About Mental Health Counselors

Written by  //  2013/10/30  //  Career Planning  //  No comments

Mental health counselors work with individuals and groups to help them attain the most favorable emotional and mental health. They counsel with an emphasis on prevention, working with individuals battling a variety of problems including substance abuse, addictions, marital and family problems, and life challenges including aging and disabilities. Such professionals may also be known as case managers, therapists or behavior analysts.

Client Confidentiality

Mental health counselors must use a variety of tools and technology to perform their work. On the medical side, they’ll use blood pressure cuff kits and electronic medical thermometers. On the administrative side, they’ll use computers, scanners, medical software programs and email.

Counselors are expected to maintain client confidentiality, especially pertaining to their treatment records. These professionals encourage their clients to express their feelings and will help them understand the challenges that they are facing. Interviews, testing and observation enable mental health counselors to assess their clients’ needs.

These professionals also provide counseling, in one-on-one and in group sessions. Counselors provide guidance to help their clients develop the skills and strategies to handle their problems, provide crisis intervention, and develop and put in place treatment plans.

Education Requirements

Mental health counselors typically must have at least a bachelor’s degree with two-thirds having a master’s degree. A master’s degree in counseling or a degree in marriage and family therapy is required to work as licensed professionals in this field. Moreover, all states require such professionals to have an advanced degree and a license to practice.

College counseling programs equip students to learn how to recognize symptoms of mental and emotional disorders and how to implement the strategies required to combat these issues. Such professionals should also possess certain qualities including people skills, compassion, oratorial skills, active listening, and organization. Certification is granted by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Salary Averages

As of 2012, the average salary for mental health counselors was $40,080 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS reports that those in the 10th percentile made $25,400 annually on average while those in the 25th percentile earned $31,700 per year. The median salary for these professionals was $40,100 per year. Those counselors in the 75th percentile averaged $51,800 per year to $66,600 annually for professionals in the 90th percentile.

Salaries for mental health counselors varied widely across the country. Alaska salaries were the highest coming in at $55,200 per year on average. Arkansas at $51,200, Wyoming at $50,700, Hawaii at $49,000 and Nevada at $47,100 followed. At the other end of the spectrum West Virginia came in with an average annual salary of $30,100 per year followed by Tennessee at $31,300 annually. Montana at  $32,000, Kentucky at $33,100 and Louisiana at $33,600 followed.

Job Outlook

The BLS has forecast a 36 percent increase in jobs from 2010 to 2020 for mental health counselors. That rate is nearly three times the rate of all jobs and reflects better reimbursement from insurance companies leading to more patients seeking assistance. The BLS sees significant growth opportunities at colleges, hospitals and mental health centers.  

Author Information
Daniel Stern is the Social Media Coordinator at ssdisabilityapplication.com, a company that provides thousands of claimants everywhere in the United States with legal counsel and a place to see approval timelines.

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