How to Become a Counselor in Ontario|5 Best Steps

How to Become a Counselor in Ontario

Before considering a career in counseling, it is very important to become licensed. Yes, of course, it can be a bit challenging to apply and may take a while for your application to be processed and eventually approved.

But the benefits outweigh the frustration for sure. A career in counseling gives you the opportunity to help others every day.

A counselor is a trained therapist that listens to a person and helps them find a way to deal with their emotional need.

A counselor is a person whose profession is to give advice to people in need of it, especially advice on their personal issues, helping them overcome addictions, fears, emotional and physical trauma, and other problem. In this article, we will be looking at the steps on how to become a counselor in Ontario.

Becoming a counselor requires you to pursue a master’s degree in this field, as well as take some other actions which include: 

  • Complete practicum and/or internship hours.
  • Obtain counseling licensure and/or certification.
  • Choose a counseling career path.
  • Advance your practice through continued learning 

The List of steps on how to become a counselor in Ontario

  1. Obtaining a master’s degree in Counselor
  2. Complete Practicum and/or Internship Hours
  3. Obtain Counseling Licensure and/or Certification
  4. Choose a Counseling Career Path
  5. Advance your practice through continued learning

1. Obtaining a master’s degree in Counselor 

Obtaining a master’s degree in counseling is the first on our list of how to become a counselor in Ontario. To build a successful career in counseling, it will be mandatory for you to obtain a state license or certification of approval. In order to achieve this, completing a master’s degree program in counseling will be the first step.

There are some bachelor’s degree programs with a focus on counseling, however, in order to become a professional licensed counselor, you will have to complete a graduate degree level education, before pursuing a state license in counseling.

A graduate study in counseling offers a specialized study curriculum, with a principal target on a centralized topic, either a Master of Science, art or education.

A master in this area applies more focus on developing your skillset in helping others, it creates a professional identity for you as a counselor, while expanding your understanding of human psychology and development.

However, whenever the decision about your education is made, there are factors that ought to be taken into strict consideration.

These factors include online student support, clinical assistance close to home, small class size, and most importantly, recognition and accreditation.

Therefore, building a successful career in this field, demands you put the above-listed information into strict consideration.

More so, it is worthy to note that Obtaining your master’s degree in counseling with a state license or certification demonstrates to potential employers and clients that you are a qualified counselor and a competent one at that, within your scope of practice.

2. Complete Practicum and/or Internship Hours

Obtaining a license or certification in counseling demands that one participate in documented hours of clinical field exposure for a minimum number of times.

Most accredited master’s degree programs require that students partake in an internship or on-site work before graduation.

These hours of applied internship may be counted towards your state requirement, depending on certain conditions, you may be required to complete an additional fieldwork hour to become a fully licensed counselor.

  • Practicum: These practical sessions require a range of 100 to 300 hours. During this practicum, students can work alongside certified counselors independently or on a supervised project.

    During the training process, students are fully allowed to participate in professional training, attend meetings, write reports etc.

  • Internship: During internships, students are subjected to closed supervision and are often required to put in about 600 hours of work.

    Independent projects are equally given to students both in and out of sessions with clients are the need may warrant.

    During the internship period, students are meant to fully collaborate with other staff as well as interact fully with other counselors, including meeting with several clients assigned to them.

Do you need a license to be a Counselor in Ontario?

The answer remains yes. Though some other provinces or states are yet to be regulated, States like Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia etc, are all regulated.

This simply means that if you live or intend to practice in any of these states, you must become licensed or certified in order to practice legally. 

3. Obtain Counseling Licensure and/or Certification

Practising as a counselor requires a license or certification, to practice as a counselor state licensing is required.

A valid state license serves as proof of professional qualification, indicating that the certified individual has met the requirement to practice.

These requirements include A minimum level of education and a requisite hour of supervised clinical experience.

4. Choose a Counseling Career Path

Choosing a counseling career path is the 4th on our list of the steps on how to become a counselor in Ontario.

Counseling career opportunities are available in different sectors, such as mental health clinics, private practices, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, schools, nursing homes, and government and community agencies.

These opportunities are available if you possess a valid state license. Choosing a career path might seem challenging, however here are a few steps to adopt

  • Explore the many counseling specialties and the types of clients you can help.
  • Research where the counseling jobs are.
  • Learn about employer requirements and job expectations as well as responsibilities as they correlate with your lived and learned experiences.

