Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology: Where Are the Jobs?

By Bernard, Janine M. | Counselor Education and Supervision, September 2006 | Go to article overview

Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology: Where Are the Jobs?


Bernard, Janine M., Counselor Education and Supervision


Employment opportunities for persons with doctoral degrees in counselor education and counseling psychology were studied. Over 15 months, 708 positions were identified and analyzed to determine frequency of advertised positions calling for either degree, types of positions, and references to the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the American Psychological Association. Additional analyses were conducted for counselor education. Results found the counselor education degree to have a clear identity in the marketplace, especially for faculty positions, whereas the degree in counseling psychology was more often 1 of multiple degrees listed for an advertised position. Implications are discussed, including implications for CACREP-accredited doctoral programs and needs for future research.

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An important role for counselor educators is one of advising talented master's degree students regarding doctoral education. These students often have a baccalaureate degree in psychology and are wrestling with the decision to apply for a degree in counselor education (CE) or counseling psychology (CP). As noted by Rogers, Gill-Wigal, Harrigan, and Abbey-Hines (1998), the amount of overlap between CE and CP makes it difficult for prospective students to ascertain which degree might provide greater access to the greater number of desirable positions. Because students typically divide professional opportunities into those in academe and those in clinical settings, they tend to be interested in accruing information about the demand for either degree in one or both of these areas.

In addition to the commonalities and shared history of CE and CP noted by others (e.g., Hanna & Bemak, 1997; Rogers et al., 1998; Romano & Kachgal, 2004; Zimpfer, 1993), the career aspirations of CE and CP graduates overlap significantly (Zimpfer, 1993, 1996; Zimpfer, Cox, West, Bubenzer, & Brooks, 1997). Of course, important distinctions between the degrees do exist, including the implications for licensure with either degree. However, because it is still fairly common to see a position advertisement calling for a graduate of either a CE or CP program, it is important to continue to discuss these two degrees in relation to each other.

The work of Maples and her colleagues (Maples, 1989; Maples, Altekruse, & Testa, 1993; Maples & Macari, 1998) established the need for an increased pool of counselor education graduates (CEs) in the foreseeable future to fill faculty positions in counselor education programs. These predictions were further supported by Rogers et al. (1998) who reported that programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) projected a need for 211 new faculty members over 10 years. None of these studies attempted to gather data regarding the relative demand for the CE degree to fill clinical positions.

Despite the predicted need for additional CEs in faculty positions, Zimpfer (1996) and Zimpfer and DeTrude (1990) found that CEs expressed a growing interest in clinical work. This led Zimpfer (1996) to challenge CACREP to be more deliberate in revising standards that would accommodate this development. Swickert's (1997) qualitative study found 10 CEs in private practice to be disillusioned and angry that "their education and their credentials were not respected" (p. 339). Actual employment possibilities for CEs in clinical positions have not been documented.

Most counseling psychology graduates (CPs) pursue careers as clinicians (Goodyear et al., 2000). The fact that recent years have ushered in the CP doctor of psychology degree (PsyD) has potentially increased the numbers of CP clinicians (Goodyear et al., 2000; Stoltenberg et al., 2000). It is unknown if clinical positions for CPs are increasing to match the growing number of CP programs. At the same time, Rogers et al. …

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