychologist) in the U.S. (2021) is $94,796-$118,318.
A geropsychologist is a licensed psychologist who applies the knowledge and methods of psychology to understanding and helping older persons and their families to maintain well-being, overcome problems and achieve maximum potential during later life. (Professional Geropsychology, APA) Through specialized education, training and experience, geropsychologists are able to provide mental health care in the areas of adult development and aging, behavioral and mental health in late life, geropsychological assessment, and intervention and consultation. Specific disorders or mental health issues geropsychologists typically treat include depression, anxiety, dementia, changes in daily living abilities, coping/managing chronic illness, insomnia, grief, family caregiving strains, marital/family conflict, and end-of-life care.
According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, people aged 65 and older will grow from 35 million in 2014 to 74 million by 2030, representing 21 percent of the total U.S. population. This increase in numbers for the older population also increases the demand for geropsychologists. A doctorate degree including a supervised internship is the typical education requirement for geropsychologists, along with meeting state licensing requirements. There are different degree types, depending on which career path a geropsychologist may choose to take–clinical geropsychology, research in geropsychology, or academia. Doctorate programs or postdoctoral fellowship programs may offer specialized training in a specific area of geropsychology care. Workplace environments for geropsychologists include healthcare social services organizations, residential organizations, outpatient and inpatient medical/mental health hospitals, long-term care facilities, and government/veterans hospitals or long-term facilities. Salary amounts for geropsychologists vary based on career path (clinical, research, or academia), experience, type of employer and geographical location. Based on numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2020, the average annual salary range for a geropsychologist (based on employment by government agencies or hospitals) is $85,970-$100,360.
According to the American Psychological Association, health psychologists “study how patients handle illness, why some people don’t follow medical advice and the most effective ways to control pain or change poor health habits. They also develop health care strategies that foster emotional and physical well-being.” They strive to answer “how” and “why” psychological, behavioral, and cultural factors support physical health or illness. Through the work of health psychologists, individual patients and large-scale public health has improved. Physicians and nurses work closely with health psychologists to promote behavior change and health improvements. Health psychologists are also able to train other healthcare professionals on how to deliver specific interventions to patients. The four main types of health psychology are clinical health psychology, public health psychology, community health psychology, and critical health psychology.
Most health psychologists pursue doctoral degrees because more career options are available, including careers in research, teaching at colleges/universities, or independent work in private practices. Two examples of possible career positions in the health psychology field for those holding a master’s in health psychology are a research assistant or a behavior specialist (both supervised by licensed psychologists). Environments where health psychologists work vary, depending on the area of expertise. A few include hospitals, primary care programs, government agencies, and specialty practices, e.g., oncology, rehabilitation, weight loss, or pain management. Clinical health psychologists in the U.S. earn an annual salary range of $51k – $115k (2021).
A hospital psychologist is a licensed clinical or health psychologist who helps patients in a hospital setting. Hospital psychologists who are clinical psychologists typically provide psychological evaluation, diagnosis and treatment for mental and emotional disorders of individuals. Hospital psychologists who are health psychologists typically help treat patients with mental or medical conditions by teaching them effective stress management, relaxation and biofeedback strategies. Hospital psychologists are a part of a multidisciplinary team to help treat both mental health issues and physical health issues for better overall patient care.
Clinical psychologists who work in hospitals must obtain a doctorate degree in a psychology related field. Health psychologists typically have a doctorate degree also. Either of these professions may begin with a master’s degree as a research assistant under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Workplace settings for hospital psychologists may include psychiatric hospitals, private or government funded healthcare hospitals, clinics, or rehabilitation hospitals. Salary amounts vary for hospital psychologists depending on career path, specialty credentialing, experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a clinical psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $51k-$117k. The average annual salary range for a health psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $52,000-$104,500.
Human Factors Psychologist
A human factors psychologist studies human behavior in relation to the world around them, with the goal of improving operational performance and safety in daily work and living. (Human Factors, Psychology Wiki) Human factors psychologists, sometimes called human factors and engineering psychologists, are also involved in research and design processes of consumer products to help manufacturers make products that are safe and not confusing or frustrating. (Human Factors, PsychologyToday) Most psychologists in the field of human factors have education in engineering, cognitive, perceptual, or experimental psychology. Human factors psychologists often collaborate with physiologists, designers, anthropologists, technical communication scholars, engineers and computer scientists. Basically, human factors psychologists research and find solutions for the mind-body human interaction with technology and work/home environments.
Some entry level positions in human factors psychology require only a bachelor’s degree, but most careers begin with master’s or doctoral degrees. Master’s degrees options (under the supervision of a doctoral level psychologist) may include performance research, industrial and organizational psychology positions, or teaching. (A Career in Human Factors Psychology, APA) Research and/or work in academia are the main types of work for a doctoral level human factors psychologist. Workplace environments for human factors psychologists may include government agencies such as the U.S. DOT and NASA, but most work is done in private sector companies that design and make navigation systems, cellphones, medical equipment, military equipment, aviation technology, traffic systems, motor vehicles and computer/office technology. Salary amounts for human factor psychologists vary based on level of education, experience, career path, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the U.S. for a human factors and engineering psychologist is $65,000-$120,500.
A humanistic psychologist is a licensed psychologist who practices humanistic approaches to psychotherapy. The overall humanistic view is that people are inherently good and have the ability to move towards self-actualization (discovering and using one’s own positive traits and capabilities) and healing. Humanistic psychologists may use many different approaches such as person-centered therapy, emotion-focused therapy (EFT), Gestalt therapy, or existential-humanistic therapy. Humanistic psychologists have a holistic view on treatment and emphasize significant importance on the client-psychologist therapeutic relationship. Depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, panic disorders, phobias, addictions, and relationship problems have all been treated by humanistic psychologists.
Education requirements for humanistic psychologists are the same for any practicing psychologist. A doctorate degree is required, along with meeting state requirements for licensure to practice. A humanistic psychologist will also have credentials for training and experience in humanistic therapies. There are many different associations offering certification credentials, depending on which type of humanistic therapy the psychologist practices. Most psychologists practicing humanistic approaches to therapy work in private practice settings, but may also be employed by government agencies, non-profit organizations, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or in academia. Type of employer and geographical location both affect salary amounts. The average annual salary range of a humanistic psychologist (general practicing psychologist) in the U.S. (2021) is $66,263 to $86,491.
Industrial Organizational Psychologist
An industrial organizational psychologist, or I-O psychologist, is a psychologist who is trained in the scientist-practitioner model (research and scientific practice) and works to contribute to an organization’s success by improving overall employee well-being. Occupational psychologist is another name for industrial organizational psychologist. They conduct employee behavior research and find ways to better hiring processes, training programs, feedback and management systems. Topics of concern for industrial organizational psychologists include job analysis; personnel recruitment and selection; performance management; individual assessment and psychometrics; occupational health and well-being; workplace bullying, aggression and violence; remuneration and compensation; motivation in the workplace; occupational stress; occupational safety; occupational culture; group behavior; job satisfaction and commitment; productive behavior; organizational citizenship behavior (OCB); innovation; counterproductive work behavior; and leadership. The newer field of Occupational Health Psychology (OHP) gives special attention to the primary prevention of organizational risk factors for stress, illness, and injury at work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has encouraged the application of psychology to improve the quality of work life, and to protect and promote the safety, health and well-being of workers.
Many I-O psychologists have earned a doctorate degree and some are licensed. According to the American Psychological Association, entry-level positions to begin a career as an industrial organizational psychologist are available to those holding a minimum master’s in industrial organizational psychology degree. Normal licensure requirements to practice psychology are obtaining a PhD/PsyD from an accredited university; gaining supervision for some period of time by a licensed psychologist; earning a qualifying score on the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP); and passing with a qualifying score on an oral exam conducted by the state board. I-O psychologists often work in different states for short periods of time. The APA and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) are continuing to work to establish and clarify the licensure, certification, and credentials required for I-O psychologists. There are multiple different career paths that an industrial organizational psychologist can pursue. The four main areas of work include academia, consulting, industry, and government. Within those sectors, there are different management or non-management job levels. There are also specializations within those job levels. The salary of an I-O psychologist varies depending on education and employer. In the United States (2021), the average annual salary range for an industrial organizational psychologist is $51k-$142k.
A marriage psychologist is a licensed practicing psychologist who specializes in marriage psychotherapy treatments for married couples. Some marriage psychologists may choose to pursue licensure as a marriage and family therapist (MFT) through a state licensing exam, or the national examination for marriage and family therapists conducted by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB). The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy defines an MFT as someone who is a mental health professional “trained in psychotherapy and family systems, and licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems.” Marriage psychologists (clinical psychologists with experience treating married couples) may or may not be marriage and family therapists.
Psychologists typically have a doctorate degree and have met state licensure requirements to practice psychotherapy. There are graduate programs in general psychology or clinical psychology that offer an emphasis in marriage and family therapy. Workplace settings for marriage psychologists are typically private practice or group private practice, but may also include work in academia. Salary amounts vary for marriage psychologists with factors such as type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a clinical psychologist with experience in marriage psychotherapy in the U.S. (2021) is $73,159-$83,130.
A military psychologist is a licensed psychologist who provides support to military personnel through clinical care, consultation to military commanders, providing education, supporting training, and researching relevant military topics that affect both personnel and operations. There are three main areas of psychology a military psychologist may practice: clinical, clinical specialty, or research. Clinical military psychologists assist both off duty and active members (and their families) with general anxiety and depression, anger and stress management, crisis intervention, relationship problems, financial management, and career issues. A clinical military psychologist may also choose to specialize in treatment of specific disorders such as PTSD, addiction, memory loss, suicide, or brain injuries. Military psychologists are also employed to focus on research to examine current practices in the military and offer information to help improve general operations. The main overall goal of most military psychologists is to facilitate mental health wellness of service members. A few military psychologists may work in a forensic military setting interrogating prisoners who may provide valuable information for military operations and/or intelligence. This type of work is done to aid in successful friendly military operations or to decrease friendly and enemy casualties
Military psychologists can be civilian psychologists employed by the military, active members of the military, or veterans. There are many different educational paths someone could choose to take to become a military psychologist, but the main underlying educational requirements are the same as anyone practicing psychology. A doctorate degree relevant to military psychology, internship/supervised experience, and obtaining licensure requirements are all needed to become a military psychologist. Active service members or veterans may qualify for tuition assistance through the military or Department of Veterans Affairs. There are military academies that offer master’s degrees in military psychology where students also get first-hand experience in military practices and culture. A few specialty areas of study for military psychologists include terrorism; occupational psychology; tactical psychology; health, organizational and occupational psychology; and feminism. Common work environments for military psychologists include research or educational facilities, military hospitals (including ships), military schools, military bases, overseas deployment locations (some in combat zones), and military organization offices. Annual salaries for military psychologists vary based on level of education, experience, geographical location, and work environment. The average annual salary range of a military psychologist in the United States (2021) is $22k-$154k.
A music psychologist is a psychologist who studies musical behavior and experience, including processes through which music is perceived, created, responded to, and incorporated into daily life. (Music Psychology, Wikipedia) The field of research in which a music psychologist works includes a variety of relevant areas such as music performance, composition, education, criticism and therapy. They also study how music affects human attitude, skill, performance, intelligence, creativity and social behavior. Music psychologists differ from music therapists as most of the work done by music psychologists is in research and not in clinical psychotherapeutic practice.
Music psychologists ordinarily pursue doctorate degrees in psychology related fields such as music psychology, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, or developmental psychology. Most music psychologists work in the area of academia in research or teaching. Other options for music psychologists may include careers in the music industry in technology or statistics, music marketing research, music/audio consulting, or in advertising/marketing. (Music Cognition as a Career Path, 2013) The Association for Psychological Science publishes current music research studies done by music psychologists and/or music scientists. Salary amounts for music psychologists depend on factors such as level of education and postgraduate research work, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a music psychologist (psychologist Ph.D.) in the U.S. (2021) is $78,500-$127,500.
A neuropsychologist is a clinical psychologist with expensive education and training in neuropsychology (how the brain and nervous system functions affect cognition and behavior) who is able to diagnose and treat neurological disorders caused by injury or illness. The three main work environments for a neuropsychologist are in the fields of research, clinical practice and forensics. Neuropsychologists focusing on research can be found in universities, laboratories or research organizations. In clinical practice, neuropsychologists work mainly in hospitals or rehabilitation centers/clinics treating patients. Pharmaceutical companies may also employ clinical neuropsychologists. Forensic neuropsychologists are often clinical-trial consultants when central nervous system function is a concern in court cases or legal proceedings.
A few of the illnesses and injuries that neuropsychologists research and/or treat include epilepsy, dementia, mental illnesses, ADHD, autism, Tourette’s syndrome, cerebrovascular accidents (stroke or aneurysm ruptures), brain tumours, and traumatic brain injuries. Most neuropsychologists have a doctorate level degree, along with completion of both an internship in clinical neuropsychology and a two-year post-doctoral fellowship. Neuropsychologists who work in a clinical setting often are a part of a multidisciplinary team. They often collaborate with neurosurgeons and neurologists to offer acute health care for patients. Assessment, research, consultation, treatment, counseling and patient care management are all a part of the wide range of responsibilities the neuropsychologist completes in clinical practice. The average annual salary range for a neuropsychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $103k-$140k.
“Nutritional psychologist” is a title that technically hasn’t been licensed for use, although clinical or health psychologists may have a specialty focus in nutrition. The general public may refer to a nutritional psychologist as a food psychologist. Nutritional psychology is a newer area of study within psychology that examines the relationship between dietary and nutrient intake patterns, and our mood, behavior, and mental health. Two main historical events for the study of nutrition in psychology happened in 2005 when “nutritional psychology” was defined, followed by the first university course being taught in 2008. The Center for Nutritional Psychology (CNP) was founded in 2015 to define, develop, and promote the interdisciplinary field of Nutritional Psychology. Their goal is to have a licensure path for the title “nutritional psychologist” by 2027.
Clinical psychologists, health psychologists, or any practicing psychologist can pursue education in the field of nutrition psychology through the CNP to be able to provide clients with nutritional psychology treatment therapy plans. The education requirement for a practicing psychologist includes a doctorate degree, along with meeting state licensure requirements. Workplace settings for psychologists who have studied nutritional psychology may include private practice or group private practice, hospitals, schools, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or academia (research or teaching). Salary amounts for psychologists who study nutritional psychology vary with factors such as career path, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a psychologist in the U.S. (2020) is $46,270-$137,590.
A pain psychologist is a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating people with chronic pain. Pain psychology is the study of the mind-body connection with chronic pain. Psychological and behavioral processes are examined, and psychotherapeutic and behavioral techniques are implemented by the pain psychologist to help the client regulate thoughts and emotions that can affect pain management. Chronic pain is the main type of pain that pain psychologists treat, which may include mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and negative sense of self-worth.
A pain psychologist normally has a doctorate degree in psychology or clinical psychology, along with credentials for specializing in chronic pain. Postdoctoral fellowships accredited by the APA that specialize in psychological treatment of chronic pain are offered by universities. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) also offers continuing education for both mental and medical health professionals. Common workplace environments for pain psychologists include private practices, academic pain clinics, private pain clinics, hospitals, hospital rehabilitation centers, or outpatient chronic pain facilities. Type of employer and geographical location both affect salary amounts for pain psychologists. The average annual salary range for a pain psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $50k-$115k.
A pediatric psychologist is a licenced clinical psychologist who specializes in the treatment of mental and behavioral health disorders for children and adolescents. Both scientific research and clinical practice are implemented by pediatric psychologists to treat children and adolescents with psychological issues stemming from illness or injury. They also promote healthy behavior in children, adolescents, and families through education and methods of prevention. This is normally done in a pediatric health setting and in collaboration with physicians or other health care providers. A few of the numerous roles a pediatric psychologist fulfills include providing psychological services for mental health problems with or without concomitant health conditions; creating programs for the promotion of prevention and early intervention; providing assistance for patients with developmental disabilities; offering psychological training/consultation for physicians; and aiding efforts in public health and policy.
A pediatric psychologist is able to diagnose and treat conditions such as abuse, addiction, developmental or learning disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, eating disorders, identity problems, anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and sleep disorders. The education required for a pediatric psychologist includes a doctoral degree (PsyD, PhD, or EdD), which includes an internship. They also must complete a doctoral training program in clinical child and adolescent psychology, a license to practice psychology, and completion of the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). They also may choose to become board certified or apply for credentials through the American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (ABCCAP) or the American Board of Clinical Health Psychology (ABCHP). A few places pediatric psychologists can work include private practices, clinics, hospitals, government agencies or schools. The average annual salary range of a pediatric pediatrician in the United States is $60k-$98k.
A personality psychologist is a licensed psychologist who specializes in the scientific study of the collection of emotional, thought and behavioral patterns unique to a person. The Society of Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) states that personality psychologists systematically observe and describe people’s actions while measuring and manipulating aspects of social situations to unravel the mysteries of individual and social life. A few examples of topics that personality psychologists strive to understand may include how our thoughts guide us and influence others; how our sense of self informs us in decision making; how our personality came to be; how our personality works; and how the personalities of others are similar or different than mine. Both basic and applied research are used by personality psychologists.
Education for personality psychologists involves pursuing a doctorate degree. Depending on the career path within personality psychology (or social and personality psychology), there are some employers that would accept a master’s degree, but most prefer doctorate degrees. Universities and colleges offer both master’s and doctorate degrees in social and personality psychology. Master’s or doctorate degrees in psychology with specialization or emphasis in personality and/or social and personality are also options for those seeking a career as a personality psychologist. Examples of work environments as a personality psychologist include colleges and universities conducting research or teaching classes; organizational settings in human resources; government and nonprofit organizations designing and evaluating programs; and private sector environments in consulting, marketing, management, politics, and technology. Salary numbers vary for a personality psychologist based on work environment, geographical location, and education/training. The average annual salary range for a personality psychologist in the United States (2021) is $16,500 to $104,500.
A personnel psychologist is an industrial/organizational psychologist who primarily focuses on the recruitment, selection and evaluation of personnel. Job satisfaction, employee morale, and management-employee relationships are also a part of the assessment and problem solving strategy work for a personnel psychologist. Generally speaking, personnel psychologists are the professionals who apply psychological theories and principles to organizations. The human factors of ability, motivation, perception and learning are all analyzed to help meet both the organization and employee needs. (Personnel Psychology, Wikipedia)
Most personnel psychologists have at least a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology. Most employers look favorably for personnel psychologists who have pursued doctorate degrees. Industrial/organizational psychologists are required only in some states to become licensed, so it is important to check with local state regulations for personnel psychologist licensing requirements. Workplace settings for personnel psychologists may include various employers in any type of industry that uses human resources (e.g. education, business, community, military, government, non-profit). Salary amounts for a personnel psychologist vary based on level of education, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a personnel psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $37,500-$103,500.
