Counselors transform the lives of their clients by helping them cope with the challenges of everyday life. As a result, clients learn to navigate life’s ups and downs, heal past trauma, and love and accept themselves.
Individuals interested in this career path and making a difference in the lives of others often pursue graduate school and a Master’s in Counseling or a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
But how long does it take to complete this program and officially become a licensed counselor? First, let’s discuss what a licensed counselor is, what candidates can expect from a Master’s in Counseling program, and the factors that will affect how long a program lasts.
What is a Licensed Counselor?
A licensed counselor is a mental health service provider who has earned a graduate-level degree and is trained to work with individuals, families, and groups in treating mental, behavioral, and emotional problems and disorders.
They use multiple forms of counseling and therapeutic methods, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy, to address problems and disorders such as:
- Eating Disorders
- Suicidal Ideation
How Do You Become a Licensed Counselor?
Individuals interested in becoming licensed mental health counselors (LMHC) must typically earn, at minimum, a master’s degree after completing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology or Human Services, as these align closely with counseling master’s degree programs.
Students should understand the special accreditation and education requirements in the state they wish to practice, as each state will have different rules.
For example, in Connecticut, graduate programs must be accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and include coursework in Human Growth and Development, Research and Evaluation, and Appraisals for Individuals and Groups.
Additionally, candidates must complete 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised experience in professional counseling and pass licensing exams administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
These hours must be completed over the course of a year or more. At least one hundred of these hours should be under the direct supervision of a board-certified psychiatrist, psychologist, advanced practice registered nurse, licensed clinical social worker, or licensed professional counselor.
Once candidates fulfill all state requirements and submit proper documentation to the state, graduates of counseling programs can officially practice in the state of their choosing.
How Long Does it Take to Complete a Master’s in Counseling Program?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how long it will take to complete a Master’s in Counseling program.
The amount of time will depend on the area of counseling an individual is interested in, where they want to work, and the state’s requirements.
Completion time is also affected by the number of courses taken per semester, whether students take a summer semester, and how the program incorporates the necessary clinical internship hours.
Generally speaking, Master’s in Counseling programs are designed to be completed in four academic semesters or two years of full-time enrollment. However, part-time students can expect to complete their degree in three or more years.
Master’s in Counseling programs typically consist of 60 semester hours credits with advanced coursework in clinical skills, psychopathology, appraisal procedures, addiction, and psychotherapeutic techniques. These are designed to prepare students to work as mental health counselors.
And depending on the program’s design, full-time students typically take between three to five courses per semester, and part-time students can expect to take one to three courses per semester.
At University of Bridgeport (UB), the Master’s in Counseling degree includes counseling courses such as:
- Theories of Counseling
- Clinical Skills for Counselors
- Research Methods
- Social & Cultural Foundations
- Addiction and Treatment
- Career and Lifestyle Development
UB students also complete clinical mental health counseling internships 1 and 2, each requiring 300 hours.
The Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at UB
Our Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at UB requires sixty semester hours and specializes in training the therapeutic counselors of tomorrow in today’s most effective and evidence-based practices.
UB’s trauma-informed, evidenced-based counseling curriculum meets all licensure requirements for Connecticut and addresses students’ personal growth, professional knowledge, and counseling skills. Additionally, our program offers night courses to fit your specific needs and schedule.
The core curriculum also prepares students for the following subject areas of the National Counselor Examination (NCE) required for licensure:
- Professional Counseling Orientation and Ethical Practice
- Social and Cultural Diversity
- Human Growth and Development
- Career Development
- Counseling Theories and Helping Relationships
- Group Counseling and Group Work
- Assessment and Testing
- Research and Program Evaluation
Mental health counselors guide, support, and treat clients to live happy and whole lives, despite existing mental health disorders. This extremely meaningful, rewarding, and fulfilling career begins with a Master’s in Counseling.
Reach out today to learn more about our flexible Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Let’s start your future today!