Areas of Specialization where Counselors Work

Counselors are practically found in all spheres of human development, transitions, and caregiving. Peterson and Nesenholz (1987) identified 11 major areas: :

1. Child development and counseling.

Child development and counseling as area of specialization includes parent education, preschool counseling, early childhood education, elementary school counseling, child counseling in mental health agencies, and counseling with battered and abused children and their families

2. Adolescent development and counseling.

Adolescent development and counseling as area of specialization covers middle and high school counseling, psychological education, career development specialist, adolescent counseling in mental health agencies, youth work in a residential facility, and youth probation officer.

3. Gerontology (the aged).

Gerontological counseling (the aged) as area of specialization is considered the fastest growing field and essentially involves counseling of older citizens. It includes preretirement counseling, community centers, counseling, nursing home counseling, and hospice work.

4. Marital relationship counseling.

Marital or relationship counseling includes premarital counseling, marriage counseling, family counseling, sex education, sexual dysfunction counseling, and divorce mediation.

5. Health.

Health as an area of specialization offers possibility for nutrition counseling, exercise and health education, nurse-counselor, rehabilitation counseling, stress management counseling, holistic health counseling, anorexia or bulimia counseling, and genetic counseling.

6. Career/lifestyle.

As an area of specialization, career and lifestyle counseling includes guidance on choices and decision-making pertaining to career or lifestyle; guidance on career development; provision of educational and occupational information to clients; conducting education on career and lifestyle trends; provision of various forms of vocational assessment appropriate to a setting; addressing the career and life development needs of special populations and appropriate career services in given settings; facilitation of work-related activities as an integral part of development and formation across the lifespan; modeling application of decision-making across the lifespan; information dissemination of current career, vocational, education, occupational, and labor market information; giving assistance to clients on developing skills necessary to plan, organize, implement, administer, and evaluate clients own career development; facilitating understanding of the interrelationships among work, family, and other life roles and factors including diversity and gender, their influence on career development and choices; identification of ethical and legal considerations,, characteristics and behaviors that influence career; and may also include provision of needed skills in managing or going through job interviews. 

7. College and university.

College and university as an area of specialization offer the following opportunities: college student counseling, student activities, ‘student personnel work, residential hall or dormitory counselor, and counselor educator.

8. Drugs.

Drugs as an area of specialization has several options such as substance abuse counseling, alcohol counseling, drug counseling, stop smoking program manager, and crisis intervention counseling.

9. Consultation.

Consultation as an area of specialization covers agency and corporate consulting, organizational development director, industrial psychology specialist, and training manager.

10. Business and industry.

Business and industry areas of specialization include training and development personnel, quality and work-life or quality circles manager, employee assistance programs manager, employee career development officer, affirmative action, or equal opportunity specialist.

11. Other specialties.

Other specialties may include phobia counseling, agoraphobia, self-management, intra-personal management, interpersonal relationships management, and grief counseling. In all specialties, the counselor could be self-employed as a private practitioner or may be employed by the agency, which may be a government or a non-government organization (NGO). In any specialty area, additional education and trainings beyond graduate and post-graduate education are required.