How to Become a Correctional Counselor

Knowledge about careers working for the rehabilitation of incarcerated offenders will not be complete unless one knows how to become a correctional counselor. Correctional counseling or prison counseling seeks to stabilize the behavior of inmates while assessing the limitations thereof in relation to individual cases. Counseling can start from the time the prisoner is admitted to the facility and is expected to be consistently provided as required.

What is a Correctional Counselor?

Correctional counselors perform an integral function of the United States prison system connected with rehabilitation. They are expected to assist inmates with their lives in prison and prepare them as well for possible reintegration to society in the future. Correctional counselors can only do this when they are able to understand the behavior, attitudes and habits of prisoners in the general sense while having the ability to determine the right course of action for every variation.

The provision of individual or group therapy is the responsibility of a correctional counselor. These sessions are intended to develop social and vocational skills of inmates as appropriate educational programs are determined for them. Although counseling is not intended in any way to make the prisoners feel good about incarceration which is impossible, the services provided by a correctional counselor seeks to refocus the inmates on what can still be done to correct the direct results of the committed crime. This is being done to allow them to have a life outside prison when and if they are released. Counseling also hopes to minimize the possibility of having repeat offenders.

To be able to function effectively, correctional counselors should “know” the inmates with respect to criminal history, family, and life prior to incarceration. Relationship between inmate and counselor should be maintained at the professional level. Rehabilitation programs produced by counselors should be made while considering the inmates’ specific needs.

Education and Training

Prospective correctional counselors must posses a bachelor’s degree in psychology, criminal justice, counseling, or any related field. An advanced degree such as a master or doctorate facilitates the best opportunities for promotion. A combined coursework that includes criminal justice, psychology, and sociology is deemed the most appropriate for correctional counselors.

A criminal justice study provides learning in the criminal justice system, criminal theory and research, juvenile delinquency, police work, criminal supervision, violence, and the court system. Psychology on the other hand, focuses on understanding the human behavior. The study of society and the relationships formed in it as afforded by a sociology course provides understanding on how sociological factors affect people’s behavior.

Becoming a Correctional Counselor

Becoming a correctional counselor can be summed up in five steps: completion of suitable bachelor’s degree, obtaining relevant work experience, passing the required qualifications and examinations, completing a training program sponsored by the government, and pursuing advanced education. These steps clearly show the way to a productive career since correctional counselors have to constantly deal with people.

Applicants must be US citizens, at least 21 years old, and have no criminal record. Maximum age at the time of appointment is 37. There is a way to help the most hopeless in prisons when you know how to become a correctional counselor and work seriously to be one.