A political psychologist is a professional within the branch of social psychology who studies the foundations, dynamics, and outcomes of political behavior using cognitive and social explanations. The disciplines of anthropology, sociology, international relations, economics, philosophy, media, journalism and history have all been used in political psychology to help inform the understanding of and formation of political psychological theory and approaches. Political psychologists use psychological approaches in politics with topics such as leadership roles; domestic and foreign policy making; behavior in ethnic violence, war and genocide; group dynamics and conflict; racist behavior; voting attitudes and motivation; voting and the role of the media; nationalism; and political extremism. (What is Political Psychology?, PPRG) Studying psychological foundations and consequences of political behavior to help better understand political phenomena is at the root of a political psychologist’s work.
A minimum of a master’s degree in political psychology is needed for a career in political psychology; however most political psychologists pursue doctorate degrees in political psychology. There are a wide range of research methods that political psychologists employ during their work including studies done in laboratories with college students, national surveys with representative samples of adults, experimental manipulations embedded in surveys, time series analysis of actuarial data, and systematic quantitative content analysis of text materials (news stories). The two main career paths for a doctorate level political psychologist are research or teaching. Career examples in political psychology for master’s level professionals may include campaign manager, campaign strategist, community organizer, issue advocacy consultant, political marketing manager, legislative aide, lobbyist, media strategist, political analyst, psychology operations specialist, public diplomacy, and voter mobilization expert. The International Society of Political Psychology offers helpful information on education programs and training in the area of political psychology. Salary amounts for a political psychologist vary based on level of education, years of experience, career path, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for careers in political psychology, including political psychologists, in the U.S. (2021) is $47,072-$92,000.
A positive psychologist is a licensed psychologist with extensive education and training in positive psychology methods. Positive psychology can be defined as a scientific approach to studying human thoughts, feelings, and behavior, with a focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. Positive psychologists use all aspects of psychology (theory, research and intervention techniques) to find and encourage emotionally fulfilling behaviors in clients such as positivity, adaptivity, and creativity. Treating the mental illness is done while focusing on these positive-seeking methods. Positive psychologists work with people of all ages, and with disorders of all ranges.
A positive psychologist normally has a doctorate degree in a psychology related area of study, has completed state licensing requirements, and has completed training by an accredited college/organization in positive psychology. There are minimal universities in the United States that offer master’s and doctorate degree programs in applied positive psychology, but any psychologist can pursue specialized training in positive psychology through certification and training programs. Workplace environment for positive psychologists is normally a private practice or group private practice setting, but employment may also be available with businesses, hospitals, mental health clinics, non-profit organizations, or government agencies. Salary amounts for positive psychologists vary with factors such as credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a positive psychologist (psychologist, Ph.D.) in the U.S. (2021) is $94,796-$118,318.
A psychodynamic psychologist is a psychologist who has had advanced training in psychoanalysis and/or psychodynamic psychotherapy. Psychodynamic psychology emphasizes systematic study of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, feelings, and emotions and how they might relate to early experience. Psychodynamic psychologists treat people with mental health issues and disorders such as depression, addiction, social anxiety disorder, and eating disorders. One of the main goals of a psychodynamic psychologist is to help the client recognize, acknowledge, understand, express and overcome negative and/or repressed feelings and emotions to improve life experiences and relationships.
A psychodynamic psychologist can be any practicing psychologist who obtains a doctorate degree, has completed state licensing requirements, and has had training in psychodynamic psychotherapy. There are postgraduate programs through institutions such as the International Psychotherapy Institute that offer psychodynamic psychotherapy training. There are also state specific institutions/schools that offer similar postgraduate psychodynamic training such as the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology or the Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis of New Jersey. Workplace settings for psychodynamic psychologists may include private practice or private group practice, government agencies, or academia (research or teaching). Salary amounts for psychodynamic psychologists vary with factors such as career path, type of employer or geographical location. The average annual income range for a psychodynamic psychologist (psychologist, Ph.D) in the U.S. (2021) is $94,628-$118,106.
A psychometric psychologist, or psychometrician, is a psychologist who practices the science of measurement in relation to the development of instruments, such as examinations, that measure knowledge, skills and attributes. (What is Psychometrics?, 2019) Simply put, a psychometric psychologist creates valid tests to help measure people’s minds. There are many different areas in psychometrics for a psychologist to work, which may include subject matter experts (SMEs), project directing and liaison work with certification/licensing bodies, data work, test questions, defining job/task analysis, establishing passing standards, reviewing statistics for cheat detection, and development of adaptive examinations. (What is a Psychometrician?, 2017) Most psychometric psychologists choose a specific focus for their entire careers.
Psychometric psychologists will normally have a master’s or doctorate degree in industrial/organizational psychology, experimental psychology, or quantitative psychology. Most psychometricians also seek board certification as a Certified Specialist in Psychometry (CSP) through the Board of Certified Psychometrists. Workplace environment for a psychometric psychologist is typically in academia with research or teaching positions. Salary amounts for psychometric psychologists vary with factors such as level of education, supervised training/experience, credentialing, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a psychometric psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $48k-$123k.
A quantitative psychologist is a psychologist who studies statistical methods, modeling of psychological processes, data analysis and research methodology to explore topics that contribute to science, practice, education and public interest. (Career spotlight: quantitative psychology, 2016, APA) Improving research methods, exploring applications of statistical models, identifying new ways to apply methodologies, improving designs of questionnaires/surveys, and carrying out university/college program evaluation are all examples of work that a quantitative psychologist may choose to pursue. (Pursuing a Career in Quantitative Psychology, 2014, APA) Quantitative psychologists are in high demand in industry, government, and academia because their training in both social science and quantitative methodology is valuable for solving a variety of applied and theoretical problems.
Quantitative psychologists have doctoral degrees in a psychology related field of study with a specialty area of study, normally in the areas of quantitative psychology; experimental psychology; industrial psychology and technology; quantitative methods; statistical and research methods; or measurement, evaluation and cognition. Standardized test companies such as College Board, Educational Testing Service, and American College Testing are private sector employers of quantitative psychologists. These psychologists design tests for admissions, employee recruitment and certifications for professionals. Other career areas for qualitative psychologists may include research consulting, business or medical center research, and government agency research. Salary amounts for quantitative psychologists vary with factors such as years of experience, board certifications/credentialing, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a quantitative psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $42k-$129k.
The APA defines rehabilitation psychology as “the study and application of psychological principles on behalf of persons who have disability due to injury or illness.” A rehabilitation psychologist is a mental health professional who assesses and treats cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and functional problems. Injuries or chronic conditions that lead to disability that are treated by rehabilitation psychologists may include traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, limb loss, sensory loss, burn injury, chronic pain, cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders. They also work in collaboration with medical health professionals to build self-esteem, teach coping skills, and enhance overall client quality of life. Along with clinical practice, rehabilitation psychologists work closely with local and/or national organizations in advocacy for people with disabilities. Program development, teaching/training, and involvement in public policy are all ways rehabilitation psychologists also help people with chronic health conditions.
Rehabilitation psychologists typically complete doctorate degrees in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, neuropsychology or school psychology. State licensing, along with pre-doctoral and postdoctoral clinical training in healthcare settings are also a part of practicing requirements for rehabilitation psychologists. Annual continuing education for license renewal is also a part of practicing requirements. Typical workplace environments for rehabilitation psychologists include acute care hospitals, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers, assisted living centers, long-term care facilities, specialty clinics, and community agencies. Salary amounts vary for rehabilitation psychologists depending on experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a rehabilitation psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $22,000-$143,500.
A research psychologist is a professional in the field of psychology who uses scientific methods to produce qualitative or quantitative data used in basic or applied research. Research psychologists pursue careers that are founded upon acquiring knowledge through psychological research to serve and help others in all areas of life. Basic research, or pure research, is done by a research psychologist mostly in a controlled laboratory setting and focuses on fundamental thoughts and actions of individuals. Applied research is done in various settings and focuses on evaluating the outcomes of varied interventions to gain knowledge for specific real-world purposes.
A career as a research psychologist requires a minimum of a master’s degree, but most people pursue doctorate degrees. Degrees in applied, clinical, or experimental psychology are all types of research-focused programs that universities and colleges offer. There are also research opportunities within each of the 54 divisions of psychology recognized by the American Psychological Association. Most research psychologists choose a specific area to research and may spend their entire career focused on finding the answer to just one question (others may work on multiple questions). Research psychologists who work in a laboratory or for a corporation may not be required to have a license in some states. It is important to look at individual state licensure exemptions for research psychologists. Work environments for research psychologists vary, but most are in higher education departments, medical or business schools, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or private sector companies. Level of education, experience, geographical location, and type of work environment are all factors for salary amounts for a research psychologist. The average annual salary range for a research psychologist in the United States (2021) is $50k-$96k.
A school psychologist is a psychologist who is trained in child and adolescent development, learning theories, psychoeducational assessment, personality theories, therapeutic interventions, and the identification of learning disabilities. They are also trained in the ethical, legal and administrative codes of their profession. They work mainly in schools, but can also work in independent practices, hospitals, clinics, universities, government agencies, rehabilitation/correction facilities and forensic settings. School psychologists form and build relationships with students, school staff/administration, families, and community outreach personnel from various organizations to meet behavioral health and learning needs of children and adolescents.
Education and training for school psychologists in the United States consists of earning a postgraduate degree followed by supervised internship and certification. There are many different postgraduate degree types for school psychologists. Master’s in school psychology degrees include M.A., M.S., or M.Ed. Specialist-level degrees include Ed.S., Psy.S., SSP, and CAGS. Doctoral-level degrees include Ph.D, Psy.D. or Ed.D. degrees. There have been recent shortages of school psychologists in this century, providing job prospect growth opportunities in this career field, especially for specialist and doctoral levels. The average annual salary range for elementary and secondary school psychologists in the U.S. (2020) is $46,410-$138,550.
The American Psychological Association describes a social psychologist as someone who studies “how individuals think about, influence and relate to one another and how those interactions affect issues as wide-ranging as prejudice, romantic attraction, persuasion, friendship and aggression.” Human behavior is studied by social psychologists to help explain the relationship between mental state and social situation. Social interactions are explained through research using applied scientific methods to human behavior in relationships. Social psychologists help us to know how and why individuals affect and are affected by other people, along with how and why social and physical environments play a part in human behavior.
Many social psychologists choose a career path in academia, teaching or conducting research in a college/university setting. These psychologists have received a doctorate degree and typically engage in work in a specific area of study within social psychology. Social psychologists who are employed in the private sector must have a social psychology master’s degree at a minimum. There are a wide range of career options in the private sector for social psychologists including work as consultants, researchers, marketing directors, managers, political strategists, and technology designers. Government and nonprofit organization work for social psychologists includes designing and evaluating policy and programs in education, conflict resolution, and environmental protection. The average annual salary in the U.S.A. for social psychologists varies with education and experience. The low end of the payscale (2021) is at $20,500 and the high end is at $158,000.
A sports psychologist, or sport and performance psychologist, is a licensed psychologist who applies methods of psychology to educate and/or treat individuals or groups for optimal performance, positive social/team interactions, and successful sports organization. Sports psychologists complete a master’s or doctoral degree program in clinical, counseling or sports psychology (some schools offer sport psychology concentrations). The three different specialties sport and performance psychologists pursue can be categorized as applied, educational, and clinical. Applied sports psychology involves teaching athletes, coaches, teams, and parents the psychological part of their sport. Educational sport psychology consists mainly of teaching at colleges/universities where there is sports research being done. Clinical sports psychology applies both sports psychology and clinical psychotherapy methods in treating athletes with mental health issues. Each specialty requires different education and licensure requirements.
Sport and performance psychologists can be found working “on location” during sporting events; “behind the scenes” counseling individuals or groups; or consulting/training various coaches and administrators about the psychological side of athletics. A sports psychologist must be able to research specific sports, teach knowledge to others, consult with individuals/groups, and “coach” psychological techniques to athletes. Salaries for a sports psychologist often vary according to specific sport and geographic location of job position. The average annual salary range for a sports psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $49k-$106k.
A transpersonal psychologist is a licensed psychologist who specializes in transpersonal psychology, or spiritual psychology, approaches. Transpersonal psychologists integrate spiritual rituals such as meditation or yoga and other holistic approaches such as guided visualization, hypnotherapy, dream work, art, music, journaling, and mindfulness practice into modern psychology. There is an emphasis on positive influences rather than concentrating on past negative experiences. (Transpersonal Therapy, PsychologyToday) “Transpersonal psychologists attempt to integrate timeless wisdom with modern Western psychology and translate spiritual principles into scientifically grounded, contemporary language.” (Transpersonal Psychology, Wikipedia)
A transpersonal psychologist normally has a doctorate degree in transpersonal psychology, or a doctorate degree in a psychology related field with education and training in transpersonal psychology. The Association for Transpersonal Psychology offers information for continuing education for transpersonal psychologists. The typical workplace environment for transpersonal psychologists is private practice or private group practice. Salary ranges for transpersonal psychologists vary with factors such as years of experience and geographical location. The average annual salary for a transpersonal psychologist (psychologist Ph.D.) in the U.S. (2021) is $94,796-$118,318.
A vocational psychologist is a licensed psychologist that specializes in vocational psychology in application as a counseling psychologist, or in academia with vocational theory and research or teaching. Vocational psychology is the application of psychological principles to the problems of vocational choice, selection, and training. The difference between career counseling and vocational psychology is that career counseling represents the applied and practice arm of vocational psychology, while vocational psychology normally refers to the scholarly study of work or career-based behavior and development across the span of life. (Vocational Psychology, 2019)
A vocational psychologist has a doctorate degree in a psychology related field of study. The type of degree depends on the career path a vocational psychologist chooses to take. There are both master’s degrees and doctorate degrees in counseling psychology, school/education psychology, and industrial/organizational psychology that offer concentrations in career development or vocational psychology. The majority of graduate degrees that offer education in vocational psychology are on the career path of applied psychology in counseling psychology. Doctorate degrees in vocational research or career and technical education are few in number. Workplace environments for vocational psychologists in counseling normally include private practice or group private practice, or employment with consulting firms, businesses, schools, career counseling centers, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. The workplace environment for vocational psychologists in academia with research or teaching typically include employment with a college/university. Salary amounts vary for vocational psychologists based on factors such as type of career path, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a vocational psychologist in the U.S. (2021) is $63,170-$110,707.
Types of Therapists
An ABA therapist, or applied behavior analysis therapist, is a trained therapist who uses applied behavior analysis as a form of psychotherapy in treating behavior disorders or problems. Applied behavior analysis therapists practice with different levels of education and certifications. ABA therapists are not exclusively therapists for children; however a majority of ABA therapists do work with children who have been diagnosed with behavior disorders, namely autism. Other areas of practice for an ABA therapist could include school behavior support, classroom instruction, pediatric feeding therapy, brain injury rehabilitation, dementia, substance abuse, phobias, fitness training, and organizational behavior management.
There are four different levels of certification for ABA therapists. The doctoral-level certification is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D). A master’s degree level certification is Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). A bachelor’s degree level certification is Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). High school education level is Registered behavior technicians (RBTs). RBTs and BCaBAs work under the supervision of BCBAs, or BCBA-Ds. Pay levels depend on the level of education and certification an ABA therapist has completed. In the United States the average annual salary range for an ABA therapist is $27k-$61k (2021).
An acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) therapist is a licensed mental health professional who is trained in ACT psychotherapy approaches. ACT therapists use a combination of acceptance and mindfulness strategies in this action-oriented approach that has foundations in both behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, PsychologyToday) Increased psychological flexibility and commitment to the change of negative behaviors is the basis of what an ACT therapist will encourage throughout the treatment process. The name embodies the basis of the therapy as acceptance of unpleasant feelings and commitment to working through them is the ultimate goal. Anxiety disorders, depression, and addictions have all been successfully treated by ACT.
Therapists who specialize in acceptance and commitment therapy typically have a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field, and are licensed in the state of their practice. Most of the education and training that an ACT therapist acquires is in the college or university psychology degree program, along with internships supervised by ACT professionals. There are also associations such as the Association for Contextual Behavioral Sciences that offer further and advanced training in ACT. Workplace settings for ACT therapists normally include private practice, group private practice, rehabilitation centers, addiction centers, mental health clinics, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for ACT therapists vary with level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an ACT therapist (mental health therapist) in the U.S. (2021) is $36k-$63k.
An addiction therapist is a licensed mental health professional who uses psychotherapeutic interventions with people who have substance or process addictions. The American Psychological Association defines addiction as “a chronic disorder with biological, psychological, social and environmental factors influencing its development and maintenance.” The most widely practiced psychological approaches that addiction therapists choose for treatment of addictions are cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and behaviorism. Psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, licensed counselor social workers, licensed social workers, and licensed professional counselors are all able to offer treatment for addictions. Both mental and medical health professionals often collaborate for the treatment of individuals with severe addictions.
A minimum of a master’s degree and fulfilling state licensing requirements are common for becoming an addiction therapist. Psychologists and psychiatrists treating addictions normally have a doctorate degree, and in some cases, specialized research and training in specific addictions treatment. Doctorate level psychologists may also pursue credentials in proficiency in the treatment of addiction through the Society of Addiction Psychology (SOAP), which is a division of the APA. Career paths in the area of the treatment of addictions may include doctoral clinical research or academia and applied psychology in private practice, government or public sector organizations. Salary amounts for addiction therapists vary with factors such as education, experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the United States (2021) for an addiction therapist is $35k-$59k.
An Adlerian therapist is a licensed mental health professional who has been educated and trained in Adlerian therapy, a psychotherapy developed in the early 20th century that explores a birth order, family roles affecting development of personality, and the client’s sense of belonging in their community/society. (Adlerian Psychology/Psychotherapy, GoodTherapy) Adlerian therapists encourage and develop client ability to adapt to feelings of inadequacy and inferiority while developing new positive insights, skills, and behaviors. Engagement, assessment, insight and reorientation are the four stages of adlerian therapy that an Alderian therapist will use during treatment. Engagement consists of establishing a therapeutic relationship; assessment happens as the therapist learns more about the client; insight is then offered as an interpretation of the client’s situation; and reorientation begins when the client develops new strategies for use in daily life. (The Stages of Adlerian Therapy, 2019)
The minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field is the educational requirement for an Adlerian therapist. A state license is also required to practice psychology and Adlerian therapy. Any mental health practitioner can use Adlerian psychotherapy methods, but most therapists who practice Adlerian therapy pursue training and/or certification in Adlerian psychology through organizations such as the Alfred Adler Institute of Northwestern Washington and the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology. Workplace settings for an Adlerian therapist typically include private practice, group private practice, schools, clinics, corporations, and other community settings, helping to create learning environments that provide a sense of belonging and respect for all. (Adlerian Therapy, PsychologyToday) Salary amounts for Adlerian therapists vary with factors such as level of education, certifications/credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an Adlerian therapist (mental health therapist) in the United States (2021) is $47k-$75k.
