For Students

Professional Counseling as a Career Choice

What is professional counseling? Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.

People have many different reasons for deciding they want to become a counselor. Some people choose this career because they once had a good experience with a counselor during a difficult time in their own life and they want to “pay it forward.” Another person may have done some volunteer work at a crisis hotline and realized that they enjoyed both the challenges and joys of working with clients facing difficult times. Yet another person may have been told that they are a good listener and they ought to consider working as a mental health professional.

“I have always desired to become a counselor since I was five years old. I have always loved helping people A wonderful lady in our community who worked in the counseling field was instrumental in encouraging me to follow my dreams.” -Barbara Mceuen

Whatever the reasons, individuals that choose to seek a career in counseling usually have one thing in common – a desire to help people work through life’s challenges. Some individuals want to work primarily with children or teens. Others prefer to work with adults. Some want to work in specific settings, such as K-12 schools or college campuses. Others prefer to work in a community setting such as a mental health center or private practice setting.

Counseling can offer the right individual a rewarding career path in a health profession that is growing. It requires a strong desire to interact with people, exceptional communication skills, and an ability to complete a graduate degree. Choosing to become a professional counselor is a commitment to yourself, to others, and to society as a whole.

But choosing to become a counselor is just one of the choices that prospective students must make. Student will need to consider all of the different specializations in counseling with their varying work environments. School counselors work in K-12 educational environments (schools), while clinical mental health counselors may work in private practice, a hospital setting, or some other community agency.

The master’s degree is considered the entry degree for practice as a professional counselor. In order to work as a licensed professional counselor, it is necessary to get a master’s degree. The doctoral degree in counselor education and supervision expands on the master’s degree and is individually tailored to provide emphases in counseling, supervision, teaching, research and scholarship, and leadership and advocacy. Some individuals pursue a doctoral degree in order to work in colleges and universities teaching and supervising future counselors and adding to the research base for the counseling profession, while others might pursue the doctoral degree to advance their counseling career through assuming administrative and/or supervisory roles within their organizations. In most circumstances, an individual will need to have a master’s degree in counseling and have worked as a counselor before he or she would be eligible to pursue a doctoral degree in counselor education and supervision.

Other sources for information include the American Counseling Association and its Divisions (, the American Mental Health Counselors Association ( and the American School Counselors Association ( The Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and available online ( is an excellent resource providing information and statistics pertaining to the counseling profession.

Why Should I Choose an Accredited Program?

CACREP Accreditation provides recognition that the content and quality of the program has been evaluated and meets standards set by the profession.  The student, as a consumer, can be assured that appropriate knowledge and skill areas are included and that the program is stable, professionally and financially.

Prospective students are advised to be wary of diploma and accreditation mills. Diploma mills or degree mills award academic degrees with substandard, limited, or no academic study.  Often these degrees are awarded on the basis of ‘life experience.’ While this may sound promising, the motivation is profit on the part of the degree mill.  An accreditation mill claims that it awards accreditation to a higher education institution, but they have no authority or recognition to do so, and there are either subpar or no standards involved.  These types of organizations do not have recognition as legitimate accreditors through any sort of organization that awards such recognition, such as the Council for Higher Accreditation, the US Department of Education or ministries of education in other countries. Click here to read more.

What Are The Different Counseling Specialties?

Click here to learn more about each Counseling Specialty.

A Guide to Graduate Programs in Counseling

Interested in Becoming a Counselor?

Written for undergraduate students and other prospective counselors, A Guide to Graduate Programs in Counseling is the first of its kind to create a comprehensive, reliable means of learning about the counseling profession, entry level preparation (i.e., master’s degrees in counseling specializations), and what to consider when searching for, applying to, and ultimately selecting a graduate program in counseling that is the “perfect fit.” The Guide offers vital information relative to accreditation and its importance in the counseling profession with regards to obtaining licensure, certification, and even employment opportunities after graduating. As a CACREP publication, this book is the official source of information about accredited counseling programs and includes information about what counseling programs seek in candidates, what  programs can offer students in terms of professional development and job placement, and guidance on personal and practical considerations for entering the counseling profession. Authored by counseling experts and featuring insights from voices in the field, A Guide to Graduate Programs in Counseling is a must-have resource for anyone interested in becoming a professional counselor.

