What Do Mental Health Counselors Do

Mental health counselors help people solve problems in living by exploring their concerns. They may work with people who are dealing with substance abuse, disabilities, relationship issues, depression, and other problems. On infolearners.com you’ll find information on becoming a mental health counselor, the typical wages they make and the typical jobs they work with mental health counseling. Get more information regarding What Do Mental Health Counselors Do, what is mental health counseling, mental health counselor education requirements, mental health counselor certification, how to become a mental health counselor & mental health counselor vs psychologist

Has this question been bugging you for some time, mental health counselor online free? Have you been surfing the net for licensed mental health counselor online degree for a while without a great reaction, then you’re getting one. As this website offers answers to all your questions about the mental health counselor online degree, you no longer need to participate in an inaccessible hunt. We are here to guide you with your questions relating to mental health counselor online programs. I would suggest that you save time and effort by visiting the website as soon as possible for masters in mental health counseling salary, mental health counselor online free, licensed mental health counselor online degree, mental health counselor online degree & mental health counselor online programs.

what is mental health counseling

All people face different psychological challenges at various points in life, and sometimes people need the help of a professional to cope with these difficulties. It can sometimes be confusing to determine what type of help is needed, particularly because there are so many different types of professionals who specialize in treating mental health issues.

Mental health counselors represent just one profession that specifically works with people dealing with cognitive, behavioral, and emotional issues. Counselors work with individuals, families, groups, and communities to deal with mental health issues and improve mental well-being.

We all face challenges throughout our lives. Often, mental health counselors will be one of the first resources available to people in need of emotional and psychological support.

What to Expect in Mental Health Counseling Jobs | All Psychology Schools

Your strong sense of compassion and commitment to helping people are the most necessary qualities for a successful career as a mental health counselor. You will need to have a strong support system of your own in place to ensure your well-being as you undertake this challenging and rewarding vocation.

By addressing concerns with quality care from a mental health counselor, clients learn how to make informed and healthy decisions about themselves, their relationships and their futures.

Mental health counselors represent just one profession that specifically works with people dealing with cognitive, behavioral, and emotional issues. Counselors work with individuals, families, groups, and communities to deal with mental health issues and improve mental well-being.

You might find professional mental health counselors working in a wide range of settings including:

  • Mental health clinics
  • Schools
  • Private practices
  • Hospitals
  • Community health centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Businesses
  • Colleges and universities
  • Social service agencies
  • Government agencies

People experiencing symptoms of psychological illnesses such as depression, phobias, and anxiety may choose to see a mental health counselor for counseling and psychotherapy services. Counselors may also help people experiencing social difficulties, emotional problems, addictions and substance abuse, grief, self-esteem issues, and marital difficulties. Some mental health counselors choose to work with specific populations such as children, the elderly, or college students.

Harding - Mental Health & Wellness - Professional Clinical Counseling

What does a mental health counselor do?

Mental health counselors offer guidance to individuals, couples, families and groups who are dealing with issues that affect their mental health and well-being. Many counselors approach their work holistically, using a “wellness” model (as opposed to an “illness” one) which highlights and encourages client’s strengths.

On the job, mental health counselors:

  • Work with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health
  • Encourage clients to discuss emotions and experiences
  • Examine issues including substance abuse, aging, bullying, anger management, careers, depression, relationships, LGBTQ issues, self-image, stress and suicide
  • Work with families
  • Help clients define goals, plan action and gain insight
  • Develop therapeutic processes
  • Refer clients to psychologists and other services
  • Take a holistic (mind and body) approach to mental health care
  • Conducting group sessions with families
  • Working with clients to set goals, develop a treatment plan, and gain insight through treatment
  • Working with clients to identify situations, behaviors, and thoughts that interfere with their wellness and recovery
  • Examining social issues that may influence a client’s mental well-being, including peer pressure, bullying, substance use, prejudice, work stress, financial challenges, and health issues
  • Referring clients to other health professionals as well as to other resources in the community such as other social services, job services, and support groups
What Does A Mental Health Counselor Do? – Forbes Health

Counseling tends to view individual needs within a humanistic context. Rather than focusing on dysfunction, counselors often see problems as arising from normal reactions to developmental changes or as difficulty dealing with specific life stages. As a result, counselors may focus on personal development by helping you learn the skills and coping abilities you need to deal with such life changes and stages effectively.