An alternative therapist is a licensed mental health professional who uses alternative, or complementary, therapies for a holistic approach (mind, body, spirit) to mental health therapy. Alternative therapists typically integrate complementary therapies into traditional clinical treatment plans to help with things such as side effects from medicines/other treatments, promotion of relaxation, assisting with client treatment engagement, and supporting a healthy lifestyle during treatment/recovery. (Do Alternative Mental Health Therapies Really Work?, Nowak, 2018) Examples of alternative therapies may include acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, homeopathy, massage, meditation, spiritual counseling, yoga, diet/nutrition/exercise counseling, animal assisted therapy, expressive therapies, ayurveda, Native American traditional practices, and Cuentos. (Understanding Alternative Mental Health Care, 2017)
Alternative therapists have the minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field, along with a state license to practice psychology. Most alternative therapists seek specialized training in alternative therapies through specific schools/organizations that offer credentialing. Alternative therapists may collaborate with other therapists in group private practices to offer integrative alternative therapy treatment programs. Common workplace environments for alternative therapists are private practice or group private practice, rehabilitation centers, alternative health clinics/hospitals, government agencies or non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for alternative therapists vary based on level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an alternative therapist (holistic therapist) in the U.S. (2021) is $34,500-$83,000.
Anger Management Therapist
An anger management therapist is a licensed mental health professional who uses anger management (psycho-therapeutic program) to help clients with anger prevention and control. The affected populations that anger management therapists treat include adults, children and adolescents, individuals with intellectual disabilities, violent criminals, substance abusers, individuals with PTSD, and people with traumatic brain injuries. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “75% of people receiving anger management therapy improved as a result.” Most anger management therapists use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions to help clients learn how to identify negative thought patterns and change inaccurate beliefs about themselves and others. Family therapy and psychodynamic therapies are also among the types of therapy that may be incorporated by an anger management therapist.
Anger management therapists normally pursue at least a master’s degree in a mental health related area of study. Anger management psychologists hold doctorate degrees. Anger management therapists also pursue certification through accrediting programs such as the National Anger Management Association (NAMA). Most anger management therapists also register with the local court system. Other mental health professionals who are able to offer anger management treatment interventions include licensed social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychiatrists, or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. Anger management treatment plans are developed by the anger management therapist and may be done in a one-on-one setting or in a group. A few work environments for an anger management therapist include mental health clinics, hospitals, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private practice. Due to the many different types of mental health therapists that can offer help with anger management, the average annual salary will differ based on education/training, experience, geographical location and type of work environment. The average annual salary in the United States (2020) for an anger management therapist (substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors) is $30,590-$78,700.
An animal therapist, or animal assisted therapist, is a mental health professional who uses animal-assisted therapy interventions to help complement traditional psychotherapeutic treatments. The ultimate goal of animal-assisted therapy done by a trained therapist is to enhance the experience of psychotherapy with the comforting, stress-decreasing presence of an animal. Most animal therapists use animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, birds or horses. Animals in therapy have proven to help with bonding which allows the client to “develop a better sense of self-worth and trust, stabilize their emotions, and improve their communication, self-regulation, and socialization skills.” (Animal-Assisted Therapy, 2017, PsychologyToday)
People who suffer from autism, depression, schizophrenia, addictions, medical conditions or behavioral issues may benefit from animal-assisted therapy. A wide variety of mental health professionals including counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, art therapists, music therapist, dance therapist, drama therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists can all pursue animal-assisted therapy certification. The Animal Assisted Therapy Interventionist Credential (AAT-I) for using animal-assisted therapy can be obtained through the Telehealth Certification Institute with the American Counseling Association’s AAT-C Competency Requirements. Salary amounts vary for animal therapists depending on factors such as education, experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an animal assisted therapist in the United States (2021) is $28k-$55k.
An anxiety therapist is a mental health professional who specializes in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and psychiatric nurses are among the mental health professionals who treat people with anxiety. Primary care physicians are also able to diagnose anxiety disorders and prescribe medication. Physicians may refer a patient to a mental health provider for therapy. The cause of anxiety disorders is generally the merging of genetic and environmental factors. A few examples of anxiety disorders treated by anxiety therapists include generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, panic disorder, and selective mutism.
Education for an anxiety therapist is determined by which career path the individual chooses to pursue. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and clinical social workers are normally licensed and have a master’s or doctorate degree. Psychiatric nurses and primary care physicians have postgraduate degrees in the medical field. Non-licensed professionals helping with anxiety disorders who may have a master’s degree but aren’t licensed include counselors or clergy. Mental health professionals who choose to specialize in the treatment of anxiety disorders (and with specific types of therapy) have specialized training and credentials accredited through organizations such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Salary varies for anxiety therapists based on geographical location, education/training, and type of work environment. The average annual salary range for an anxiety therapist (mental health therapist) in the United States (2021) is $36k-$62k.
An art therapist is a therapist who administers psychotherapy using art visual media as a means for creative expression within the therapy. They work with diverse populations in various settings. Individuals, couples, families, and groups of people can all be treated by an art therapist. A few of the work environments that an art therapist may practice are schools, hospitals, private practice settings, crisis centers, senior communities, and psychiatric/rehabilitation centers. Art therapists help people with medical health issues, mental health issues, or people seeking emotional, creative, and spiritual growth. This therapy is experienced within a psychotherapeutic relationship between the therapist and client.
A professional art therapist is not to be confused with someone who went to an “art therapy” workshop and received a certificate saying they can practice art therapy. True art therapists hold a master’s degree level education in art therapy, and most are licensed as a mental health provider, along with art therapy board certification. Undergraduate majors that are helpful for then applying to a master’s program include pre-professional art therapy major (if available), a double major in art and psychology, a major in art with minor in psychology, or a major in psychology with a minor in art. Along with completing a master’s in art therapy program, the art therapist must complete 100 hours of supervised practicum, and 600 hours of supervised art therapy clinical internship. Art therapy registration and board certification is available through the Art Therapy Credentials Board (ATCB). The average annual salary range for an art therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $37k-$64k.
An autism therapist is a mental health professional who specializes in treating children and/or adults with autism spectrum disorder. The Centers for Disease Control recently reported from 2016 data that 1 in 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Most autism therapists work with children; however another recent report from the CDC showed that about 5.4 million (2.21%) adults have an ASD. Evidence-based treatments for adults with autism spectrum disorder are few in number, but will continue to grow as studies are done. (Newly diagnosed adult with autism seeks therapy advice, 2013, AutismSpeaks) Both children and adult autism therapists typically use applied behavior analysis and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. Autism therapists typically work closely with physical therapists, speech therapists and medical doctors in treating clients.
Autism therapists have at least a master’s degree in a psychology related field of study. They also must complete state licensing requirements to practice therapy. Most autism therapists pursue continued education and certification by an accrediting board for autism treatment therapy. The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBBCES) offers a Certified Autism Specialist certification for mental health professionals with a master’s degree or higher. Autism therapists may also supervise professionals who are responsible for providing services or support to individuals who have autism. These professionals may or may not have graduate degrees, but have completed a training program through the IBCCES (or similar accrediting board) to offer care for the treatment of clients with autism. Work environments for autism therapists include private practice or group private practice, autism centers for children, hospitals, schools, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for autism therapists vary based on level of education, credentialing/training, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an autism therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $34,836-$52,779.
Behavioral therapists are licensed mental/behavioral health professionals who use clinical psychotherapy interventions to help people change problematic behaviors. The two variations to the behavioral therapy treatment approach include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and applied behavior analysis (ABA). Generally speaking, the professionals who practice behavioral therapy are either behavior analysts or cognitive-behavioral therapists. These therapists work with individuals, couples, or groups. The main scientific-based techniques that a behavioral therapist may choose to implement (depending on the specific assessment of each client) are aversion therapy, exposure and response prevention, behavior contracting, behavior modification, counterconditioning, flooding, implosive therapy, observational learning, reciprocal inhibition therapy, relaxation therapy, and systematic desensitization.
A few of the problems that behavioral therapists treat include intimacy/forgiveness in couples relationships, chronic pain, anorexia, chronic distress, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, obesity, insomnia, and developmental disorders such as autism. The education requirement for becoming a behavioral therapist is a minimum of a master’s degree, along with 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. State licensure is also required to practice as a behavioral therapist. Most behavioral therapists work in private practices, but other career environments include schools, substance abuse clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, or teaching in colleges/universities (those with a Ph.D.). The base salary pay range of a behavioral therapist (2021) in the U.S.A. is $30k-$66k.
A child therapist, or pediatric therapist, is a mental health professional who specializes in psychotherapy for children from the age of birth through 21. Generally speaking, child therapists are mental health providers holding a minimum of a master’s degree in a mental health field. This may include social work, marriage and family therapy, or mental health counseling. This is in contrast to child psychologists who hold a doctorate degree and advanced training. Child psychiatrists are mental health providers who hold a medical degree and can prescribe medicine.
A child therapist typically completes a masters graduate degree program lasting 2-3 years, as well as 2 years of supervised training. They also may take courses or training programs in specialized areas of study for a particular type of child psychotherapy (e.g., play therapy or group therapy). Some child therapists may also practice exclusively with a certain age group. Pediatric therapists may also offer group therapy sessions with family members. Work environments for pediatric therapists include private practices, schools, youth rehabilitation centers, government facilities, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts vary for child therapists based on education, work experience, type of employer and geographical location. The annual average salary range for a child therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $31k-$70k.
A Christian therapist is a licensed mental health practitioner who is also a practicing Christian. A Christian therapist is typically someone who has a master’s or doctoral degree in a mental health related field, has completed an internship or supervised training, and is certified in their state’s professional board. A few examples of credentials for a Christian therapist might include marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors (LPC). Christian therapists are helpful for people seeking traditional mental health counseling who would prefer Christian perspectives on mental health treatments. Typically, Christian therapists advertise their services with a philosophy statement and a statement of faith.
Education and training for a Christian therapist is similar to traditional mental health career education and training requirements. There are also Christian colleges and universities (various denominations) that offer accredited mental health degree programs. A minimum of a master’s degree is required in most states for Christian therapists to obtain a license to practice mental health therapies. Christian therapists may work independently or in a practice with a group of Christian mental health providers. Working in private Christian schools or hospitals as a mental health practitioner may also be a career for a Christain therapist. Missionary work with world travel may also be something a Christian therapist would consider pursuing. The salary of a Christian therapist varies based on location, employer and education/training. The average annual salary range for a Christian therapist in the United States (2021) is $23k-$94k.
A client-centered therapist, or person-centered therapist, is a licensed mental health practitioner who uses the psychological theories of Carl Rogers’ person-centered therapy that was developed between 1940 and into the 1980s. A focus on the present, therapeutic therapist-client relationship, naturalistic faith in one’s thoughts and feelings, responsibility of one’s freedom, participating fully in the world, and contributing to others’ lives are all a part of client-centered therapy. Rogers believed that one of the most important factors to the success of client-centered therapy was the relational atmosphere created by the therapist’s attitude toward the client. Client-centered therapists are careful to observe the three core conditions of congruence (genuineness), unconditional positive regard towards the client, and empathy.
Client-centered therapy is now considered a foundational to the humanistic school of psychotherapies. Many therapists can use the theories and approaches of client-centered therapy alongside other psychotherapeutic techniques. A mental health professional who uses client-centered therapy normally has a master’s degree in a psychology related field. There are colleges and organizations, such as Direct Course, that offer client-centered therapy training for both mental health professionals and other professionals who would like to incorporate client-centered therapy into their practices or daily living. Workplace settings for client-centered therapists may include that of any typical mental health professional work environment. Salary amounts for a client-centered therapist vary based on career path, level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a client-centered mental health professional in the U.S. (2021) is $39,500-$60,000.
A clinical therapist is a licensed mental health professional who has education and training in clinical psychology assessments and interventions. Types of therapists practicing clinical therapy interventions may include licensed professional counselors (LPC), licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), and licensed clinical social workers (LCSW). A master’s degree and approval of state licensing boards are the minimum requirements of practicing as a clinical therapist. Clinical therapists can assess client mental health, provide diagnosis and create treatment plans. Masters level clinical therapists may or may not be specialized in particular therapies. A few examples of therapy that a clinical therapist may use include play therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectic behavioral therapy, emotion focused therapy, or systems/family therapy.
Most education and training requirements for a clinical therapist include a minimum of a master’s degree, supervised internship/training and obtaining a state license to practice mental health. Work environments vary for clinical therapists, but a few examples include mental health clinics, child/family service clinics, hospitals, residential treatment centers, partial hospitalization programs and private practice. Employer, geographical location, and education level/training are all factors for the annual salary of a clinical therapist. The average annual United States salary range (2021) for a clinical therapist is $38k-$65k.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
A cognitive behavioral therapist is a licensed mental health professional who uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions to help clients navigate through thought processes and change responses to challenging situations. The American Psychological Association confirms the efficacy of CBT with the following statements: “It is important to emphasize that advances in CBT have been made on the basis of both research and clinical practice. Indeed, CBT is an approach for which there is ample scientific evidence that the methods that have been developed actually produce change. In this manner, CBT differs from many other forms of psychological treatment.” A cognitive behavioral therapist helps people with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and anger issues; relationship problems; and disorders such as PTSD, panic disorders, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Cognitive behavioral therapists must have at least a master’s degree in a psychology related field, but many are licensed psychologists holding doctorate degrees. Most licensed mental health practitioners are trained to be able to use CBT for clients, however; many therapists pursue special certification through organizations such as the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists (NACBT). Most licensed therapists will highlight CBT credentialing for both potential employers and prospective clients. A few settings where cognitive behavioral therapists are employed include mental health clinics, hospitals, universities/colleges, and private practice. Salaries for cognitive behavioral therapists vary with factors such as level of education, experience, work environment, and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the United States (2021) for a cognitive behavioral therapist is $42k-$63k.
A dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) therapist is a licensed mental health practitioner who has specialty training in DBT. In dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive and behavioral therapies are combined with use of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindfulness/reality awareness to help bring about emotion regulation and behavior transformation. Borderline personality disorder, depression, bulimia, binge-eating, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and substance abuse are all types of mental health disorders a DBT therapist may treat. (Dialectical Behavior Therapy, PsychologyToday) Individual and group sessions are both a part of the DBT treatment plan to help the client apply skills, address obstacles, and encourage acceptance with positive behavioral change.
DBT therapists have a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field of study. Psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers can all offer DBT therapy. Most DBT therapists pursue further education and training in DBT with a certification program through the DBT-Linehan Board of Certification. Typical workplace environments for DBT therapists may include private practice, group private practice, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, addiction centers, and eating disorder or substance treatment centers. Salary amounts for DBT therapists vary with factors such as level of education, specialty certifications, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a DBT therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $54,500-$107,000.
A depression therapist is a mental health practitioner who uses psychotherapeutic interventions to help people suffering from depression. These professionals may be licensed or non-licensed. Licensed therapists include psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses or counselors. Non-licensed professionals usually hold a master’s degree and may not be licensed because the state does not offer or require a license in that specific mental health field. Therapists who treat depression often collaborate with the patient’s physician to offer optimum care.
Most licensed therapists typically have a doctorate degree to practice psychotherapy, and depression therapists have specialized education/training in treating depression. There are many different types of psychotherapies for treatment of depression and therapists may use a variety of approaches (each based on individual needs). Therapists may also specialize in a certain form of psychotherapy. A patient might choose a specific depression therapist based on the type of psychotherapy they offer. A few forms of therapy shown to be effective that depression therapists offer include cognitive behavioral therapy, behavior therapy, emotionally focused therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and psychodynamic psychotherapy. Education requirements to become a depression therapist (licensed professional) are earning a master’s or doctorate degree in a psychology-related field of study, completing specialized training (normally under supervision of another mental health professional), and obtaining the required state licensing to practice psychology. Therapists in the United States (2021) have an annual salary range of $36k-$62k.
A drama therapist may or may not be a licensed mental health professional. Drama therapy is defined by the APA as, “an active and experiential psychotherapy modality that involves the intentional and systematic use of drama/theater processes as primary means to achieve psychological growth and change within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” Drama therapy is a form of group psychotherapy that was developed by Romanian-American psychiatrist Jacob Levy Moreno in the mid-1900s. Storytelling, metaphor, improv, performance, and other projective techniques are used by drama therapists to help clients look at life experiences and gain insight in how to process and change their future stories. (The Power of Drama Therapy, PsychologyToday) Drama therapy can be used for issues such as addictions, trauma, mental health disorders, couples or family problems, and youth behavioral problems.
Drama therapists hold a minimum of a master’s degree in an area related to drama therapy, such as theatre, psychology, social work, special education, recreational therapy, or nursing. There are a few colleges that are accredited by the North American Drama Therapy Association (NADTA) that offer master’s degree programs specifically in drama therapy. For those professionals who have already earned a master’s degree and decide to pursue credentialing as a certified drama therapist, the NADTA offers certification through their alternative training program. Workplace settings for a drama therapist may include private practice or group private practice, mental health clinics, schools, hospitals, addictions centers, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, nursing homes, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for a drama therapist vary with factors such as level of education, credentialing, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a drama therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $42,058-$52,266.
Eating Disorder Therapist
An eating disorder therapist is a mental health professional or a medical health care professional who has education and training in psychotherapy and medical nutrition to administer therapy to individuals with eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, “eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opioid addiction.” Eating disorder therapists often collaborate with family doctors, psychiatrists or other clinicians if medication is necessary. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, orthorexia, other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED), avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), pica, rumination disorder, unspecified feeding or eating disorder, laxative abuse, and compulsive exercise are all among the eating disorders that eating disorder therapists help treat. A few types of therapy used by an eating disorder therapist may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Maudsley anorexia nervosa treatment for adults (MANTRA), dialectical behavior therapy, family therapy, behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, art therapy, nutritional counseling, medical nutrition therapy, and psychoanalysis. Medication, inpatient care, and self-help support groups may also be involved in a treatment plan designed by eating disorder therapists.
