How To Become A Mental Health Counselor

How To Become A Mental Health Counselor

Mental health is of equal importance as physical health, and the significance of mental health has grown, hence the increase in requirement of mental health counselors all over the US. Mental health counseling is a profession that is gaining more and more importance lately due to the increasing mental disorders and the rising importance of mental health. In the US alone, more than 45 million adults are expected to have a psychological issue of some sorts, which converts to about one-fourth of the adult population in 2017.

With these many people facing problems, it is quite reasonable for the mental health-counseling sector to expand and grow in number. With increased job opportunities, more and more people take up the profession. It is saddening to see these many people get into mental issues, but this is the right time to be a mental health counselor if you are looking for a good career option.

What Is A Mental Health Counselor?

Mental health counselors are persons who make a difference through counseling sessions regarding various mental health, emotional and behavioral disorders. To become a qualified counselor, one needs graduation in psychology or any other related stream and a license specific to the state gained by passing the qualifying exam conducted by corresponding boards. Mental counseling involves diagnosis, treatment, and advice on psychological disorders in general.

They deal with recognizing and curing problems like anxiety, depression, and stress, which are the most common non-physical disorders that are a significant threat, especially to working women. Working people account for the significant population of people visiting mental health counselors due to the inability to balance work and family life posed by threats from both poles. The ones addressing masses and counseling for groups like schools, prevention programs, and crisis programs are also most often mental health counselors.

How Good is Mental Health Counseling as a Profession

The career of mental health counseling is not a smooth sail like any other profession. There is a lot of work to do before being a licensed mental health counselor and following that too. The difficulty does not end there. Counselors have to face many unpleasant situations in their daily work life, which takes a lot of patience to tolerate them and take it forward. Worst of all every client visiting the counselor has a sad story to reveal and dealing with the inner self is a task that matters. However, that should be easier with proper education and hours of practicing undergraduate supervision.

Never Stop Learning!

Another persistent effort to hold to the profession is to keep learning and appearing for exams to acquire the licensure. Psychology is a fast developing field and to keep intactness; every mental health counselor is required to continually learn and apply newer skills to sustain and grow in the area. There is a lot of branch certification that, though are not compulsory, is required to show yourself ahead of other counselors. In some cases, counselors even work with psychiatrists and general practitioners to deal with problems of their clients, and in different a regular counseling session is essential. Whatever be the responsibility, the five years of education and thousands of hours of training makes them capable of dealing with human emotions and feelings.

What are the Steps to Become a Medical Health Counselor?

At an expected rate of 20% additional growth in medical health counseling posts in the US between 2014 and 2024, by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the niche is going to get even more attention than ever. Even now the significance of mental health is well recognized by corporate companies, schools, and colleges and many have an in-house mental health counseling specialist to deal with these. Before knowing more about it let us see how to become a mental health counselor.


  • **Under Graduation in Behavioral, Psychology or Social Science Domains: **This is the start of becoming a mental health counselor. There are other less known degrees that you can start with that are permitted to take the licensure exams but choosing one of the social sciences, psychology or behavioral domains will make way for more understanding of humans and their thought process that will help in problem-solving along with a better understanding of emotions.
  • **Do a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling: **Obtaining a master’s degree in mental health counseling is essential even to appear for a licensing examination. Moreover, most of the skills that you require to practice as a counselor are gained during the masters only. Some great universities offer mental health counseling programs that you can check out on your own.
  • **Internship for Both Graduation and Post-graduation: **The internship also stays in the requirement list of becoming a mental health counselor. This is not just important formally. The hours you work under the supervision of graduate in counseling session makes the most significant contribution to the skills even more than the college education.
  • **Get a License for Practicing as a Counselor: **The final step is licensing to practice as a mental health counselor. The licensing procedure varies quite a bit for various states in the US. In addition, the licensing validity and examinations related to them. Licensing with the appropriate board qualifies you to run your own paid counseling session to groups and individuals.
  • **Other Certifications: **Though they are not necessary, additional certification in grief, pastoral, school-based mental health counseling adds to the credit of the counselor and improves the all-around aspect of mental health counseling.

How to get License as a Mental Health Counseling Practitioner

As briefed before licensing is a simple process but differs slightly with states across the US. The usual procedure is the completion of masters in mental health counseling followed by the National Counselor Examination (NCE) and/or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). The National board of certified counselors is the board governing the exams and licensure of mental health counselors. Along with it, at least 2,000 or 4,000 hours of practicing in post-graduation and internships are also required to qualify for licensing.

Licensing exam is, for the most part, a formality because most graduates aiming to become a counselor quickly get through without any hassle. Taking additional qualifications from the National Board of certified counselors gives new credential that invites more clients to your service. Preparing for the licensure is part of the post-graduation and internship so that you can graduate with a license without much time required for preparation.

How much do Mental Health Counselors get paid?

Mental health counselors are one of the well-paid professions in the US. In general, a mental health counselor earns about $46,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Salaries are widely spread across a spectrum of up to $71000 for the most experienced and certified professionals. Even qualified professionals working with government institutions earn about $51,000 per year. Level of education and experience matter the most in this profession, so certify you with as many niches as possible. If you are looking for even higher pay, adhere to one of these states - Alaska, Utah, and Idaho.

How to keep Growing as a Mental Health Counselor

Once you have taken up paid work, the learning process should not be discontinued. Mental health counselor is one of the competitive fields to stay updated. Like mentioned before, keep up with the journals and attending conferences while on your work schedule makes it possible for growing the knowledge. Mental health counseling has a few unexplored niches that are of increasing importance if you are capable of finding the right certification and qualify yourself your reputation grows mostly.