What is a Professional Counselor?

In accordance with our mission to “enhance the development of Alaskans throughout their lifespan,” the Alaska Counseling Association offers the following guidelines to assist you in understanding the role and credentials of counselors as well as in determining whether you might benefit from counseling services. 

Counselors practice in numerous settings–in state agencies and non-profit organizations, schools and universities, hospitals and other medical facilities, as well as in private practices. The practice of counseling requires at least master’s level training from a regionally accredited program.  To be licensed as a Professional Counselor in the state of Alaska, a counselor must not only have completed prescribed coursework at a master’s level or PhD level, but must also have completed 3000 hours of supervised training and have passed the National Counseling Examination for Licensure and Certification.  (See Statutes and Regulations for Professional Counselors at http://www.dced.state.ak.us/occ/pub/CounselorStatutes.pdf)

Furthermore, counselors are guided by ethical standards defined by the American Counseling Association.  (See American Counseling Association code of ethics at http://www.counseling.org/Resources/CodeOfEthics/TP/Home/CT2.aspx)

Typically counselors offer present-focused assistance to help you make desired adjustments or changes in response to the challenges many face in the course of their lives.  While counselors do not prescribe medication, their services can be integrated with those of other health care providers to best meet your needs.  Counselors offer services through both group and individual meetings, depending upon the issue you seek to address.   

 You may want to consider seeing a professional counselor if you experience any of the following:

  • feelings of sadness, loneliness, shyness, stress, or worry that persist or limit your sense of well-being
  • disturbances in healthy eating habits, whether from excessive or inadequate eating
  • desire to improve your relationship with a spouse, significant other, or family member or to become a better parent
  • grief or loss, or the challenge of coping with chronic or severe illness or chronic pain
  • disturbances caused by alcoholism or addiction
  • issues pertaining to sexuality or to sexual experience
  • needs arising in the aftermath of a traumatic or violent event
  • the desire to experience greater satisfaction at work through enhanced performance or career change
  • the desire for greater self-confidence or comfort in social or work settings
  • changes that occur during and after divorce
  • problems with attention or learning which keep you from reaching your potential at school or work
  • behaviors such as smoking, uncontrolled spending, or other unwanted habits you would like to address
  • anger which affects you or others adversely
  • any unwanted change in mood or behavior which you would like to understand or address

 In order to help you choose a provider, the Alaska Counseling Association offers a directory of professional counselors practicing in Alaska along with their area(s) of specialization.  Choose a counselor whose practice focuses on the need you want to address. 

Haines 2012
Haines 2012