How to Become a Depression Counselor
Depression counselors are mental health counselors who specialize in the various dimensions of depression. Depression counselors conduct assessments to diagnose each patient. One of the more common assessments is the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale. While conducting each assessment depression counselors have to determine the patient’s risk of suicide. Depression counselors will monitor patients closely during their assessments to make sure that they are safe throughout the process.
The word “depression” has become common in our vernacular. Depression is the condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection.
Clinical depression is the more severe form of depression, also known as major depression, or major depressive disorder.
Depression counselors may also treat an accompanying disorder such as anxiety. One very important facet to this type of counseling is being able to determine clinical depression apart from ordinary daily life event episodes of sadness and from normal experiences of grief. We all go through tough times; we don’t all suffer from depression.
Depression counselors may implement various treatment options such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Behavior therapy emerged from cognitive theories of depression. Advocates of the cognitive theory of depression have theorized that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected.
Depression is believed to be maintained by distorted and biased cognitions that affect the individual’s view of himself, his future, and his environment. When depression brings on extreme thinking patterns, cognitive therapy can help bring the patient’s thinking into perspective. The therapist can help the patient mold more constructive thought processes and keep them reinforced.
The counselor may choose to implement a psychodynamic approach. There are other types of therapy, as well, that can be utilized. The therapist is able to employ a combination of techniques, as well.
Depression Counselor Education and Certification
A Master’s degree is usually expected for professional mental health counseling. In some cases, states will allow those with a lower education provide counseling under the supervision of a licensed professional, but in order to practice privately you will need to complete a graduate education.
Different states have varying licensing standards, so a prospective counselor will want to become familiar with his or her state board before pursuing graduate education. Pursuing the highest levels of licensing you can is always a good plan to ensure that reimbursement goes smoothly. A common requirement is 60 graduate semester hours in counseling.
The best option for your education is to make sure that your mental health counseling program is CACREP accredited. You can obtain licensing through a counseling psychology program, but such programs are highly selective.
Depression counselors should customize their supervised practice experiences toward experience that is directly related to their target population. Make sure that you get the quality experience you need.
Salary and Career Expectations for Depression Counselors
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average depression counselor in the US earns between $32,720 and $54,320 per year.