While counselors are often called upon to treat specific problems, they also tend to take an approach that focuses on overall wellness. Dealing with the immediate problem is important, but counselors also strive to help you function not just minimally, but optimally. Enhancing overall well-being by solving problems, improving resilience, encouraging healthy behaviors, and improving relationships is a key component of a counselor’s duties.

how to become a mental health counselor

Basic Educational Requirements
The minimum requirements for a licensed mental health counselor are a master’s degree in counseling and at least two to three years of supervised practice under a licensed professional.

What do Mental Health Counselors Do? Role & Responsibilities

Degree Requirements
Mental health counselor education requirements vary by state. While some states allow professionals with a bachelor’s degree to work in psychology, clinical mental health counseling typically requires a master’s degree. Since clinical professionals work directly with patients to provide a form of healthcare, they need the specialized education of a graduate degree.

When researching degrees, students should look for accredited programs, specifically those accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Its search function helps students find the right school. Learners can search by institution, location, and accreditation status. Many of the accredited programs also offer online options.

The flexibility helps those with undergraduate degrees to earn a master’s degree while gaining work experience. However, most of these programs require in-person internships. Online learners must check with their school to see where they can complete these requirements.

Successful completion of a CACREP-certified graduate program qualifies students to sit for the licensing exam. After passing this exam, graduates can practice as mental health counselors. In some cases, they may pursue doctoral degrees. These terminal degrees are best suited for professionals who want to become health administrators or work in a highly specialized area.

Therapist vs. Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist: What's the Difference? -  Medical Associates of Northwest Arkansas

Clinical Experience Requirements
Some graduate programs require internship hours for credit before graduation. During these hours, each student works with patients under the supervision of a licensed counselor. At many institutions, this accounts for one of the last credit hours in a curriculum. Learners put their knowledge to work while applying theories with actual patients.

Online degree candidates who must earn these credits can usually do so locally, even if the school is in another state. Each learner should contact an academic advisor to learn what the school accepts as experience. Then, students can find a clinic or hospital nearby that offers internships and meets the school’s requirements.

Every state in the U.S. maintains specific licensing requirements. However, licensure in any area calls for clinical experience. An internship may count toward this requirement, but many states want all the hours to take place in postgraduate work. Generally, each candidate must complete up to 3,000 supervised clinical hours.

These hours must usually include frequent one-on-one patient contact. Other hours may include time leading group counseling, meeting with supervisors and peers, and reviewing notes.

Candidates often complete these hours in two years or less, ideally in the facilities where they plan to practice professionally. Many of these internships offer pay, although unlicensed candidates usually will not earn a full mental health counselor salary.

How Lived Experience and Identity Shape Mental Health Counseling | NAMI:  National Alliance on Mental Illness

Licensure and Certification Requirements

To legally practice as a mental health counselor, a professional must first earn a license from the state. Most jurisdictions require an applicant to possess at least a master’s degree from a CACREP-accredited program.

The program must cover mental health counseling, not school counseling or counseling education. After graduation, many states require candidates to complete supervised clinical hours. Applicants must also pass one or more exams. The test requirements usually include a passing score on the national clinical mental health counseling examination developed by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Some jurisdictions also require applicants to pass state-specific exams. Candidates should check their state’s requirements before applying. In addition to earning a license to practice, some counselors pursue certification. While the law does not usually require these, some employers may only hire applicants with certain certifications. Sometimes, the certifications may occur in general mental health counseling. The NBCC certifies licensed counselors who demonstrate high ethical standards.

