How do I become a mental health counselor?

How do I become a mental health counselor?

How do I become a mental health counselor?

mental-health-counseling

The mind is complex and is open to a large variety of mental health issues that can range from mild to severe. If you want to help those that are suffering from these emotional and mental disorders, becoming a mental health counselor is the thing to do. This type of career is perfect for anyone that wants to have the choice of working in a myriad of different and unique job settings, including everything from inpatient and outpatient care centers to local governments that require these counseling services. Becoming a mental health counselor can provide you with the unique opportunity to help others that are dealing with grief, stress, addiction, depression and even suicidal thoughts.

When you’re attempting to become a mental health counselor, there are a fair amount of degrees that you can earn that will provide you with everything you need to start seeking employment. To Become a mental health counselor, you must earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in counseling. Once you have finished all of the necessary schooling for these degrees, you can take an exam that will officially certify you as a mental health counselor. As for certification, all states provide the option. However, only certain states require you to receive certification in order to practice mental health counseling.

As for career opportunities, students that pass through all of the education and certification requirements for a mental health counselor will have access to many different career opportunities. Mental health counselors work in a wide array of health facilities, such as psychiatric or standard hospitals, hospice care centers and mental health clinics. There are even times when mental health counselors can work in schools, law enforcement agencies, detention centers and adoption agencies. It is up to you to decide which career would best suit your talents and would hold your interest for years to come.

Mental Health Counselor Educational Requirements and Processes

Mental Health Counselor Educational Requirements and Processes

As touched upon previously, there are a large amount of educational requirements for anyone that wants to start a career as a mental health counselor. First, a Bachelor’s degree must be earned. However, this Bachelor degree doesn’t have to focus on counseling in order for you to be accepted within a Master’s program for counseling. That being said, coursework in such areas as social work, psychology and human development is preferable. Before being accepted into a Master’s program for counseling, you will need to take and pass what is known as the Graduate Record Examination. This exam is rather simple and is meant to assess your level of education at the moment.

Before you earn the ability to take the Licensure exam that will make you a certified mental health counselor after obtaining your Master’s degree, it’s often required that you finish two years of clinical work directly under a licensed mental health professional. Once this process has been completed, you will finally be able to take the National Counselor Examination For Licensure and Certification. Passing this exam will provide you with the National Certified Counselor designation. For anyone living in a state where certification isn’t a necessary step towards practicing mental health counseling, earning certification as a mental health counselor looks fantastic on a resume and can boost salary potentials. On a further note, the curriculum you will likely study during your Bachelor’s and Master’s degree primarily covers counseling psychology, professional ethics and cognitive psychology. Most Master’s degrees in the U.S. will take the form of an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Make sure the degree you apply for is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs.

Career Opportunities as a Mental Health Counselor

Career Opportunities as a Mental Health Counselor

Once you have earned a Master’s degree in counseling, it’s time to enter the workforce as a mental health counselor. Thankfully, there are plenty of different career paths you can take with a degree in mental health counseling. As mentioned previously, anyone that earns a degree in mental health counseling will have the opportunity to work within a large variety of health facilities, including everything from psychiatric hospitals to standard hospitals, as well as home health care centers and mental health clinics.

If you would rather work in more unique settings, detention centers, adoption agencies and schools are just a few of the many locations that often seek mental health counselors to employ. There are even times where employment can be sought among certain branches of the military. It’s also possible to open your own private practice, which a great number of those that become mental health counselors tend to do. All in all, where you work is entirely up to you.

Salary Information For Potential Careers in Mental Health Counseling

Salary Information For Potential Careers in Mental Health Counseling

Though there are a wide range of different career opportunities available to mental health counselors, salary tends to be similar no matter where you work. The salary you end up earning depends primarily on the location at which you work, as well as previous experience and degree type earned. Those that work in large metropolitan areas generally earn more than mental health counselors that work in more rural areas. The main reason for this is simply because of the population count in the location where you work. The higher the population, the more clients and customers you will have. Thankfully, even if you start your own private practice, individuals and group clients in need of mental health counseling are in abundance no matter the location you work from.

When looking at the annual salary available for mental health counselors, the median across the United States is at just under $41,000. Though this is on the low end for occupations within the health industry, mental health counselors have a large potential for growth. If you decide to get your PhD in counseling, you will find that administrative roles will be open to you, which can provide a higher salary. It’s also important to note that this is just the average for the whole country. When considering cities and metropolitan areas, the average salary can be much higher. For instance, mental health counselors in Springfield, Illinois earn a median annual salary of just over $62,000. There’s also no limit to what you can earn if you open up your own private practice, as this gives you the ability to choose your own clients and the amount of hours you work.

Average Daily Life For a Mental Health Counselor

Average Daily Life For a Mental Health Counselor

Once you have chosen a career as a mental health counselor, you should expect your average day to be very busy. Unless you work at your own private practice, you don’t have any say on how many patients and customers you talk to and treat. First of all, there are many times in which you will work side by side with others that work in the mental health field, such as social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, school counselors and psychiatric nurses, depending on where you work. Though this isn’t an everyday thing, you will work with other mental health specialists on a regular basis. You should also understand that your everyday experiences will depend a lot on what type of mental health counseling you’re involved with. If you work at a school and primarily counsel elementary school students, you will spend the majority of your day observing these children in different environments, such as with study and play time, and will discuss what you’ve learned about this child to their parents and teachers. A large amount of your time will be spent scheduling appointments and even filling out various paperwork. You will be diagnosing what, if any, mental health issues these children have.

If you’re a mental health counselor working in a substance abuse facility, your average daily life will center around helping patients to properly manage their addiction to whatever substance they are hooked on. You will need to identify and prevent any addictive behaviors and tendencies that you notice in a patient. You’re schedule for the day will be divided into one-on-one and group therapy sessions. Standard mental health counselors will set appointments to work with individuals and families to treat their mental disorders and attempt to build up better mental health. You will commonly deal with a number of issues within your clients, which includes stress, self-esteem issues, addiction and depression, among others. Most of your day will be spent on interviewing patients, diagnosing them, administering psychotherapy and organizing treatment programs.