Volunteering while pursuing your degree is an excellent way to build a professional network, boost your resume, and improve your professional and interpersonal skills before graduation. Take a closer look at some of the great volunteer opportunities available to counseling students.
Join a Counseling Clinic Team
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Many counseling clinics happily accept student volunteers in a range of roles. If you haven’t yet earned your degree, you could volunteer as a receptionist or administration assistant. While you won’t be able to counsel patients, the experience will teach you about the clinic environment and mental health topics. You’ll also have contact with mental health professionals in this role.
In most cases, you’ll need an advanced degree in counseling or a related field to volunteer as a counselor. This opportunity is ideal for people who already have their masters and are working towards their Ph.D., as it will provide valuable experience and more in-depth networking opportunities. As a volunteer counselor you’ll perform most of the same duties of paid counselors, including counseling clients, offering referrals to other mental health services, and more.
Many counseling clinic have application forms for volunteer work on their websites. Alternatively, you might contact a nearby clinic directly to inquire about volunteer opportunities.
Help Crime Victims
Volunteers with counseling training can offer the compassionate support crime victims need following a trauma. These volunteers provide a range of services, including taking victims to criminal justice proceedings and helping victims connect to qualified counselors.
Volunteering to help crime victims can give counseling students specializing in criminal justice a valuable insight into the justice system and the impact crime has on ordinary Americans. Network for Good and Volunteer Match regularly advertise for volunteers to help crime victims. You could also contact a victim-serving organization directly to ask for volunteer work. The Online Directory of Crime Victim Services allows you to search for listed organizations near you.
Go Counseling Abroad
If you really want to expand your horizons, consider accepting a volunteer counseling position overseas. This is ideal for students wanting to pursue summer volunteering opportunities and people studying a counseling degree online, who have the freedom to learn anywhere they choose.
Counseling centers and social work institutions in many countries around the world are short-staffed according to Go Abroad. Volunteering abroad may expose you to culturally diverse clientele and new counseling techniques not typically practiced in the United States. Language lessons are also available for interested volunteers. The Go Abroad website is a great way to find international volunteer counseling opportunities.
Consider your interests and skills when selecting a location. Volunteers interested in counseling troubled teens are in demand in the Netherlands, France, and Belgium. If you want to counsel refugees or people struggling with the loss of loved ones to disease, consider volunteering in the African nations of Ghana, Cameroon, or Benin. Spanish-speaking students may find opportunities counseling school children in Chile or Argentina.
One of the most important things to keep in mind: consider your career goals carefully when deciding which counseling volunteering opportunity will suit you best.
In addition to volunteering, learn how Wake Forest University’s Online Master of Arts in Counseling program prepares graduates for careers that can make a profound difference to individual patients, communities and society at large.