Abuse and crisis counselors are a health resource for children, adults, couples and families suffering from cases involving assault or abuse. These individuals are often overwhelmed or unable to deal with personal problems impacting their daily life, relationships and activities. Counselors assist clients by providing an outlet to voice their concerns, as well as emotional support and solutions for relieving their stress.
When a person calls a hot line to complain about or report abuse, counselors respond by providing crisis intervention counseling. In addition to referring clients to other agencies, abuse and crisis counselors work with outside community members to launch publicity campaigns and outreach programs. Other duties that counselors handle include researching additional resources and agencies, and helping clients deal with issues such as depression, suicidal impulses, low self-esteem, anxiety and trauma.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition," there are no formal requirements for counselors working in the United States due to varying state certification and licensure requirements. However, for counselors working in higher education, a master's degree is required. Given that counselors can focus on a variety of fields within the educational sector, core curriculum usually covers areas such as career development, social and cultural diversity and counseling techniques.
Counselors must be emotional stable, patient and sympathetic to their clients' concerns and challenges. Employers prefer candidates with strong oral and interpersonal communication skills, as well as the ability to operate word processing, email and spreadsheet software. Previous work experience in crisis intervention, as well as the ability to instill trust and confidence with their client is also a useful qualification as an abuse and crisis counselor.
The average salary for a crisis counselor working in the United States fell between $29,200 and $42,288 per year according to a December, 2010 PayScale report. The report also stated that crisis counselors earned average bonuses ranging from $196.53 and $1,171 per year.
The counseling field is expected to grow by 18 percent during the 2008 to 2018 decade based on the BLS. Factors driving this growth include the low number of graduates from counseling programs compared to the high number of job openings available. The BLS predicts that employment opportunities for counselors that handle substance abuse cases will increase by 21 percent during the same period as more people seek treatment and drug offenders are enrolled in rehabilitation programs.