This article will provide you with an overview of the job profile and educational requirements to be a mental health counselor.
A counselor is a person trained to provide guidance on personal or psychological problems. They work in various communities for counseling and rehabilitation of people in need. There are various areas of specialization in counseling, such as mental health care, family and marriage counseling, premarital counseling, career counseling, educational counseling, and elementary and high school counseling. Mental health counselors work for addressing various concerns of individuals suffering from mental disorders. These professionals treat conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, substance abuse, anxiety, trauma, mental stress, and behavioral problems.
Counseling, like nursing, is believed to be a noble profession. An individual suffering from depression or other mental health related ailments needs continuous dialog and guidance from an expert to regain lost confidence. Often, the trauma results in low self-esteem and all a person needs is a helping hand to combat the disease along with medication. A counselor educates patients to recognize the symptoms of their disease and the steps to be taken to alleviate the symptoms.
Often, such counseling sessions include questions, suggestions, education, and rehabilitation in the form of confidence building. Usually, people suffering from behavioral problems or drug addiction are in a mode of continuous denial. With skill and expertise, a counselor makes the person understand and accept that he/she is suffering from such a mental disorder, and he/she would be able to manage the condition with the help of medication.
Education and Other Requirements
A bachelor’s program in psychology, social work, counseling, or sociology is required to enter into this field. An accredited master or doctoral degree program comprises up to 60 hours of coursework credits along with guided clinical counseling experience. They are also required to complete a course of their specialty, such as counseling therapies, along with professional ethics and research evaluation. In addition, they need to clear a state recognized exam. More importantly, this job demands one to be emotionally calm and stable.
As discussed above, there are several specialties in counseling. The job description varies according to the specialty. Counselors are required to maintain client records for communication with psychiatrists, psychologists, and other therapists. They do a complete evaluation of the patient and discuss with a psychotherapist to decide on the appropriate psychotherapy. They help the patient in making decisions; bringing out the change in behavioral responses of an individual with cognitive behavioral therapy.
They can work as freelancers, with psychiatrists, or at hospitals, corporates, and government agencies. The number of available jobs are expected to grow by approximately 25% and projected employment by 2018 will be close to 140,000 as per a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The median annual salary for counselors vary between USD 35,000 – USD 45,000 depending upon the area. For higher earnings, one should get a license by clearing state required tests.
If you want to make a positive difference in people’s lives along with good earnings, this is the profession you should opt for.