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SECTION III Life After Graduate School

There are many transitions that take place between being a counseling student and becoming a professional counselor. In this final section ofthe book we will turn our orientation to address some of the questions related to how counselors shift from student to professional counselor, including topics like counselor credentialing, supervised versus independent practice, and the importance of professional involvement. We begin section III with a discussion ofwhat new counselors need to know regarding counselor licensure and certification. Throughout the chapters you will again hear from new professionals about their transitions, current practice, and how they have chosen to be professionally involved. We conclude the book with perspectives from practicing counselors who focus on how graduate school has shaped their work and the types of counselors they have become.

Certification and Licensure


Counselors entering the profession feel great pride and excitement about beginning their new career after working so hard to achieve an advanced degree. One of the early steps in establishing yourself as a counselor has to do with earning a license or certification for your area of practice. The counseling profession, like other similar professions, is selfregulating: The profession itself has developed a code of ethics, standards of practice, and mechanisms to recognize who is eligible to practice within the profession. There is a significant level of trust that is placed in a profession when the larger society says that it can self-regulate. To honor that public trust, counselors have developed specific standards and procedures to recognize who can be allowed into the profession. Those standards have to do with the training and preparation a counselor must have, the supervised experience that you accumulate, passing an examination, and committing to following an agreed upon code of ethics and standards of practice. It is important to remember that the entire process of certification and licensure is part of the profession’s commitment to protecting the public and ensuring client welfare.

Certification and licensure are related mechanisms for demonstrating that a counselor has obtained a required level of training and competence in a given area. In this chapter, we will talk about both certification and licensure, what makes them similar and different, and what is involved in achieving each so that you can begin to decide which path will best meet your goals after graduate school. Although you will not be pursuing these credentials until after graduation, you will see in the pages that follow that there are steps you can take as early as selecting your graduate program that will begin the path toward earning counselor licensure or certification in your specialty area.

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