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Crucial to choosing the best online counseling courses is the ability to select courses necessary to your career goals, to choose the best course providers, and to find courses taught in an online environment with which you are comfortable. As counseling is a person-to-person activity, you should also find out if the courses you take have a required field education or lab portion that must be completed in a classroom or at an on-site environment. If you are pursuing an initial license or working to renew a license, it is very important that you ensure that your coursework is recognized by the appropriate authorities. You can best accomplish this by directly contacting a licensing agency or professional organization in order to make sure that any online counseling courses you consider are taught by a recognized education provider.
If you are new to the counseling profession and are seeking a degree with a certificate that will enable you to practice, evaluate your online counseling options carefully. Never rely on the claims of a school to determine whether completing a course will enable you to receive a professional license. Instead, contact the licensing agency in your area and ask for a list of approved schools and courses. If certain schools are not on that list, you should take your online counseling courses elsewhere. Be aware that, in some jurisdictions, online education may not be recognized for licensure or, in some cases, even for continuing education.
Schools that offer online counseling courses may use different delivery systems for their course offerings. If you are new to online education or have had difficulty navigating some online course environments in the past, ask the school about the type of software that it uses. In some cases, the school may be able to allow you to actually try out a sample course for free so that you can get an idea of whether the user interface works for you. You should also ask about course cost and whether you will be expected to attend any in-person classes or participate in off-site activities. While for some people live participation may not be an issue, if you have extensive work or family responsibilities, this type of interaction may make taking the course impossible.
When taking continuing education courses in order to renew your license or to maintain or gain certification, you should likewise check with the certifying or licensing agency as to the suitability of online counseling courses. Once again, make sure that the provider and its courses are recognized as providers of continuing education and that taking these courses will qualify you for obtaining or retaining your credentials.