Mental Health Counselor Career Guide

Overview

An adviser is a person who assists people in improving their quality of work and their ability to lead healthy and harmonious lives. These days, everyone looks for advice and assistance when they feel demoralized, trapped, or otherwise unhappy with life and their everyday activities. It is at this point that such an individual should seek out a mental health counselor, who provides a wide range of services focused on assisting people who are mentally ill and not well enough to work. For those who are naturally gifted caretakers, as well as those who enjoy teaching and advising others, becoming a mental health counselor could be an ideal career opportunity.

Job Duties

Those who are depressed, mentally ill, or emotionally disturbed look for help from professional counselors. These counselors treat patients through questioning and interviewing them to learn more about their problems and their causes, and then work with their patients to resolve those issues through many different treatment methods. Additionally, they encourage and help clients to either let go of or learn to manage their worry and stress so that they can lead healthy, productive lives. By maintaining a compassionate and professional relationship, mental health counselors develop strategies and exercises their patients can use to bring their lives back into order and get them on the road to recovery, or at least management of their particular illness. To do this, counselors sometimes coordinate with social workers and other related professionals to assist in treatment plans. No matter what decisions they reach, they use different tools and techniques, including goal-oriented processes and behavioral therapy, to understand and treat their clients.

Career Outlook

Mental health counselors can find work in a wide variety of healthcare fields, including outpatient care centers, individual and family work services, residential mental retardation services, and local government facilities. Professionals in this field also frequently start private practices, some of which also work with insurance companies to help low-income clients. Employment opportunities have been very favorable for these individuals and are predicted to remain promising in the future. Around 114,180 people were employed as mental health counselors in 2011, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Salary Prospects

According to a May 2011 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mental health counselors earn an average annual salary of $42,590.

Education Requirements

To begin this fulfilling and rewarding career, a would-be counselor first needs to attain a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field, so long as their coursework includes training in developmental psychology, research methods, and introductory psychology, among others. From there, students might go on to attain a master’s degree to open up greater opportunities for employment. Some core courses in a master’s counseling program include family therapy, psychology diagnostics, marriage counseling, and addiction disorder counseling.

Most states require counselors to be licensed by the National Board for Certified Counselors, or NBCC. To be legally certified, a counselor must complete a master’s degree and then pass a state-recognized exam as recommended by the NBCC. With all of these requirements fulfilled, you can begin exploring the many career opportunities available to you as a trained and certified mental health counselor.

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