SOC Code: 19-3031.03

Pay Band(s): 4, 5, and 6        (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description: Assess and evaluate individuals' problems through the use of case history, interview, and observation and provide individual or group counseling services to assist individuals in achieving more effective personal, social, educational, and vocational development and adjustment.

Counseling Psychologist positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Psychological Services Career Group:

Psychologist I

Psychologist II

Psychologist III

While Counseling Psychologists within the Commonwealth are all located within the Psychological Services Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

Health Care Compliance

Physician Services

Counseling Services

Program Administration

General Administration


(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Counseling Psychologist commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  2. Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  3. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  4. Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  5. Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  6. Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  7. Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  8. Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  9. Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  10. Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Counseling Psychologist commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  2. Principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  3. Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Counseling Psychologist commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  2. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  3. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  4. Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  5. Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  6. Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  7. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  8. Come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  9. Identify and understand the speech of another person.
  10. Speak clearly so others can understand you.

Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Counseling Psychologist.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 

  1. Advise clients on how they could be helped by counseling.
  2. Analyze data such as interview notes, test results, and reference manuals in order to identify symptoms, and to diagnose the nature of clients' problems.
  3. Collect information about individuals or clients, using interviews, case histories, observational techniques, and other assessment methods.
  4. Counsel individuals, groups, or families to help them understand problems, define goals, and develop realistic action plans.
  5. Develop therapeutic and treatment plans based on clients' interests, abilities, and needs.
  6. Evaluate the results of counseling methods to determine the reliability and validity of treatments.
  7. Select, administer, and interpret psychological tests to assess intelligence, aptitudes, abilities, or interests.
  8. Consult with other professionals to discuss therapies, treatments, counseling resources, or techniques, and to share occupational information.
  9. Refer clients to specialists or to other institutions for non-counseling treatment of problems.
  10. Conduct research to develop or improve diagnostic or therapeutic counseling techniques.


Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The occupation of Counseling Psychologist has Social, Investigative and Artistic characteristics as described below:

Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.


Licensure is required for Counseling Psychologist positions in state government.

The Virginia Board of Psychology regulates licensing of Counseling Psychologists.  Information for licensing of Counseling Psychologist can be found on the Department of Health Professions' web site at:

The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) recognizes professional achievement by awarding specialty certification, primarily in clinical psychology, clinical neuropsychology, and counseling, forensic, industrial-organizational, and school psychology. Candidates for ABPP certification need a doctorate in psychology, postdoctoral training in their specialty, 5 years of experience, professional endorsements, and a passing grade on an examination.


The Department of Labor provides the following information:

Counseling psychologists use various techniques, including interviewing and testing, to advise people on how to deal with problems of everyday living. They work in settings such as university counseling centers, hospitals, and individual or group practices.

A doctoral degree usually is required for employment as an independent licensed clinical or counseling psychologist. Psychologists with a Ph.D. qualify for a wide range of teaching, research, clinical, and counseling positions in universities, healthcare services, elementary and secondary schools, private industry, and government. Psychologists with a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree usually work in clinical positions or in private practices.

A doctoral degree usually requires 5 to 7 years of graduate study. The Ph.D. degree culminates in a dissertation based on original research. Courses in quantitative research methods, which include the use of computer-based analysis, are an integral part of graduate study and are necessary to complete the dissertation. The Psy.D. may be based on practical work and examinations rather than a dissertation. In clinical or counseling psychology, the requirements for the doctoral degree usually include at least a 1-year internship.

Persons with a master's degree in psychology may work as industrial-organizational psychologists or school psychologists. They also may work as psychological assistants, under the supervision of doctoral-level psychologists, and conduct research or psychological evaluations. A master's degree in psychology requires at least 2 years of full-time graduate study. Requirements usually include practical experience in an applied setting and a master's thesis based on an original research project. Competition for admission to graduate programs is keen. Some universities require applicants to have an undergraduate major in psychology. Others prefer only coursework in basic psychology with courses in the biological, physical, and social sciences; and statistics and mathematics.

A bachelor's degree in psychology qualifies a person to assist psychologists and other professionals in community mental health centers, vocational rehabilitation offices, and correctional programs. They may work as research or administrative assistants or become sales or management trainees in business. Some work as technicians in related fields, such as marketing research.

The State Council of Higher Education of Virginia lists many Virginia educational institutions offering programs in psychology on their web site:

For more information on this career and a listing of educational institutions offering programs for psychologists visit the Virginia Area Health Education Centers program at their web site:


Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business     
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 


Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example: Counseling Psychologist







Psychologist I

Psychology Associate I



Psychologist II

Psychology Associate II



Psychologist III

Psychology Associate III



Psychology Manager


Sample Career Path

Psychologist I/Psychology Associate I

The Psychologist I/Psychology Associate I role provides career tracks for licensed psychologists and unlicensed associates who are responsible for conducting psychological assessments and administering, scoring and interpreting a variety of psychological tests. Psychologists/Psychology Associates I provide treatment to clients using didactic, psychotherapeutic and behavioral techniques and principles to include individual, group, and family services, crisis intervention and risk assessment, and counseling. All work is performed by, or under the supervision of a higher-level clinical psychologist.

Psychologist II/Psychology Associate II

The Psychologist II/Psychology Associate II role provides career tracks for advanced-level licensed psychologists and unlicensed associates who deliver a variety of comprehensive psychological services to clients. Services may include complex diagnostic testing and evaluation, treatment planning and intervention, applied behavior analysis, individual, group and family therapy, research, and staff training. May supervise subordinate psychologists, associates, therapists, and counselors and develop treatment policy for the assigned program area. Exercises independent judgment regarding individual client care.

Psychologist III/Psychology Associate III

The Psychologist III/Psychologist Associate III role provides career tracks for expert-level licensed psychologists and unlicensed associates who provide the full range of direct services to clients and/or clinical and administrative supervision to staff in caseload management, resource allocation, clinical decisions, crisis intervention, and on-going program planning and implementation. May provide and oversee the development, implementation and evaluation of policy, services, and programs.

Psychology Manager

The Psychology Manager role is for managers that are responsible for long-range activities associated with administering and directing the design and delivery of comprehensive psychological services programs.


O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

Virginia Employment Commission

Career One Stop

Virginia Career Resource Network

Professional Organizations

American Psychological Association

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards

American Board of Professional Psychology