Mental Health Counseling Certificate Programs

There is a wide variety of mental health counseling certificate programs. These programs are open to students who have either a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree. Mental health counseling certificate programs are also open to students who have some work experience (though this is not always necessary). It’s fairly easy to enroll in one of these programs and complete them in under two years; in fact, most are designed to take only twelve months. Certificate programs are great for people who have either lost their job or don’t have time to focus on completing an entire bachelors or master’s degree program.

Those of you who are looking to find the best counseling certifications need not look further as this article has got them all.From finding out about counseling graduate certificates online, to learning of mental health therapist certificaion requirements of becoming a certified mental health counselor , you can get all this information here.

Read on to learn more about msu counseling program, mental health counseling masters programs, mental health counseling phd programs, montclair state university ma mental health counseling admissions, online ms clinical mental health counseling, rutgers mental health counseling tuition, school counseling program. You will also find up to date information in related articles on infolearners.

how to become a certified mental health counselor

According to the National Institute of Mental Health External link , roughly 46.6 million adults in the United States were diagnosed with some form of mental, behavioral, and/or emotional disorder in 2017. About 42.6 percent of diagnosed adults received mental health services in the past year. As a result there may be a greater need for mental health professionals now than ever and this page will help you understand what you need to do in order to become one.

  1. Complete a bachelor’s degree in a behavioral, social science, or psychology field.
  2. Earn a master’s degree in mental health counseling.
  3. Complete graduate and postgraduate internship experience for certification/licensure requirements.
  4. Pass any required counseling exams for licensure.
  5. Apply for and earn additional mental health certifications.
  6. Continue your education and stay up to date on mental health counseling trends and changes.

1. Complete a bachelor’s degree in a behavioral, social science, or psychology field.

Because a master’s degree is a requirement for licensure as a mental health counselor, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in counseling related fields sets the groundwork for graduate studies in counseling. Bachelor’s degrees in other similar fields may be accepted as prerequisites for a master’s degree program. Coursework for undergraduate studies in these fields will typically include the evaluation of human development, counseling skills and foundation, introduction to psychology, and/or basic approaches to counseling/therapy.

2. Earn a master’s degree in mental health counseling.

There are many CACREP accredited universities that offer studies specifically in mental health counseling. Obtaining your graduate degree in mental health counseling is a requirement for practice as a licensed professional mental health counselor. The CACREP is the preferred accreditor for mental health counseling degrees, but there may be other accreditors for specific degree specializations.

3. Complete graduate and postgraduate internship experience for certification/licensure requirements.

As a crucial aspect of accredited counseling master’s programs, graduate supervised counseling experience allows students to dive into their future role as a licensed professional mental health counselor, gaining hands-on experience under licensed professional counselors. Postgraduate activities include internships that occur after the completion of an undergraduate degree, and graduate internships are a part of the requirements to complete a master’s degree program.

4. Pass any required counseling exams for licensure.

Some states and/or counseling programs require the passing of a recognized counseling examination for gradation or licensure such as the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and/or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Some states require intermediary licensure before counselors can be fully eligible for an independent practice. Some states may have additional requirements for licensure, which aspiring counselors should become familiar with, depending on the state in which they intend to pursue licensure.

5. Apply for and earn additional mental health certifications.

Licensed professional counselors can pursue a national certification through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). Mental health counselors can also pursue specializations in grief, pastoral, school-based mental health counseling, or other mental health challenges, concerns, or disorders.

6. Continue your education and stay up to date on mental health counseling trends and changes.

Continuing education is imperative to maintaining professional counseling licensure and keeping in the know on changes, updates, and movements in trends on mental health care, counseling, and client advocacy.

What Is a Mental Health Counselor?

A mental health counselor is a licensed professional who provides care for clients with emotional and behavioral issues. They typically see clients on a recurring schedule to help with an ongoing issue. Counselors use psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and other models of psychological treatment External link  that they’ve learned from an accredited mental health counseling degree program.

A mental health counselor is not the same as a psychiatrist External link , which is a medical professional who is licensed to prescribe medication for diagnosed disorders. Counselors may work in teams with other types of health professionals to provide comprehensive care to a client in need.

What Do Mental Health Counselors Do?

The practice of professional mental health counseling includes the diagnosis and treatment of mental, behavioral and emotional disorders External link , including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Behavioral addictions
  • Psychoses

Mental health counselors also see clients who may not have a specific diagnosed disorder, but need support navigating challenges including anger management, bullying, grief, self-esteem and body-image, relationships, chronic stress, and other topics.

