A mental health counselor is an individual who combines traditional psychotherapy with prevention techniques in order to help clients cope and treat emotional and mental disorders. These professionals encourage their clients to discuss their emotions and experiences in order to learn more about their current issues and how they may assist and proceed in the therapy process. Therapy could include coping mechanisms, or strategies and skills designed to change behavior. Mental health counselors sometimes work in conjunction with social workers or psychiatrists to create the best treatment possible for an individual.
In order to become a mental health counselor, an individual must have earned a master’s degree in counseling. A license to practice is also required. This is mandatory in all states in the Unites States. Licensure typically requires a master’s degree, plus a certain number of supervised clinical experience hours. After earning this degree and licensure, graduates must also pass a state-recognized exam. In order to keep licensure current and up-to-date, annual education classes must be attended. While in a master’s program, students will study ways to recognize, define, and address mental and emotional symptoms and disorders.
This career is not for someone who finds sympathy and compassion difficult traits to embody. Mental health counselors may deal with individuals who are traumatized by their disabilities, or who are frustrated with their inability to cope with an emotional or mental disorder. These professionals should be able to listen to an individual, connect with the feelings they are displaying, and communicate effectively with their clients. These skills may be easier to exemplify from someone who considers themselves a “people person,” or someone who gets along well with various types of individuals, personalities, and age groups.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median pay of these professionals in 2010 as $19.09 per hour, or $39,710 per year. This career is projected to grow by 37% between 2010-2020. Industries that employ the greatest amount of these individuals include places such as individual and family services, residential mental health and substance abuse facilities, and outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers. As insurance companies tend to provide reimbursement to individuals who use the services of counselors, more people are projected to utilize these outlets. BLS also explains that people who are searching to receive mental health treatment are much more likely to visit a mental health counselor rather than go to another provider.