What Is Counseling?

Counseling is a collaborative effort between the counselor and client. Counselors help clients identify goals and potential solutions to problems; improve communication and coping skills; strengthen self-esteem; promote behavior change.  In Hawaii, Counselors assist individuals in the context of their cultural/ethnic background.


According to the ACA President Cirecie West-Olatunji, Professional counselors are “First and foremost, humanistic.  This implies that we are respectful, client-centered and culture centered.  We have an undying faith and belief in our client’s abilities to self-actualize.”  She further explains that counselors are holistic, considering all aspects of the client’s life and environment.  Finally, Cirecie refers to the counseling philosophy as one rooted in “wellness” rather the medical model of “mental health/mental illness.” (Counseling Today, p 5, July, 2013)

The Hawaii Counselors Association (HCA) is the state affiliate of the American Counseling Association.  The information and perspectives of this site are in accordance with those of ACA.


Individual Counseling

Individual counseling can help one deal with many personal topics in life such as anger, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage and relationship challenges, parenting problems, school difficulties, career changes etc.  A counselor providing individual help may be listed as LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor) or LMFC (Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor).  Other counselors may work for an agency under a licensed counselor. LMFC also provide family and couples counseling.

School Counselors

School counselors promote the academic, career, and personal/social development of all K-12 students. A Masters Degree in School Counseling is required by the State of Hawaii to become a licensed school counselor.

Rehabilitation Counselors

Rehabilitation counselors support and provide resources for people with disabilities so that they may be as successful as possible throughout their life span.  Rehabilitation Counselors may work in private practice or work for a federal or state agency assisting individuals with injuries or disabilities.  Rehabilitation Counselors must have a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling in Hawaii for licensure.

College Counselors

College counselors provide academic advising, general counseling, career counseling, as well as other student affairs activities to promote student success. In Hawaii there is no certification or license required for College or University counseling.  Hawaii colleges require a Masters Degree in Counseling or related area as well as experience.

Career Counselors

Career counselors help clients explore their interests, values, and abilities related to the Hawaii Department of Labor Data as well as education requirements. Career counselors use a variety of assessment tools to assist individuals in this counseling process. Although there is no certification or licensure in Hawaii for Career Counselors, Career Counselors usually have a Masters Degree in Counseling.