How Do You Become a Counselor for Domestic Violence?

The decision to become a counselor for domestic violence is one that will lead to many opportunities to improve the lives of others who are touched by abuse. Unfortunately, happily ever after does not always ring true for people who find themselves in abusive relationships, and domestic violence counselors play an important role in keeping victims safe while helping them to move on with their lives. Due to the responsibilities required of domestic violence counselors, it is necessary to complete a series of requirements before you start your career.

Skills Needed

The daily responsibilities of a domestic violence counselor are very demanding, yet the rewards are worth the work when you see the difference you make in the lives of others. For this reason, it is important to make sure you have strong interpersonal and communication skills that will allow you to work with victims one-on-one in stressful circumstances. Once you become a counselor for domestic violence, you will also need to be capable of protecting confidential information as you provide services to families in need.

Educational Requirements

Although the requirements to become a counselor can vary depending upon the state in which you will practice and your potential employer, the majority of counseling positions require a degree in either social work, counseling or psychology. At the entry-level, a bachelor degree may be all that is required to work within informal settings. However, you will need a master degree or higher if you plan to work in a hospital or group practice. It is also important to note that many counselors pursue specialized education that enables them to address specific types of violence or to help children affected by abuse.

Licensing and Certification

It is important to check with your state to determine their specific guidelines for licensing and certification. In most states, it is necessary to complete a formal exam after finishing your degree to become licensed. Some employers have a specific certification process for those who wish to become a counselor for domestic violence while others will accept those who hold a license in mental health or social work. It may also be necessary to complete a set amount of hours of supervised work experience to be eligible to apply for a license.

Career Opportunities

According to the National Coalition for Domestic Violence, more than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines each day. This means that there are many people who are in need of domestic violence counseling. Many counselors begin their careers working for non-profit organizations that provide services to victims. Hospitals and mental health clinics also seek out counselors that specialize in domestic violence. As with any counseling career, you can also decide to start a private practice where you can take full control over the services you provide.

Related Resource: Career Counselor

In addition to the physical marks left behind, domestic violence leaves damages a victim’s mental health and can lead to problems such as low self-esteem and depression. Choosing to start a counseling career is the perfect way to help these victims gain stability and recover from their abuse. If you have a strong desire to help others and a positive mindset, then starting on your educational requirements is the next step to become a counselor for domestic violence.