How To Become A Mental Health Counselor

If you’ve been thinking about stepping into the world of mental health and well-being, and you want to read more on how to become a mental health counselor1, you’ve come to the right place, and you might even want to read all the way to the end!

When we consider a career as a mental health counselor or even ponder on how to become a mental health counselor, the first question that comes to mind is, “Who are Licensed Professional Counselors?”

Or I may even go ahead and ask who or what makes a person eligible to become a licensed mental health counselor.

1. Who Is A Counselor

What You Need to Know about Becoming a Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Someone who is professionally trained to help people solve their mental, emotional, psychological, career-oriented, or relationship-related issues is termed a professional health Counselor!

These professional counselors assist individuals in dealing with issues about:

  • Emotional and mental anguish, and behavioral discomfort.
  • Addictions, drug dependency, and substance abuse.
  • They provide individual and family services.
  • Helping individuals with anger, stress, and anxiety management.2
  • Assist clients with low self-esteem, lack of confidence, mental illnesses, or mental disorders.
  • Modulate and help people with career-related confusion by helping to eliminate the lack of information about various careers.

2. Tasks And Responsibilities

Counselors must work with different individuals or groups from numerous backgrounds and situations to enable them to survive and help them achieve a more satisfying, healthy, and fulfilling life in better conditions.

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These health counselors are responsible for a variety of tasks that include the pointers given below:

2.1. Build A Relationship

They must cultivate a trusting relationship with their clients, filled with empathy and a healthy respect for their patients.

2.2. Motivate The Client

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Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash

They also motivate their patients to express their emotions. They should help clients see things from an entirely new or divergent perspective.

2.3. Understand The Patient

These professional health counselors should listen carefully and ask appropriate questions to comprehend their clients’ situations fully.

2.4. Empathize With The Patient

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Photo by Meizhi Lang on Unsplash

They provide empathy for the Patient’s problems and create a judgment-free safe space for the client.

2.5. Provide A Safe Environment

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Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

Provide a free and safe environment where the Patient can feel liberated from their problems and speak more freely.

Since we now have some idea about what counseling refers to and why there is a need for professional health counselors throughout our life.

When thinking about how to become a mental health counselor, it is a given that you read and research the kinds of health counselors3 present in the field to explore and understand your options.

3.  Types of Counselors

3.1. Education Counselor

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A licensed professional counselor who works specifically with students in an academic environment such as schools and classrooms to help and cater to the unique needs posed by the students with their studies, as well as to bring forth different career options and educational programs based on the interests and practical skills of the student.

These educational school counselors are also responsible for providing a safe environment for students, assisting students with personal issues, and providing them with therapeutic support and guidance to cope with stress, anxiety, and peer pressure.

One of the most critical responsibilities of any Licensed professional working for a school is to become aware of a student’s hopes, desires, aspirations, and dreams for his future.

The educational counselor should understand the student’s strengths and weaknesses and handle them with the most sensitivity and care.

3.2. Relationship & Marriage Counselor

Marriage counseling, couples counseling, relationship counseling, or couples therapy are different names for a single consultation process.

All of these refer to a method of therapy that offers assistance to people in interpersonal romantic interactions.

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The counseling could benefit partners talking about separation or spouses seeking improved intimacy in understanding each other and initiating fulfilling communication.4

Although the marital counseling of a couple is supposed to be focused on the relationship, it also helps each partner to understand and learn the importance of individual identity.

Couples therapy, famously known as marriage counseling, has been found to help couples understand and resolve conflicts.

It accommodates the partners with tools to further help them improve their communication and make their relationship more progressive and healthy.

3.3. Health Counselor

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Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Helping someone change their unhealthy behaviors by teaching them how to control themselves, and their temptations, and listen to their subconscious self, finding the inner core strength to achieve their set goals, be it short-term or long-term, is famously known as health counseling.

During a session of health coaching by a professional health counselor, individuals are inspired and motivated to make a difference in the way of their living and also to set more realistic goals that are easily reachable using this healthy approach.

