What Does A Counseling Psychologist Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Stan T.Career, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Counseling Psychologists

Counseling Psychologists assess and evaluate individuals' problems through the use of case history, interview, and observation and provide individual or group counseling services to assist individuals in achieving more effective personal, social, educational, and vocational development and adjustment.

Salary
$89290
Becoming One
Very Hard
Education
Doctoral degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Counseling Psychologists assess and evaluate individuals' problems through the use of case history, interview, and observation and provide individual or group counseling services to assist individuals in achieving more effective personal, social, educational, and vocational development and adjustment.

  • Collect information about individuals or clients, using interviews, case histories, observational techniques, and other assessment methods.
  • Document patient information including session notes, progress notes, recommendations, and treatment plans.
  • Counsel individuals, groups, or families to help them understand problems, deal with crisis situations, define goals, and develop realistic action plans.
  • Develop therapeutic and treatment plans based on clients’ interests, abilities, or needs.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Counseling Psychologists counsel individuals, groups, or families to help them understand problems, deal with crisis situations, define goals, and develop realistic action plans. They document patient information including session notes, progress notes, recommendations, and treatment plans.

A typical day for a Counseling Psychologist will also include:

  • Collect information about individuals or clients, using interviews, case histories, observational techniques, and other assessment methods.
  • Develop therapeutic and treatment plans based on clients’ interests, abilities, or needs.
  • Advise clients on how they could be helped by counseling.
  • Analyze data, such as interview notes, test results, or reference manuals, to identify symptoms or to diagnose the nature of clients’ problems.
  • Supervise interns, clinicians in training, and other counselors.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Counseling Psychologists also refer clients to specialists or to other institutions for non counseling treatment of problems. They may also supervise interns, clinicians in training, and other counselors.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Counseling Psychologists consult with other professionals, agencies, or universities to discuss therapies, treatments, counseling resources or techniques, and to share occupational information. They might also evaluate the results of counseling methods to determine the reliability and validity of treatments.

In addition, they advise clients on how they could be helped by counseling.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them analyze data, such as interview notes, test results, or reference manuals, to identify symptoms or to diagnose the nature of clients’ problems.

To some Counseling Psychologists, it is also their responsibility to provide consulting services, including educational programs, outreach programs, or prevention talks to schools, social service agencies, businesses, or the general public.

Freedom to make decisions

How much decision making freedom does this job offer?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
0%

Limited freedom
0%

Some freedom
9%

A lot of freedom
91%

Structured vs unstructured work

To what extent is this job structured for you versus allowing you to determine your own tasks, priorities, and goals?

No freedom
0%

Very little freedom
0%

Limited freedom
2%

Some freedom
19%

A lot of freedom
79%


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What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Very High

Is this job meaningful

Very High

78% said they were satisfied with their job and 88% said they found their job meaningful.


Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen
A community health clinic in San Diego

I work as a psychologist at a community health clinic in San Diego. My typical day involves doing mental health screenings, administering psychological assessments, and providing psychotherapy to a wide diversity of mental health patients (whom I prefer to regard as mental health athletes).

For nearly a year, our sessions have been conducted via telehealth and involve making phone calls, all due to the pandemic.

My day is never typical because I never know whether I will be managing a mental health crisis; helping a patient to maintain stability; or encounter an atypical mental health issue, that does not fit neatly into any particular diagnostic category.

In addition to doing typical psychologist things, as a singer/songwriter, and a mental health provider that has previously worked as a music therapist, I continuously seek out ways of intervening to alleviate mental health suffering through the avenue of music. That could involve helping musically-inclined patients use their musical skills as a way of exploring unresolved issues and as an avenue of self-expression and catharsis (letting out all that is bottled up inside).

For those patients that love music, but lack the interest and skills to express themselves directly through music, intervention via music could involve helping patients create musical playlists consisting of songs they find to meaningfully address their issues and songs they find therapeutic.

Pros

The biggest pro is the opportunity to play an active role in alleviating human suffering, and to enhance the quality of life for my patients, by guiding them to discover the vast array of internal and external resources that offer a path to healing.

Cons

The biggest con is that, if I don’t take care of myself, and if I take too much responsibility for the mental health of my patients, is that I could end up with burnout, and then, not only will my own mental health suffer, but I could become considerably less effective in working with individuals on my caseload.

One of the ways music prevents me from getting burned out is by helping me to bring a healthy perspective to my role, and not to take myself too seriously. That’s what I tried to accomplish in writing and recording this original song: Psychological Cowboy (Original song by Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT © 1990, 2020) and this one as well… Shrink Rapped (Original song by Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT © 1990, 2020).

In short, I love my profession, and I love what music does to make my work even more interesting and beneficial to both my patients and to my own sense of personal well-being.


Pros

Suitable for people who like to help and teach others.

Suitable for people who value relationships between co-workers and customers and want to work in a friendly non-competitive environment.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

Very good salary.

Normal working hours (40 hours per week).

Cons

Not suitable for people who like practical and hands-on work.

It is very hard to get into this career. Extensive skills, knowledge, and experience are required for this career.

