Counselor is a broad term used generally to apply to a variety of professionals trained in psychology, counseling, social work, and related fields who provide counseling services such as therapy and evaluations to individuals, groups, or couples.

Educational Requirements for Counselors
Because counselor is a generic term, the educational achievements of people who act as counselors may vary greatly. Crisis counselors, for example, may be volunteers or may work in public service after completing bachelor’s degrees. Therapists may be referred to as counselors, and have diverse educational achievements. Therapists have, at minimum, master’s degrees and some may have multiple degrees or doctoral degrees.

Types of Counselors
The term counselor can be used to describe a variety of professionals. Some states have specific requirements people must meet before referring to themselves as counselors, while in other states, any one in mental health may refer to themselves as counselors. Attorneys are also occasionally referred to as counselor. A few types of counselors who provide therapeutic and evaluative services include:

  • Licensed Professional Counselors – Mental health professionals who have, at minimum, master’s degrees. State licensing requirements vary, but in many states, LPCs can practice independently rather than under the direction of other mental health professionals.
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers – Mental health professionals with master’s degrees in social work or related fields who obtain licenses as clinical social workers. They may provide individual or couples therapy, or may work in public service and social work in an array of fields such as child protective services, welfare, and drug rehabilitation.
  • School Counselors – Mental health professionals who provide counseling and educational services in a school setting. They may offer therapy to students, depending upon their training, and may also help parents and students develop life skills or plan for college.

The use of the term counselor does not always provide much information about the skill level and licensure of a particular treatment provider, so potential clients should check state rules and get information from licensing boards.


  1. American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
  2. Lee, J. (n.d.). The Different Types of counselors. Choose Help. Retrieved from

Last Updated: 04-18-2016

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