Specialty Areas

In addition to the core coursework, you will have opportunities to specialize your training and practice to align with where you would like to work in the future. Many programs offer several of the specialty areas listed in Table 3.2. Some programs allow students to enroll in more than one specialty area at a time, while others feel strongly that students should follow just one specialty at a time to hone their knowledge, skills, and practice to a specific work setting. Again, these are considerations that you should include in your checklist for program selection. We have outlined counseling specialty areas in Table 3.2 so that you can begin thinking about where you would like to work as a counselor and, therefore, the specialty areas you should consider in your graduate counseling program applications. Keep in mind that programs will have coursework beyond the eight core areas that is specific to each specialty area and included in the program curriculum. Please remember, as stated earlier, the number of required credit hours can vary from program to program.


Core Area



Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice

The counseling profession, counselor functions, and professional identity

  • • History and philosophy
  • • Professional roles, functions, relationships with other professions
  • • Roles and responsibilities in emergency management response
  • • Self-care
  • • Supervision
  • • Professional organizations
  • • Credentialing
  • • Advocacy
  • • Ethical standards

Social and Cultural Diversity

Cultural context of relationships, issues, and trends in multicultural societies

  • • National and international needs, multicultural and pluralistic trends
  • • Experiential learning to understand self and other cultural experiences
  • • Theories of multicultural counseling, identity development, social justice
  • • Strategies for advocacy and counseling with diverse populations
  • • Multicultural competencies
  • • Cultural self-awareness
  • • Social justice and advocacy
  • • Roles in eliminating bias, prejudice, and processes of intentional and unintentional oppression and discrimination

Human Growth an Development

d Developmental needs across the lifespan and in multicultural contexts

  • • Theories of individual and family development
  • • Theories of learning and personality development
  • • Neurobiological development
  • • Effects of crises, disasters, and trauma
  • • Theories of resilience
  • • Exceptional abilities and differentiated interventions
  • • Human behavior
  • • Addiction etiology, prevention, and treatment
  • • Wellness



Individual career development and decision-making

  • • Career development theories
  • • Career resources and labor market
  • • Career development planning, organization, and administration
  • • Work, family, and life factor models
  • • Career and educational planning and placement
  • • Assessment
  • • Career counseling
  • (continued)

Table 3.1. CONTINUED

Core Area





Counseling process

  • • Wellness and prevention
  • • Counselor characteristics
  • • Counseling skills
  • • Theories of counseling
  • • Systems theories
  • • Consultation
  • • Crisis intervention and suicide prevention

Group Work

Group counseling and group approaches

  • • Group dynamics and group process
  • • Stages of group development
  • • Group member roles
  • • Group leadership facilitation styles
  • • Theories of group counseling
  • • Methods
  • • Direct group participation


Assessment and evaluation

  • • History
  • • Assessment techniques
  • • Statistical concepts
  • • Reliability and validity
  • • Social and cultural factors related to assessment and evaluation
  • • Ethical strategies for test selection, administration, interpretation

Research and Program Evaluation

Research methods, statistical analysis, needs assessment, program evaluation

  • • Importance of research in counseling
  • • Research methods
  • • Statistical methods
  • • Needs assessment, program evaluation, and program modification
  • • Evidence-based practice
  • • Ethical and cultural strategies in interpretation and reporting

Source: (CACREP, 2016).

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