Education for Domestic Violence Counselors

Chandra Florio
Nov 12, 2016 · 3 min read

Education for Domestic Violence Counselors is your first step in gaining the skills necessary for the role of supporting victims after they have experienced trauma. Domestic violence counselors empower their clients to develop invaluable skills needed to confidently leave abusive relationships and live with personal independence and success. These important counselors are also tasked with helping their clients effectively stop the cycle of violence for their own welfare and the welfare of those around them. Stopping the cycles of violence can improve relationships throughout one’s life. Domestic violence counselors help their clients develop better self esteem, restore healthy relationship patterns, and learn to consistently display confidence.

Domestic violence counselors can work with clients in private practice or work with those at domestic violence crisis centers or social service groups. Within the justice system, there is an ongoing need for counselors to work with perpetrators.

The following represent just some of the many important tasks of a skilled domestic violence counselor:

  • conducting counseling, running support groups, and making referrals
  • performing intakes
  • maintaining appropriate records and documentation
  • providing outreach to the community

Gaining The Right Education

If you are interested in earning an education to work as a domestic violence counselor, your first decision is whether you will work with the victims or perpetrators. Professionals who provide counseling services should always be aware of the relevant laws in their state. You will also need to decide what type of support you want to provide and how independently you want to work. The process will vary slightly depending on where you live. The highest levels of credentialing usually require at least a Master’s degree.

Getting the education and experience you need often involves first working with domestic violence survivors in some helping capacity. Some available positions are residential counselor and temporary manager. These are wonderful opportunities to get direct experience in helping people, assisting them with their needs, and providing a much-needed extra emotional support.

Working as a volunteer is a great way to start. Shelters are often in need of good volunteers. Organizations often demonstrate preference to individuals with relevant degrees, or past experience that proves relevant. Of course, it is always helpful if you have an academic background or work experience in one or more of the following: counseling, psychology, or social work.

It is not uncommon for survivors of domestic violence to want to work in counseling. Having this insight into the experience can provide one a distinct level of empathy. Talk to admissions officers and find the appropriate route to take for your career.

If you have a degree and licensing in a mental health field

A license as a professional counselor or social worker will qualify you to offer support to victims of domestic violence, but you may want to pursue additional training and voluntary certifications.

The National Association of Forensic Counselors offers clinical (Master’s level) and non clinical certifications.

The Forensic Training Institute provides the Certified Domestic Violence Counselor credential to Master’s level counselors, psychologists, social workers, and addiction professionals. Look into this very exciting credential.

There is a growing need for specialized counselors in areas such as domestic violence and with The Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the average mental health counselor earns $43190 per year it’s important you find the right school and get the education you need!


Chandra Florio

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I graduated with my Master’s in Education to become a school counselor. I am Currently working as part time blogger at Counselor Education