The ACA says a career in mental health counseling may include the following duties:

  • Recognizing the symptoms of mental health disorders in their clients
  • Planning treatment for clients over a period of time
  • Supporting clients through recovery or therapeutic practices
  • Conducting group sessions with a client’s family or supportive peers
  • Helping clients unpack complicated emotions and behavioral patterns
  • Educating clients about different types of therapy
  • Tracking the progress of clients as they move through treatment
  • Referring clients to other sources of help, like support groups, out-patient clinics, health care providers and social work organizations
  • Providing clients with strategies and behavioral skills they can use to problem-solve in the future.

Counselors in the mental health field take a client-centered, holistic approach External link  to providing care for their clients. They are trained to understand how environmental, interpersonal and physical factors can contribute to a person’s mental health.

Though mental health counselors do not prescribe medication to their clients, they often work in multidisciplinary teams External link  with other providers, such as psychiatrists or primary care providers who are licensed to write prescriptions. In non-medical settings, counselors may also work alongside social workers, school counselors and other professionals who ascribe to holistic care models.

Job Description at a Glance

A mental health counselor’s job includes working with clients from various backgrounds to improve their mental health, understand complicated emotions and work toward wellness goals. Mental health counselors offer support to individual clients, couples, families or groups with similar situations.

Skills Necessary for Mental Health Counselors

Mental health counselors develop skills through education and training in order to safely, legally and effectively serve the needs of their clients who may have a variety of mental health diagnoses.

  • Communication: The vast majority of counseling services require conversations and clear communication between the counselor and their clients. Being able to educate clients about the treatment process and implement treatment plans requires effective understanding of verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Listening: Being an active listener is a crucial skill for counselors to understand and untangle the concerns and needs of their clients. Counselors will learn what language to listen for and how to identify what information isn’t being said.
  • Problem-Solving: Working through complicated issues is a key part of helping clients solve problems in their own lives or with others in their lives.
  • Research: Scientifically studying patients and their behavioral patterns is a part of counselor’s role, which they will learn through education and clinical residencies. Counselors can conduct studies of participating patients or work with universities to build larger bodies of research.
  • Critical-Thinking: Counselors combine communication and active listening to make diagnoses, implement therapy models and conduct research with clients.

Where Do Mental Health Counselors Work?

Mental health counselors work in the public and private sector in a variety of settings, including community centers, hospitals, public schools, universities, veteran health agencies, outpatient facilities, recovery centers, career centers, religious institutions, and private practices, according to the ACA.

If they choose to specialize in a specific population, counselors will likely work in agencies or organizations that serve those populations. For example, specializing in children’s mental health could lead a counselor to work in elementary schools, pediatric hospitals, youth homes, foster care organizations or social service agencies. Specializing in geriatric counseling might lead to working in veteran medical hospitals, assisted living facilities, senior community centers, retirement homes and palliative care facilities.

Counselors who choose a career in the public sector work with organizations that are publicly funded, like government organizations, non-profits, correctional facilities, elementary, middle and high schools, colleges and universities, social services organizations, and publicly-owned hospitals.

Working in the private sector would include counseling individual clients, couples or small groups of clients on a recurring basis to work on chronic issues over time. Counselors can also open their own private practices to serve clients, which could require managing a small number of other counselors and administrative staff, as well as the performing the responsibilities of running a small business.

What Are the Licensing Requirements?

State licensure is required in order to practice as a mental health counselor. Counseling licensure requirements External link  vary by state, but typically include completion of a counseling master’s degree program from an accredited university, 3,000 to 5,000 hours of postgraduate supervised clinical experience, and a passing score on a state-recognized licensing exam. Practicing mental health counselors may also be required to take continuing education to maintain their license.

Licensing requirements vary by state and should be checked thoroughly by counselors pursuing licensure in any state. Detailed information for state licensing requirements for mental health counselors is available through the National Board for Certified Counselors state board directory. External link 

Detailed information for state licensing requirements for mental health counselors is available through the National Board for Certified Counselors External link .

Are There Certification Requirements?

While not mandatory, mental health counselors can earn certification through The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). NBCC’s National Certified Counselor External link  designation gives you an additional credential that demonstrates your experience, education and level of counseling skills.

Career Outlook for Mental Health Counselors

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mental health counseling positions are projected to grow External link  22% from 2018 to 2028, faster than average. The industries that employ the most mental health counselors include outpatient care centers, individual and family services, inpatient/residential care facilities, and local government. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also lists California, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York as having the highest employment levels External link .

