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Mental Health Counselor Psychologists Social Worker Careers

Mental Health Counselor Psychologists Social Worker Careers

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Mental Health Counselor Careers

Did you know, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression affects up to six million American men and twelve million women every year?

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Counselors are professionals who assist individuals and groups with their personal problems in order to help them become more self-sufficient. There are many specialty areas in counseling including, mental health counseling, school counseling, community counseling, rehabilitation counseling, substance abuse counseling, guidance counseling, and vocational counseling. Individuals that specialize in mental health counseling concentrate on promoting best possible mental health through a variety of programs and services. They help individuals deal with suicidal impulses, self-esteem issues, addictions and substance abuse, stress management, job and career concerns, marital problems, educational decisions, and issues associated with aging.

Beginning with the interview process, mental health counselors make annotations that help them determine a treatment plan that will accomplish their client's goals. They often use personality, aptitude, and psychological tests to determine more precisely the needs of a particular patient. They often work closely with other mental health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers to ensure that all of the patient's needs are being met. Mental health counselors are also responsible for maintaining records of tests and counseling services, and making sure that all records are kept confidential. They frequently conduct research and report their findings in professional and trade journals.


Both psychologists and counselors help people cope with emotional stress. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental and emotional disorders and is licensed for work in clinical studies and counseling, which requires five to seven years of postgraduate work.

Clinical Psychologists: Trained in psychological theories and methods.

Psychoanalyst: Trained in psychoanalysis. he method of psychological therapy originated by Sigmund Freud in which free association, dream interpretation, and analysis of transference are used to explore repressed or unconscious impulses, anxieties, and internal conflicts, in order to free psychic energy for mature love and work.

Psychiatric Technicians/Aides

Psychiatric technicians/aides are mental health workers with a level of training between professionals and para-professionals. They work under the supervision of mental health professionals in settings that provide psychiatric services to alcohol and drug abusers, emotionally and mentally disturbed adults or children, the mentally retarded and the aged.

Social Workers

Social workers aid clients who are overwhelmed by social problems and needs caused by factors such as poverty, inadequate housing, unemployment, illness, family maladjustments, physical, mental, and emotional handicaps.

Additional Types of Counseling»»

School Psychologist: Trained in psychology with an education and child development emphasis.

Marriage & Family: Training in psychology and or social work.

Child Counselor: Training in psychology and or social work.

Substance Abuse: Counselors work with individuals to end they're addiction and substance abuse activities.

Disaster Counseling: Disaster counseling involves both listening and guiding.

Victim Counseling: Therapeutic counseling to victims, families and friends of victims who have gone through homicide, rape, incest, physical, mental or emotional attacks.

Conflict Resolution: Cconflict resolution to effectively mediate, negotiate, and dissolve conflict.

High School Preparation:

Students interested in a career in mental health counseling should take high school courses in biology, geometry, algebra, English, health occupations/medical professions education, sociology, literature, psychology, computer skills, social studies, and speech.

College Requirements:

Length of Training/Requirements

A 60-credit master's degree in mental health counseling, community counseling, or psychology is the minimal entry level. Course work includes human development, psychopathology, counseling and personality theories, legal and ethical issues, multiculturalism or diversity, sexuality, substance abuse, research, counseling skills, group work, career counseling, assessment, and practicum.


Candidates for licensure must have a master's degree in mental health counseling or another acceptable area of specialization. In addition, the candidate must have two years of supervised post-master's clinical experience. They must pass the examination issued by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Continuing education hours are required every two years for license renewal.

Work Environment:

Mental health counselors are employed in a variety of settings including private practice, hospitals, correctional institutions, mental health clinics, schools and universities, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, halfway houses, and residential care facilities. They may work long, irregular hours including nights and weekends.

One example of a mental health counselor group session.

A mental health counselor meets with a small group of people with mental and or emotional troubles. At first, the counselor is very active. He or she asks members questions about the history of their troubles, how they cope, and what it's like to interact with others.

Over time, the counselor says less and less, encouraging group members to ask the questions and provide support. The entire process supports evidence that group sessions and member support enables others to improved they're life, solve problems and have more confidence.

Career Outlook:

Employment opportunities for mental health counselors are expected to grow faster than the average for all other occupations through the year 2012. The demand for mental health professionals will continue to increase due to the increasing availability of federal funds to construct and improve statewide mental health networks. Mental health counselors are also becoming increasingly involved in crisis management and preventative counseling as it relates to young people. Another boom in employment will result from employers who are increasingly offering employee assistance programs that provide mental health and substance abuse programs. Employment will also increase as many counselors retire or leave the profession for other reasons.

American Counseling Association»»

American Mental Health Counselors Association»»


With additional experience and training mental health counselors may advance to supervisory or management positions.

CNN Money rank Mental Health Counseling as number 33 of 50 in 2006
The CNN Money Grades were as follows

  • Stress: D
  • Flexibility: A
  • Creativity: C
  • Difficulty: B

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