There is currently a high demand for trained mental health counselors, and, due to the superb job satisfaction that helping others brings, this specific role is a popular career path for many who plan to work in the industry. In addition to these benefits, the range of opportunities this type of counseling role offers is also a major draw.
Mental health is a constant topic in modern society and something that we all understand the importance of. With the growing mental health crisis in the USA hitting the headlines with increasing regularity, finding ways to tackle this issue is essential moving ahead. One way to do this is by providing effective support to people struggling with mental health problems, and mental health counselors are central to this.
But what are the most common career options for mental health counselors to follow?
Studying for a doctorate
It goes without saying that anyone looking to move into mental health counseling needs the right qualifications behind them first.
This usually starts with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, before moving on to a higher-level qualification. The Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the American International College is a popular choice in this regard, and teaches aspiring mental health counselors all they need to know on key topics like counseling theories. In addition, this course includes placement services and comes with 100% online study flexibility for total convenience, as well as field placements near the base of the student.
Continuing education is also important in the industry, and this means continuing study to achieve a doctorate in mental health counseling is a good career option. But why is this true?
Picking up higher-level qualifications like this can have a positive effect on expected salary levels moving ahead and opens up a range of new job openings. Gaining a Ph.D. in mental health counseling can also enable mental health counselors to further develop their professional network as they go and pick up the latest knowledge in the industry to bring back into their current role.
One of the most popular career options for mental health counselors is moving into private practice. This would involve either setting up one’s own independent mental health counseling practice or working for a private counseling firm. To work in private practice, one would usually need to be educated to a master’s level as a licensed mental health counselor. There may also be state requirements to fulfill to operate/work in a private counseling practice.
It is common for counselors in this setting to spend most of their time seeing clients on a one-to-one basis and helping them deal with issues they are experiencing. They may also talk to clients about how their lifestyle is impacting their mental health, and pass on great tips for feeling good to help them.
This is a popular option with qualified mental health counselors for a number of reasons. To begin with, setting up one’s own private practice enables them to be in full control of the business and set their own rates/working hours.
It also allows counselors to build up a dedicated long-term client base over time and follow them throughout their whole journey in mental health. Private practice work also enables mental health counselors to work in a more office-based setting if they prefer and be more selective over the clients/work they take on. dataroma
Mental health agencies
The fact that a reported 90% of Americans think the USA is in the middle of a mental health crisis, shows why counselors in this field are so crucial in modern life. Another popular career opportunity for them is agency work. The basic requirements for this are much the same as working in private practice, and stipulate being educated to master’s level as a licensed mental health counselor — plus meeting any local licensing guidelines at the state level that are in place.
Being active in this setting would involve working for mental health agencies to provide effective support to clients. Counselors in this environment may see clients on a one-to-one basis but may also conduct larger group therapy sessions. As with private practice work, the overall aim of counselors at mental health agencies is to deliver effective help to people who are struggling with issues in this area.
Due to the nature of working in agencies that can be publicly funded or run as a charity, counselors in this setting may see a much broader range of clients. It can also see them better placed to help the less well-off in society who cannot afford private counseling sessions. This can allow them to have a major impact on local communities and ensure anyone who needs support in the area can access it. Working in an agency setting is also worth considering for counselors who like seeing lots of different clients and enjoy a fast-paced working environment.
Many people move into mental health counseling to help young people tackle any issues they may be experiencing. For aspiring counselors interested in this, working in a school setting can be a popular career option to consider. This is because it allows them to work directly with students and offer them the support they need to thrive.
Operating in this environment also involves working closely with teaching professionals and other school staff. As a result, it enables mental health counselors in schools to operate as part of a close-knit team and forge tight bonds with colleagues. When one also factors in a decent number of holidays and the ability to work standard school hours, this is certainly one opportunity worth thinking about.
To become a school mental health counselor, one would first need to complete a bachelor’s degree in the social science, psychology, or behavioral fields before gaining a master’s degree. They must then attain the relevant state licensure to operate in their area.
Mental health counseling has many career opportunities
As the above shows, working in mental health counseling comes with some interesting career options to consider. One of the major attractions of this role is the range of work environments available, which allows trained counselors to pick the work setting that best suits them.