Mental Health Counselor


What Are Mental Health Counselors?

A Mental Health Counselor mainly focuses on prevention. mental health counselorCounseling uses individuals and groupings to promote maximum mental and psychological health. It can help individuals package with issues associated with addictions and drug abuse, parenting and marital problems, stress management, self-esteem and increasing age.

Mental health is considered as important as physical health of any individual. As per the study of Mental Health Foundation, one in every four individual is suffering from mental health problem. The clinical mental health counselor helps the individuals to deal with these mental health issues.

Quick Facts
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
2016 Median Annual Sallary0
Typical Entry-Level Education
Typical On-The-Job Training
Work Experience In A Related Occupation
Projected Job Openings 2014 - 20240
Employment Change 2014 - 20240
Projected Growth 2014 - 2024%

In the first place, it is important to understand that there is difference between clinical mental health counselors are clinical psychologists. As clinical psychologists deal with patients, suffering from serious and severe mental disorders, so the mental health counselors deal with patients with stable mental condition, but chronic or acute psychological issues like stress, anxiety and depression.

Steps to Become a Mental Health Counselor

In order to become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor, a professional degrees is required. In most cases, depending on the state you have studied in or employed in, the licensing requirements varies. The educational qualifications are as follows.
  • Education:

    Most mental health counselor positions require at least a bachelor's level. However, with regards to the state and workplace, educational requirements for drug abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health advisors may differ from a higher institution diploma and recognition to a master's level. Workers with mindset, clinical public work, mental health counseling, and similar master's levels provides more services with their clients, such as private one-on-one counseling sessions, plus they require less guidance than people that have less education. Below is degree level percentage distribution for this occupation:

    • Master's Degree: 62%
    • Bachelor's Degree: 34%
    • Associate's Degree: 1%
  • Licenses & Accreditations:

    Most of the states of United States would require to have a legal license to become a professional Mental Health Counselor. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) clearly states the rules of the individual states regarding the licensing requirement of a Mental Health Counselor. Therefore a Mental Health Counselor has to take the licensing test, provide the educational details and also present the details of the research work or coursework, the internship under a supervision authority and thus, the license to practice as a Mental Health Counselor can be obtained.

  • Other Experience:

    Mental counselors with personal experience overcoming liquor or medicine addictions are occasionally considered especially helpful and insightful to prospects seeking treatment. Someone, with own personal experience, could be helpful and insightful to those seeking treatment.

Job Outlook


Below are national percentile wage estimates for this occupation in United States.
PERCENTILE 10% 25% 50% 75% 90%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
Hourly Wage $12.96 $16.13 $20.59 $26.66 $33.70
Annual Wage $26,950 $33,560 $42,840 $55,440 $70,100

Industries with Highest Levels of Employment in This Occupation:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
Individual and Family Services 30,170 1.79 $21.43 $44,580
Outpatient Care Centers 29,890 3.58 $21.52 $44,770
Residential Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Facilities 16,160 2.64 $18.78 $39,060
Offices of Other Health Practitioners 11,490 1.37 $24.34 $50,640
Local Government (OES Designation) 11,130 0.21 $26.87 $55,880

Top Paying Industries for This Occupation:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services 130 0.01 $31.58 $65,680
Junior Colleges 90 0.01 $31.29 $65,090
Insurance Carriers 120 0.01 $29.86 $62,100
Local Government (OES Designation) 11,130 0.21 $26.87 $55,880
Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals 420 0.16 $26.75 $55,650

States with Highest Employment Level in This Occupation:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
California 15,300 0.96 $22.63 $47,070
Pennsylvania 13,020 2.28 $20.91 $43,480
Virginia 8,980 2.40 $23.23 $48,310
New York 6,970 0.77 $20.23 $42,070
Massachusetts 6,830 1.98 $21.65 $45,030

Top Paying States for This Occupation:

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
Alaska 650 2.01 $31.50 $65,520
Utah 1,210 0.88 $29.37 $61,080
Wyoming 320 1.18 $27.90 $58,020
Oregon 2,720 1.53 $26.76 $55,670
New Jersey 4,790 1.22 $25.68 $53,410

Key Attributes

Every field has basic requirements for people having different skills, abilities and knowledge. Understanding these requirements will help you find right career path for you. Below are few such key attributes that a Mental Health Counselor should have.


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  • Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Science: Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Learning: Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Learning Strategies: Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Persuasion: Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Negotiation: Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Instructing: Teaching others how to do something.
  • Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Operations Analysis: Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Systems Analysis: Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Systems Evaluation: Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Time Management: Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Management of Personnel Resources: Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.


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  • Psychology: Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Therapy and Counseling: Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Customer and Personal Service: Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language: Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Sociology and Anthropology: Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Education and Training: Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Clerical: Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Philosophy and Theology: Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
  • Administration and Management: Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Law and Government: Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.


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  • Oral Comprehension: The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension: The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Expression: The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Expression: The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Fluency of Ideas: The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Originality: The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Problem Sensitivity: The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Deductive Reasoning: The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning: The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Information Ordering: The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Category Flexibility: The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Selective Attention: The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Near Vision: The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Recognition: The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Speech Clarity: The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What They Do?


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

Work Activities

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  • Getting Information: Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings: Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events: Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Processing Information: Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards: Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Analyzing Data or Information: Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems: Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Thinking Creatively: Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge: Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies: Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities: Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work: Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Interacting With Computers: Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Documenting/Recording Information: Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others: Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates: Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization: Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships: Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Assisting and Caring for Others: Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others: Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public: Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others: Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Training and Teaching Others: Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Coaching and Developing Others: Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Provide Consultation and Advice to Others: Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Performing Administrative Activities: Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.

Work Context

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  • Public Speaking: 12% responded "Every day"
  • Telephone: 79% responded "Every day"
  • Electronic Mail: 63% responded "Every day"
  • Letters and Memos: 32% responded "Every day"
  • Face-to-Face Discussions: 84% responded "Every day"
  • Contact With Others: 91% responded "Constant contact with others"
  • Work With Work Group or Team: 38% responded "Extremely important"
  • Deal With External Customers: 34% responded "Extremely important"
  • Coordinate or Lead Others: 25% responded "Extremely important"
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety: 27% responded "Very high responsibility"
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results: 26% responded "Very high responsibility"
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations: 34% responded "Every day"
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People: 15% responded "Every day"
  • Deal With Physically Aggressive People: 8% responded "Every day"
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled: 82% responded "Every day"
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections: 15% responded "Every day"
  • Spend Time Sitting: 58% responded "Continually or almost continually"
  • Consequence of Error: 19% responded "Extremely serious"
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results: 41% responded "Very important results"
  • Frequency of Decision Making: 64% responded "Every day"
  • Freedom to Make Decisions: 72% responded "A lot of freedom"
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate: 23% responded "Extremely important"
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks: 24% responded "Extremely important"
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work: 84% responded "A lot of freedom"
  • Time Pressure: 35% responded "Every day"

Job Zone

  • Title: Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed
  • Education: Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
  • Related Experience: Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.
  • Job Training: Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
  • Job Zone Examples: These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, surgeons, and veterinarians.
  • SVP Range: (8.0 and above)

Find Your State Licensing Requirements

Whether you need to complete an internship or a doctoral degree, licensing requirements may vary from state to state. Click name of state below to find licensing requirement for that particular state.

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