If you want to work as a health counselor, you should be knowledgeable in aspects of fitness, wellness, and nutrition.

Health coaches work with their patients daily, either individually or in groups, and guide them in making more effective strategies to achieve their own set fitness-health goals, evolving out of unhealthy negative habits, and preventing injuries and other severe illnesses.

The kinds of problems and ailments that a health counselor may address include

  • Irregular sleep patterns and fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Cravings for junk food as well as improper diet/nutrition

3.4. Career Counselor

Someone who is unsure about their job or career goals for the future can think about hiring a career counselor or a coach to help them figure out and explore their options.

A career coach, famously known as a career counselor, first and foremost is responsible for helping and guiding you in writing a resume or cover letter and finding work.

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Not only this, but they are also liable for providing advice and guidance on other things related to a successful career and long-term career plans, varying from transitioning into a new career path or even phasing into your retirement.

A professional career counselor is someone who aids clients in developing effective career plans and provides them with motivation and ideas for achieving their set employment objectives.5

3.5. Rehabilitation Counselor

A sub-field of counseling that professionally deals with people who have any kind of emotional or physical disability and help them in living a more comfortable, independent life is occupationally a responsibility for a licensed rehabilitation Counselor.

If you’re looking for an occupational specialty within the dynamic field of counseling to pursue as a career option, then rehabilitation discipline is a viable option.

The role of a Rehabilitation Counsellor

One feature of adulting or coming of age is that you can now start to give back to society.

Living independently and being able to fend for yourself not only helps you live a decent life but also helps you gain better occupational skills and improves your chances of getting employment, thus helping you survive throughout the time frame of your life.

Unfortunately, not everybody is capable of doing so due to the personal, physical, or social issues and deformities that limit their ability to become independent or live alone, let alone work in a public setting.

Rehabilitation counselors are responsible for working with the masses that show any such dysfunctions and assessing their patients’ strengths and weaknesses.

They are also in charge of setting up medical care and evaluating medical reports for their patients.

3.6. Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors have licensed professionals who use numerous psychotherapy tools or methods and apply different psych-effective techniques the aid people undergoing psychological distress.

The current rise, as well as the frequent occurrence of mental health issues among different layers of people around the globe, is one of the significant reasons for highlighting as well as increasing the demand and need for qualified licensed professionals and mental health counselors to identify, provide medication, and prevent mental health issues or mental disorders from further escalating.

What is Mental Health?

And if you’re one of the people who are curious to know what mental health counselors are responsible for doing, or you are considering a career in the mental health counseling field and are simply wondering how to become a mental health counselor yourself. You can read on ahead till the end to learn what steps you need to take to further your dream.

To be eligible as a licensed mental health counselor, you’re supposed to have an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in psychology or counseling, later in academic qualifications.

The candidate must possess a few years of clinical work experience on their resume.

Not only this but you are also required to take and pass the licensing exam in your state.

After you are done fulfilling these needed requirements, your full job designation can be any one of the following:

  • Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC)
  • Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)
  • Professional counselor (LPC)

These professional mental health counselors can work in numerous kinds of situations, varying from health clinics, hospitals, schools, prisons, and even workplaces.

4. Requirements For A Licensed Mental Health Counselor

If you wish to work and explore the mental health counseling Career, working up to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) could be the correct route for you.

This article not only guides you with academic requirements on how to become a mental health counselor, but it also sheds light on the daily workloads and expected responsibilities of a Licensed Counselor!6

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So if you are interested in knowing how to become a mental health counselor or want to understand more about mental health counselors’ work Territories,

Then, by all means, scroll ahead!

4.1. What Is Mental Health Counseling

If you do genuinely have that inclination towards a career in the Brain health department and you want to fathom how to become a mental health counselor in today’s Day and Age, Then you stumbled upon the correct Reading material.

From The concerned definition of a mental health therapist to the crucial Prerequisites for the licensure Process, the article is specially curated for you based upon the most basic questions asked by any newcomer, and you may peruse On!

