Mental health counselors work with individuals, families, and groups to address and treat mental and emotional disorders and to promote good mental health. They are trained to treat issues such as depression, anxiety, addiction and substance abuse, suicidal impulses, stress, trauma, low self-esteem, and grief. They can also help with career and educational concerns, mental and emotional health issues, and relationship problems. Mental health counselors typically work closely with other mental health specialists. Job settings typically include private practices, healthcare facilities, community centers, businesses, and homes.
Steps Toward an MS in Mental Health Counseling
To become a mental health counselor, requirements vary significantly by state. Successful students typically complete the following steps:
- Earn proper undergraduate degree (requirements vary by state). Common undergraduate degrees include Bachelor of Science programs in education, psychology, or human services.
- Earn proper graduate degree (requirements vary by state) from an accredited institution like Capella, Kaplan, Liberty, or Walden University. Typically includes completing a Master of Science degree with a focus in mental health counseling.
- Obtain proper licensure. Licensure requirements differ greatly by State, occupational specialty, and work setting.
- Consider certification options. Some counselors elect to be certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, which grants a general practice credential of National Certified Counselor. While voluntary and distinct from State licensing, in some states, those who pass the national exam are exempt from taking a State certification exam. The board also offers specialty certifications in school, clinical mental health, and addiction counseling.
Professionals in the field may also consider becoming a member of the American Mental Health Counselors Association (AMHCA). They offer membership at multiple levels, including student membership. Other benefits of joining the AMHCA include continuing education options, access to an annual conference, networking opportunities, a quarterly journal, and more.
My Degree and What It’s Good For
A degree in mental health counseling may provide you the opportunity to work with people with mental or emotional differences by discussing their issues regularly and recommending treatment. A mental health counselor’s job requires them to:
- Evaluate strengths and limitations of patients.
- Provide personal and vocational counseling.
- Offer case management support and guidance.
- Arrange for medical care, vocational training, job placement and other outside services.
Annual salary varies within the profession based on specific type of job, location, and experience. For more on your earning potential as a mental health counselor, please visit our salary outlook for counselors page.
Online MS in Mental Health Counseling Degree Programs
- The Chicago School of Professional Psychology: MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Walden University: MS in Mental Health Counseling
Closely Related Programs
The following degrees are closely related to a master’s degree program in mental health counseling, often allowing you to pursue a career in this field or others: