How do I Become a Depression Counselor?

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  • Written By: Virginia Franco
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 March 2019
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Depression is a common psychological condition or disease that affects millions, and is blind to race, gender, and age. When severe, it can be debilitating, impairing a person's ability to function. Fortunately, once this condition is properly diagnosed, most people can be successfully treated, often by a counselor with depression expertise. Many counselors who treat depression find their professional choice to be a rewarding one in part because their efforts can literally save lives. To become a depression counselor, you will likely need a college degree, training in counseling techniques, and the patience and empathy to work with clients.

Depression is a condition that leaves no group untouched. For this reason there are several different career options for those who wish to become a depression counselor. An important first step on this career path is to learn as much as possible about the many academic and career choices available. It is important to narrow down the selection process by identifying preferences for particular populations and settings, such as working with children or the elderly, group versus individual counseling, substance abuse settings versus suicide treatment facilities, and the like.


The next logical step is to earn the appropriate academic degree. Several different training and educational options are available to those who wish to become a depression counselor. Many students begin by completing an undergraduate program in counseling, which usually requires coursework in psychology, therapy, counseling, sociology, and anthropology. Others choose instead to enter directly into a graduate program for mental health counseling, counseling, or social work.

An undergraduate degree in counseling will improve your chances of being accepted into a graduate program. Most master's programs, where the desire to become a depression counselor can become a reality, require a two-year commitment. Nearly all require a hands-on internship in addition to course work, and allow students to specialize in terms of the populations they would like to work with or the type of counseling and advocacy work they would like to provide.

In addition to applying for jobs and hopefully being offered a position where you can impact the lives of those suffering from depression, most graduates choose to immediately work toward licensure. Not only does earning a license help command a higher salary, it can broaden the scope of job opportunities for those who wish to become a depression counselor. While license requirements vary by location and government regulation, most require a period of post-graduate work that is supervised by a licensed individual.

Most places offer licensing for substance abuse counselors, rehabilitation therapists, professional counselors, and social workers — all of which will likely involve work with people suffering from depression. Once the supervisory period is complete, a test is administered. Those who pass will be awarded a license, which usually must be kept current with regular continuing education courses.



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