Mental Health Counselor
Clinical mental health counselors provide services to people who face difficulties in life due to mental health issues. They are similar to therapists and psychologists, but they are different in their approach. They use traditional psychotherapy and pair it with practical, problem-solving methods.
Mental Health Counselor Requirements and Common Tasks
These counselors provide their services to people that are trying to deal with several different mental health problems. Some of these services include alcoholism and substance abuse treatment, prevention programs, assessment and diagnosis, crisis management and more similar services.
They may also have their patients take part in workshops that can help them deal with, or overcome, their mental health issues. Once a patient feels they are ready to move on from therapy, the counselor will help them develop a plan for their life after therapy. This can be very helpful to the patients because it can prevent them from experiencing their previous mental health issues, or falling back into their old habits.
Mental health counselors provide a flexible and customized form of therapy which is very helpful to the clients throughout their process of dealing with their specific issues. They do this by collecting the client’s information via interviews, observation, testing, and diagnosis. Once they have the best possible understanding of their client’s problems and needs, they can then help them to develop strategies and skills for dealing with these problems.
Job Responsibilities and Common Tasks
Mental health counselors have many job responsibilities and duties, some of which are included above. Their main priority however, is to restore the mental and emotional health of their patients. Their clients are usually struggling with anger, depression, grief, stress, self-esteem issues, or addiction. Pretty much anything that has to do with mental and emotional issues.
Sometimes a mental health counselor will choose to specialize in one specific mental or emotional health problem, rather than a whole variety of them. For example, they may choose to specialize in alcohol and substance abuse or family counseling.
Work Settings for Mental Health Counselors
Mental health counselors may work in a few different work settings. For example, they may work in hospitals, psychiatric wards, counseling centers, or behavioral health centers. However, some choose to open their own office in which they can work on their own, rather than within another mental health business.
This is something you should research and look into if you have decided that this is the career path you wish to work. It may be a better option for you to work within a business that needs your services for their patients, rather than in your own office or business.
Mental Health Counselor Salary
Almost all salaries vary based on location of the city or state that you may choose to work in. The same goes for mental health counselors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage per year is $38,150 1 for mental health counselors as of May 2010 and jobs are expected to grow much faster than the average occupation with 36% growth projected in the decade of 2010-2020.
If you run your own office or business, your salary may also vary based on how much you charge each client for services rendered. In a 2004 study, the average cost per session with a mental health counselor was $63. This is an aspect of the business you wish to run that you would need to research and decide on a fair cost per session for your clients.
All of the above are different aspects of being a mental health counselor. If you enjoy helping others get their mental and emotional health back on the right track, or if you have a passion for changing the lives of people in a positive manner, then this career may be a good fit for you.
Mental Health Counseling Programs and Schools
- Master of Social Work - Forensic Populations and Settings
- Ph.D. in Social Work - Social Work Administration
- Master of Social Work - Addictions
- Doctor of Social Work - Policy Practice
- And more...
- DSW - Social Work
- PhD - Social and Community Services
- PhD - Multidisciplinary Human Services
- MS - Multidisciplinary Human Services
- And more...
- Psychology/Social Work
- BS in Human Services - Human Services Administration
- BS in Human Services
- AAS in Human Services
- BS in Human Services - Child and Family Welfare
Article by Jessica Alan, a Wake Forrest student working on her masters degree in counseling online.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm