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Mental health counselors help meet the mental, emotional and behavioral needs of individuals, groups, organizations and communities. Their work includes assessing clients in psychological distress, developing treatment plans, and offering therapeutic support, psychotherapy, and crisis management.
Obtaining a master’s degree in mental health counseling is an essential step towards becoming licensed and starting your career in the field.
Admission Requirements for a Masters in Mental Health Counseling
Admission requirements for Masters in Mental Health Counseling programs vary by school. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for registration. While some programs accept applicants from any academic major, many prefer applicants to hold degrees in related fields such as psychology, counseling, social work, and social services.
It is essential to research the admission requirements of the desired program. Applicants may need to meet a minimum GPA and submit letters of recommendation, an admission letter or a personal statement and GRE scores.
Masters Course in Mental Health Counseling
Below are examples of course topics and courses typically included in mental health counseling programs at the graduate level.
Counseling theory and practice
Counseling Theories and Practice courses provide insight into fundamental theories, counseling processes and methods, treatment modalities, and interventions. Students learn to conceptualize client presentations and determine appropriate interventions while considering diversity issues.
Substance use and addiction
Addiction and addiction courses examine the history of addiction, the neurological and psychological effects of addiction and addiction, and approaches to prevention, assessment, and treatment.
Students can explore the impact of substance abuse and addiction on individuals, families, and communities. They also learn about available health care, social welfare, and criminal justice resources in their state.
Growth and human development
Courses in human growth and development explore the theories, approaches, models, and research of human development across the lifespan. Students explore these concepts in a variety of biological, situational, environmental, and cultural contexts. Students learn the skills to critically evaluate and implement evidence-based practices when working with diverse populations of all ages.
Behavioral disorders and psychopathology
In courses focusing on behavioral disorders and psychopathology, students explore key concepts, definitions, and theories of various mental and behavioral disorders and conditions.
These courses typically provide an overview of behavioral and cognitive assessment models and evidence-based practices used to treat major disorders. Students learn about cultural factors that affect mental illness and behavioral disorders.
Mental Health Counseling Career Options
Addiction and behavioral disorder counselor
Median annual salary: $48,520 per year
Projected Job Prospects: 23%
Job Description: An addiction and behavioral disorder counselor works with people struggling with substance abuse, substance abuse and other behavioral disorders. They create treatment plans tailored to the needs of their clients. These professionals also teach coping mechanisms, provide individual and group counseling, and organize aftercare plans to help their patients find long-term paths to recovery. Some specialize in issues affecting specific populations such as youth, seniors, and veterans.
Median annual salary: $48,860 per year
Projected Job Prospects: 17%
Job Description: Health educators provide health education to individuals, groups, organizations and communities. They promote health and wellness, teach disease prevention, and educate people about the sources of health care available in their communities and state. Health educators assess health care needs, set goals, and develop plans to help their clients make informed health and wellness decisions.
Median annual salary: $50,390 per year
Projected Job Prospects: 12%
Job Description: Social workers advocate for individuals, families and communities to help meet their needs and improve their overall quality of life. These professionals help their clients deal with various challenges such as illness, addiction, divorce, and unemployment. They also perform assessments to determine essential resources and develop personalized treatment plans to meet the needs of their clients.
Marriage and family therapist
Median annual salary: $49,880 per year
Projected Job Prospects: 16%
Job Description: Marriage and family therapists diagnose and treat mental illnesses. They also address psychological distress and interpersonal and behavioral issues, helping to resolve conflicts within relationships and family units. They provide pre-marital, relationship, separation, children and divorce counseling to help their clients build stronger, healthier relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions About Mental Health Counseling
Which major is best for a mental health therapist?
Psychology and counseling are the most common specialties for mental health therapists. Mental health counseling encompasses several career paths, so be sure to research the educational requirements of the desired profession and the licensing requirements in the state where you plan to work.
What is the difference between a therapist and a mental health counsellor?
Counselors focus on specific issues that prevent patients from achieving their goals, offering simple, short-term treatment. Therapists approach mental issues in social and relational contexts, helping their clients trace the roots of their problems and providing long-term care.
How to become a mental health counselor?
To become a mental health counselor, you must earn at least a master’s degree in mental health counseling. All states require mental health counselors to pass one or more National Board of Certified Counselor exams. Some licensing levels require mental health counselors to complete between 2,000 and 3,000 clinical hours under the supervision of a licensed counselor.