Mental health counselors treat a range of mental and emotional health issues, including anxiety, depression, phobias, and bipolar disorder. They provide treatment for couples and families as well as individual clients and may work with specific populations, including children or senior citizens. Just some of the many job responsibilities of mental health counselors include:
- Diagnosing and treating mental and emotional health issues
- Helping clients manage mental and emotional health disorders
- Helping clients develop skills and strategies to cope with serious life changes such as divorce or layoffs
- Coordinating treatment with other health professionals
The field of mental health counseling is experiencing faster than average job growth. The BLS reports that the employment of mental health counselors is expected to grow by 36% from 2010 to 2020. General population growth, as well the fact that more and more insurance companies are willing to provide reimbursement for mental health counseling and treatment, is increasing the demand for counselors in mental health centers, hospitals, and colleges.
Job Growth for
Mental Health Counselor
- Annual Pay National Average
- Hourly Pay National Average
Becoming a Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors need both a master's degree and a license to practice. Master's degree programs typically take two to three years of full-time study to complete. It is helpful to complete some undergraduate coursework in psychology, human development, and/or social work before enrolling in a graduate program in counseling.
Master's programs typically prepare students to qualify for licensure in most states. Both on-site as well as online master's degree programs in mental health counseling will require students complete a supervised internship or clinical residency. A sampling of classes you may take in a mental health counseling program, drawn from course listings for Lesley University's master's of arts in mental health counseling program, include the following:
- Developmental Psychology Across the Lifespan
- Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methods
- Biological Bases of Behavior
Licensure for mental health counselors requires a master's degree, 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, and successful completion of a state-recognized exam and annual continuing education classes. The National Board for Certified Counselors provides contact information for state regulating boards and acts as the examination administrator in the licensure process.