How much do they make

Average salary

$89290 per year

Average hourly wage

$43 per hour

Entry-level Counseling Psychologists with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $46,410 to $60,750 per year or $22 to $29 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $138,550 $67
Senior (Top 25%) $104,860 $50
Median $79,820 $38
Junior (Bottom 25%) $60,750 $29
No experience (Bottom 10%) $46,410 $22

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Counseling Psychologists based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Outpatient Care Centers $109100 $52.45
Child Day Care Services $105670 $50.80
Home Health Care Services $103520 $49.77
Offices of Other Health Practitioners $101860 $48.97
Junior Colleges $100470 $48.31
Offices of Physicians $99590 $47.88
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals $96930 $46.60
Management of Companies and Enterprises $96860 $46.57
Local Government $94790 $45.57
Scientific Research and Development Services $93640 $45.02

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Counseling Psychologists work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Counseling Psychologists including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Elementary and Secondary Schools 44970 $80960 $38.93
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 20060 $101860 $48.97
Offices of Physicians 6400 $99590 $47.88
Individual and Family Services 6070 $84000 $40.39
Outpatient Care Centers 5430 $109100 $52.45
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals 4540 $96930 $46.60
State Government 3990 $90290 $43.41
Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools 3970 $75750 $36.42
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals 3950 $90130 $43.33
Local Government 3640 $94790 $45.57

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
15%

40 hours
63%

More than 40 hours
22%

Working schedule

86%

13%

1%

Work with group or team

How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?

Not important at all
10%

Fairly important
2%

Important
12%

Very important
39%

Extremely important
38%

Deal with external customers

How important is it to work with customers in this job?

Not important at all
22%

Fairly important
7%

Important
1%

Very important
10%

Extremely important
60%

Manage or lead others

How important is it to coordinate or lead others in completing work activities in this job?

Not important at all
23%

Fairly important
1%

Important
16%

Very important
36%

Extremely important
24%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
12%

Every day
88%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
14%

Every day
86%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
0%

Every day
100%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
12%

Once a year
43%

Once a month
15%

Once a week
30%

Every day
0%

Frequency of conflict situations

How often are there conflict situations in this job?

Never
0%

Once a year
24%

Once a month
40%

Once a week
26%

Every day
10%

Dealing with angry people

How often do you have to deal with angry, unpleasant, or discourteous individuals in this job?

Never
0%

Once a year
24%

Once a month
46%

Once a week
14%

Every day
15%

Dealing with physically aggressive people

How often do you have to deal with physically aggressive people in this job?

Never
23%

Once a year
45%

Once a month
26%

Once a week
6%

Every day
0%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
25%

Slightly competitive
10%

Moderately competitive
25%

Highly competitive
40%

Extremely competitive
0%

Repetition in this job

How important is repeating the same type of task over and over in this job?

Not important at all
54%

Fairly important
18%

Important
22%

Very Important
6%

Extremely Important
0%

Impact of decisions on co-workers or company results

What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the reputation or financial resources of your employer?

No impact
10%

Minor impact
0%

Moderate impact
11%

Important impact
22%

Very important impact
58%

Frequency of decision making

How frequently do you have to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the reputation of the company?

Never
10%

Once a year
2%

Once a month
11%

Once a week
6%

Every day
72%

Responsibility for others’ health and safety

How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?

No responsibility
28%

Limited responsibility
4%

Moderate responsibility
29%

High responsibility
30%

Very high responsibility
9%

Responsibility for outcomes and results

How much responsibility is there for the work outcomes and results of other workers?

No responsibility
29%

Limited responsibility
4%

Moderate responsibility
31%

High responsibility
6%

Very high responsibility
29%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
2%

Once a year or more
0%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
98%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
61%

Once a year or more
28%

Once a month or more
10%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
1%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
68%

Once a year or more
23%

Once a month or more
10%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
68%

Once a year or more
23%

Once a month or more
10%

Once a week or more
0%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Very Hard
You will need an extensive amount of skill, knowledge, and experience. Careers in this difficulty category usually require graduate school and more than five years of experience. These careers usually involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Similar careers include Pharmacists, Lawyers, Astronomers, Neurologists, and Veterinarians.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
0%

Post-Secondary Certificate
0%

Some College Courses
0%

Associate’s Degree or similar
0%

Bachelor’s Degree
0%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
27%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
8%

Doctoral Degree
25%

Post-Doctoral Training
40%

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
8%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
0%

1 to 2 years
33%

2 to 4 years
22%

4 to 6 years
35%

6 to 8 years
1%

8 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
20%

1 month
5%

1 to 3 months
20%

3 to 6 months
21%

6 months to 1 year
0%

1 to 2 years
17%

2 to 4 years
16%

4 to 10 years
0%

Over 10 years
0%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Helper

People with this personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.

The Builder
19%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
86%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
62%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
90%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
38%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
33%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like working with, communicating with, and teaching people. They like helping or providing service to others.

They also like working with ideas and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
86%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
86%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
76%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
100%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
48%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
86%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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