The primary purpose of this book is to introduce you to graduate programs in counseling. To do this, we need to orient you to the counseling profession and help you consider aspects of your graduate preparation and career goals as a professional counselor. As you turn the pages we hope to lay the foundation for your understanding of the career you are about to enter. Certainly your graduate program will provide much more information about the profession, its history, trends, and specific skills and strategies of counselors. But, like running a race, you have to be sure you have the right equipment and conditioning to start and see the finish line. Think of us as your personal trainers: not running the race for you, but helping you condition so that there are few surprises along the course.

You will learn about the counseling profession through your graduate program, of course, and become oriented to the skills you will need to be an effective, ethical counselor. But you will first need to think about the type of graduate counseling program that you want to enter. We will place a great deal ofemphasis on choosing a nationally accredited program, given that this is a publication by the profession’s specialized accrediting body, the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, or CACREP. We will help you to understand accreditation, why it is important, how it shapes your training, and its benefits for job placement following completion of a graduate degree in counseling. We dedicate a full chapter to the trends and diversity across graduate counseling programs, including size, cost, emphasis, experiences afforded by the program, and many other considerations. It is important that you hear this from people who know firsthand the ins and outs of graduate counseling programs. For that reason, we have asked current students and recent graduates to provide their perspectives on the experience of being in graduate school as a counselor-intraining. We think you will find it helpful to hear their voices about entering a graduate counseling program and how they navigated the rigors of studying and practicing, and ultimately graduating into the profession.

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