Most eating disorder therapists have at least a master’s degree in a psychology related area of study. Medical health care professionals who are able to treat eating disorders include doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and registered dietitians. Mental health or medical health professionals may choose to become certified by the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals as one of the following: Certified Eating Disorders Specialist (CEDS), Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD), Certified Eating Disorders, Registered Nurse (CEDRN), or Certified Eating Disorders Creative Arts Therapist (CEDCAT). In order to become certified in treating eating disorders, graduate educational requirements and 2,500 eating disorder-specific supervised practice hours must be completed within two years. Eating disorder therapists work in a variety of work environments including hospitals, health clinics, schools, non-profit organizations, and private mental health practices. Salaries vary significantly for eating disorder therapists based on level of education, experience, certifications, geographical location, and employment environment. The average annual salary range for an eating disorder therapist in the United States (2021) is $36,199 to $45,440.
An emotionally focused therapy (EFT) therapist is a licensed mental health professional who is educated and trained to offer the short-term, relationship therapy of EFT. Emotion-focused therapy, or process-experiential therapy, is considered by the APA as an empirically supported treatment for depression. Interpersonal problems, trauma, and avoidant personality disorder have also been treated successfully by EFT. Therapists who use EFT typically work with couples or families. The main goal of an EFT therapist is to help clients become aware of relationship behavior patterns, take steps to create a more secure bond, and develop more trust for healthier, more positive relationships. (Emotionally Focused Therapy, PsychologyToday)
An EFT therapist has a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field, along with a state license to practice psychology. Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers can all use EFT with the proper certification. Most EFT therapists pursue certification through the International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT). Workplace environment for an EFT therapist is normally a private practice or group private practice; however, employment through hospitals, schools, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations is also possible. Salary amounts for an EFT therapist vary based on factors such as level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for an EFT therapist is $33,546-$116,760.
An EMDR therapist is a licensed mental health practitioner who has been trained to use the psychotherapy called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) to help people with disorders such as depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The APA defines EMDR as a “structured therapy that encourages the patient to briefly focus on the trauma memory while simultaneously experiencing bilateral stimulation (typically eye movements), which is associated with a reduction in the vividness and emotion associated with the trauma memories.” Normal EMDR therapy is done individually for 60-90 minutes, one to two times a week for a total of 6-12 sessions.
EMDR therapists must have a minimum of a master’s degree in a mental health field such as counseling, marriage family therapy, psychology, psychotherapy, psychiatry, or social work. They also must have a state license to practice psychotherapy. EMDR therapists must also be trained and certified in EMDR therapy. The EMDR International Association and the EMDR Institute both offer certification classes for both mental health and medical health professionals. Workplace environments for EMDR therapists may include hospitals, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private practice. Salary amounts for EMDR therapists vary with level of education, experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary of an EMDR therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $57,000-$126,500.
The title “exercise therapist” can have different meanings in different fields of study. A fitness counselor or coach is someone who has education and training in exercise and nutrition and is better defined within the area of physical health. Physical therapist is another title of a medical professional within the study of physical health, not to be confused with a mental health professional who practices psychology. Increasing in number are also mental health professionals who incorporate physical activity into their psychological treatment plans, but do not refer to themselves as exercise therapists. “Exercise therapist” in the study of mental health/psychology can best be defined as a mental health professional who specializes in sport and exercise psychology, or sometimes called exercise and sports psychology. The Association for Applied Sport Psychology describes sport and exercise therapists as mental health professionals “helping clients develop and use mental, life, and self-regulatory skills to optimize performance, enjoyment, and/or personal development in sport or other domains.”
Sport and exercise therapists typically hold master’s or doctorate degrees in sport and exercise psychology or applied sport psychology. Graduate classes incorporate both psychology and physiology for knowledge of motor learning and control, exercise physiology, sport sociology, and philosophy of sport. Certification as a Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC) through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology is available for sport and exercise therapists. Workplace settings for sport and exercise therapists may include high schools, colleges, working for professional athletic teams, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private practice, and consulting firms. Salary amounts for sport and exercise therapists vary with factors such as level of education, experience/training, certifications/credentialing, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the U.S. for a sport and exercise therapist (2021) is $40,500-$96,500.
An existential therapist is a licensed mental health professional who has had specialized training and experience in using existential psychotherapeutic methods. Existential therapy focuses on concepts that are universally applicable to human existence including death, freedom, responsibility, and the meaning of life. A client-therapist psychotherapeutic relationship is one of the key factors to successful existential therapy. An existential therapist instills the core concepts of free will, mindful living in the present, self-awareness and determination, and willful decision making to help clients facilitate meaning and wellness in their lives. (Existential Therapy, 2017, PsychologyToday) Most existential therapists use the technique of phenomenology in their psychotherapeutic treatment plan. This is the conscious setting aside of preconceptions and dogma to discover the client’s actual “being,” or subjective experience. (What Is Existential Psychotherapy?, 2011, PsychologyToday)
Existential therapists hold a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field, along with a state licensure to practice psychology. Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers are all able to offer existential therapy. Most existential therapists pursue postgraduate education or training/certification in existential therapy through accredited colleges or organizations. The workplace setting for an existential therapist typically includes a private practice or group private practice, but may also include employment with mental health clinics, substance abuse rehabilitation centers, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for an existential therapist vary based on level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for an existential therapist (mental health therapist) is $56,018-$68,930.
A family therapist is a term used to describe a mental health professional that has education and training in family therapy. Like family counseling, family therapy can be done by psychologists, nurses, psychotherapists, social workers, or counselors. Mental health professionals who practice marriage and family therapy must have met specific licensure requirements to use the title “Marriage and Family Therapist” (see Marriage and Family Therapist on this page for more information). For example, a psychologist may offer family therapy, but cannot use the title “Marriage and Family Therapist” if he/she is not licensed to practice that specific type of therapy.
Family therapists may use a wide variety of psychotherapeutic techniques during family therapy group sessions. A few of these might include structural therapy, strategic therapy, systemic therapy, narrative therapy, transgenerational therapy, and reality therapy. A few of the main goals of family therapy are to develop healthy communication, promote problem solving, build empathy, and reduce conflict within the family. Mental health professionals practicing family therapy are required to have a minimum of a master’s degree, along with an internship with supervised clinical training. The work environment for family therapists is mostly private practice, but can also include offices of other health practitioners, outpatient care centers, or state government facilities. The salary range for a licensed mental health professional who practices family therapy varies based upon the specific mental health profession and level of education. In the U.S. (2021), the annual salary income range for family therapists is $33k to $62k.
A gender therapist is a mental health professional who specializes in helping individuals, couples, and families with gender transitioning. According to healthline.com, gender therapists normally focus on social, mental, emotional, and physical needs of people who are engaged in the following: questioning gender, uncomfortable with aspects of their gender or body, experiencing gender dysphoria, seeking gender-affirming interventions, and aren’t exclusively identifying with their designated sex at birth. The gender therapist taylors the therapy to each individual. Elements of therapy may include psychotherapy, case management, education, advocacy, and consultation with other health care providers.
Most gender therapists hold at least master’s degrees in psychology, counseling, or social work. They also have credentials in specialized education/training in gender therapy. They continue seeking out training and professional consultation through organizations such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) in the following areas: gender identity, gender diversity, gender dysphoria, medical and non-medical gender-affirming interventions, transgender rights, navigating gender in all aspects of life, and other relevent research and news. Salary for gender therapists vary according to factors such as type of work environment, geographical location, and education/training. The average annual salary range in the U.S. for a gender therapist (2021) is $56k-$105k.
A grief therapist is a licensed mental health professional who specializes in helping clients who are living with severe or complicated grief. Grief therapists may be psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, or social workers. Grief therapists are able to use psychotherapeutic interventions to identify and solve psychological and emotional problems that are manifested through bodily or behavioral symptoms. In contrast to grief counselors who typically help people with uncomplicated, short-term mourning (e.g. loss of loved one), grief therapists typically help people with delayed, extreme or long-term mourning (unexpected loss of loved one, disaster, terminal illness in family). Individuals or groups may be treated by grief therapists.
The minimum education for a grief therapist is normally a master’s degree in grief and bereavement, or in a psychology related area of study with additional education/certification in grief therapy. State licensure requirements must also be met to practice psychotherapy. There are numerous colleges and organizations that offer certifications in grief/bereavement care for mental health professionals, medical health professionals and clergy. Workplace environments for grief therapists may include private practice, group private practice, hospitals, schools, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for grief therapists vary with factors such as level of education, experience, certifications, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for grief therapists (bereavement specialist) in the U.S. (2021) is $53,790-$70,490.
A holistic therapist is a licensed psychotherapist who uses traditional psychotherapy methods and also incorporates non-traditional, holistic approaches into client treatment plans such as acupuncture, meditation, yoga, hypnosis and dietary supplements. Holistic therapists value the integration between mind, body and spirit. Holistic therapists may refer to themselves as integrative therapists or mind-body-spirit therapists. Other types of therapy used by holistic therapists include heart-centered hypnotherapy, creative art therapy, breath therapy, and guided imagery. (Holistic Psychotherapy, Edwards) Essentially, holistic therapists treat imbalances between the mind, body and spirit using both traditional and alternative psychotherapeutic methods to bring about growth and healing. Anxiety, depression, trauma, addictions, and sexual abuse are a few examples of issues that may be treated by holistic therapy.
The minimum education requirements for a holistic therapist is a master’s degree in a psychology related field. Holistic therapists may also pursue doctorate degrees in integrative mental health or holistic psychology. State licensure requirements must also be met before practicing holistic therapy. Certifications for specific types of holistic therapies are available through integrative and holistic organizations (e.g. advanced clinical hypnotherapy certification through the Transpersonal Hypnotherapy Institute). Workplace environments for holistic therapists include private or group practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, mental health clinics, non-profit organizations, or in academia (doctorate degrees). Salary amounts for holistic therapists vary based on level of education, specialized training credentials, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a holistic therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $34,500-$83,000.
A humanistic therapist is a mental health professional who specializes in humanistic psychotherapy approaches. The main approaches used by humanistic therapists are client centered therapy, existential therapy, existential-integrative therapy, Gestalt therapy, and positive psychotherapy. (Humanistic psychotherapy, PsychologyWiki) Empathy for the client and integration of self-help principles are a main part of the practice of humanistic therapists. The APA’s Society for Humanistic Psychology states that humanistic approaches to therapy “involve a collaborative relationship between therapist and client that is designed to promote transformative change (versus tension reduction) by cutting through clients’ defenses and helping them forge a new worldview and behaviors that authentically express their core values.” Client self-actualization and healing is the ultimate goal for a humanistic therapist. Mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, panic disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, addiction, and relationship issues have all been effectively treated by humanistic therapists. (Humanistic Therapy, PsychologyToday)
Humanistic therapists typically pursue master’s and doctorate degrees in a psychology related field, along with advanced training and certification in humanistic therapies. State licensure requirements to practice psychology must also be met. Workplace environments for humanistic therapists may include private or group practices, schools, hospitals, government agencies and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts vary with factors such as level of education, specialized certifications/training, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a humanistic therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $41k-$83k.
A hypnosis therapist, or hypnotherapist, is a mental health or medical health care professional who has had extensive, approved training in hypnotherapy. Hypnosis is a “procedure that helps facilitate various types of therapies and medical or psychological treatments.” (Hypnotherapy, 2017, PsychologyToday) Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers can all use hypnotherapy to help treat issues such as anxiety, phobias, substance abuse, relationship problems, sleep issues, and negative habitual behaviors. Medical doctors, registered nurses, and dentists can also become certified to offer hypnotherapy to their patients to help with medical symptoms such as pain control, cancer treatment side effects, digestive disorders, and anxiety associated with dental work. (Hypnosis, 2020, MayoClinic)
A hypnosis therapist must have a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field of study, along with meeting state requirements to practice psychotherapy. In order to practice hypnotherapy, the mental health or medical health professional must complete advanced training and certification in hypnosis through the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. Workplace environment and salary amounts for hypnotherapists vary based mostly on career path. Credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location also factor into where a hypnosis therapist may work and how much the annual salary range will be. Medical professionals typically work in hospitals and clinics. Mental health professionals may work in mental health clinics, private or group private practices, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. The average annual salary range for a certified clinical hypnotherapist in the U.S. (2021) is $60k-$150k.
A laughter therapist is a licensed mental health professional who uses laughter in therapy, a highly effective treatment modality in helping clients move through painful issues. According to nationally recognized expert in laughter therapy, Edna Junkins (LCSW, LMFT, BCD), laughter releases three emotions (anger, anxiety and boredom), and clients who want to utilize laughter in therapy will generally move through their issues more quickly. Laughter in therapy can help with bonding, perspective and comic relief. (Laughter in Therapy, 2013, PsychologyToday) Laughter therapy can be physically therapeutic as it helps clients relax, along with the release of “feel good” endorphins to help the immune system and create clearer thinking by stimulating both sides of the brain.
Laughter therapists have a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field of study as well as state licensure to practice psychotherapy. Laughter in therapy can be used in combination with traditional psychotherapeutic methods/approaches. Workplace environments for laughter therapists include private practice, group private practice, mental health clinics, hospitals, schools, government agencies, non-profit organization, and any other work environment where psychotherapists are typically employed. Any mental health practitioner can pursue certification or continuing education in laughter therapy through organizations like World Laughter Tour, Inc. Laughter Therapy Training & Clubs. Salary amounts for a laughter therapist vary with factors such as level of education, credentialing, years of experience, psychology, career path, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a laughter therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $48k-$89k.
Marriage and Family Therapist
A marriage and family therapist (MFT) is a licensed therapist with a graduate (master’s degree) or postgraduate (doctorate degree) education who treats both couples and families with relationship problems. MFTs are mental health professionals, and can diagnose and treat a host of mental and emotional disorders within the realm of marriage and family life. Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used by marriage and family therapists, among a variety of other psychotherapy methods. All states require marriage and family therapists to be licensed, which requires 2,000-4,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience (also known as an internship or residency) and the completion of a state or national regulated board examination. MFTs can also choose to become members of fellowship organizations to add to their credentials and continue education in their profession. State government, schools, hospitals, offices of other health practitioners, and private practice are a few of the environments where marriage and family therapists work.
Therapy topics that MFTs cover can be specific or general and may include adoption, domestic violence, infertility, infidelity, conflict management (in marriage or divorce), marital distress, marriage preparation, online infidelity, and sexual health. Most marriage and family therapy is short-term, with 12 being the average number of sessions. Therapy can be given to individuals separately and/or together, depending on the specific treatment plan needed for the couple or family. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the job outlook for marriage and family therapists will increase 22% from 2019-2029. The average annual salary range for a marriage and family therapist in the U.S. (2020) is $33,140-$92,930.
A music therapist is a mental health professional who specializes in the use of music intervention in psychotherapy. Music therapists have completed at least a bachelor’s degree in music therapy, 1200 hours of clinical training, a supervised internship, and completed board certification requirements through the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Board-certified music therapists may also need to complete state specific licensure requirements before practicing in certain states. Most graduate curricula in music therapy focus on psychology, music, and clinical foundations. Post graduate education in music therapy generally focuses on clinical practice and research.
Music therapists practice various forms of music therapy within a therapeutic relationship to help clients of all ages and ability levels to bring about positive change and accomplish individualized goals. The workplace environment for music therapists can consist of a wide variety of settings including (to name a few) private practice, psychiatric hospitals, rehab facilities, hospitals, daycare centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, and schools. The American Music Therapy Association publishes ongoing research study information on the efficacy of music therapy in the Journal of Music Therapy. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for a music therapist is $30k-$61k.
A narrative therapist is a licensed mental health professional who has extensive training and experience in the psychotherapeutic methods of narrative therapy. Narrative therapists can be psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, or social workers. Narrative therapists seek to help clients identify personal values and skills to then equip them to effectively confront current and future problems. A “new narrative” about the story of the client’s life is created using reflections on past thought patterns and behaviors together with the newly identified values and skills that will empower the client to make positive and productive choices, rather than focusing on and categorizing themselves by their problems. (Narrative Therapy, PsychologyToday) Most narrative therapy is done in a group setting, but can also be used for individual psychotherapy.
A narrative therapist has a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field, along with state licensure to practice psychology. Although few in number, there are both U.S. colleges and international colleges that offer master’s degrees in narrative studies or narrative and community work. Most narrative therapists receive master’s degrees in a psychology related field with additional certification/training in narrative therapy through organizations such as the Narrative Therapy Initiative, the Evanston Family Therapy Center, or Re-Authoring Teaching, Inc. Most narrative therapists work in settings such as private practice, group private practice, schools, family therapy clinics, businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Narrative therapists have varying salary amounts based on level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a narrative therapist (expressive arts therapist) in the U.S. (2021) is $40k-$73k.
A neurotherapist, or neurofeedback therapist, is a licensed mental health professional who has extensive education and experience in neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that uses real-time displays of brain activity such as electroencephalography (EEG) to teach self-regulation of brain function. Neurotherapists use the electroencephalographic neurofeedback (EEG-NFB) to help the individual with neurophysiological parameters by inducing changes to brain function, which then changes behavior. Neurofeedback therapists treat people with brain-related conditions such as pain, addiction, aggression, anxiety, autism, depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy, headaches, insomnia, Tourette syndrom, brain damage from stroke, and trauma.
A master’s degree in a psychology related field is the minimum requirement for a neurotherapist. State licensing requirements must also be met for a neurofeedback therapist to offer EEG-NFB therapy. Many neurotherapists pursue board certification through the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance. Health care professionals may also become board certified in neurofeedback therapy. Workplace environments for neurofeedback therapists may include private practice, group private practice, mental health clinics, hospitals, and government agencies. Salary amounts for neurotherapists vary with factors such as level of education, credentials, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a neurofeedback therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $32,000-$71,500.
According to the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA), nutritional therapists are “holistic nutrition professionals who harness the power of real food and empower people to reconnect with the innate wisdom and unique needs of their bodies, thereby supporting lasting wellness.” Nutritional therapists are not to be confused with registered dietitians, certified nutrition specialists, or practicing psychologists. Nutritional therapists may also refer to themselves as nutritionists. Someone with the title Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (FNTP) or Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) has completed a degree program through a private vocational school called the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA). The one requirement to complete this coursework is a high school diploma. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) also offers a health coach training program that is similar to the Nutritional Therapy Association’s degree program for becoming a nutritional therapy practitioner. They also require the minimum of a high school diploma. According to the IIN, a health coach is “a wellness professional whose main goal is to guide clients to reach their health and wellness goals, whether that’s sleeping better, boosting energy, weight loss, stress management, and so much more. Health Coaches create a safe space for their clients to explore their health, facilitating behavior and lifestyle change that can be sustained for the long-term.”
