A Calling as Much as a Career: Clinical Mental Health Counseling

August 6, 2018

by Tiffany Rowe

Maybe you were born with a desire to help others, and maybe you’ve realized that need later in life. No matter how you’ve come to it, there’s a rewarding career to be had in helping people face their personal struggles with mental health counseling.


No doubt you’ve had your own challenges, and if you were fortunate you were helped through them by a friend, a relative or even a trained professional. You know the difference it made in your spirit, your outlook and your life going forward. Imagine how great it would feel to be that source of support and encouragement as a transformative agent for other people.


As a clinical mental health counselor, you can be in private practice or hold a position in any one of many  types of agencies, individual and family services, hospitals or other facilities. For the experience you’ll gain and contacts you’ll make, you’ll want to begin working in one of these settings, but when you feel you’re ready, you can open your own practice with all the benefits of working for yourself. It’s a career with no age or physical limitations – and here’s some more about it.


What Exactly Is the Work?

As a clinical mental health counselor, you might choose to specialize in counseling children, teenagers, families, the elderly, the incarcerated, the addicted, the homeless or another group with specifically defined needs, or you might enjoy working with the general population and the variety of issues they present.


Mental health counselors do not practice in the same manner as psychiatrists, although they may engage with the same client cohorts. While their training gives them a solid understanding of the principles of psychotherapy and psychopathology, counselors more often approach their work from a “wellness” rather than “sickness” point of view. It’s a holistic approach that focuses on helping people learn to deal with their problems in mentally healthy ways, express their feelings and contribute to the understanding that allows them to engage fully in their own lives.


Sometimes, counselors help people cope with the difficult life events that challenge all of us, such as physical illness, death of loved ones and marriage, family and other relationship problems. Counselors who treat younger patients often deal with emotional, behavioral and developmental issues as well as eating disorders. In other cases, counselors work with people who have clinical issues like bipolar disorder, OCD, PTSD, anger management and depression.


As the critical first point of contact for those in need, clinical mental health counselors are schooled in diagnosis, treatment, referral and prevention, and they often work in conjunction with a healthcare team that may include physicians, nurse specialists, psychologists and social workers.


Where Would You Work?

Depending upon the kind of counseling you want to pursue, you might work for a governmental or community family services program, a residential or outpatient mental health clinic or substance abuse center, a veterans facility, a hospital, a rehabilitation center, a public or private program for the homeless, a prison, a public or private school or another organization that provides mental health counseling.


What Are the Requirements?

All U.S. states require clinical mental health counselors to have master’s degrees, although you don’t have to have an undergraduate degree in social work, sociology or psychology to be accepted into these programs. If you’re working, in an allied field or otherwise, you can earn an online masters in clinical mental health counseling without giving up your current job.


Once you’ve gotten your degree, most states require that you complete a specified number of supervised hours of clinical experience. There are state licensing processes as well, and continuing education is required throughout your career to keep you up-to-date on advances in the field.


What’s the Future of the Field?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 23 percent growth rate in the field of mental health counseling through the next eight years, which is much higher than the average for other professions. A major contributing factor is that increasingly more people are seeking treatment for substance and alcohol abuse. Another is that it’s become more accepted to seek counseling for general life issues. In addition, insurance companies are continuing to add coverage of these services, making them more accessible to a larger number of people and creating a greater need for counselors.



About the Author: Tiffany is a leader in marketing authority, she assists Seek Visibility and our clients in contributing resourceful content throughout the web. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to create and provide high quality content that audiences find valuable. She also enjoys connecting with other bloggers and collaborating for exclusive content in various niches. With many years of experience, Tiffany has found herself more passionate than ever to continue developing content and relationship across multiple platforms and audiences.

Deborah A Bailey

Deborah is a writer, writing workshop presenter and published author. She's host of the Women Entrepreneurs Radio podcast.

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