Mental Health Counselors

Counsel with emphasis on prevention. Work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. May help individuals deal with issues associated with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging.

Median Annual Wage: $40,850

Education: Master's degree (62%); Bachelor's degree (34%); Associate's degree (1%)

Projected Growth: Much faster than average (22% or higher)

Related Job Titles: Case Manager; Counselor; Therapist; Clinician; Mental Health Therapist; Correctional Counselor; Mental Health Specialist; Behavior Support Specialist (BSS); Mental Health Counselor; Behavior Analyst

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Source: O*NET OnLine information for Mental Health Counselors.

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  • Encourage clients to express their feelings and discuss what is happening in their lives, helping them to develop insight into themselves or their relationships.
  • Collect information about clients through interviews, observation, or tests.
  • Assess patients for risk of suicide attempts.
  • Guide clients in the development of skills or strategies for dealing with their problems.
  • Counsel clients or patients, individually or in group sessions, to assist in overcoming dependencies, adjusting to life, or making changes.
  • Prepare and maintain all required treatment records and reports.
  • Fill out and maintain client-related paperwork, including federal- and state-mandated forms, client diagnostic records, and progress notes.
  • Perform crisis interventions with clients.
  • Develop and implement treatment plans based on clinical experience and knowledge.
  • Evaluate clients' physical or mental condition, based on review of client information.
  • Modify treatment activities or approaches as needed to comply with changes in clients' status.
  • Act as client advocates to coordinate required services or to resolve emergency problems in crisis situations.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of counseling programs on clients' progress in resolving identified problems and moving towards defined objectives.
  • Meet with families, probation officers, police, or other interested parties to exchange necessary information during the treatment process.
  • Discuss with individual patients their plans for life after leaving therapy.
  • Collaborate with other staff members to perform clinical assessments or develop treatment plans.
  • Counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, or supporting clients or patients.
  • Monitor clients' use of medications.
  • Plan, organize, or lead structured programs of counseling, work, study, recreation, or social activities for clients.
  • Learn about new developments in counseling by reading professional literature, attending courses and seminars, or establishing and maintaining contact with other social service agencies.
  • Refer patients, clients, or family members to community resources or to specialists as necessary.
  • Gather information about community mental health needs or resources that could be used in conjunction with therapy.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Mental Health Counselors.

  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Mental Health Counselors.

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