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Athabasca University

Chart your career in Counselling

What is Counselling Psychology?

Counselling psychology is an area of specialization within professional psychology. We define the profession of counselling psychology as a collaborative relationship in which the counsellor/psychologist draws on psychological, health promotion, developmental, and educational processes to facilitate wellness, personal growth, healing, problem solving, crisis management, and healthy personal and interpersonal development within individuals, groups, or communities. When we are referring to the counselling process, we have a specific set of activities in mind, namely, attending to and facilitating change in cognitive, affective, behavioural, and systemic or contextual experiences that interfere with healthy development and functioning.This very general definition opens the door for counsellors to assume a wide range of professional roles.

We invite you to read the expanded Definition of Counselling Psychology provided by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA).

Professional Roles

Graduates of the Master of Counselling program who have a strong psychology background may want to license as a Counselling Psychologist. Counselling Psychologists work in a wide range of colleges and universities, mental health, government, and community settings, as well as in private practice. For more information on a career as a psychologist, check out the Canadian Psychological Association's Career in Psychology information. The Master of Counselling program is designed to provide students with the graduate academic background required to begin the licensing process through the College of Alberta Psychologists. Students from other jurisdictions are encouraged to check out the local registration criteria to ensure that their coursework conforms to those requirements.

Others may prefer to move towards the role of Professional Counsellor or Counselling Therapist, seeking, for example, Canadian Counsellor Certification through the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA), the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC), or other provincial regulatory bodies for counselling therapists or mental health therapists. The program has been designed to allow students to meet the certification criteria of the CCPA, a national association of professionally trained counsellors working in diverse areas of education, employment and career development, social work, business, industry, mental health, public service agencies, government, and private practice.

Counselling Psychology Specializations

The field of counselling psychology is further defined by a number of particular areas of specialization, some of which offer professional recognition and association in provincial and national organizations. The Master of Counselling program is designed so that all students first meet the foundational requirements for the general practice of professional counselling psychology and then select a specialization. Over time, we hope to expand the areas of specialization to enable students to pursue particular career paths. To clarify your own educational and career path, you may wish to explore in detail particular areas of specialization on the program’s Specializations page.

Specializations are also offered in the Post-Masters Certificate in Counselling program. Please visit the program’s Specializations page for more information.

Updated September 09 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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