Exploring the Emphasis Areas with a Professional Counseling Degree

Professional child counselor looks at little girl's drawing while girl in pink looks distressed

Do you have a passion for helping others? A Master of Science in Professional Counseling may be the degree for you. This online counseling degree prepares students to help individuals struggling with addiction, anxiety, depression and a variety of other mental and emotional disorders.

At Grand Canyon University, the professional counseling program prepares students to meet the needs of patients from diverse backgrounds. This is done through the examination of a wide variety of conditions and counseling methods. Students enrolled in this program gain the knowledge and skills needed to help clients who are impacted by psychological, social, behavioral and emotional issues.

In addition, the courses in GCU’s professional counseling degree were designed to meet the academic requirements of the National Board for Certified Counselors and Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. Therefore, individuals are prepared to become licensed counselors upon the completion of the program.

Students who attend GCU to earn their master’s degree in professional counseling have the benefit of choosing from several emphases. This allows students to specialize in their knowledge and become prepared to pursue the career of their choice.

Childhood and Adolescence Disorders

The Master of Science in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Childhood and Adolescence Disorders program equips students with the knowledge and skills to identify and assess childhood and adolescence disorders, such as developmental delays, child-parent relationships, school and family life, and disorders listed in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Students in the program explore counseling theory and practice, human growth and development, and counseling techniques for child abuse, crisis and trauma. In addition, students are also prepared with specialty in research methods, development disorders and evaluation of mental and emotional status.

Graduates of this counseling degree program are prepared to serve as advocates for children who have behavioral and cognitive health problems. They will be prepared to pursue careers such as professional counselor, behavior health counselor and mental health counselor.

Marriage and Family Therapy

Individuals interested in becoming professional counselors can earn a Master of Science in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. In this counseling degree program, students learn to identify, assess and address marriage and family-related issues, such as communication and substance use issues, parent-child relationships, family dynamics and couple’s issues. In addition, students explore spousal and child abuse, crisis intervention and trauma counseling.

Graduates of this program are equipped to help families work together in solving individual issues, understanding the actions of one another’s roles and adopting positive behaviors as a team. They understand the role, value and benefit of family systems theory in their assessment and treatment of couples and families.


The Master of Science in Professional Counseling with an Emphasis in Trauma was created for students who want to pursue a career as a professional counselor specializing in trauma-related issues. In the program, students learn to understand, assess and treat developmental, childhood and trauma-related disorders. They study human behavior and all aspects of trauma-informed care.

Upon completing the program, students have knowledge in counseling ethics, theories and principles in order to help others overcome trauma and traumatic stress. In addition, they understand issues and trends in a multicultural and diverse society, human growth and development, mental and emotional status, and family structure and dynamics. Graduates of this counseling degree program can use their knowledge of trauma-informed care to pursue a career in behavioral health, mental health counseling, health services management, human services or government and law enforcement.

There are many opportunities in the field of professional counseling. Individuals who are passionate about helping those in need can earn a master’s degree in professional counseling to pursue a satisfying career. In choosing a particular emphasis, individuals can become knowledgeable in a particular area of the field and help improve the lives of their patients.

Grand Canyon University’s social sciences degree programs offer greater insight into the many facets of human behavior. To explore the wide variety of degree programs available at GCU, visit our website today.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.