Nutritional therapists do not offer medical advice, but make educated recommendations to help empower clients to be successful in meeting nutritional goals for overall better health. State requirements vary, but regulations are minimal because nutritional therapists are legally not able to make prescriptive diets or offer clinical advice like a physician, certified nutrition specialist, or registered dietitian. Nutritional therapist degree programs can be as short as 6 months (accelerated programs). Universities and colleges also offer bachelors and masters degrees in nutritional sciences for people who may be interested in becoming dietitians or nutrition specialists. A few examples of career paths for nutritional therapists include (but are not limited to): privately consulting with clients, corporate wellness coaching, nutrition blogging, community wellness coaching, meal planning for clients or organizations, sourcing local organic foods, hosting wellness seminars for adults or children, hosting farm and market tours, in-store nutritionist consulting, and cooking as a personal chef. Salaries for nutritional therapists are vast in difference, depending upon which career path is chosen. Geographical location and education/training may also factor into salary amounts. The average annual salary range for a nutritional therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $35,000 to $79,500.
An Occupational Therapist (OT) is defined as a health care professional who works with patients to improve and sustain overall physical, mental, and emotional well-being. They create and periodically revise, as needed, intervention goal-setting plans for each patient based on information gathered from both relationship and environmental resources of the individual patient. Occupational therapists work closely with other health care practitioners such as physicians, psychologists and therapists to cultivate effective patient rehabilitation. A masters degree in occupational therapy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, along with specific state licensure, is required to become an occupational therapist. Many masters programs require specific coursework along with work or volunteer experience in the field of occupational therapy for entrance into the degree program. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, “both occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are educated to provide services that support mental and physical health and wellness, rehabilitation, habilitation, and recovery-oriented approaches.”
OTs work in a variety of different environments. A few examples include hospitals, geriatric homes, clinics, private home care programs, and rehab centers. The job outlook for occupational therapists, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, is expected to grow 16% from 2019 to 2029. One of the reasons for this growth is the aging baby-boomer generation, along with people who are intentional about being active as they age. General healthcare environments, both public and private, will also need OTs due to a rising desire of people seeking non invasive outpatient care for long-term health problems. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2020) for an occupational therapist is $57,330-$122,670.
An OCD therapist is a licensed mental health professional who uses psychotherapeutic methods to treat clients with obsessive compulsive disorder. The International OCD Foundation defines obsessive compulsive disorder as a “mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life, and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions.” Someone who has OCD constantly struggles with distressing feelings from unwanted thoughts or images, followed by compulsive behavior to try to stop the distress from the mental obsessions. The goal of an OCD therapist is to help the client face their fears in a controlled setting and eventually translate exposure to the real world where uncertainty can be embraced and not feared. Most OCD therapists use a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) technique called exposure and response prevention (ERP) to help the client with management of OCD symptoms. Psychotropic medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or clomipramine may also be used in combination with CBT/ERP.
Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors can all treat OCD. Most mental health professionals who specialize in OCD therapy treatments have a minimum of a masters degree in a psychology related field, along with extensive specialized training and experience in treating OCD. Years of education and training depends on the professional career path choice. Specialized training in ERP for treatment of OCD can be completed by OCD therapists from organizations like the International OCD Foundation, or from universities offering training sessions (e.g. University of Pennsylvania). Workplace settings for OCD therapists include private or group practices, inpatient or outpatient mental health clinics, hospitals, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and academia in research or teaching. Salary amounts for OCD therapists vary based on factors such as level of education, specialty training, experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary of an OCD therapist in the United States (2021) is $58,024-$210,848.
A person-centered therapist is a licensed mental health professional who specializes in the application of person-centered therapy, or Rogerian therapy, that was developed by American psychologist, Carl Rogers, in the 1940s. A person-centered therapist takes a non-authoritative role in a nondirective, empathic approach to allow the client to be empowered and motivated throughout the psychotherapeutic treatment. (Person-Centered Therapy, 2009, GoodTherapy) One of the most important factors to the success of person-centered therapy is the therapist-client relationship that is formed using the core conditions that a therapist must uphold, which include congruence (relating to client), unconditional positive regard (acceptance of client), and empathy (understanding client’s perspective).
A master’s degree in a psychology related field and a state license to practice psychology are the minimum education/licensing requirements for a person-centered therapist. Any mental health professional can apply person-centered therapy methods during psychotherapeutic treatment; however most therapists who designate themselves as a “person-centered therapist” have specialized education and training in Rogerian therapy, or person-centered therapy, through organizations such as the Institute for Person-Centered Practices. Workplace environments for a person-centered therapist may include private practice, group private practice, mental health clinics, hospitals, schools, substance abuse centers, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for person-centered therapists vary based on level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a person-centered therapist (mental health therapist) in the U.S. (2021) is $56,018-$68,930.
According to the Association of Play Therapy (APT), play therapy is “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained Play Therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.” Play therapists are licensed clinical mental health professionals who help clients with growth and development skills such as social integration, emotional modulation, empathy, trauma resolution, coping skills, and sensorimotor development. Play therapists generally treat children aged 6 months through adolescence, but can also treat people who have compromised speech, learning disabilities, or developmental disabilities. Normally, a play therapy treatment plan lasts 20 sessions, and a play therapist will use both directive and non-directive approaches in the 30-45 minute sessions. Play therapists may also help elderly clients. According to PositivePsychology.com, play therapy “has also been used successfully in a case study involving elderly adults in nursing homes (Ledyard, 1999). This study found that play therapy led to decreased levels of depression and increased levels of self-esteem, among other benefits.”
Licensed mental health professionals may use forms of play therapy when treating their clients, but in order to use the title “Play Therapist”, some choose to pursue credentials through the APT. Upon completing the requirements for obtaining certification through the APT, clinical mental health professionals may then use specific play therapist titles such as Registered Play Therapist (RPT), Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor (RPT-S), and School Based-Registered Play Therapist (SB-RPT). The minimum education requirements to be a registered play therapist through the APT include completing a minimum of a master’s clinical mental health degree program with a discipline in counseling, marriage and family therapy, psychiatry, psychology, or social work with demonstrated coursework in: child development; theories of personality; principles of psychotherapy; child & adolescent psychopathology; and ethics. They also require documentation of play therapy instruction, play therapy supervised experience, and license to independently provide mental health services. SB-RPT requirements are similar to the RPT, but with school credentials documentation. Play therapists are employed in a variety of work environments including mental health clinics, schools, hospitals, government agencies, residential/recreational settings, and private practices. The average annual salary range for a play therapist in the United States (2021) is $43k-$66k.
A psychiatric nurse, or psychiatric mental health nurse (PMHN) is a registered nurse that specializes in mental health. Psychiatric nurses care for patients of all ages with mental health disorders or illnesses. A psychiatric mental health nurse becomes a registered nurse (RN) by means of education (diploma, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree) and completing the RN license examination. A few areas of specialty within psychiatric nurse care may include child and adolescent mental health nursing, gerontological psychiatric nursing, forensics and substance abuse.
There are three main levels of psychiatric nursing in the United States. A Licensed vocational nurse, or licensed practical nurse (LPN), can work in psychiatric mental health care facilities alongside or under the supervision of a PMHN, PMH-APRN, psychologist, psychiatrist or physician. Psychiatric mental health nurses (PMHN) and psychiatric mental health advanced practice registered nurses (PMH-APRNs) both offer psychiatric care, but the main difference is that the PMH-APRN has more education (master’s or doctorate degrees) and clinical training. Psychiatric mental health advanced practice registered nurses are also able to prescribe medicine and have their own private practices. According to Healthcare Salaries in 2015, the average annual salary for an LPN in mental health services was about $56,824. According to payscale, the average annual salary for a psychiatric mental health nurse is $66,942 as of November 2020. A PMH-APRN makes an average salary of $108,623, according to the same source and date.
A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the medical field of psychiatry. Psychiatry is the study of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of psychiatric disorders/mental illnesses. Psychiatrists evaluate patients to see if the symptoms they are experiencing are physical illness, physical and mental illness, or completely psychiatric. A psychiatrist works closely with other medical professionals such as clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, nurses and social workers to help assess and manage the patient’s mental illness.
Education and training required to become a psychiatrist is roughly 12 years of school after high school. One or two more years is needed after that for a subspecialty in child or adolescent psychiatry. There are many subspecialties (fellowships) that are within the psychiatry field. Each one also requires additional training/education. After completing education and training, the psychiatrist is eligible to take an exam to become board certified. Board certification is not required for psychiatric practice. Board certification is an extra assurance for patients in knowing that their psychiatrist is a tested expert in knowing their field of study. The average annual salary range of a psychiatrist in the U.S. (2021) is $103k-$296k.
Psychiatry and psychology are similar in many ways; however, one of the main differences is medicine application. Psychiatry is both study and application of medicine for a patient with mental disorders. Psychology is the study of mental states and can be practiced in many specialized fields. Psychiatry also generally requires more education and training than psychology.
A psychoanalytic therapist is a licensed mental health professional who specializes in psychoanalytic therapy to help people with depression, emotional struggles, emotional trauma, neurotic behavior patterns, self-destructive behavior patterns, personality disorders, or relationship issues. (Psychoanalytic Therapy, PsychologyToday) One of the main goals of a psychoanalytic therapist is to form a psychotherapeutic relationship with the client, which will allow for the use of transference analysis (transfer of client’s feelings/emotions onto another person…in this case the therapist) in order to help reveal the unconscious content of the client’s psyche. Past repressed experiences and emotions are examined and worked through with this in-depth talk therapy.
Psychoanalytic therapists typically have a master’s degree in a psychology related field of study, along with fulfillment of state licensing requirements. These may include licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers. Most psychoanalytic therapists pursue certification in psychoanalytic methods through organizations such as the American Board of Psychoanalysis which offers certification in adult and child/adolescent psychoanalysis. Workplace settings for psychoanalytic therapists may include private practice, private group practice, mental health clinics, hospitals, schools, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for psychoanalytic therapists vary based on factors such as level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a psychoanalytic therapist (psychotherapist) in the U.S. (2021) is $42k-$83k.
A psychodynamic therapist is a licensed mental health practitioner who specializes in psychodynamic psychotherapy. Psychodynamic therapists use in-depth talk therapy to help clients reveal and resolve unconscious conflicts that are driving their symptoms. Techniques used by psychodynamic therapists include free association, dream interpretation, recognizing resistance, transference, working through painful memories, and building a therapeutic therapist-client relationship. Depression, addictions, social anxiety disorder, eating disorders, and other psychological disorders have all been proven to be effectively treated by psychodynamic therapy. (Psychodynamic Therapy, PsychologyToday) Psychodynamic therapists work with their clients long term for months or even years, as there is a recognition that it may take time for a person to effectively put into words inner experiences.
Psychodynamic therapists hold a minimum of a master’s degree in a mental health related field. State licensing requirements must also be met to practice psychology. Licensed counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, or other mental health professionals may all practice psychodynamic therapy. Most psychodynamic therapists complete specialized certification programs for advanced training in psychodynamic therapy. The National Psychological Association of Psychoanalysis offers a Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Certificate Program for licensed mental health providers. The Psychoanalytic Association of New York also offers a certificate program in psychodynamic psychotherapy for adults. Work environments for psychodynamic therapists are typically private practice or group private practice, but also may involve employment with government agencies, non-profit organizations, mental health clinics, or rehabilitation centers. Salary amounts for psychodynamic psychologists vary with factors such as education level, certifications, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a psychodynamic therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $41k-$83k.
A psychotherapist is someone who practices psychotherapy, or sometimes called psychological therapy, within a trusted therapist-client relationship to bring about modification in problematic behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts or emotions. The objective is to assist in improving mental health, well-being, relationships and social skills. This can be done individually or in a group setting. Many mental health professionals who practice psychotherapy are called psychotherapists; however, licensed psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, or professional counselors can also practice psychotherapy and not refer to themselves as a “psychotherapist”.
Psychotherapists must successfully obtain at least a master’s degree, followed by supervised practice and clinical placements. In the United States, each state varies with regulation for licensing in psychotherapy. The average annual salary for therapists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $52,650. This statistic was as of May, 2019. Salary numbers are also dependent upon the career field (mental health professional practicing psychotherapy, but not a “psychotherapist”) or environment in which the psychotherapist practices.
A posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) therapist is a licensed mental health professional who has extensive education and training for treating individuals with PTSD. The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD as a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or rape or who have been threatened with death, sexual violence or serious injury. PTSD therapists normally use the APA recommended therapies of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive processing therapy (CPT), cognitive therapy, or prolonged exposure in their client treatment plan. Other therapies such as brief eclectic psychotherapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, narrative exposure therapy, or emotional freedom technique may also be used.
PTSD therapists normally have a master’s degree in a psychology related field and have met state licensing requirements to practice psychotherapy. Psychiatrists and psychologists who treat clients with PTSD typically have a doctorate degree. Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers are all able to treat people who have PTSD. Most mental health professionals who are PTSD therapists pursue specialty training and certification in specific PTSD therapies that are listed above. There are also organizations that offer certification programs such as the Trauma Research Foundation which offers a Certificate in Traumatic Stress Studies. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs also offers free continuing education in PTSD for mental health and medical healthcare professionals. Workplace environments for PTSD therapists may include private practice, group private practice, mental health clinics, hospitals, schools, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for PTSD therapists vary based on level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a PTSD therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $51,500-$208,000.
According to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, a recreation therapist (sometimes called a recreational therapist) is someone who “utilizes a wide range of activity and community based interventions and techniques to improve the physical, cognitive, emotional, social, and leisure needs of their clients.” Creative arts, games, sports, exercises, and skill enhancement activities are all examples of interventions a recreation therapist may choose to use with clients. The four different approaches used by a recreational therapist are recreation services, therapeutic approach, umbrella/combined approach, and leisure ability approach. Reducing depression, stress and anxiety to help clients build confidence for socializing in their communities is also one of the main goals of treatment. Recreation therapists help people of all ages with physical disabilities and/or psychiatric disorders, pediatric patients, older adults, youth at risk, and people with developmental disabilities or brain injuries.
A bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy is the minimum requirement for entry-level jobs within the recreation therapy career field. Employers favor hiring graduates who have completed certification through the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC) and are Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS). Only recreation therapists with this licensing credential are able to use the title Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS). The NCTRC guidelines for becoming a CTRS state that the following must be completed: completion of bachelor degree or higher with concentration in recreational therapy (therapeutic recreation) in addition to specific support coursework, completion of a minimum 14 week/560 hour internship supervised by a CTRS, and passing the NCTRC certification exam. Specialty certification is also available. A CTRS must also complete 50 clock hours (5.0 CEUs) of continuing education within a 5 year span. Recreation therapists practice in work environments such as physical and mental health rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, adult day programs, park and recreation centers, adapted sports programs, acute care hospitals, pediatric hospitals, school systems, substance abuse centers, hospice care, and community centers. The average annual salary range for a recreation therapist in the United States (2021) is $33k – $58k.
A regression therapist is a licensed mental health professional who is specialized in regression therapy methods of psychotherapeutic treatment. Regression therapy focuses on the rediscovery of past events in order to help the client solve current issues for mental and emotional wellness. (Regression Therapy, 2009, GoodTherapy) The theories and techniques of hypnotherapy and psychoanalysis were used by American psychologist Morris Netherton to develop the therapy in the late 1970s. Regression therapy can also be referred to as past-life regression therapy. Phobias, depression, intimacy issues, and guilt/shame have been treated with regression therapy.
A regression therapist has a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field, along with a state license to practice psychology. In order to practice regression therapy, the mental health professional must have a strong educational background and training in psychoanalysis and hypnotherapy. Most regression therapists seek certification and continuing education from organizations such as the International Board for Regression Therapy. Workplace environment for a regression therapist is normally a private practice or a group private practice, but employment through mental health clinics, government agencies or non-profit organizations is also possible. Salary amounts vary for regression therapists based on level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a regression therapist (mental health therapist) in the U.S. (2021) is $56,018-$68,930.
A relationship therapist, also called a couples therapist, is a licensed mental health professional who offers therapy to couples or people in relationships to improve interactions and resolve interpersonal conflicts. Behavioral couples therapy and integrative behavioral couples therapy (IBCT) are both forms of behavioral therapy that focus on behaviors within a relationship. Relationship therapists normally use one of these forms of therapy to help couples better understand each other’s learning history, grow acceptance, and promote positive changes. Basic principles that a couples therapist strives to accomplish consist of the following: provide a confidential dialogue; enable each person to be heard and to hear themselves; provide ways for the clients to see relationship’s difficulties and potential for change; empower the relationship to make important decisions and control the end result; deliver relevant and appropriate information; change the view of the relationship; improve communication; and set clear goals/objectives. Other types of relationship therapy include emotionally focused therapy (EFT), imago relationship therapy, the Gottman method, narrative therapy, solution focused therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, relational life therapy, and discernment therapy.
Relationship therapists typically complete a master’s degree program, a supervised internship/experience, and licensure requirements to practice psychotherapy. There are many different career paths to become a relationship, or couples, therapist. Practicing psychologists, marriage and family therapists, licensed counselors, and licensed social workers are all able to offer relationship therapy. Most mental health practitioners will pursue extensive training in therapies for relationships and couples. Relationship therapists generally work in private practice settings, but others are employed by private sector businesses, government agencies, branches of the military, schools and non-profit organizations. Many practitioners may also choose to be involved with groups such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy’s Couples Special Interest Group for networking and continuing education in the area of couples therapy. Salary depends upon factors such as level of education, experience, work environment and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the United States (2021) for a relationship/couples therapist (average marriage/family therapist) is $37k-$76k.
A school therapist is a licensed mental health professional who offers school-based mental health services to students and their families. School therapists work collaboratively with educators to bring clinical services to children, while also providing training and support to educators and administration staff. School therapists can be licensed counselors or social workers who have had education and training for work in a school setting. Due to increased needs, some public school systems are teaming up with local community behavioral health service professionals to offer mental health services to students and families within the public school system. (School-based mental health services, 2013, CounselingToday) School therapists help treat students with disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety disorder, depression and posttraumatic stress.
A master’s degree in school counseling or school psychology, completion of practicum and internship in a K-12 school, passage of a state or national comprehensive test (e.g., Praxis), and state licensing and credentialing is required for school therapists. The typical work environment for a school therapist is in a school setting, private or public. Salary amounts for school therapists vary based on factors such as type of school employer (public or private) and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a school therapist in the United States (2021) is $33k-$54k.