Some certifications indicate a professional’s specialty. Counselors may specialize in areas, such as community mental health, addiction, suicide, and depression. By pursuing these specialty certifications, mental health counselors learn about treating particular subsets of patients and help differentiate themselves during the job application process.

Mental Health Counselor - Career Rankings, Salary, Reviews and Advice | US  News Best Jobs

States typically require a minimum of 2,000 to 3,000 hours of supervised practice before gaining licensure; however, it is important to check with your state’s licensing board to learn more about specific requirements. Always be sure to check the guidelines in the state where you plan to study and practice.

Once this has been done, aspiring mental health counselors must still pass a state licensing exam. In many states, counselors must first pass a test administered by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) in order to obtain a license.

Licensing requirements for mental health counselors vary from state to state, and specific titles for these professional designations may vary as well. Mental health counselors may be known as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor of Mental Health (LPCC), or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). In most states, the title of “Mental Health Counselor” is a protected title, which means that only people who have met certain state requirements may legally call themselves by that title.

In addition to these basic education and licensure requirements, some counselors also choose to become certified. While this certification is purely voluntary, it is an additional qualification that can make professional counselors more appealing to both employers and potential clients.

Skills Gained in a Mental Health Counseling Program
Mental health counselors must complete a significant amount of education and training to become licensed practitioners. Each step builds essential skills to help them practice effectively, safely, and ethically. Through formal education and practical training, counselors learn interpersonal, communication, listening, research, and critical thinking skills to assist their patients with mental illness and trauma.

Interpersonal Skills
A patient quickly forms their first impression of a counselor. Interpersonal skills involve effective body language, relationship management, collaboration, and professional demeanor. Counselors must demonstrate these abilities to get hired.

Communication Skills
Counseling requires effective communication. Mental health professionals must know how to treat patients and teach clients about their treatment. This dynamic requires exceptional communication, which classes and internships teach.

Listening Skills
Mental health counselors cannot treat patients they do not understand. Counselors start by actively listening to what patients say, along with how they say it. Courses help students learn the signs to watch, while practicums put the theories into practice.

What Do Mental Health Counselors Do | Step-by-Step Guide

Research Skills
As a scientific field, counseling relies on research. Whether the student advances to academia or pursues clinical practice, a solid foundation of research skills helps build a successful career. Most students hone these abilities in structured courses.

Critical Thinking Skills
Professionals use critical thinking to analyze a patient’s situation, make diagnoses, design treatment plans, and navigate ethical quandaries. Counselors may develop this skill from the first courses and throughout their careers.

Even after finishing licensure requirements, counselors must continue to stay abreast of current practices by completing a number of continuing education courses over the course of their professional lives. While this means that you will need to continue taking courses throughout your career, it also allows you to stay current and explore new information and techniques to better hone your skills as a counselor.

Skills That Mental Health Counselors Need
Aside from training and education, what type of skills should you have in order to succeed in this profession? Becoming an effective mental health counselor requires a solid knowledge base of psychology, therapy, and counseling. In addition to understanding this subject matter and techniques, counselors need to have good listening skills, the ability to communicate effectively, good critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and outstanding people skills. Emotional intelligence, compassion, empathy, and nonverbal communication abilities are also critical.

If you are interested in becoming a mental health counselor, it is important to consider both the potential benefits of the career as well as some of the possible drawbacks. One of the greatest rewards of being a mental health counselor is being able to have a direct impact on the lives and well-being of clients. Counseling allows professionals to both prevent and treat psychological distress, which can help clients lead healthier and happier lives.

One potential downside to consider is the fact that the job can sometimes be stressful since counselors sometimes need to intervene and assist clients who may be emotional, angry, or even combative. Good stress management and emotional regulation abilities can be important in maintaining a good balance in your life as you juggle the rigors of your job and other life responsibilities and goals.