The Occupational Outlook Handbook reports that the average annual salary for a mental health counselor in the U.S. is about $45,000. Salaries vary depending on the industry and setting. For example, counselors employed by the government could earn about $52,000 per year while mental health counselors employed in individual and family services earn about $44,000 per year. Level of education, location and experience may also influence salary level.

As movements to destigmatize mental health issues gain ground and increased insurance coverage makes healthcare services more accessible, more people are comfortable seeking counseling. Mental health counselors help others understand and cope with stresses or disorders, either directly by conducting counseling sessions, or indirectly through research and education. Read on to learn more about online mental health counseling degree programs and the careers to which they can lead.

  • Best Online Degrees in Mental Health Counseling
  • Mental Health Counseling Degree Programs: The Online Experience
  • Degree Types in Mental Health Counseling
  • Common Online Mental Health Counseling Courses
  • Choosing an Online Counseling Degree Program
  • Enrollment Steps: Master’s in Mental Health Counseling
  • Job Prospects & Salaries
  • Online Resources for Mental Health Counselors

Mental Health Counseling Certificate Programs

Counseling certificates provide both aspiring counselors and licensed counselors the opportunity to develop counseling skills and knowledge in a particular aspect of the profession. Certificates are available to both licensed counselors and those seeking licensure depending on the applicant’s prior education and experience. Due to the shorter curriculum of most counseling certificate programs, applicants are generally only required to take courses in the specialty they wish to become licensed in or one area of specialization within one the major counseling fields: clinical mental health counselingmarriage and family therapyschool counselingrehabilitation counseling, or substance abuse counseling.

On-Campus Counseling Certificate Degree Programs

Clark College

Clark College in Washington offers an undergraduate Certificate of Completion (CP) in Addiction Counselor Education that requires a minimum of an associate degree to apply. This National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC)- and National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC)-approved 60-credit program is intended to equip people who are already in counseling or a related field to deliver substance abuse services to clients. Students in the CP program are from many fields, including law enforcement, healthcare, corrections, social services, and teaching. Graduates will be prepared to take the Washington Chemical Dependency Professional exam and to provide quality care to patients suffering from addictions. The CP-Addiction Counselor Education can be completed in 12 months of full-time study. Clark also offers a related Associate of Applied Science (AAS) qualifying students to become certified in Washington as Chemical Dependency Professionals (CDPs) and an Associate of Arts (AA) for future transfer students.

Indiana State University

Aspiring mental health counselors may be interested in the graduate-level Mental Health Counselor Certificate offered by Indiana State University (ISU). This program is designed for individuals with a 48-credit master’s degree in counseling who require additional graduate-level coursework in counseling to meet Indiana counseling licensure requirements. The certificate curriculum focuses on providing additional hours of clinically-supervised work experience and meeting any coursework deficiencies according to Indiana state regulations. As state guidelines vary, prospective applicants practicing in other states should confirm whether the ISU program meets out-of-state licensure requirements. Applicants must have pre- and post-degree clinical experience and provide clinical supervision references. Financial aid may be available to qualified students.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore offers a part-time, post-master’s Certificate in Clinical Mental Health Counseling for applicants with a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. Students must complete 15 credits in a maximum of three years with applications accepted for the fall and spring terms. Courses are chosen in consultation with an academic advisor to ensure each student meets their study and career goals. Course examples include Appraisal and Testing for Counselors, Diagnosis in Counseling, and Counseling Techniques. The application package includes college and university transcripts, a resume, a reflective essay, two references, and the online application form. JHU also offers a Master of Science in Counseling with concentrations in school counseling or clinical mental health counseling.

St. Thomas University

St. Thomas University (STU) in Biscayne, Florida, has a Post-Master’s Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy designed to help counseling professionals develop in-depth understanding of marital, family, and systems theories. The program may appeal to licensed social workers, nurse practitioners, mental health counselors, and school counselors seeking dual licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). The curriculum includes 18 credits of graduate coursework; examples of courses include Theory and Practice of Counseling Couples and Human Sexuality Counseling. Applicants should have a master’s degree in counseling or a related field, such as social work or psychology. STU also offers master’s degrees in Guidance and Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling.

University of Massachusetts Boston

The University of Massachusetts Boston offers a Certificate in Rehabilitation Counseling designed for applicants with a graduate degree in a related field, such as behavioral health, occupational therapy, and disability studies. The program prepares students to take the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) exam through a curriculum of seven courses that cover topics such as rehabilitation foundations, case management, and counseling theory. Applicants must have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, related experience, and a letter of reference. New students are admitted in the spring and summer terms. The University of Massachusetts Boston also offers a Master of Science (MS) degree in Rehabilitation Counseling.

types of counseling certifications

Counseling is a broad field with many specializations to choose from. Licensed counselors can complete certificate programs to gain specialized knowledge or earn a dual license in another area of counseling. Certificate programs are available in all the major areas of counseling specialties and typically range in length from six months to two years of study that may be taken full-time or part-time. They may include a practicum or internship as part of the curriculum. Learn more about counseling certificate programs in each of these fields below.

