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Mental Health Counselor


How to Become a Mental Health Counselor
Mental Health Counselor Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of a Mental Health Counselor
Mental Health Counselor Salary
Influential Mental Health Counselors
Leading Mental Health Counselor Organizations
Top Cities for Mental Health Counseling Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Mental Health Counselor

Becoming a mental health counselor requires extensive education and training. The need for mental health counselors exceeds the current supply, which means this is an occupation that is in demand. About half of mental health counselor positions are filled in the health care industry with the government employing a little more than ten per cent of positions.

Many mental health counselors obtain a license to practice. As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), they are required to uphold certain standards, and the license helps define the role that the mental health counselor assumes. Patients in need of a mental health counselor are also benefited by the license as it can help protect the client in a multitude of different ways.

The LPC title is regulated either by state or federal laws. Depending on the state in which you are applying for your LPC, the general requirements may vary. In terms of education, you can expect to be required to have a master's degree in a field relating to counseling. LPC applicants may also be required to pass the National Counselor Exam. On top of education and the successful completion of any required exams, an applicant will also need practical work experience, involving direct contact with patients.

What does a Mental Health Counselor do?

A mental health counselor's job is to help promote good mental health. This can be done on a one-on-one basis with a family or as part of a group. You can find mental health counselors in a variety of settings, including schools and rehabilitation facilities.

During the course of the counseling, a mental health counselor may need to address issues relating to a variety of subjects. Among the more frequent issues that a mental health counselor might encounter include depression, which can involve suicidal tendencies, substance abuse or addiction, stress, and even instances of severe grief.

It will be the mental health counselor's job to eliminate or improve these issues that their clients are dealing with in order to assist them with regaining their quality of life.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Mental Health Counselor?

Someone wishing to become a mental health counselor would need to posses great attention to detail. While treating patients, it will be important that the mental health counselor gather as much information as possible by observing, listening, and taking in as much as they possibly can from their clients to provide the best treatment possible.

Communication skills will also be important as this will be a primary method for gathering information from your client. You will need to be able to clearly communicate and put clients at ease during treatment.

Having emotional intelligence will also be beneficial to a mental health counselor. Through emotional intelligence, a counselor can better understand the various feelings that their clients are experiencing. Counselors that can empathize with their clients have shown greater success with treatment.

How much does a Mental Health Counselor make?

The salary range for a mental health counselor can vary based on a number of things. Location, experience, education, license, and certifications can all play a part in determining the salary of a mental health counselor.

As of May 2006, it was estimated that the median annual earnings of a mental health counselor in the United States was $34,380. The ten percent that earned the most during 2006 made more than $59,700. The middle half of mental health counselors received wages between $26, 780 and $45,610.

Mental health counselors who were self-employed and had established a successful practice were expected to be the biggest earners. Government positions held by mental health counselors also received higher wages. Those counselors employed at a facility, dealing with residential care, could expect to receive the lowest wages.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

In 1987, Edward Beck, Gary Seiler, and D. Brooks introduced the first standards used to train mental health counselors, which was about 60 hours in duration. The training method has since become standard in the industry.

Gary Seiler, along with James Messina, helped to form the AMHCA (American Mental Health Counselors Association) back in 1976. By 1979, the association had already attracted 12,000 members.

Artis J. Palmo wrote a book for the AMHCA, which helped the group define the role of the mental health counselor and how it was evolving. The book was based on research Palmo conducted with his clients and included the ways that are best for treating their different concerns during treatment.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

In terms of treating and understanding mental illness, the largest organization in the world designed for this purpose is the National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH. Formed in 1949, NIMH is actually a part of the United States government. It was designed for the sole purpose to ease the burden related to mental illnesses. Research at the institute is done on the brain, genetics, behavior, and even neuroscience.

The Mental Health Center at the Mayo Clinic has earned a reputation as being a top treatment clinic for mental health issues in the United States. The Mayo Clinic was founded back in 1889 by several doctors, including Dr. Mayo and two of his sons, which ran the practice that eventually became Mayo Clinic. Today, it is a non-profit organization and it is run by CEO and President, Dr. Denis Cortese.

What are the top cities for Mental Health Counseling jobs?

It has been estimated that approximately 30,000 new jobs will be created for mental health counselors by 2016, which equates to a 30 percent increase in available jobs. Insurance companies are beginning to cover the expense of a mental health counselor, which is helping to boost the field.

The current top city for available mental health counselor jobs is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania although the entire state has numerous jobs as well. You can also expect to see a large number of available mental health counselor jobs in Chicago, Illinois and Baltimore, Maryland. Atlanta, Georgia and Boston, Massachusetts provide good runners up in terms of job availability as well.

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