A social therapist is a licensed mental health professional who is educated and trained in social psychology theories and approaches. Social therapists study conditions in which thoughts, feelings and behaviors occur and how these variables influence social interactions. Social therapists can work clinically to help individuals or groups of people, or they can conduct research to help in the area of social challenges such as prejudice, bullying, criminal activity and substance abuse. (Pursuing a Career in Social Psychology, APA) The overall goal of social therapists, whether in clinical work or research, is to help individuals and groups make smart choices that are conducive to both personal and community well being.
A social therapist typically has a master’s degree in social psychology (or a type of psychology with a concentration in social psychology). State licensure requirements must also be met to practice psychology. Clinical therapists practicing social psychology typically work in private practice or group private practice, mental health clinics, rehabilitation centers, addiction centers, or group homes. Social therapists who choose research as their career path can work as consultants, researchers, marketing directors, managers, political strategists, technology designers, or policy evaluators for the government or non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for social therapists vary based on career path, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a social therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $41,500-$79,500.
A social worker is a professional who uses social sciences such as psychology, sociology, public health, community development, political science, economics and law to assist individuals and communities in problem solving to accomplish positive social change. Due to the broad nature of the profession, there are many definitions for the career description of a social worker. Most social workers generally work with individuals, families, and communities alongside other professionals within education and health fields to create the foundation for progressive growth in well-being. Social workers are one of the largest group of mental health service providers and the National Association of Social Workers is the largest professional organization of social workers in the world
The basic education required for nonclinical social work is a bachelor’s degree in social work with a state licensure/certification. Clinical social workers must complete a masters degree in social work, 2 years of training/experience, and a clinical exam for state licensure. A bachelor in social work is not required to enter into a masters degree program in social work (MSW), but classes in sociology, psychology, political science and economics are important and recommended. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2020) for a social worker is $33,020-$85,820 .
A somatic therapist is a licensed mental health professional who is trained in somatic therapy. Somatic therapists can be psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, expressive arts therapists or social workers. A few problems that somatic therapists address and treat include anxiety, depression, grief, addictions, relationship issues, trauma/abuse, and chronic pain. (Somatic Therapy, PsychologyToday) Somatic therapy focuses on somatic experience, or internal physical perception and experience, including a variety of holistic techniques including sound, touch, mirroring, movement and breath.
A somatic therapist has a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field. Most somatic therapists pursue additional education/training/certificates in somatic therapy techniques. There are many different types of techniques for somatic psychotherapy. Universities, such as Antioch University and Naropa University, offer certificate programs in somatic psychotherapy. There are institutions such as Somatic Experiencing International that offer training in a specialty technique of somatic psychotherapy. Workplace environments for a somatic therapist may include private practice or private group practice, hospitals, clinics, trauma centers, military facilities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for somatic therapists vary depending on level of education, training/specialized certifications, type of employer and geographical location. The annual average salary of a somatic therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $30,141-$108,475.
A speech therapist is another term for someone who is a speech-language pathologist (SLP). The latter is the preferred title for this profession as it better describes the work (speech and language), and the word “pathologist” more accurately identifies the qualifications the professional holds for treatment in the pathology part of communication. A speech-language pathologist is a health care professional who specializes in the comprehensive care of treating individuals with communication disorders, cognitive communication disorders, voice disorders and swallowing disorders. They mostly work with individuals, but also provide services for families, support groups and the general public (providing information/education). Speech-language pathologists often also work closely with pediatricians and psychologists in diagnosing autism spectrum disorder.
The services that an SLP provides include the areas of cognition in communication, speech, language, language processing, augmentative and alternative communication, swallowing, voice, and physical sensory awareness related to communication (upper aerodigestive functions). Multidisciplinary collaboration with other healthcare professionals is common. A few include audiologists, physicians, dentists, nurses, rehabilitation psychologists and dietitians. A master’s degree is required, along with 400 hours of clinical hours and completion of comprehensive exams called the Knowledge and Skills Acquisition (KASA) exams. They also must be licensed and continue licensure by completing continuing education and training programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook in the U.S. for a speech therapist is projected to grow 25% from 2019-2029, and the average annual salary range (2020) is $50,370-$122,790.
A sports therapist is not a sports psychologist. A sports psychologist is a licensed mental health professional who helps athletes and/or teams to enhance performance through psychotherapy. A sports therapist is an allied health professional (physical healthcare) who is specifically concerned with patient rehabilitation and injury prevention, allowing for the highest level of functional, occupational, and sports specific fitness. The sport therapist works with people of all ages and abilities. A few job specifications for a sports therapist include the following: utilizing sports and exercise principles to optimize all aspects of sports programs; providing immediate care of injuries and basic life support in sports environments; assessing, treating and offering rehabilitation care; referring a client to specialist advice/intervention when appropriate; providing soft tissue interventions in context of sports/exercise; and creating and implementing rehabilitation programs.
There are many entry level positions or internships for people who have a bachelor’s degree in sports therapy or sports and rehabilitation therapy. Master’s degrees in sports therapy, sports therapy and rehabilitation, or sports science and rehabilitation are available for people who desire to pursue further specialized education and training. The two main typical environments where sports therapists work are physical rehabilitation clinics and with private or professional teams. Salary for a sports therapist varies, depending on factors such as type of work environment, geographical location, and level of education/training. In the United States, the annual average salary range for a sports therapist (2021) is $69,954-$81,716.
A talk therapist is another name for a licensed mental health professional who offers psychotherapy to clients. Therapists use psychotherapy (communication founded on the science of the mind and behavior, or psychology) to help clients find relief from emotional distress, seek solutions to life problems, and modify negative or destructive ways of thinking or behavior. (What Is Psychotherapy?, APA) The five main categories that the APA recognizes for psychotherapy are behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, humanistic therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and holistic or integrative therapy. Talk therapists treat disorders and mental health issues such as anger, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, grief, phobias, relationship problems and schizophrenia. (What is Talk Therapy, thrivetalk)
Most talk therapists have at least a master’s degree in a psychology related field of study, along with state licensure to practice psychology. Talk therapists may include psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and licensed social workers. There are many different types of psychotherapy that a talk therapist can specialize in, and many pursue certification in specific psychotherapy approaches through accrediting agencies. Workplace environments for psychotherapists typically include private practice, group private practice, mental health clinics, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, schools, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for talk therapists vary with factors such as level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for a psychotherapist is $54,280-$69,776.
A trauma therapist is a licensed mental health professional who specializes in treating people who have experienced trauma in their lives. Trauma is defined by the APA as an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Typical short term symptoms include shock and denial. Long term symptoms may involve flashbacks, uncontrollable emotions, relationship problems and physical distress or illnesses. There are five types of trauma that a trauma therapist may treat. Acute trauma happens immediately after a one-time event such as a car accident, assault, or tragic death of a loved one. Chronic trauma happens if harmful events are repeated or prolonged such as bullying, neglect, abuse, or domestic violence. Complex trauma happens when repeated events occur with no possibility of escape. Secondary trauma happens from experiencing exposure to the traumatic suffering of others, and this happens most to professionals who are first responders such as physicians or law enforcement officers. Adverse Childhood Experiences occur with children who have been a part of trauma or witnessed trauma growing up (loss of parent, neglect, or abuse) which resulted in the disruption of normal development. Trauma therapists use therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, or EMDR therapy to help clients process the trauma, stop or improve symptoms of trauma, encourage mindfulness of living in the present, and build skills to avoid relapse.
Trauma therapists can be licensed counselors, social workers, psychologists or psychiatrists. Master’s or doctorate degrees, an internship/supervised training, and a state license to practice mental health are all requirements to become a trauma therapist. Most trauma therapists seek certification in trauma-focused therapy. The TF-CBT Therapist Certification Program offers certification in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. The Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists also offer certification for training in trauma therapy. Other organizations offer certification in specific therapies that are used to treat trauma such as CBT and EMDR. Workplace environments for trauma therapists may include private practices, hospitals, government agencies, or crisis/trauma centers. Salary amounts for trauma therapists vary based on factors such as level of education, training/experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a trauma therapist in the U.S. (2021) is $31,000-$146,500.
A wilderness therapist is a licensed mental health professional who is also trained specifically in wilderness therapy, which uses experiences in a wilderness setting to help treat mental and behavioral health problems. Individual and group therapy is used in this outdoor behavioral healthcare to help clients with interpersonal self-improvement, behavioral modification and experiential education. Wilderness therapists typically take 8-12 people, which may include individuals, families or groups, into the wilderness for about 7-8 weeks. A variety of therapeutic methods may be used separately or blended during the wilderness therapy program. Mindfulness-based therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and Gestalt therapy are all types of approaches a wilderness therapist may integrate into a treatment program. Wilderness therapy is most widely used with adolescents.
Most wilderness therapists have at least a master’s degree in wilderness therapy, adventure therapy, or another psychology related field. Most wilderness therapists, or adventure therapists, pursue credentialing through accrediting bodies such as the Association for Experiential Education which offers certification as a Certified Clinical Adventure Therapist (CCAT). Workplace settings for wilderness therapists typically involve working in outdoor environments for a specific length of time, using wilderness therapy models as the structure for location and duration of time. Examples of wilderness therapy models include expedition wilderness therapy, contained group expedition, base-camp model, adventure model, and continuous flow expedition wilderness therapy. Wilderness therapists normally work in collaboration with a team of mental health professionals who work for an accredited wilderness therapy program. Salary amounts for wilderness therapists vary with factors such as level of education, credentialing/experience, and geographical location. The average annual salary in the United States (2021) for a wilderness therapist is $33,500-$71,500.
Types of Counselors
An addictions counselor is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) who identifies and helps the client to change the behaviors that led to addiction. Addictions counselors can choose to specialize in specific addictions within the categories of substance or process addictions. Substance addictions include the use of drugs, alcohol and smoking. Process addictions include the non-substance related behaviors of gambling, spending, sexual activity, gaming, internet use and food. The type of treatment plan that an addictions counselor uses depends upon a variety of factors such as the type of addiction, the severity of the addiction, psychological dependence (substance or process) and physical dependence (substance). Addiction recovery is a long term process, and most addicted individuals need a minimum of 3 months in treatment to help with success rates of recovery, but even longer amounts of treatment increase the success rates. Medical doctors may refer people to an addiction counselor. Addictions counselors are not able to prescribe medication, so they may collaborate with medical doctors or psychiatrists if medication is necessary.
Most addictions counselors have a minimum of a masters degree in a mental health related area of study, along with supervised experience in counseling. They also must complete state licensing requirements. Addictions counselors also may have certification with specialized training with helping clients with a specific addiction. A few of certification titles include credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselor, certified chemical dependency counselor, substance abuse counselor/certified addiction counselor, certified addiction professional, and certified addiction treatment counselor. Addictions counselors work in a variety of environments including inpatient or outpatient treatment centers, hospitals, mental health centers, prisons, probation or parole agencies, juvenile detention facilities, halfway houses, detox centers, or in employee assistance programs (EAPs). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that demand for addictions counselors is “expected to increase as states seek treatment and counseling services for drug offenders rather than jail time.” The average annual salary range for an addictions counselor in the U.S. (2020) is $30,590-$78,700.
An admissions counselor is someone who is employed by a college or university to promote educational programs through outreach and recruiting; assist and guide student prospects; evaluate admissions applications and related documents; and conduct interviews for admissions acceptance. An admissions counselor may also be someone who is self-employed or employed by a company to offer college admissions help as a consultant to college students and their families. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of high school graduates will continue to increase, projecting about 3.8 million first-time freshmen in the year 2025-2026. The career opportunity outlook for admissions counselors is positive as the demand for college education is maintained.
Most admissions counselors are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree and at least one year experience in a related work field. There are a few entry-level positions for admissions assistants that require 2-year degrees. Admissions counselors who are consultants are often called independent education consultants (IECs) and normally have master’s degrees in counseling or psychology, along with experience in college admissions. The National Association for College Admission Counseling is an organization of admission professionals that began in 1937 to provide college admission counselors with leadership, knowledge, advocacy, research, and a forum for networking. Admissions counselors can choose to become members of this organization for continued opportunities for education and growth. Independent Education Consultants (IEC) can also apply to have membership with the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) for resources, education and networking. The salary range in the United States (2021) for an admissions counselor is $32,064-$60,550.
Anger Management Counselor
Anger management counselors are licensed mental health counselors who specialize in the treatment and management of anger. The ultimate goal of an anger management counselor is to help the client recognize, regulate and control anger so that it doesn’t cause problems for the client, mainly with self-care and relationships with others. As stated by the APA, “With counseling, psychologists say, a highly angry person can move closer to a middle range of anger in about 8 to 10 weeks, depending on the circumstances and the techniques used.” Anger management counselors often treat anger alongside other problems such as past trauma, addictions, mental health disorders, or psychological issues.
Education requirements for anger management counselors are a minimum of a masters degree in a psychology-related field, licensing to practice, and specialty training/credentialing in anger management treatment. The National Anger Management Association offers a certification for a Certified Anger Management Specialist (CAMS). The American Institute of Health Care Professionals offers a certification for an Anger Management Specialist (AMS-C). Workplace environments for anger management counselors may include private or group private practice, addiction centers, rehabilitation facilities, government agencies, non-profit organizations, schools and hospitals. Salary amounts for an anger management counselor vary with level of education, experience/credentialing, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for an anger management counselor is $33,000-$59,500.
An anxiety counselor is a licensed mental health counselor who has specialty training in treating anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobia, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and separation anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders aren’t temporary worry or fear, but rather anxiety that interferes with daily activities and may get worse over time. (Anxiety Disorders, NIMH) Anxiety counselors may use one or more effective psychotherapeutic interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy to treat specific anxieties.
A master’s degree in a psychology related area of study is the normal minimum education requirement for an anxiety counselor. Along with obtaining state licensure, anxiety counselors also typically pursue certification in anxiety treatments. Evergreen Certifications is an example of an accredited institution that offers a Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional (CCATP) program for licensed mental health professionals. Workplace settings for anxiety counselors may include private practice, group private practice, mental health clinics, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for anxiety counselors vary based on factors such as specialty certifications, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for an anxiety counselor (licensed professional counselor) is $47,650-$60,548.
A behavioral counselor is a mental health counselor that uses behavior therapy techniques to help clients recognize and change behaviors that are problematic. The goal of a behavioral counselor is to address and treat behavioral disorders while equipping the client with useful skills for optimal mental and emotional wellness. Scientific based techniques used by a behavioral counselor may include aversion therapy, exposure and response therapy, behavior contracting, behavior modification, counterconditioning, flooding, implosive therapy, observational learning, reciprocal inhibition therapy, relaxation therapy, or systematic desensitization. (Behavior Therapy, PsychologyWiki) Behavior counselors may treat individuals, couples, or groups with issues such as chronic pain, stress-related behavior problems, anorexia, chronic distress, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, insomnia, obesity, couples intimacy, couples forgiveness, and family behavioral problems.
Behavioral counselors are required to have a license to practice mental health, which requires a master’s degree in a mental health related field. State regulations and statutes vary, but most behavioral counselors also complete two to three years of clinical work under a licensed mental health professional. Certifications in different types of behavioral therapy can be obtained by completing the requirements for credentialing through organizations offering certification (e.g. National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists for certification in cognitive-behavioral therapy). Workplace environments for behavioral counselors may include private practices, hospitals, schools, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and substance abuse rehabilitation centers. Salary amounts for behavioral counselors vary with factors such as level of education, experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a behavioral counselor in the U.S. (as of 2019) is $29,520-$76,080.
A camp counselor is someone who is hired by an organization to supervise and/or educate youth during a period of time, normally in the summer months. Camp counselors vary in age with the majority being late teens and early twenties; however, adults may also be employed as camp counselors. If the camp is a length of time requiring overnight lodging, counselors normally share living arrangements with other counselors or the group of youth they are assigned to supervise.
There is no formal education required for camp counseling, unless specified by a specific camp group or organization. Most camp counselors must complete an interview process with thorough background checks. The main responsibility of a camp counselor is to ensure the safety of the youth participants while also engaging in and encouraging social communication to ensure an overall positive experience for all participants. Camp counselors often have strong leadership and are able to creatively plan programs and implement enjoyable activities for their campers. There are many different types of camps in different parts of the world. In the United States, there are more than 12,000 camps that operate each summer. Camp counselor salary amounts vary based on level of education, mental health education and training, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for a camp counselor is $44,482-$57,043.
A career counselor is a counselor who assists people of all ages with career investigation, career choice, career management, and career changes throughout life. There is currently no agreed upon worldwide definition of career counselor because of differences in terminology. In the United States, a certified career counselor has a minimum of a masters degree in an area of counseling. The National Career Development Association (NCDA) is the only organization who offers a certification in career counseling. The goal of a career counselor is to help people who are interested in changing careers, leaving work altogether, or exploring ways to be more satisfied with a current career. (Career Counseling, GoodTherapy)
Most career counselors are counselors who specialize in helping people with career advancement. Most have expertise in career development and labor market trends. Career counselors generally work in colleges, career centers, or private practices. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for a career counselor is $38,579-$53,908.
A child counselor is a general name for a mental health professional who has specialized education and training to help children within the pediatric age range (0-18 years). Other names used for this career include child therapist, child psychologist, clinical child and adolescent psychologists, pediatric psychologist, pediatric therapist, or pediatric counselor. There are also mental health professionals who are able to offer counseling services to children without a specific use of the word “child” in their title. Marriage and family therapists, school counselors, school psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers are also mental health clinicians who offer treatment for children.
Education and training varies for child counseling. Most mental health professionals hold at least a master’s degree and licensure credentials. Many earn doctorate degrees and specialize in specific pediatric age groups (e.g. adolescents) or pursue further research/education in areas of expertise (e.g. diversity). A few examples of problems that child counselors address include psychological, emotional, developmental, or behavioral issues; biological vulnerabilities; family issues; trauma and loss; health issues; developmental change stresses; and social/relationship issues. The average annual pay range scale in the United States for a child counselor (2021) is $30k-$66k.
A Christian counselor is someone who may or may not be a licensed mental health professional. Licensed mental health professionals like Christian psychologists or Christian therapists use traditional psychotherapeutic methods that agree with the Bible. Some refer to this as integration counseling. The term “Christian counseling” is defined distinctly and differently from integration counseling. Christian counselors may also be called Biblical counselors. The International Association of Biblical Counselors defines Christian counseling as counseling that “seeks to carefully discover those areas in which a Christian may be disobedient to the principles and commands of Scripture and to help him learn how to lovingly submit to God’s will.” This definition is based on a movement called the Biblical Counseling Movement directed by American Protestant author Jay E. Adams in the late 1960s. The foundations of this movement developed into what is known as Nouthetic counseling, which is opposed to those seeking to synthesize Christianity with secular psychological thought. Christian counselor goals are to help people regain a sense of hope for their life that is found in Jesus Christ; to help others achieve a better understanding of themselves and God which is rooted in the Holy Spirit’s conviction; and help make people aware of the sin in their lives that has caused them suffering but also come to know the immense worth and value they have as a person to God.
