The so-called “helping professions,” Psychology, Counseling, and Social Work are grounded in empathy, care, and transformation. Professionals in these fields work in clinical, industry, education, or community service settings. Working with individuals, groups, families or organizations, they:

  • advocate for clients
  • connect people with social services   
  • promote wellness
  • treat substance abuse
  • address family violence 
  • manage individual cases
  • educate patients  
  • develop treatment plans   
  • provide support for emotional distress

For some roles, graduate school, specialized credentials or clinical training is necessary. 


Check out the latest Firsthand guides on this industry here.


Focus Areas in Psychology, Counseling, or Social Work:

People interested in psychology may choose to begin their careers in an array of fields including marketing/advertising, communications, social services, education, research, healthcare, advocacy, case management, human resources, law, consulting or other business administration roles. Check our Majors page to see where recent Psychology and Neuroscience and Bevavior grads started out.

Here is a sample list of applied areas in this industry:


This range of professions include career counselors, genetic counselors, mental health counselors, rehabilitation counselors, and substance abuse counselors, among others. Counseling usually requires a master’s degree.  According to the American Counseling Association, Counselors empower diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists work with clients with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities to promote their functional skills, often in collaboration with doctors and other specialists. Working with clients one-on-one or in group settings, OTs address not only the physical, but also the psychological and social dimensions of their clients’ disabilities.


Psychiatrists complete medical training and specialize in mental health. The American Psychiatric Association describes psychiatry’s focus as “the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders, including substance use disorders.” Psychiatrists can assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems.


Types of psychologists include clinical psychologists, developmental psychologists, experimental psychologists, organizational psychologists, school psychologists, and more. Psychologists typically hold a Ph.D., E.D.  or Psy.D. and may work with clients, groups, or organizations in teaching, counseling, research, or administrative capacities.

School Counseling

School counselors help students in grades K-12 to achieve academic success, college and career readiness and social/emotional development. Usually trained in school counseling, counselor education or counseling psychology, School Counselors must also be certified by the state in which they work. See the Education page for information on schools. 

Social Work

Social workers help individuals in need and communities to address social problems and challenge systemic social injustice. Social workers in direct practice counsel and advocate for clients as well as connect them with resources. Social workers in indirect practice develop, analyze, or administer policies or programs. Learn more about the Social Work profession from the National Association of Social Workers. 

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Additional Resources

 How to apply to Psychology grad schools

 Graduate degrees and licensing