Preparing for a Career in Counseling

The Psychology Department offers many opportunities for students to get involved in research. Students can earn Departmental credit (PSYCH 499), for working in faculty members' labs as part of their research teams. PSYCH 499 opportunities are posted on a bulletin board in the hallway just outside of Guthrie 119 and also listed on the psych department website under Research and Internships.

Some examples of research studies that may be of interest to students planning a career in counseling are:

  • Stress and coping project
  • Family relationships study
  • Substance abuse and assault
  • Parent/infant interactions
  • Belief, self-esteem, and bias
  • Attitudes and romantic relationships

Typical lab duties and experiences that may be especially valuable for students with an interest in counseling are:

  • Interviewing subjects
  • Recruiting subjects
  • Coding audio/video tapes
  • Library research
  • Child care/interaction
  • Attending lab meetings

To find out about getting involved in research across campus, and to learn about research training grants available for students, visit the Undergraduate Research Program webpage at

Related Courses

Courses that may be of interest to students planning a career in counseling:

Code Title
ANTH 322 Comparative Study of Death
ANTH 355 Aging in Cross-cultural Perspective
ANTH 436 Comparative Family Organization
ANTH 486 Human Family Systems: Biological & Social Aspects
PSYCH 322 Introduction to Drugs & Behavior
PSYCH 380 Cross-Cultural Competence
PSYCH 410 Child & Adolescent Behavior Disorders
PSYCH 489 Clinical Psychology
SOC WF 200 Introduction to Social Welfare
SOC WF 300 Historical Approaches to Social Welfare
SOC WF 320 Contemporary Approaches to Social Welfare
SOC 352 The Family
SP CMU 306 Nonverbal Communication
SP CMU 384 Cultural Codes in Communication

Check the quarterly Time Schedule for course availability and times.

Internship and Volunteer Opportunities

Students who participate in internships and volunteer work get the chance to explore different career options on a first-hand basis. Credit is available for this type of experiential learning, via PSYCH 497 (Fieldwork Seminar), or GEN ST 350 (Independent Fieldwork).

Psychology majors interested in the counseling field have previously found internship and volunteer positions at

Care Crisis Line-Volunteers of America

I learned how to assist individuals with various mental health problems. I learned how to write up a crisis plan, gained experience in relating to people by handling many different types of phone calls, and also learned what resources are available in the community.--former intern

Alcohol/Drug Help Line

The ADHL offers extensive in-depth training (80 hours), and serves as a great networking and support system for people interested in working in the chemical dependency field.

Family Help Line/Parent Trust for Washington

The experience has been a constant challenge of my own abilities and has given me the reaffirmation that I wish to become a counselor.--former intern

Seattle Counseling Service

A great introduction to working with people in terms of learning basic therapy skills. A chance to learn about the way the mental health system really works.

Special Tips

Look for paid student positions on campus that can help to develop counseling related skills. (Note: Applications for most positions are due sometime in Spring quarter, with appointments made for the following academic year. Check with individual programs for details.)

Center for Career Services

134 Mary Gates Hall, 543-0535

Psychology Undergraduate Advising

119 Guthrie Hall, 543-2698

Student Counseling Center

401 Schmitz Hall, 543-1240

Undergraduate Advising Center

171 Mary Gates Hall, 543-2550

Think broadly about types of counseling and settings in which counselors work. There are opportunities to do counseling related work in settings such as schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, non-profit organizations, the criminal justice system, business and industry, and others. Credentials required vary, but range from a bachelor's to a doctoral degree (with most practicing counselors holding a master's degree). A good resource for looking into master's programs is Guide to Master's Programs in Psychology and Counseling Psychology, Buskist and Mixon.