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Your location will determine the requirements you need to fulfill to become a crisis counselor. If you are US based, you must meet the criteria set out by the American Institute of Health Care Professionals (AIHCP) and apply for certification. The minimum educational requirements vary from state to state, but experts recommend getting a master's degree in counseling before becoming certified. Once you are certified, you will need to re-certify every three years to be able to continue practicing as a crisis counselor.
The minimum educational requirement to become a crisis counselor is a course that includes at least 257 hours of instruction or study with an approved institution. The AIHCP maintains a list of approved courses but will consider each application on an individual basis. The course must have been completed no more than five years prior to applying for certification, and you will be asked to provide proof of completion. University or college courses, retreats and distance study are all listed as acceptable as long as the subject matter is related to counseling or human services.
Another prerequisite to become a crisis counselor is that you must be a registered nurse, licensed social worker, health care professional, or a registered counselor or psychologist. Registered ministers and clergy, police officers, or those who work in emergency services can also apply. You are also eligible to apply if you have a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field. You may not need a degree in order to become certified, but its best to check the requirements of the state you reside in.
Once you are certified, you will be required to apply for re-certification every three years. The AIHCP requires a minimum of 50 hours of continuing study during the three year period to qualify for re-certification. For the various requirements and fees involved, you should contact the AIHCP.
If you want to become a crisis counselor, you should also consider whether this profession would be a good choice. Working in this field means dealing on a daily basis with people who have gone through traumatic events, and you will need good interpersonal and communication skills to assist them. You should be able to stay calm under stressful situations, and deal with those stresses well. Most importantly, a crisis counselor should be a good listener and be able to evaluate the level of assistance needed in each individual case.
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