Education for Mental Health Counselors
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.
Recent changes in federal regulations allow qualified mental health counselors to serve as mental health practitioners, providing services without referral, under the TRICARE program. This is important to the industry, considering that TRICARE serves between 9 and 10 million service members, retirees, and family members.
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 jobs for mental health counselors would grow 36% during the 2010 to 2020 decade. What an outstanding prognosis for the industry!
THE WORK OF A MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR
Mental health counselors can help people with normal cognitive processes deal with the challenges of everyday life events, such as: physical illness, death of loved ones, and relationship problems. Other situations that mental health counselors can help people deal with involve the ramifications of severe mental disorders. Counselors must be sensitive to determining when they should refer clients or patients for other resources. Also, it is important to know how to properly identify when abuse has occurred or when there is a real risk of self-injury, suicide, or violent acts toward others. Understanding your clients is a key priority of the skilled mental health counselor.
Mental health counselors are able to specialize and work with a particular population of clients. Mental health counselors may work for multiple agencies; this includes individual and family services, hospitals, and inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities. Many mental health counselors find success in private practice. The career options are almost limitless.
TRAINING TO WORK AS A MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR
All states require mental health counselors to have a Master’s degree. Curriculum requirements vary from state to state. Many states require that the degree program either be accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs or be something of comparable objective and approved standards.
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.
All jurisdictions require 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.
CREDENTIALS OF A MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR
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 multiple licensing levels for counselors.
You are encouraged to pursue the highest level of licensing possible 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.
Counselors may also choose voluntary mental health counseling certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Source: Mental Health Counselor