Education requirements to become a Christian counselor who is specifically interested in biblical counseling (not integration) vary depending on career path choice. There are churches or colleges that offer bible counseling or Christian counseling certification programs for people who may or may not have had any clinical mental health experience or education. The Christian Counseling and Education Foundation was started by Jay E. Adams in 1968 and continues to offer programs for Christian counseling. The International Association of Biblical Counselors is another organization that offers certification programs and resources for those who are “qualified individuals and organizations who have rejected psychotherapy and have embraced the all-sufficient Word of God as the source of mental and spiritual wholeness.” Christian counselor salaries vary based on education level, certifications, experience, work environment and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a Christian counselor in the United States (2021) is $23k-$94k.
College counselors are licensed professional mental health counselors who are employed by colleges and practice on-site to help students with any problems that may arise while taking graduate classes. There are specific struggles that college students face such as changes in workload, new responsibilities, interpersonal relationships, finances, and stresses in future planning. These counselors are available to offer psychotherapy to students as needed. They also work with families and community organizations for the overall general well-being of the student body. Like school counselors, college counselors hold at least a master’s degree in counseling or psychology within the field of education with an internship and supervised clinical experience. They also must obtain the specific state required licensure and certification. The average salary range (2021) for general school counselors in the U.S. is $38k-$74k.
There are also college admissions counselors who help recruit, assist, and guide students in transitioning from high school to college. They communicate with students and families throughout the entire application process. They also work with campus staff in assisting students and their families. Colleges and universities employ college admission counselors (sometimes called college access counselors), but there are also college admissions counselors who choose to work privately or for consultant companies. These counselors are hired by students and their families to help the student just like an on-site college access counselor would, but they are able to work with multiple college admissions offices. This is beneficial for a student who is still in high school trying to decide which college/university to attend. Education requirements vary for college access counselors, but most hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree and have obtained further education/training in college admissions with membership in organizations such as the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Income for a college admissions counselor varies with employer and experience. The average salary range for a college/university admissions counselor (2021) is $31k-$56k.
A correctional counselor is someone who counsels inmates in correctional facilities, evaluates mental health concerns, and offers interventions to improve behavioral problems that may lead to repeated criminal acts. Other typical tasks done by a correctional counselor include teaching life skills classes, providing job training, monitoring behaviors of inmates, meeting with family members of inmates, preparing and writing diagnostic evaluation reports, maintaining case files, utilizes de-escalation techniques to defend the safety and security of a correctional institution, and completing information requests made by courts for enemy or gang affiliations between inmates or incidents. There are different types of correctional counselor jobs and each requires different education and training. Probation officers, parole officers, pretrial services officers, and correctional treatment specialists are all titles that could be categorized under correctional counseling jobs.
Correctional counselors must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or human services related fields. Most correctional counselors pursue master’s degrees in psychology or human services, along with completing state licensure requirements. Licensed professional counselors (LPC) or licensed social workers (LSW) are two examples of mental health professionals who could work as correctional counselors. There are entry positions in the correctional counseling career field that require only bachelor’s degree and counseling experience. Most correctional counselors work in correctional facilities such as jails or prisons, meeting individually with inmates. The annual salary of a correctional counselor depends on level of education, experience, and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a correctional counselor in the United States (2019) is $36,370-$94,860.
A couples counselor (may also be titled marriage counselor or relationship counselor) is a mental health professional who specializes in treating problems within intimate relationships. Couples therapy interventions are typically used by couples counselors. Active listening, cinematic immersion, the Gottman method, emotionally focused therapy, and integrative behavioral couples therapy are all methods that may be used by a couples counselor to help the clients recognize and work through relationship problems. A few basic couples counselor goals include identifying the repetitive, negative interaction pattern; understanding sources of negative emotions driving the pattern; expanding and re-organizing emotional responses; facilitating shifts in interactions to new patterns of interaction, creating positive emotional bonding events, fostering a secure attachment, and helping maintain a sense of intimacy.
Mental health practitioners such as psychologists, counselors, and social workers can all offer couples therapy to their clients; however, those who refer to themselves as couples counselors are typically trained to work with couples and families. Couples counselors may also have completed certification programs for specific types of therapy. Most couples counselors have master’s degrees and additional experience/training with couples and couples therapy methods. Further specialization may include working with specific groups of people (e.g. minority couples, recent immigrants) or specific problems (e.g. infidelity, addictions). Workplace settings for couples counselors may include private practice, group practice, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. Salary amounts for couples counselors vary based on level of education, training/specialty, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a couples counselor in the U.S. (2021) is $34k-$100k.
According to the ACA, a crisis counselor’s “service delivery, because of its demanding nature and unique challenges, is different from any other kind of counseling, i.e., away from a familiar treatment setting, etc.” Crisis counselors are professionals who have had education, training and experience in helping people who are currently experiencing a crisis situation or have experienced a crisis situation in the past. Victims of natural disasters, crimes, abuse or accidents may seek the help of a crisis counselor. Often crisis counselors are needed in immediate situations. Organizations such as The American Red Cross offer the help of crisis counselors when natural disasters happen. Telephone crisis counseling is offered by many different types of organizations for people who need help promptly. Crisis counselors also help people who have been through a crisis and are struggling with mental health issues afterward such as active duty military members, veterans, people who have tragically lost loved ones, or people who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses.
Education and training for crisis counselors vary depending on the chosen career path. There are job opportunities starting with a high school education such as working for a crisis text line (after a training program and under the supervision of mental health professionals). Most crisis counselors, however, pursue a master’s degree or higher in counseling, social work, or psychology. Due to the special nature of crisis counseling, certification and ongoing training is important for a crisis counselor. The American Institute of Health Care Professionals is one organization that offers crisis intervention counseling certification for both health care workers and mental health professionals. Crisis counselor salary amounts vary due to the wide variety of education requirements, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a crisis counselor in the U.S. (2021) is $31k-$59k.
A depression counselor is a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in treating depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. and is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Depression counselors are trained to recognize type(s) of depression (e.g. situational, biological, psychological, existential) and implement psychotherapeutic interventions. Depression counselors may work closely with medical doctors, nurses, or psychiatrists with an overall treatment plan which may involve medication for clients with depression disorders.
Depression counselors typically have master’s degrees in a mental health related field, a state license to practice psychology, and specialized training in depression psychotherapies. A depression counselor may choose to work with specific groups of people such as youth, geriatrics, or mothers with peripartum or postpartum depression. Depression counselors may also choose to specialize in specific depression caused by problems such as addiction, trauma, grief/loss, or chronic pain. Workplace settings for depression counselors vary, depending upon level of education, experience/training, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary of a depression counselor (mental health counselor) in the U.S. (2021) is $33k-$62k.
Domestic Violence Counselor
A domestic violence counselor is a mental health professional who has education and training in helping victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, can include financial/economic abuse, verbal abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, digital/technological abuse, spiritual/cultural abuse, social isolation abuse, stalking, sexual abuse, and damage to personal property. (Domestic violence and the different types explained, ACESDV) Domestic violence counselors use psychotherapeutic interventions to help victims process past and/or present abuse while supporting healthy decision making by the client to encourage growth of self-esteem and healing. The intense nature of a career as a domestic violence counselor requires the counselor to have emotional fortitude and firm personal boundaries. Medical or judicial advocacy may also be a part of a domestic violence couneslor’s career duties.
Most domestic violence counselors pursue master’s degrees and certification in domestic violence counseling. Non-clinical domestic violence counselors may obtain a certification in domestic violence counseling with a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as psychology or social work. Most states require certification and/or licensing requirements for domestic violence counselors and volunteers. National certification as a Certified Domestic Violence Counselor (CDVC) is voluntary and can be obtained through the National Association of Forensic Counselors. Workplace environments for domestic violence counselors may include safe houses, domestic hotline centers, online counseling businesses/organizations, schools, non-profit organizations or private practice. Salary amounts vary depending upon factors such as level of education, experience, national certification, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a domestic violence counselor in the U.S. (2021) is $31,712-$53,684.
Drug and Alcohol Counselor
A drug and alcohol counselor is a mental health professional who specializes in diagnosing, evaluating, treating, and supporting clients who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Drug and alcohol counselors use psychological interventions to encourage behaviors that build wellness and emotional resilience to the client’s physical, mental, and emotional problems. There are many licensed mental health professionals with various titles who may often become certified or obtain specialty credentials to offer treatment services for drug and alcohol addiction. A few of these licensed practitioners include psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed counselor social workers, licensed social workers, licensed professional counselors, and paraprofessionals.
There are entry-level positions in drug and alcohol treatment that may only require a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree or higher is required for private practice counseling. Many colleges and universities offer programs that are specific to substance or addiction counseling. Most graduate counseling degree programs include an internship and/or supervised clinical fieldwork. In order to privately practice as a drug and alcohol counselor, special certification is required and can be done through national organizations such as the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP), and the American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders (AAHCPAD). Certification may also be done in the state where the drug and alcohol counselor practices. The average certified addiction drug and alcohol counselor (2021) makes an annual average salary range somewhere between $31k-$55k.
Eating Disorder Counselor
An eating disorder counselor, in relation to psychology, is a mental health professional who helps treat people who have an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, pica, or rumination disorder. Mental health eating disorder counselors include psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, licensed counselors, and social workers. There are healthcare professionals who may also counsel people with eating disorders. These include doctors, registered nurses and registered dietitians. Effective psychotherapies that eating disorder counselors use include cognitive behavioral therapy, enhanced cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and Maudsley family-based therapy. (Psychological treatments for eating disorders, 2013, NIH)
A master’s degree in a psychology related field is the minimum requirements for an eating disorder counselor. Most mental health or healthcare professionals pursue certification in treating eating disorders through organizations like the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals, which offers certifications as Certified Eating Disorders Specialist (CEDS), Registered Dietitian (CEDRD), Registered Nurse (CEDRN), and Creative Arts Therapist (CAT). (Certification Overview, IAEDP) Workplace settings for an eating disorder counselor may include private practice or group private practice, hospitals, schools, healthcare clinics, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for eating disorder counselors vary based on factors such as level of education, certifications, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for an eating disorder counselor in the U.S. (2021) for an eating disorder counselor is $36,260-$45,515.
The title “education counselor” can have different meanings. A mental health professional who is licensed to practice as a school counselor can sometimes be referred to as an education counselor. A careers counselor who assists high school and college students in finding the personal best college or career can also be referred to as an education counselor. In general, either career path as an education counselor requires a minimum of a master’s degree. School counselors may also be required to complete state licensure requirements. Career counselors may also need to complete licensure requirements either in the state of practice or through a national accrediting organization such as the National Career Development Association. The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics states that school and career counselors earned a median annual salary of $57,040 in 2019. Career path, type of employer, level of education, credentialing and geographical location are all factors of annual salary amounts for education counselors such as school counselors or career counselors.
Elementary School Counselor
According to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), elementary school counselors are “educators uniquely trained in child development, learning strategies, self management and social skills, who understand and promote success for today’s diverse students.” Implementing a school counseling program to provide education, prevention and intervention activities into all areas of children’s lives is a big part of what an elementary school counselor does. Elementary school counselors teach students how to acquire knowledge and skills for academic and social/emotional development. They also collaborate with school staff, administration, and family members (sometimes community members) to help students succeed in all aspects of learning. Elementary school counselors help teachers and parents identify academic and social/emotional needs of students. A few of the direct services an elementary school counselor provides are instruction, appraisal and advisement, and counseling (specific and short term). A few indirect services provided by an elementary school counselor are consultations, collaboration work, and referral support.
Elementary school counselor qualifications include a minimum of a master’s degree in school counseling, completing an internship or clinical experience, meeting state certification/licensure standards, fulfilling continuing education requirements, and uphold ASCA ethical and professional standards. Most students pursuing a career as a school counselor earn a bachelor’s degree with courses in education and counseling/mental health. Master’s degrees in school counseling are available with or without a teaching certificate and include practicum/internships within the degree program. There are also master’s in school counseling programs that offer concentrations for original research. Elementary school counselors typically work in private or public school settings. In some smaller schools, the school counselor will work with students of all ages K-12. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) of an elementary school counselor is $35k-$69k.
A family counselor is a mental health professional who counsels families in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. The family counselor helps guide the family to positive change within the context of the systems of interaction between family members. Family counseling can be done by psychologists, nurses, psychotherapists, social workers, or counselors. The title “family counselor” can be used by mental health professionals who have had additional education, training and experience in family counseling or family therapy. Many mental health professionals receive specific education and training in marriage and family therapy. They must obtain specific licensure requirements to practice marriage and family therapy.
Family counseling normally lasts somewhere between 5-20 sessions, and the mental health professional meets with several members of the family at one time. Psychotherapeutic techniques are used by the counselor to assess and address issues between individuals that affect the entire family. A family counselor helps families to improve conflicts without the use of blame. A family counselor must have a minimum of a master’s degree with education and training in family counseling/therapy. The annual salary for a family counselor in the U.S. varies depending on level of education and specific mental health profession. The salary range for a family counselor (2021) is $33k to $62k.
According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), genetic counselors are “professionals who have specialized education in genetics and counseling to provide personalized help patients may need as they make decisions about their genetic health.” A genetic counselor is largely psycho-educational as they help the client learn about their personal genetic family history and understand how it contributes to their health risks. They also help counsel the client in processing how this genetic health understanding makes them think and feel. Genetic counselors collaborate with other health care professionals and state support services to help the client with emotional, psychological, medical, social, and economic consequences of genetic testing results that the client may choose to have done. The genetic counselor normally follows five phases (created by American clinical psychologist Seymour Kessler in the late 1970s): an intake phase, an initial contact phase, the encounter phase, the summary phase, and a follow-up phase. Increasing understanding of genetic diseases, discussing disease management options, and explaining the risks and benefits of testing are a few of the main goals of a genetic counselor.
The NSGC states that the career field in genetic counseling is rewarding, “as evidenced by the explosive growth in genetic counselors; since 2006, the number of genetic counselors has grown by 85 percent.” Most genetics counselors have bachelor’s degrees in biology, social science, or a related field. They also must pursue a master’s degree in genetic counseling that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Genetic Counseling (ACGC). Certification is required by most clinics and hospitals for genetic counselors and can be done through the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). Some states require that genetic counselors obtain a license. There are also doctorate degrees available in genetic counseling for people interested in genetic counseling careers in research or academia. Genetic counselors work in a variety of settings, many with clients and many also without clients. A few examples of client-based work include the areas of prenatal and preconception, pediatrics, cancer, cardiovascular, neurology, infertility, and psychiatrics. Non-client based work for genetic counselors may include laboratory work, research, education, public health, non-profit work and providing services for corporate employees and their families. The salary of a genetic counselor varies based on factors such as work setting/job duties, education, training, experience, and geographic location. The average annual salary range of a genetic counselor in the U.S. (2021) is $70,405-$86,773.
A grief counselor, or bereavement counselor, is a mental health professional who specializes in helping people who struggle with physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and cognitive responses to loss in their lives. Grief or bereavement counselors may be licensed or unlicensed. Licensed grief counselors may include psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, or counselors. Unlicensed grief counselors may include professional counselors who have a master’s in human services/grief or bereavement counseling, but are not licenced to practice psychotherapy. A few examples of unlicensed grief/bereavement counselors are chaplains, pastors, hospital or nursing home administrators, or funeral home liaisons. Grief and bereavement counselors normally work with people who have uncomplicated, or normal, grief. When people have more complicated or traumatic grief, an unlicensed grief counselor may refer them to a licensed psychologist who specializes in grief/bereavement therapy for further help.
Education for grief and bereavement counselors varies depending on which career path each individual pursues. Unlicensed grief counselors typically have master’s degrees with specialized courses in grief/bereavement counseling, along with supervised field experience. Licensed grief and bereavement counselors normally pursue doctorate degrees in grief counseling and are licensed to practice psychotherapy in the state they are located. Grief counseling may be done with individuals or in a group setting. There are numerous job environments for grief counselors including hospitals, nursing homes, businesses/corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private practices. Level of and type of education, experience, type of employer and geographical education all affect the salary amounts for grief counselors. The base annual salary range for a bereavement counselor in the United States (2021) is $40,472-$65,881.
Historically, the term guidance counselor has been used as a title for a counselor who works in a school environment. The need for guidance counselors started in the early 20th century with the rise of progressive education. Students would need help with continuing education or career guidance. Guidance counselors mainly helped educate students on finding a college or career after high school. This was done both in the classroom and individually, as needed.
As time has progressed, the job description and role of someone who counsels in a school environment has changed to a more comprehensive method of assuring student wellness for overall academic success. Although some schools still use the term guidance counselor, the American School Counselor Association has taken great effort to encourage people to use the term school counselor instead. The big question may be, “Guidance Counselor vs. School Counselor…What are the differences?” The simple answer is that a school counselor does everything that a guidance counselor did in the past, but much more now. The term school counselor better defines the career to showcase the many areas of assistance counselors in an education environment provide. For more information, see our “School Counselor” section on this page.
A health counselor, in the context of psychology, is a mental health counselor who specializes in health psychology. Health psychology focuses on how cognitive, behavioral and social factors contribute to physical well being or illness. Mental health practitioners who offer health counseling are not to be confused with professionals in the area of nutrition, fitness and health such as certified personal trainers, certified nutrition coaches, life coaches, or other similar physical health related professions. Typically, health counselors will designate themselves as mental health practitioners with a specialty focus in health psychology therapy.
Licensed professional health counselors typically have a master’s degree in psychology or counseling psychology with an emphasis or specialization in health psychology. There are also graduate degree programs in counseling and clinical health psychology. The main difference between a health counselor and a health psychologist is that a health psychologist must obtain a doctorate degree to become a psychologist (counselors can’t call themselves psychologists unless they have a doctorate degree and licensing). Also, many health psychologists work in the field of research or academia. Workplace settings for mental health counselors specializing in health psychology may include private practice or group practice, hospitals, outpatient clinics, government organizations, and nonprofit organizations. The average annual salary range for a mental health counselor in the U.S. (2021) is $33k-$62k.