Marriage and Family Therapy Certificate

Certificate programs in marriage and family therapy (MFT) provide practicing counselors with the opportunity to become dually-licensed to provide MFT services or can bridge the gap if your master’s in MFT doesn’t meet licensing standards. They can also be helpful for licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) to learn more about a specific area of practice. Certificates leading to licensure are offered in marriage and family therapy or marital and family therapy while areas of specialization in MFT include couples therapy, family therapy, child and adolescent development, and systems theories. A certificate in marriage and family therapy may require students to complete supervised work experience as this is a common licensure requirement.

Mental Health Counseling Certificate

Mental health counseling involves the psychotherapeutic assessment and treatment of mental and emotional disorders in individual and group settings. Certificates in this area of specialization include clinical mental health counseling, mental health counseling, and professional counseling. In every state, a master’s degree in mental health counseling is required for state licensure; certificate courses can be helpful to candidates with a graduate degree that does not meet licensure requirements or to licensed counselors interested in focusing their practice in a specific area, such as child and youth mental health, co-occurring disorders, and mental health and aging.

Rehabilitation Counseling Certificate

Rehabilitation counselors specialize in assessing and helping clients with disabilities adapt to daily life and develop functional abilities. Certificates in this field are offered in rehabilitation counseling and related fields such as rehabilitation studies and disability studies among others. State licensing requirements vary and applicants should determine whether a certificate program meets the guidelines if they hope to earn licensure as a rehabilitation counselor. Earning a certificate in rehabilitation counseling may also increase employment opportunities or enable graduates to command a higher salary.

School Counseling Certificate

School counselors work with students of all grades ranging from pre-K to 12th grade and provide guidance and support related to personal, academic, and behavioral issues. Some states require school counselors to complete educator preparation programs and earn teaching experience before they are eligible for school counselor roles. A master’s degree is required for full licensure in all states, but those who have a master’s degree in a subject other than school counseling may often complete a school counseling certificate to meet licensure requirements.

Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate

Substance abuse counselors, also known as addiction counselors, have specialized knowledge in substance abuse, addiction, chemical dependency, and recovery issues and help clients and their loved ones address these challenges. In many states, a high school diploma and related work experience are acceptable to earn licensure, and certificate programs can help substance abuse counselors gain in-depth knowledge and training and may provide greater employment opportunities. Some states require prospective substance abuse counselors to complete specific training in substance abuse and addiction; completing a certificate may be one way to meet these requirements. Certificates may be offered in substance abuse counseling, substance abuse studies, addiction counseling, addiction studies, and chemical dependency counseling.

mental health graduate certificate online

A certificate is an academic course that focuses on a specific field of study. These programs are ideal for students who are currently working but want to increase their knowledge or skill set in order to qualify for career advancement and better paying positions.

Online Certificate Program in Mental Healthcare

PG Cert Criminology and Criminal Psychology

UK Online, United Kingdom

A thorough understanding of criminological theory has never been more essential with the appearance of new types of crime mean. This 100% online and part-time short course is designed for individuals who want to develop knowledge and skills which are useful for roles in the police force, law enforcement agencies and related sectors. On this online PG Cert, you will explore the interdisciplinary fields of criminology and criminal psychology which covers a range of complex and challenging topics including deviance, terrorism, and the psychological and sociological causes of crime. You will also be able to continue your studies and advance onto our PG Dip or Masters programme. 

PGCert in The Psychology of Dementia Care

Saint Andrews, United Kingdom

The Postgraduate Certificate in The Psychology of Dementia Care focuses on the practical application of psychological theory in dementia care and is intended for professional care staff and management who provide services to people with dementia. 

XSeries Program in Introduction to Developmental, Social & Clinical Psychology (The University of Queensland)

Cambridge, USA

Learn psychology to better understand why we think and behave the way we do and how to treat and identify psychological disorders.

Online Graduate Certificate of Psychology

Douglas, Australia +2 More

In a rapidly changing world, knowing how the human brain works is increasingly relevant both inside the workplace and outside it. Whether you are a professional in a human-centred role such as marketing or education, or you are excited by deepening your knowledge of the human psyche for yourself, JCU’s 100% Online Graduate Certificate of Psychology will help you reach your goals. Backed by 50 years of experience in teaching and research in psychology, JCU Online’s Graduate Certificate in Psychology will help you succeed in a complex world and better serve clients and communities, wherever you are.

