What Are the Different Types of Counseling?

Types of counseling include educational, career, marriage and family, mental health and substance abuse counseling. Within these specialties, different counseling approaches can be taken, including cognitive therapy, psychotherapy, existential counseling, person-centered therapy and rational emotive behavior therapy. More specialized versions of counseling include child development, debt, eating disorder and grief counseling, as well as therapies using art and music to help clients overcome specific issues.

Most counseling careers require professional degrees or doctorates, as well as counseling licensing or certifications. Licensing requirements vary by state, but they typically require individuals to work a specified number of hours or years under the supervision of a licensed practitioner, and they must pass one or more certification exams. Because of the great variety in counseling careers, many students pursuing a counseling degree do not necessarily know their speciality when they start their training.

Mental health counselors deal with a wide array of mental disorders, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder. Counselors use different counseling approaches to treat these disorders. Cognitive therapy focuses on uncovering thinking patterns that cause mental distress. Person-centered therapy helps individuals draw on their own internal resources to grow. Rational emotive behavior therapy helps clients replace irrational beliefs and unhealthy emotions with rational and productive alternatives.