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Student Graduation Certificate:

If you graduated from a CACREP program and require proof that is not verifiable by simply providing information from our directory or your transcripts you can request a student graduation certificate.

A Student Graduation Certificate is $50*.

*You can pay with a VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover Card by calling in your credit card details to the CACREP Office at 703-535-5990.

Federal Regulations

Three federal agencies have made graduation from a CACREP accredited program a requirement for independent practice in counseling.

Veteran’s Administration

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released qualification standards that formally recognize licensed professional mental health counselors who have graduated from CACREP accredited programs as mental health specialists within the Veterans Health Administration. The full text of the standards is available by clicking here.

Prior to the passage of  legislation and creation of qualification standards, mental health counselors were not eligible for employment within the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Department of Defense will require a CACREP accredited Clinical Mental Health Counseling or Mental Health Counseling degree in order to obtain the TRICARE Certified Mental Health Counselor credential, which grants the authority to provide independent care to TRICARE beneficiaries after December 31, 2016.  There is a phase-in period through December 31, 2016 which allows for a graduate without one of those two degrees to qualify by meeting an alternative series of requirements.  Prior to this legislation, mental health counselors could not practice independently in the TRICARE system. For more information see the Federal Register Listing.

Army Substance Abuse

Beginning in July 2011, only LPCs with a degree from a CACREP accredited program may be employed as Fully Functioning Army Substance Abuse Program Practitioner.  This requirement is waived for those already employed by the Army Substance Abuse Program for those in the application process at the time the regulation was adopted.

Registry of Undergraduate Rehabilitation Programs

2017-2018 Academic Year

Alabama Kansas Pennsylvania
Arizona Louisiana Tennessee
Arkansas Massachusetts Texas
California New Mexico Wisconsin
Illinois North Dakota


Danita Stapleton
College of Health Sciences: Rehabilitation Services
915 South Jackson Street
Montgomery, AL 36101-0271
Phone: (334) 229-4865
Fax: (334) 229-5883
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:– departments/health-sciences/index.aspx

Nicholas Derzis, Jr., Ph.D., CRC
Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and Counseling
2084 Haley Center
Auburn, AL 36849
Phone: (334) 844-2501
Fax: (334) 844-7677
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:

Our 120 credit hour program prepares students to become professionals in the fields of disability studies and services which include counseling, allied health fields (Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy), case management, human services, orthotics and prosthetics, and other related fields. Coursework covers the foundation and history of the disability movement.  The program has a large component of field experience which allows students experience working with consumers in different areas of rehabilitation services. We focus on current research in rehabilitation strategies and processes.


Pamela B. DeSteiguer, M.A.
Undergraduate Program Coordinator Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and School Psychology
Room 412, P.O. Box 210069
Tucson, AZ 85721-0069
Phone: (520) 626-3580
Fax: (520) 621-3821
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:


Penny Willmering, Ph.D., CRC, LPC, FNRCA
Department of Behavioral Sciences, Rehabilitation Science Program
Witherspoon Hall, Suite 348
407 West Q Street
Russellville, AR 72801
Phone: (479) 968-0461
Fax: (479) 964-0544
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:


Frances Siu, Ph.D., CRC
Division of Special Education and Counseling
5151 State University Drive, KH-C1064
Los Angeles, CA 90032
Phone: (323) 343-4428
Fax: (323) 343-5605
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:


Eun-Jeong Lee, Ph.D., CRC
Division of Counseling and Rehabilitation Science
3105 South Dearborn Street, LS Room 252
Chicago, IL 60616
Phone: (312) 567-5202
Fax: (312) 567-3493
Email: [email protected]
Home Page: /graduate-programs/rehabilitation-counselingprogram/ms-rehabilitation-and-mental

