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Mental Health Counselor

Job Duties

Mental health counselors treat mental and emotional disorders. They assist individuals, groups, and families in seeking optimal mental health. They use many different types of therapeutic techniques and help people with all sorts of issues and disorders, including depression, addiction and substance abuse, suicidal impulses, stress management, problems with self-esteem, issues associated with aging, job and career concerns, educational decisions, issues related to mental and emotional health, and family, parenting, and marital or other relationship problems. They usually work alongside other specialists in the mental health field, including psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses, and school counselors.

Mental Health Counseling

Job Skills

Those interested in becoming mental health counselors should have a number of desirable traits. They should be interested in counseling and helping people who are experiencing challenging situations. They need to be able to inspire trust and respect in their clients. They should have the ability to work independently without supervision. They also need to be able to adhere to the code of ethics for their counseling certifications and licenses.

Income

In 2002, mental health counselors earned a median annual salary of $29,940. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $19,760, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $50,170.

Training and Education

A master's degree is the most common minimum requirement for mental health counselors. This is usually a requirement to be licensed or certified. In some States, counselors who are employed by public agencies are required to have a master's degree, while some States only require a bachelor's degree. College courses include study in college student affairs, education, gerontological counseling, marriage and family counseling, substance abuse counseling, rehabilitation counseling, agency or community counseling, clinical mental health counseling, counseling psychology, and career counseling. There are about 176 institutions in the U.S. that have counseling programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Many counselors become voluntarily certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc., earning the credential of "National Certified Counselor." Voluntary certification is also offered by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Counselors can advance to become supervisors or administrators, or they may move into research, consulting, or college teaching. You can explore more about training for mental health counselor careers by clicking on this link for schools offering human services degrees.

Employment

In 2002, mental health counselors held about 122,00 jobs. A growing number are self-employed.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of mental health counselors is expected to increase faster than the average. There are usually fewer graduates of counseling programs each year than there are job openings, resulting in very favorable opportunities. Demand for mental health counselors will grow mainly because of a growing societal acceptance of people who seek professional help with their personal and family problems. More employers are offering programs in which employees can receive help with mental health and alcohol and drug abuse problems. More and more people will turn to mental health counselors for help with these problems, as well as for assistance with improving their everyday well-being and stress management.


Mental Health Counselor Training

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            Argosy University , Online (campus option available)
            • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
            • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
            • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
            • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
            • Features a competency-based MBA program that allows students to test out of subjects based on prior professional experience.
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            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
            • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
            • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
            • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
            • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
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            • Online Courses
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            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Founded in 1890, it has a campus in Waterbury, CT and offers online degree program in eight-week modules, six times a year.
            • About 800 students are enrolled at the main campus, and about half of them commute.
            • Online courses help make it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months and a master’s degree in 12-18 months.
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            Good for Working Adults
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            • Accelerated Programs
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            • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
            • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
            • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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            Intercoast Colleges , Online (campus option available)

            • Morning, afternoon, evening and weekend classes are available.
            • Offers lifetime career assistance services to graduates, including resume and cover letter assistance, employer networking, and one-on-one employment counseling.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 8 campuses located across California, with 3 additional campuses in New Hampshire and Maine and online options.

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