A holistic counselor is a licensed professional counselor who offers both traditional and non-traditional therapies of holistic healing that focus on integration of the mind, body and spirit. Types of psychotherapeutic approaches that a holistic counselor may use (separately or in combination) include cognitive behavioral therapy, Gestalt therapy, mind-body psychotherapy, body-centered psychotherapy, heart-centered psychotherapy, integrative psychotherapy, meditation, guided imagery, hypnotherapy, massage, sandplay therapy, breathing therapy, and creative arts therapy. (What is Holistic Counseling?, CaringApproach) Problems treated by a holistic counselor may include depression, anxiety, mood regulation, somatic ailments, stress, and trauma. (Holistic Psychotherapy, GoodTherapy) Holistic counseling may be done in an individual or group setting.
Holistic counselors hold a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field of study. They also must meet state licensure requirements to practice psychotherapeutic methods in their counseling sessions. Most holistic counselors pursue specialized training and certifications in specific holistic counseling techniques (e.g. certification in advanced clinical hypnotherapy, certification in sandplay therapy, etc.). Workplace settings for holistic counselors normally include private or private group practice, but may also include employment through mental health clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, businesses, or non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for a holistic counselor vary with factors such as level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a holistic counselor (licensed professional counselor) in the U.S. (2021) is $37k-$66k .
A juvenile counselor is a licensed mental health professional who provides individual youth counseling and group or family counseling with the ultimate goal of positive change in the youth’s behavior and/or social situations. Many juvenile counselors work with youth who have committed crimes and are in juvenile detention centers. Trained juvenile counselors are able to use evidence based treatment models and intervention techniques that are specific to helping youth with multiple and/or complex disorders. Other job responsibilities include preparing youth and their families to transition back into communities, collaborating with other mental health professionals for treatment plans, performing milieu management, supervising idleness reduction programs, communicating with justice system personnel for court cases, and completing case management paperwork.
Most employers prefer a master’s degree and a license in counseling, but there are positions in juvenile counseling that require only a bachelor’s degree. Some entry-level jobs such as a Youth Development Specialist or a Youth Correctional Officer only need a high school diploma or equivalent, along with experience helping at-risk youth. Master’s degrees in counseling, psychology, sociology, social work, and social sciences are all acceptable for work in juvenile counseling. Employers also look for professional experience working directly with troubled youth. City or state juvenile detention facilities, juvenile confinement facilities, and youth rehabilitation facilities are where the majority of juvenile counselors are employed. Some juvenile counselors may reside at youth rehabilitation centers. Salary amounts for juvenile counselors vary based on education level, experience, geographical location, and type of employer. The average annual salary range in the United States (2021) for a juvenile counselor is $20,500-$97,500.
A marriage counselor is a licensed mental health professional who applies psychotherapy in helping married couples improve their relationships by recognizing and resolving conflicts. The main goal and purpose of marriage therapy is to help couples reconcile differences and preserve the relationship. In some cases, marriage counselors provide therapy for couples who decide to divorce and desire to do so with intentions of causing the least amount of pain as possible for both people involved. They also may provide premarital counseling for people considering marriage. Marriage counselors are required to be licensed in the state that they practice, and must hold at least a master’s degree in counseling (or related psychology field). Most marriage counselors have graduate or postgraduate degrees in psychology or counseling and have taken specialty classes in the area of marriage or couples therapy, along with completion of a clinical experience internship or residency program.
A few of the general topics marriage counselors address include communication problems, sexual difficulties, anger, substance abuse, infidelity, domestic violence, and parenting/blended family issues. Marriage counselors meet individually or jointly with couples, depending on the relationship and what arrangement works best to benefit the couple. The main purpose of a marriage counselor is to respect, listen, and understand the clients and their problems. They also develop and facilitate a treatment program to help the couple function better in their relationship. A marriage counselor also strives to foster a therapeutic relationship with both individuals in the relationship as a part of the treatment therapy. The average annual salary range for a marriage counselor in the U.S. (2021) is $34k-$100k.
Mental Health Counselor
A mental health counselor (MHC) is someone who uses psychoeducational methods with individuals or groups to treat mental and emotional disorders and develop self-awareness, wellness and personal growth. A MHC must have a minimum of a master’s degree in counseling or other similar mental health program. After obtaining a master’s degree, one must work closely under the supervision of a licensed mental health counselor for two to three years (state requirements vary). Most states require MHCs to have a license to practice, however some mental health counselors do not have licenses and work under another MHC in the same practice.
Some health issues that are treated through mental health counseling include depression, anxiety, addiction/substance abuse, suicidal impulses, stress, self-esteem, and grief. Marriage problems, family struggles, parenting issues, career complications, and relationship conflicts are also addressed by mental health counselors. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median annual wage for mental health counselors was $47,660 in May 2020.
A military counselor, or a military and family life counselor (MFLC), is a mental health professional who offers psychotherapy to military service members and their families. Military counselors may include counselors who offer treatment in specific areas such as combat stress control, non-medical counseling, family advocacy, TRICARE, or veteran care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Military chaplains may also offer counseling and spiritual guidance (they may or may not be licensed mental health professionals). The U.S. Department of Defense offers military counseling support through Military OneSource for military cadets, active duty service members, and retired service members, along with their family members. Military counselors can meet individually with service members, or with their spouses and families. Military counselors provide resources and support to help service members with a variety of issues that are specific to military life.
A master’s degree in a psychology related field is the minimum education requirement for a military counselor. A military counselor may be a licensed practicing counselor, a marriage and family therapist, or a licensed social worker. There are master’s degrees available in military resilience or degree programs that offer concentrations in military and veterans counseling. The complexity of military culture and differences between military groups (e.g. Army, Navy, Airforce, etc.) are important for military counselors to understand, so many counselors pursue certification in military counseling through institutes such as Telehealth Certification Institute which offers a program in military counseling training for a Clinical Military Counselor Certificate (CMCC). Workplace settings for a military counselor typically include military bases, VA centers, government military mental health facilities (in person or online), or civilian private practice. Salary amounts for military counselors vary with factors such as level of education, credentials, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a military family life counselor in the U.S. (2021) is $61k-$77k.
A nutritional counselor is a licensed mental health professional who specializes in treating nutrient imbalances that may cause psychological problems. This is done with an in depth assessment of health and mental health, supplements and whole food meal planning, counseling/coaching to encourage consistency and maintenance of the diet/supplements, and adjusting the plan or following up with the client until problematic symptoms are decreased or eliminated. (What is Nutritional Counseling?, HealthyPsych) Nutritional counselors may team up with registered dietitians to provide comprehensive care for mood imbalances, eating disorders and addictions.
A nutritional counselor who is also a licensed mental health professional has a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field. Nutritional counselors may be licensed counselors, marriage and family therapists or social workers. Most nutritional counselors pursue continuing education or certification in nutrition, wellness or integrative medicine. Organizations such as the Dr.Sears Wellness Institute or the Leslie Korn Institute for Integrative Medicine offer certifications for mental health professionals as health coaches or certified integrative medicine providers. Workplace settings for a nutritional counselor may include private practice, group private practice, hospitals, clinics, schools, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for nutritional counselors vary based on level of education, specialty certifications, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a nutritional counselor in the U.S. (2021) is $34k-$51k.
A peer counselor is someone who offers listening, empathy, suggestions and advice to someone who shares similar life experiences. Professional counselors normally train peer counselors on the best way to specifically help their peers which may include friends, fellow students or co-workers. The concept of peer support began in the 1970s with the self-help movement in mental health. Throughout the years, peer counseling has grown and spread to numerous diverse groups. With the advancements in technology, peer counseling is now available at all times in-person, over the phone and online.
Peer counselors may or may not have an educational background in psychology. The minimum educational requirement for peer counselors who would like to be certified in peer counseling is a high school diploma or equivalent. Due to the vast scope of peer counseling, individual groups may have specific certifications. Each state also may have requirements for peer counseling certification. Doors to Wellbeing lists the requirements for each state for certification in peer counseling. Mental Health America, a non-profit organization, also offers information on how to become certified as a peer counselor. Employment for peer counselors may include non-profit organizations, government organizations (local or state), schools, family resource centers, substance abuse rehabilitation centers, and mental health facilities. Salary amounts for peer counselors varies with factors such as level of education, experience/training, type of employer and geographical location. Peer counseling may also be done as a volunteer. The average annual salary range in the U.S. (2021) for a peer counselor is $27k-$55k.
A PTSD counselor is a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in treating people who experience posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. PTSD counselors use a variety of psychotherapeutic interventions to help clients face traumatic memories and confront situations that have been avoided due to fear or overwhelming feelings. During PTSD counseling, the client is also taught skills to help manage distress to gain control of fears. Typical counseling treatments for PTSD involve 8 to 12 sessions, with more if needed.
PTSD counselors have a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field, along with a state license. Specialty certifications in effective PTSD interventions including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) may be pursued by PTSD counselors. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers continuing education in PTSD for mental health professionals. Schools, organizations, or institutes such as the Zur Institute also offer certificate programs in trauma and PTSD. Workplace environments for PTSD counselors may include private practice, group private practice, military facilities, veterans hospitals, hospitals, mental health clinics, and government agencies. Salary amounts for PTSD counselors vary with factors such as specialty certifications, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a PTSD counselor (licensed professional counselor) in the U.S. (2021) is $37k-$66k.
A residential counselor is a mental health professional who offers counseling, therapy, and other various types of support to people living in residential facilities. These facilities may include homes for troubled youth, psychiatric treatment centers, and substance abuse rehabilitation facilities. The type of treatment that a residential counselor gives, along with other specific job duties, depends on the type of residential facility and characteristics of the residents. A residential counselor may live part-time or full-time at the residence. They also may be on-call or work long hours because of crisis interventions or patient evaluation. They also create and implement treatment plans and goals for residents. Residential counselors also monitor progress of the residents and act as liaisons between individuals and their families. They may also provide information about a resident in legal situations. The general objective of a residential counselor is to help residents in their efforts to achieve their wellness goals.
Someone who is interested in pursuing a career as a residential counselor normally earns a bachelor’s degree in a mental health related field such as social work or psychology. States normally require licensure to practice counseling, so many people pursue master’s degrees in counseling. Graduate programs often require field work as part of the curriculum for on-the-job experience. Most facilities prefer prior experience in counseling, social work, or group home work. Salary for a residential counselor varies based on residential type/location, education and training. The average annual salary range for a residential counselor in the United States (2021) is $25k-$53k.
A school counselor is the title of someone who is employed in either a public or private school, and holds a minimum of a Master’s degree in school counseling. The work of a school counselor has progressed significantly throughout history. School counseling began with basic career/education guidance for students graduating from high school. As the need for a more comprehensive approach to student wellness arose throughout the years, the school counselor role expanded to help assist students in more areas of learning for academic success.
School counselors help with student academics, emotions, lifeskills, counseling, and postsecondary options/plans. They also offer classroom lessons, collaborate with faculty/family members, and engage in data analysis to identify gaps and offer solutions for student issues/needs/challenges. The basic qualifications for becoming a school counselor include a masters degree in school counseling and fulfilling the specific state certification/licensure requirements. The average annual salary range of a school counselor in the United States (2020) is $35,620-$97,910.
A therapeutic counselor can be a title for any licensed mental health professional who offers psychotherapy. This can include psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers. Therapeutic counseling is the professional guidance of a mental health professional to help a client with mental/behavioral wellness through the use of psychological methods. A therapeutic counselor can use psychotherapeutic counseling approaches such as psychodynamic counseling, interpersonal counseling, humanistic/client-centered counseling, existential counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy in counseling, mindfulness-based counseling, rational emotive therapy in counseling, reality therapy in counseling, constructionist therapy in counseling, systemic therapy in counseling, narrative therapy in counseling, and creative arts therapy in counseling.
A therapeutic counselor has a minimum of a master’s degree in counseling or a psychology related field, along with a state license to practice psychology. Most therapeutic counselors specialize in a specific type of therapy or may work with a particular age group or population. There are numerous colleges/universities and organizations that offer specialized education and training (some with certifications/credentialing) for the many different types of counseling therapy. Workplace setting for therapeutic counselors is typically private practice, group private practice, mental health clinics, hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities, government agencies, businesses, non-profit organizations, or religious institutions. Salary amounts for therapeutic counselors vary based on level of education, specialty credentialing, years of experience, career path, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a therapeutic counselor (counselor) in the U.S. (2021) is $68,281-$85,474.
A transition counselor is a licensed mental health professional who specializes in helping people that have gone through, or are going through, transitions in life. Transitional psychology and the theories and practices that have been developed in the 20th century have roots in lifespan development and are used in many different areas of psychotherapeutic treatment. (Transition psychology in practice, 2008) Life transitions are significant changes that happen throughout the time of one’s life and can vary with intensity due to multiple factors. Life course perspective states that lives are composed of multiple, interrelated developmental trajectories such as personal relationship trajectories, an educational trajectory, an employment trajectory, and physical health trajectories. These trajectories are marked by life transitions that often involve other trajectories. Transition counselors help clients identify emotions and behaviors that are due to transitions and offer healthy practices for increasing resilience and coping with change.
Transition counselors have a minimum of a master’s degree in a psychology related field and a state license to practice psychology. Transition counselors may use one or more different types of psychotherapeutic approaches to help clients with life transitions. Workplace settings for counselors helping people with life transitions include typical counseling environments such as private practice, group private practice, mental health clinics, geriatric facilities, schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for transition counselors vary based on level of education, specialty credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a transitional counselor (licensed professional counselor) in the U.S. (2021) is $47,732-$60,657.
A trauma counselor is a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in the psychotherapeutic treatment for people who have experienced trauma. Other mental health practitioners such as social workers or psychologists may also specialize in trauma treatment therapy. Medical health workers such as first responders, fire fighters, law enforcement officers, or ER doctors and nurses may also have some mental health training in how to help people who have just experienced trauma. Trauma counselors may or may not specialize in treating a specific form of trauma. A few examples of trauma that a trauma counselor might treat include: war/military trauma, disaster/terroism trauma, abuse/sexual trauma, and grief trauma.
Many trauma counselors hold a master’s degree in clinical or counseling psychology, or clinical and counseling psychology with a focus on trauma psychology. Other trauma counselors may earn a degree in a psychology related field of study, and then pursue certification through an accrediting organization. One example of certification for a trauma counselor is through the American Counseling Association as a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. State licensing requirements must also be met by trauma counselors to practice psychotherapy. Work settings for trauma counselors may include private practice or group private practice, online or phone mental health counseling through trauma websites or hotlines, government agencies, and hospitals. Salary amounts for trauma counselors vary based on level of education, training credentials, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary range for a trauma counselor in the U.S. (2021) is $34,291-$87,372.
A vocational counselor, or employment counselor, is a career professional with education and experience in both counseling and career development. Vocational or employment counseling is similar to traditional counseling; however, clients seeking this type of counseling are interested in specific guidance regarding career exploration, career development or career change. Vocational or employment counselors assist clients with things such as helping clients discover their unique characteristics through assessment tools, identifying and developing education plans, facilitating career management workshops, assist clients in dealing with barriers to achieving career goals, empowering employed clients to make knowledgeable internal career decisions, marketing clients to potential employers, helping clients with implementing effective career employment strategies (e.g. resumes, portfolios, interview skills), and working in collaboration with community groups and organizations/businesses in providing career planning resources. Adolescent through retirement is the typical age group seen by vocational or employment counselors. Vocational counselors may also work with clients who have disabilities, language/cultural differences, or other special needs.
Education requirements for a vocational or employment counselor normally include a master’s degree or higher. Most vocational or employment counselors are licensed in the state where they practice and have had significant supervised experience in counseling. Degrees in psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, counseling with a concentration in vocational psychology, and social work are all examples of possible educational paths an employment or vocational counselor could pursue. Employers also look for certifications in career development through organizations like the National Career Development Organization. The most common workplace environment for vocational counselors is in private practice or contract work, but may also include specialized government training facilities, community centers, public or private schools, vocational training centers, and colleges. (Vocational Counseling, cerebralpalsy.org) Salary amounts vary based on level of education/experience, type of employer, and geographical location. The average annual salary range in the United States for a vocational or employment counselor is $35k-$43k.
A wellness counselor in the field of mental health is a licensed mental health professional who incorporates holistic approaches into client counseling. A wellness counselor focuses on physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of well being while encouraging client commitment to positive choice making integration into daily life. Balanced and healthy lifestyle choices are taught and emphasized during counseling. Mental health topics such as stress relief techniques and time management are combined with physical health topics such as nutrition and physical activity to help the client achieve an optimum state of health and well being. Mental health wellness counselors often collaborate with registered dietitians, doctors, and other mental health therapists to offer quality holistic treatment to clients.
A wellness counselor normally has the minimum of a master’s degree, and it could be in counseling, clinical counseling, health psychology, clinical health psychology, or health and wellness psychology. There are institutions and organizations, such as the National Wellness Institute, that offer wellness certifications for mental health professionals who may have a master’s in counseling or social work but would like to offer wellness coaching into their practice. Workplace settings for wellness counselors may include private practice, group private practice, clinics or hospitals, corporate businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Salary amounts for wellness counselors vary with factors such as level of education, credentialing, years of experience, type of employer and geographical location. The average annual salary in the U.S. (2021) for a wellness counselor (licensed mental health counselor) is $59,117-$72,473.
A youth counselor is a general term for someone who works with youth to help them with overall wellness. The Psychological Dictionary defines youth counseling as “counseling which supplies guidance, data, and advisement to youths, generally in early childhood up to the teenage years.” Typical topics that a youth counselor may address include depression, anxiety, trauma, self-injurious behaviors, internet addiction, and gender identity. The overall goal of a youth counselor is to help their youth clients explore healthy options and support positive actions, all within a therapeutic relationship.
The career opportunities are vast in this field of work. There are entry level jobs in youth counseling at rehabilitation centers that require a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent (e.g. GED). There are also organizations or facilities that offer tiered levels of youth counseling. Higher levels of counseling and career opportunities are available to people who have attained more education and experience. Bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in social work, counseling, psychology, or human services are all examples of higher levels of education that someone may pursue to work in the career field of youth counseling. According to a 2019 report by the Prison Policy Initiative, “On any given day, over 48,000 youth in the United States are confined in facilities away from home as a result of juvenile justice or criminal justice involvement.” Many youth counseling opportunities are within the government juvenile justice system. Other common environments for a career as a youth counselor include youth shelters, nonprofit organizations, schools, government agencies, mental health facilities, and private practices. Salary varies depending upon geographical location, work environment, and education/training. The annual average salary range in the United States (2021) for a youth counselor is $26k-$52k.