Thomas Upton, Ph.D., CRC
Rehabilitation Institute
322A Rehn Hall, 1025 Lincoln Drive
Carbondale, IL 62901-4609
Phone: (618) 453-8287
Fax: (618) 453-8271
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:


Damara Goff Paris, Ed.D., CRC, NCC, LPC
Director of Rehabilitation Programs
Department of Counselor Education
1 Kellogg Circle, Box 4036
Emporia, KS 66801
Phone: (620) 341-5668
Fax: (620) 341-6200
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:


Carliss Washington, Rh.D., CRC
Department of Rehabilitation & Disability Studies
230 Blanks Hall
Baton Rouge, LA 70813
Phone: (225) 771-2370/2390
Fax: (225) 771-2293
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:


Deborah C. Cook
Rehabilitation and Disability Studies
263 Alden Street
Springfield, MA 01009-3797
Phone: (413) 748-3482
Fax: (413) 748-3787
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:

New Mexico

Benjamin C. Jenkins, PhD, CRC
Director, Rehabilitation Services Program
School of Nursing & Allied Health
P.O. Box 680
Silver City, NM 88062
Phone: (575) 538-6184
Fax:  (575) 538-6126
Email: [email protected]

The WNMU Rehabilitation Services program is a specialized allied health program that emphasizes the issues, experiences, and needs of individuals and families with disabilities. While our courses highlight scholarly research, theories, and applications that foster critical thinking, the Rehabilitation Services curriculum also prepares students with the knowledge and technical skills necessary to be highly qualified rehabilitation services providers in the rapidly growing healthcare and human services industry. This program offers an online multidisciplinary baccalaureate degree in Rehabilitation Services that fills the void of qualified bilingual and multiculturally competent professionals across the US.

North Dakota

David Perry, Ph.D., CRC
Professor and Program Coordinator
Rehabilitation and Human Services Program
231 Centennial Dr., Stop 7116
Grand Forks, ND 58202
Phone: (701) 777-3757
Fax: (701) 777-3184
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:


Ray F. Feroz, Ph.D., CRC, NCC, LPC
Department of Human Services, Rehabilitation, Health & Sport Sciences
840 Wood Street
Clarion, PA 16214
Phone: (814) 393-2325
Fax: (814) 393-1950
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:

Domenico Cavaiuolo
Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation
200 Prospect Street, Stroud Hall 108
East Stroudsburg, PA 18301-2999
Phone: (570) 422-3893
Fax: (570) 442-3198
Email: [email protected]
Home Page: rehab_srvs.cfm


Chrisann Schiro-Geist, Ph.D., CRC
Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Research
Ball Hall, Room 100
Memphis, TN 38152
Phone: (901) 678-4303
Fax: (901) 678-0748
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:


William F. Weber, Ed.D.
Professor and Director
Undergraduate Rehabilitation Education Program
Department of Human Services
P.O. Box 13019
2100 N. Raguet Street
Nacogdoches, TX 75962
Phone: (936) 468-1154
Fax: (936) 468-1342
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:

Fidencio Mercado, MS, LCDC, LPC-Intern
School of Rehabilitation Services & Counseling College of Affairs
1201 West University Drive, EHABW1.266
Edinburg, TX 78539
Phone: (956) 665-7036
Fax: (956) 665-5237
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:


Colleen Etzbach, Ph.D., CRC
Department of Rehabilitation and Counseling
226 Vocational Rehabilitation Building
Menomonie, WI 54701
Phone: (715) 232-1300
Fax: (715) 232-2356
Email: [email protected]
Home Page:

UW-Stout’s Bachelor of Science degree in Rehabilitation Services (formerly Vocational Rehabilitation) prepares you for a rewarding career where you’ll identify, provide or coordinate services for people with disabilities. If you are interested in human services related to counseling, psychiatric rehabilitation, social work or substance abuse, our program may be the right fit for you.