Mental Health Counseling as a Career

August 19, 2013

Considering mental health counseling as a career? 2013_08_14_FBPM_GuardianYou’re looking at a challenging, rewarding field with plenty of opportunities for growth. Becoming a mental health counselor can be an exciting process, with new discoveries and research contributing to rapid development in the field. Your education and training can be very important, even after you begin working professionally. A mental health counselor never stops learning, no matter how long they’ve been practicing!

A Career in Mental Health Counseling

Education and Training

A mental health counselor typically needs to have a master’s degree in counseling from an accredited establishment. You will probably do field work, supervised and unsupervised, a practicum, and internships before receiving your license. Each state has slightly different requirements for practicing mental health counseling, but a license is usually compulsory. Most counselors attend approximately 6 years of post-secondary education before completing their graduate program, followed by 2,000 to 4,000 hours of clinical experience to get a license.

Practical Application

There are many opportunities to practice mental health counseling. You may work in private practice, at a substance abuse treatment facility or a public hospital, just to name a few. You may do one-on-one and group counseling, behavioral therapy, or social work. You should be comfortable working with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds. Remember that a mental health counselor is one component of mental health services, and works in tandem with psychologists, case managers, insurance companies, and community organizations.

Ongoing Professional Development

Mental health counseling is an evolving field, and professionals are expected to stay on top of new research and methodologies. Guardian Behavioral Health Foundation offers opportunities to do so, providing numerous workshops and continuing education conferences for specialists. We can even provide the chance to earn CEUs (Continuing Education Units), required to maintain licensure in most states.

Mental health is a varied subject, and professional development is designed to help mental health workers expand and deepen their knowledge. We offer education on psychopharmacology, symptoms of mental health disorders, treatment options, and the latest medical advances, and pride ourselves on providing learning opportunities to mental health professionals.

Career Projection

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that jobs in mental health counseling will grow by 36% between 2010 and 2020. This is closely related to the recent changes to the healthcare system in the United States. Mental health services are gaining greater coverage under insurance policies, which may result in more people seeking treatment. Mental health is not a minority issue, with an estimated one in four families having one or more members who suffer from mental illness. As we work to reduce the stigma and increase community education about mental health, the demand for mental health counseling may continue to rise.

If you or someone you love is suffering from a mental illness and is facing financial obstacles to services, please call us at 1-800-338-5770. At Guardian Behavioral Health Foundation we provide access to low-cost or no-cost mental health services through a variety of community mental health centers and professionals.  We also offer educational workshops for families and professionals.