4 Steps for Finding the Right Faith-Based Counseling Program for You
Being a professional counselor is a fulfilling, challenging, and rewarding path to take and one that we applaud you for considering. So, if you’re passionate about helping others and want to pursue a career in counseling, then you’ve come to the right place.
Researching faith-based counseling programs will open you up to many wonderful schools, each of them offering unique experiences. However, they all have one thing in common: bringing God’s teachings into the classroom to prepare you to deliver the very best care to your clients each and every day.
If you’re looking into how to become a faith-based counselor and are currently exploring program options, here are four important steps you should be taking.
1. Define Your Counseling Career Goals
Counseling is such a broad career path with so many different applications. As a licensed professional counselor, you could work in dozens of different settings supporting individuals, entire communities, and everyone in between.
Different programs offer different emphases and specializations, so the first thing you should do is determine where you want to take your career so that you can pick the right program to help you get there.
If you want to become a school counselor, for example, then you should look for programs that offer school counseling emphases. You can read more about pursuing that career path in our blog post, How to Become a School Counselor.
Once you find the right program that matches your career interests, you’ll want to make sure that they’ll support your goals through clinical training, community partnerships, and internships.
2. Understand What You’re Looking for in a Faith-Based Counseling Program
What does “faith-based” mean to you?
At some schools, faith is intertwined at every opportunity, such as beginning each class with a prayer and bringing the Word of God into their curriculum. At others, “faith-based” is as simple as incorporating values like compassion, understanding, and community in the classroom.
If you’re looking for a faith-based counseling program, you should first determine what's important to you and what kind of academic experience you’re seeking. Not only that, but also how you envision yourself bringing these faith-based values into your practice someday.
There are many Christian graduate schools for counseling, each with different strengths and unique opportunities. Here at Southern, for example, our counseling program offers:
- Three areas of emphasis: Clinical Mental Health, School Counseling, as well as the Marriage, Couple, and Family sub-specialty
- CACREP accreditation so you know you’ll be getting a high-quality education that will make you a desirable candidate for any potential future employers
- Affordability and flexibility to help you earn your degree without putting the rest of your life on hold
3. Know Which Course Modality Works Best for You
Are you looking for in-person or online courses? Will you take classes part-time or full-time? How far would you be willing to drive if you’re taking classes in person?
These are questions to keep in mind as you explore your options. Some programs may require in-person classes or weekend commitments, which makes it harder to balance your career, family, and other life commitments.
Other programs, such as Southern’s, offer afternoon and evening classes via live, online instruction. Students enjoy that flexibility because these classes don’t disrupt their entire week and allow them to find the school/life balance that works best for them.
If you still plan on working full-time while also supporting your family, then flexibility is probably of paramount importance to you. That way, you can take classes on a part-time basis so you don’t have to put your life on hold while you earn your degree.
4. Look at Which Christian Counseling Programs You Can Afford
Going back to school is an investment of your time, money, and energy, so when weighing your options across different programs, you’ll need to look at the costs of each program and what you can afford.
However, remember that this is an investment that will provide incredible returns over the course of your life and career. Yes, there are upfront costs for earning your degree, but you’re also opening yourself up for increased earning potential, personal fulfillment, and the opportunity to impact lives.
To help you offset the costs of earning your graduate degree, most programs will offer some form of financial aid, whether that’s scholarships, grants, or student loans.
Here at Southern, we’ve worked hard to make sure that our graduate programs are flexible, affordable, and accessible for graduate students who want to advance their careers, learn new skills, and open the door to new opportunities.
To get a better understanding of our program, check out our guide, An Inside Look at Southern’s Value-Based MS in Professional Counseling Programs. In this interactive eBook, you’ll get insights into:
- Each area of emphasis and what type of work you’d do in each field
- Personalized career trajectories into each career path
- What our distinguished faculty love most about the program
- What you actually learn in an MS in Professional Counseling program