Counseling Psychology Training

Counseling psychologists are trained at the doctoral level (usually PhD, but also Psy.D. or Ed.D.) in programs that typically require at least four to five years of graduate study, involving coursework and integrated training experiences in a variety of topical areas and professional skills.


Counseling psychology programs usually are housed in departments of psychology or in colleges of education, and most are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA accords accreditation to doctoral programs in counseling psychology that meet certain criteria with respect to faculty, curriculum, facilities, and other considerations.

Doctoral level training in counseling psychology typically consists of:

  • Coursework and instruction in the core areas of psychology (biological, cognitive/affective, and social bases of behavior; individual differences; history and systems of psychology).
  • Specialized instruction in theories of counseling and personality, vocational psychology, human life span development, psychological assessment and evaluation, psychopathology, measurement and statistics, research design, professional ethics, supervision, and consultation.
  • Supervised practica focused on the development of counseling, psychotherapy, assessment, and consultation skills.
  • The equivalent of a one-year full-time predoctoral internship in professional psychology.
  • And the completion of an original psychologically based dissertation.

To learn more about accredited and non-accredited options for doctoral training in counseling psychology:

Information about the accreditation status of a given counseling psychology doctoral program can be obtained through the American Psychological Association’s Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation website.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to choose a counseling vs. clinical vs. school doctoral-level psychology training program, visit

Already have your doctoral degree in counseling psychology? Take the next step and learn more about Board Certification in Counseling Psychology.