How to Become a Mental Health Counselor
Mental Health Counselor is a job title that potentially can lead to a very rewarding career. Do you have the desire to assist individuals, couples, families, and groups in addressing and treating emotional and mental disorders? Do you want to promote the mental health of others? Most mental health counselors in the U.S. work in outpatient and residential care centers, individual and family services, and local governments. There are many options from which to choose. These specially trained therapists employ a variety of therapeutic techniques to address issues and challenges, including the following: depression, addiction, anxiety, substance abuse, problems with self-esteem, suicidal impulses, stress, and grief. Mental health counselors can also prove invaluable for issues involving family, parenting, marital, or other relationship problems. Mental health counselors can help clients with job and career concerns, educational decisions, and issues of mental and emotional health.
There have been recent changes in national regulations that allow mental health counselors to provide care without referrals through a program call TRICARE. TRICARE assists between eight and ten million people each year.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics a mental health counselor earns between $36,570 and $69,900 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts that career options for mental health counselors would grow 35 percent between 2009 and 2019. What an outstanding prognosis for the industry!
Career in Mental Health Counseling
Mental health counselors will be able to assist patients with normal mental health issues like coping with the death of a loved one or relationship problems. Counselors will also be able to assist with even the most severe mental disorders. Mental health counselors must be able to understand when to refer a patient to another professional, or when the patient is at risk of self-harm of harming others.
Mental Health Counselor Education and Training
Most states will require counselors to complete a graduate education through a CACREP accredited school or through a school with similar coursework. Requirements will vary by state.
Mental health counselors should be trained properly with a broad knowledge and skill base. They should become adept at effectively applying research to clinical counseling. Mental health counselors should be well-versed in common psychoactive medications, including contraindications and side effects. Though they do not directly prescribe medications, mental health counselors must be knowledgeable about the effects of medications. You must have keen insights into what your patients/clients are going through.
Every region mandates mental health counselors to spend time in an approved residency after completing their education. During this time, mental health counselors will work under the supervision of clinical supervisors.
Mental Health Counselor Credentials
All states have specific licensing requirements for mental health counseling professionals. Some states combine requirements for mental health counselors with other professional counselors. Other states have a few levels for counselors.
You are encouraged to go after the top credentials in order to open up your career possibilities. Licensing levels can determine how much money you make through your career; and the more licensing you have, the greater potential for your career development.
Mental health counselors can obtain certification through the National Board of Certified Counselors. The certification will be in mental health counseling.