How to become a child & youth counselor

Child and youth counsellors work with young children and teenagers to manage physical, mental and emotional issues and problems. Child and youth counsellors use a variety of techniques to motivate their patients to respond and open up to therapy such as expression through speech, play and art. Child and youth counsellors can choose to work in specific fields such as divorce, behaviour issues and illnesses.

Earn a bachelor's degree in a background related to child and youth counselling such as psychology, counselling, sociology, social work and/or child development.

Take a few business courses as elective coursework while earning your bachelor's degree. Learning how to run your own business will be essential if you decide to start your own practice.

Consider working at a day care or preschool while working on your bachelor' degree to gain as much experience working with children as possible. The more hands-on experience you have working with children and youth, the more prepared you will be when you enter the career field of a child and youth counsellor.

Pursue a master's degree in psychology, child psychology, sociology or social work. Use online databases such as the website to research graduate programs that are available in your area or online (see Resources below).

Locate a child therapist or child and youth counsellor in your community who will allow you to work as an intern while finishing your graduate degree. Because of confidentiality issues you cannot sit in on individual appointments, but you can gain valuable experience assisting in group work and learning the basic functions of the office procedures.

Research the licensing requirements to become a child and youth counsellor in your state. Licensing exam requirements vary per state, but are usually attainable once you have completed all of your education coursework.

Complete any supervised work experience hours necessary for the field of child and youth counselling you will be entering. Supervised work experience hours are usually a requirement before full licensure is granted.

Pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification to become a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Utilize the National Board for Certified Counselors website to search for exam dates and requirements (see Resources below).

Obatin your Psy.D. to become a Doctor of Psychology. A a terminal degree that is similar to a Ph.D. but focuses on therapy and counselling rather than the research aspect of a Ph.D.

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About the Author

Tiffany Fowlkes has worked as a writer, editor and graphic designer for more than five years. She has served as a contributing staff writer, editor and graphic designer for a publishing company in the travel industry. Fowlkes holds a bachelor's degree in English and art from Sul Ross State University.

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