Positive Behavior Intervention and Support: RTI for Behavior

Orono, USA

This certificate program will provide a sequence of coursework based on a three-tier service delivery model consistent with requirements of federal and state law. Students will have the knowledge and skills to provide support to students with intensive behavioral needs, provide leadership to their schools, serve as “coaches” in supporting school implementation in their schools. 

Online Certificate in Psychology

Dublin, Irelan

dThis online certificate in Psychology offers an introduction to Psychology and its broad areas of specialism. This course provides students with the opportunity to explore some of the most important and upcoming fields of study within the discipline. 

Online Certificate of Proficiency in Child Advocacy Studies

Fayetteville, USA

Our online certificate program in Child Advocacy Studies (CHAS) gives class participants the skills and knowledge they will need to competently manage child maltreatment cases. This program is designed for professionals who have 60 credit hours from an accredited institution and meet admission requirements of the University of Arkansas. 

Level 2 Certificate in Self-harm and Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Widnes, United Kingdom

Learners will discover how to recognize the signs of self-harm and suicidal thoughts and how to approach an individual they believe is experiencing this.

Graduate Certificate in Catholic Pastoral Counseling for Mental Health Professionals

Cromwell, USA

If you are a faithful, practicing Catholic who is also either a professional psychologist, clinical social worker, counselor, marriage and family therapist, or another state-licensed mental health professional, the Holy Apostles fully online Graduate Certificate in Catholic Pastoral Counseling can help you meet this growing, unmet need for Catholic-integrated mental health services. 

CertHE Psychology

UK Online, United Kingdom

Through this 100% online and part-time CertHE Psychology you will gain an understanding of how people think and what makes them tick. In this short course, you will study the science behind the mind, brain, and behaviour. You will learn about the different fields within psychology and how their learnings can be applied to real-life situations, which can help you understand the thoughts and actions of people and groups. No prior qualifications or work experience? Not an issue, because our online CertHE courses have an open entry route. This course can be completed in as little as 16 months – and it’s easy to progress onto our BPS accredited BSc (Hons) Psychology.

CertHE Business Psychology

UK Online, United Kingdom

This 100% online and part-time CertHE Business Psychology is an opportunity for you to combine your interest in psychology with business. Through this short course, you will be introduced to the fields of business and psychology. You will gain a foundational understanding of psychological theory and how it applies to a business context. No prior qualifications or work experience? Not an issue, because our online CertHE courses have an open entry route. This course can be completed in as little as 16 months – and it’s easy to progress onto the full Bachelor’s degree. 

CertHE Criminal Psychology

UK Online, United Kingdom

This 100% online and part-time CertHE Criminal Psychology will provide you with an understanding of core psychological and criminological theories. This short course is the perfect introduction to the fascinating worlds of criminology and psychology. You will learn about the variety of mental processes that take place in the brain and how this applies to criminal psychology, specifically in offender profiling and eyewitness testimony. No prior qualifications or work experience? Not an issue, because our online CertHE courses have an open entry route. This course can be completed in as little as 16 months – and it’s easy to progress onto the full Bachelor’s degree. 

BSc (Hons) Psychology

UK Online, United Kingdom

This 100% online and part-time BSc (Hons) Psychology will challenge your perspectives as you explore how the mind functions. It is one of the few 100% online psychology programmes accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS). On this online BSc (Hons) Psychology, you will learn about the theoretical and scientific underpinnings of psychology, as well as delve into several specialised areas within the field, such as mental health, investigative psychology, the psychology of sport and exercise, and critical social psychology. Finally, your studies will culminate with a final project on a psychology topic that aligns with your personal interests or professional goals. This programme meets the British Psychological Society’s requirements of the Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership Curriculum (GBC). This is an important step towards becoming a Chartered Member of the Society and it is recommended you choose an accredited course if you want to become a qualified psychologist in the UK.

Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Children and Young People’s Mental Health

Widnes, United Kingdom

This course will equip learners with a detailed understanding of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety, the legislation and guidance surrounding mental health, risk factors that may affect mental well-being and how to build resilience against these, and the impact mental health concerns may have on young people and others. 

Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Autism

Widnes, United Kingdom

Throughout this qualification, you will gain an understanding of the spectrum of autistic disorders and how they can affect people in a variety of ways, as well as exploring the importance of using a person-centred approach to provide support.

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