Mental Health Counselor Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Are you searching for a mental health counselor job description? Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a mental health counselor. Feel free to use our mental health counselor job description template to produce your own mental health counselor job description. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a mental health counselor.
Who is a Mental Health Counselor?
A mental health counselor is a well-educated professional who makes use of several psychotherapy procedures and techniques to assist individuals going through psychological distress. In the US, approximately 1/4 of adults are experiencing mental challenges at any given period, and research proves that nearly 50% of adults will experience at least one mental disorder in their lifetime. The need for routine diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental health disorders has been highlighted by the prevalence of these challenges in society.
There is a rapid increase in the costs of mental health disorders in society and it will interest you to know that studies have proven the economic burden of most MDD (Major Depressive Disorders) to about $210.5 billion a year. If you are wondering what choosing a career in mental health entails, then you should be Keen on going through the importance of this article because we are going to be answering your questions on how?, Where? and so on. Individuals experiencing phycological disorder symptoms such as phobias, anxiety, and depression may consider visiting a mental health counselor for psychotherapy and counseling. Mental Health Counselors assist patients in overcoming psychological issues often by supporting and guiding them in observing and learning to work on their negative thought patterns and behaviors.
Mental Health Counselor Job Description
What is a mental health counselor job description? A mental health counselor job description is simply a list of duties and responsibilities of a mental health counselor in an organization. Below are the mental health counselor job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a mental health counselor job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
The duties and responsibilities of a mental health counselor include the following:
- Assessing clients and making diagnoses for those experiencing any of the symptoms of psychological disorder or distress
- Providing clients or patients with psychotherapy services when need be
- Educating clients on their thoughts, experiences, and emotions
- Conducting family group sessions with patients or clients’ relatives
- Working closely with patients to develop a sustainable treatment procedure or plan, set achievable goals, and walk through the recovery process together
- Identifying behaviors, thoughts, and situations that may interfere with the mental health or recovery journey of the patients
- Troubleshooting social challenges that may affect a patient’s mental lifestyle, such as bullying, drug abuse, work stress, peer pressure, prejudice, health problems, and financial instabilities
- Referring patients to other health care facilities or professionals when their need goes beyond counseling
- The minimum requirement to get a license in mental health counseling is an MSC in counseling and three years of supervised practice or internship under senior licensed professionals
- Mental Health Counselling License: Aspirants of mental health counseling have to also sit for and pass their state licensing examination. It is common for counselors to pass a test given by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) as a prerequisite to obtaining a license
- Certifications: In addition to the basic educational and licensing requirements, you may also choose to get some certifications. Although this certification is voluntary, it is an added advantage and can stand you out amongst your fellow professionals, especially before employers
- Continuous Education: To achieve success in your career path as a mental health counselor, you must keep staying abreast with recent practices by enrolling in several continuous mental health education courses even while practicing
Mental Health Counselors assist patients in overcoming psychological issues often by supporting and guiding them in observing and learning to work on their negative thought patterns and behaviors. This is a very rewarding vocation that most professionals usually find greatly fulfilling. It is important to keep in mind that this vocation is highly demanding and as such, there are some qualities or essential skills you must possess to aid your success on this career path and some of them are mentioned below:
- Excellent Therapeutic Rapport: The ability to develop a good relationship with patients is important to their recovery journey or response to treatment. This process is termed therapeutic rapport in mental health counseling. This attitude increases the confidence levels of patients, thereby enabling them to share their problems with you without feeling insecure. This is important because the therapeutic process demands that patients share their innermost fears, thoughts, and concerns with the counselor. A patient who feels unsafe in the therapeutic surrounding and the patient-counselor relationship will most likely find it uneasy to share their problems completely
- Great Listening Skills: The ability to pay attention to others while they talk may be termed a virtue rather than a skill. Yet this is considered an essential skill for mental health counselors and you may want to continuously work on your active listening ability. Actively listening entails paying close attention and asking questions to enable mutual understanding. This enables you to rephrase the patient’s words to ensure you have correctly comprehended the patient’s explanation
- Good Verbal Communication Skill: Active listening is crucial, yet it only accounts for half of effective verbal communication. Mental health counselors must create treatment recommendations and assist clients in finding answers after hearing about their problems. Counselors must be able to explain their analysis of the patient’s problems and their suggested treatment action with clarity. When discussing treatment strategies with patients, they must also speak clearly. Thinking before speaking is one of the best methods to improve communication. Before voicing your opinions, give them some thought. Talk, carefully weighing your words, and in an acceptable tone of voice. An illustration or analogy can frequently help a patient grasp
- Empathy: Empathy is another necessary quality to possess if you want to be good at your profession as a mental health counselor. Being able to see yourself in others’ stories, figuring out their thoughts, feelings, and challenges as though they were yours, is an important skill for mental health counseling because it promotes therapeutic rapport.