5. Advance your practice through continued learning

The last step on how to become a counselor in Ontario is ensuring continued learning to ensure your career progress as a counselor. If you will ever want to remain relevant in the field of counseling, you will need to stay ahead of the curve.

You will need to consciously expand your knowledge based as the career progresses.

The field of counseling has always been known to grow with findings as well as research, and there are always new innovations in ways counseling, that have not been explored previously, that have become the best practice.

As a professional counselor, it may come as a requirement either by licence, certification or community affiliation to constantly engage in continuous development and research.

It may be necessary to explore professional certifications for counselors in order to maintain relevance in the field. Opportunities that may be explored include

  • Research opportunities
  • PhD counseling programs etc.

The role of a counselor

A Counselor helps clients identify goals and potential solutions to problems which cause emotional turmoil; seeks to improve communication and coping skills; strengthens self-esteem promotes behavioural change and optimal mental health.

Duration of counselling

Therapy has proven to be productive when incorporated into one’s lifestyle for approximately 12-16 sessions.

Ideally, a counseling session varies depending on the kind.

For instance, personal counseling referred to as therapeutic hours last for about 50-55 minutes while clinical counseling takes about 45 minutes.

Counseling is terminated when the problem that one pursued becomes more manageable or is resolved.

What Career Options Are Available in Counseling?

In the field of counseling, there are at least 10 different career opportunities one could pursue.

As a counselor, you can work in a hospital as a mental health practitioner, you can work as a child counselor, and you can as well work as a military counselor.

It is important to note that the majority of counselling careers require that you obtain a master’s degree in the relevant field of study.

Below is a list of career options available in counseling

  • Grief Counselor
  • Military Counselor
  • Pastoral Counselor
  • Rehabilitation Counselor
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • School Counselor
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Career Counselor
  • Child Counselor
  • College Counselor

Types of counseling

Counseling programs in Ontario are diverse and they are categorized into two different categories.

  • Drug and Alcohol / Addictions Counseling. This program enlightens students on the different types of addictions, strategies for treatment and ways of screening, accessing and overseeing client cases.

    Courses in pharmacology provide students with a thorough understanding and techniques for screening, assessing and managing client cases.

    Courses in pharmacology provide students with a complete understanding of pharmaceuticals and their effects on a person’s physical and mental state.
  • Assaulted Women and Child Counseling. These programs analyze the concerns of violence and abuse from the standpoint of women and children.

    Course subjects for students that want to study more on this will include child development, physical and sexual violence, feminist political action, advocacy of children, women’s rights and more.

    Students will learn specialized techniques for counseling women and children who have suffered abuse.

Whichever category you want to focus on, addictions counseling or working mainly with abused women and children, all counseling programs have mandatory fieldwork placements, co-ops and/or training practicums that provide you with the practical experience you’ll need to start your career.

General Counseling Program Requirements

Counseling programs are offered at the diploma and graduate certificate levels.

Diploma programs for counselors require an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent, which includes a grade 12 English credit.

Other senior-level courses may be required but will vary by program.

Diploma programs in applied counseling or its equivalent take an average of 12-30 months while a degree or master’s will likely take 4-6years depending on the institution and the content of the program.  

Graduate certificate counseling programs require a diploma or degree in a related field or significant related work experience.

There may be other non-academic requirements, so check program admission details carefully.

Counseling Jobs and Salaries

Counselor salaries vary depending on the position, but the average starting salary for program grads is between $34,000 and $39,000 per year.

With experience, salaries could be upwards of $50,000 per year.

Graduates of counselling programs at Ontario colleges and have taken the steps on how to become a counselor in Ontario will find counseling jobs in a variety of settings, including (but not limited to):

Conclusion on how to become a counselor in Ontario 

In order to protect the safety of individuals, states establish standards for licensure or certification for health and human services professionals. 

Professional counselors are required by law to obtain a license before practice. A career in counseling gives you the opportunity to help others on a day to day bases.

A counselor helps people deal with different kinds of emotional needs.

If this defines your passion, then take a dive into this field of a career as the benefit outweighs the frustration. What are your thoughts about these steps on how to become a counselor in Ontario? Please share your thoughts below.

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