How Much Do Mental Health Counselors Earn?
The Occupational Outlook Handbook reports that substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors held nearly 304,500 jobs in 2018, with the largest percentage working in outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a mental health counselor was $44,630 in 2018.

Individual salaries can vary depending upon a wide range of factors, including geographic location and area of practice, with the top 10% earning an annual wage of more than $72,990 and the bottom 10% earning less than $28,240.

Areas that had the highest rates of employment included outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers, Individual and family services, and hospitals (state, local, and private).

The highest-paying areas of employment for mental health counselors include government positions ($51,690), hospitals ($48,310), and individual and family services ($44,120).4

While mental health counselors typically earn less than psychologists, this is also a factor that makes them appealing to insurers. Mental health counselors are able to receive third-party reimbursement for the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of psychological conditions,5 often at a less expensive rate than some other health professionals.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the demand for mental health counselors will grow at a rate faster than the average for all occupations. They suggest that the demand for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors will grow by 22% by 2028. This need for mental health counselors will be particularly strong in fields that deal with substance abuse and serve military veterans.4

Reasons You Might Want to See a Mental Health Counselor
People often face mental health challenges throughout life. Such struggles can include anxiety, depression, grief, addiction, and difficulty in coping with life’s stresses and challenges. Some of the reasons you might want to seek the assistance of a mental health counselor:

  • You are experiencing repeated, uncontrollable thoughts or memories related to a recent traumatic experience.
  • Life seems intense and unmanageable.
  • You feel uninterested in things you used to enjoy and disconnected from the people around you.
  • You have been using substances to cope with your problems.
  • Your anxiety feels overwhelming.
  • Your relationships feel strained and not what they used to be.
  • You just feel like you would benefit from talking about your concerns with a professional.
  • Remember, you don’t need to be experiencing symptoms of a psychological disorder to seek help from a mental health professional. Counselors, as well as other mental health professionals, can help you with a wide range of concerns, from stress to health to relationships. Whether your goal is to gain insight into your own behaviors, become a better spouse or parent, or become more motivated to achieve your goals, consulting a mental health professional can help.

If you are looking for a counselor, you can use the resources provided by the National Board of Certified Counselors to locate certified counselors in your area. You can also discuss your symptoms and needs with your primary care physician who can then refer you to a mental health counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist.


Mental health counselors play a vital role in the delivery of psychological services. If you feel that you might benefit from counseling, talk to your doctor to learn more about your options and if a mental health counselor might be the right fit for your needs.

If you are interested in a career in this field, spend some time researching what you will need to do in order to become a counselor. Mental health counseling is just one career option in this area, and you might want to consider related careers such social worker, clinical psychologist, marriage and family therapist, or counseling psychologist.

what is the average salary for mental health counselors


Counseling students and practicing professionals gain skills that can transfer to other careers. Graduates may specialize in areas like substance abuse and family therapy, where all the skills from general mental health counseling apply. Counselors may also become social workers.

This field requires many of the same interpersonal and communication skills as counseling. Licensed counselors can share their knowledge by teaching in postsecondary schools. The chart below outlines some of these career options.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
These addiction-related specialties see professionals working with a subset of patients that need specialized attention.

Median Salary: $46,240
Degree Level Required: Bachelor’s, Master’s

Marriage and Family Therapists
These therapists often begin as mental health counselors and then carve out a niche in helping families.

Median Salary: $49,610
Degree Level Required: Master’s

Rehabilitation Counselors
These professionals help people with addiction issues as they enter rehab facilities and recover.

Median Salary: $35,950
Degree Level Required: Master’s

Social Worker
Social workers and counselors often collaborate to help disadvantaged people navigate complex government systems, ensure children’s safety, and perform other social services.

Median Salary: $50,470
Degree Level Required: Master’s

Postsecondary Teachers
These teachers may have experience as mental health counselors and always possess many years of education in the area. They lead classes and conduct research.

Median Salary: $79,540
Degree Level Required: Doctorate

Leave a Comment