- Solution Orientated: One of the many characteristics of a good counselor is a strong problem-solving ability alongside creative thinking. Mental health counselors are often faced with the problems of their patients or clients ranging from various issues of life such as low self-esteem, depression, loss of loved ones, job loss, or even financial instabilities. It is the responsibility of the counselor to brainstorm how the clients should face their challenges to avoid being victims of mental breakdown or disorders
- Liberal Mindedness: Medical health counselors see patients and clients from various walks of life. The second client might be battling a substance use disorder or adjusting to life after a recent release from prison while the first might be going through a challenging divorce. For those in the mental health field, the capacity to distinguish between personal thoughts and judgments and expert ones is extremely valuable. Beyond that, you should remain receptive to many viewpoints and worldviews. Both cultural awareness and a healthy appreciation for individual variations are essential
How to Become a Mental Health Counselor
- Get a Bachelor’s Degree: Students who want to work as mental health counselors typically start their education with a degree in a counseling-related field, such as psychology or sociology. Early in your career, enrolling in a mental health counseling curriculum that includes classes like lifelong human development and abnormal psychology may provide you an advantage as you move on to your doctoral study. However, the requirements for a graduate program may be satisfied by a bachelor’s degree in a different subject, such as a Bachelor’s of Social Work. Examine the master’s in counseling programs that interest you in terms of entrance requirements
- Obtain a Master of Mental Health Counseling Degree: The name of this degree may vary by program, but in most states, you need a master’s in counseling to work as a mental health counselor. It is a sign that the program’s content and quality meet the high standards demanded by the mental health professional if you receive your degree in mental health counseling from a school that has been granted accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Although CACREP is the most popular accreditor, not every state requires graduates with CACREP accreditation. For more details, be sure to contact your state board
- Complete the required years of Internship: You must complete graduate and postgraduate internships under the supervision of certified counselors to gain practical experience before becoming licensed to provide mental health counseling. For some levels of licensing, states may need between 2,000 and 3,000 clinical hours. Students will need to get an initial license, which can be viewed as a temporary professional license and allows the graduate to be supervised by a licensed independent practitioner in post-degree practice. The title of this license may be Associate Licensed Counselor or Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern, depending on the state
- Apply for Licensing: A significant milestone in your journey is passing your licensure exam. The next step is to apply for your state’s mental health licensure. This will be regarded as a license for independent practice. It is crucial to adhere to the counseling board regulations in the state where you want to serve or work because there are unique licensure requirements for different jurisdictions
- Obtain Certifications in Mental Health Counseling: One option for applicants is to use the NBCC to apply to become a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Although it might be needed in some places before licensure, this is normally voluntary. However, certification criteria and licensure requirements might not be the same, so applicants should check with the NBCC for more details. After receiving your license, you can apply for certificates in mental health counseling. Counselors who have earned a graduate degree with at least 60 credits, who are already NCCs, and who have at least 3,000 hours of postgraduate clinical experience are eligible for the Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC) designation from the NBCC
- Continuous Education for Maintenance of License and Proficiency in Service: As a certified mental health counselor, you might wish to keep up with new developments in the industry. The best care for your customer may be something you can give them if you keep learning. Because of this, your state might insist that you regularly complete continuing education credits
Where to Work as a Mental Health Counselor
Every human has numerous psychological difficulties throughout their lives, and on occasion, they require expert assistance to overcome these obstacles. Because there are so many various sorts of experts who specialize in treating mental health disorders, it can be difficult to know what kind of assistance is required. One profession that focuses on helping patients with behavioral, cognitive, emotional, and cognitive disorders is mental health counseling. To address mental health issues and enhance mental well-being, counselors work with individuals, groups, communities, and families. Professional mental health counselors may be found working in a variety of contexts, such as:
- Private practice
- Mental Health Care Clinics
- Community Services
- Correctional Homes or facilities
Mental Health Counselor Salary Scale
According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, there were around 319,400 employment for drug abuse, behavioral problem, and mental health counselors in 2019, the majority of which were in outpatient mental health and drug or substance abuse and addiction facilities. As stated by the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a mental health counselor’s median yearly pay in 2020 was $47,660. The top 10% of earners earn over $78,700 annually, while the bottom 10% make less than $30,590. Individual salaries can vary depending on a variety of factors, including the area of practice and geographic location.
Hospitals, outpatient mental health and drug treatment facilities, individual and family services, and other sectors had the greatest employment rates (state, local, and private). Government agencies, individuals, hospitals, and family services offer the greatest salaries for mental health counselors ($54,070, $50,460, and $47.50, respectively). Although they often make less money than psychologists, insurers nevertheless favor mental health counselors because of this. For the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of psychiatric problems, mental health counselors can secure third-party payment, frequently at a lower cost than some other health professionals5.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a greater increase in demand for mental health counselors than for all other occupations combined. They predict that by 2029, there will be a 25% increase in the need for counselors who specialize in mental health, behavioral disorders, and substance misuse. In particular, there will be a need for mental health counselors.