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health counseling can benefit any individual person or even a community by helping them address their feelings, behaviors, and psychological health issues concerning their day-to-day lives.

By creating a much safer space for people to talk about their disputes and discuss healthy ways to process those ordeals in the presence of a licensed mental health counselor.

Most mental health counselors tend to look at any given client’s mental health treatment in a more comprehensive way and try to understand and listen to their Patient’s point of view rather than just treating the mental illness.

A mental health counselor is responsible for diagnosing and identifying the numerous mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders held by their patients and the reasons leading to these causes, such as stress, anxiety, and even substance abuse in many cases.

Mental health counselors hold some other essential responsibilities, including developing therapies for given patients and providing treatment to:

  • Couples
  • Families
  • Individuals
  • Groups
  • Children
  • Elderly people

Suppose you are wondering how to become a mental health counselor and want to pursue a mental health degree to move further in your career. In that case, a licensed mental health counselor degree will allow you to specialize in various areas.

5. How To Become A Mental Health Counselor

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All career-oriented journeys are bound to be different, depending on the nature and job designation. The path or steps more precisely to reaching it may differ from other designations!

And, because every career path is different, your story of how to become a mental health counselor may end up being different from any other online review that you’ve read or any mutual friend experience you’ve had in the past.

Keeping in mind that the Licensed Mental Health Counselors’ designation title may vary from place to place, It can be similar in a few places, whereas, It can be referred to as something totally different in other places.

If you are thinking about establishing yourself in the mental health niche and are researching steps on how to become a mental health counselor, then it is crucial that you also check into what the state’s licensing requirements and policies are for mental health counseling!

The procedure for a license grant or even being eligible for a mental health degree is different depending on your academic qualifications.

And if you are someone who is interested in psychological health for a future career prospect, then I suggest you also conduct your own research on how to become a mental health counselor and decide what would be appropriate for your lifestyle!

5.1. Get A Bachelor’s Degree

The first step in understanding the process of “How to become a mental health counselor” is a master’s degree.

A master’s degree in mental health counseling is a prerequisite for a license grant in the future to become a License mental health counselor.

Seeking a bachelor’s degree in a subject related to mental health or even counseling can help set up a good base of knowledge for you!

Although a bachelor’s degree in other similar fields may also be accepted by the institutions providing the Master’s course, a lot of the time, a priority is given to the rank holders of psychology or social work bachelor’s degree.

Detailed research on how to become a mental health counselor may very well include a brief structure of the Content Knowledge included in the Curriculum of psychology and counseling; hence it is a Reference point you can start From.

5.2. Acquire A Master’s Degree In Mental Health Counseling

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To answer the question “How to become a mental health counselor,” the second step required is to obtain a master’s degree!

Striving for a master’s degree in mental health counseling from a reputed graduate school is a said requirement for starting your practice as a licensed mental health counselor.

Receiving your professional graduate degree in mental health counseling from a well-named and appropriate institution accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and related educational programs(CACREP) fully displays the premium content and quality of the program.

CACREP is not the only accreditor favored mainly through all institutions, and not all states ask for a CACREP-accredited degree.

So don’t forget to check out and confirm with your state board for more available information about the topic.

5.3. Aid Licensure Requirements

Finish Clinical Experience/Internship For A Graduate Program Or Postgraduate Program

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A vital portion of any accredited counseling master’s program curriculum includes a supervised clinical counseling experience in the field that avails students of a more first-hand experience in the role of a licensed professional mental health counselor career for their future reference.

The third step while answering the question, “How to become a mental health counselor?” leads us to the Internship Experience of four months required as an essential condition for applying for a mental health counseling License.

Internships are an essential element of the Curriculum because they allow students to obtain practical experience and understand the work environment of the field on a more personal level while working under the supervision of licensed counselors.

The requirements for clock hours of internship may differ from state to state and can also be differentiated for different institutions.

But CACREP initially requires at least 100 hours of internship work split throughout the totality of the full academic semester or 10 weeks, including the 40 hours of one-on-one client counseling sessions.

The internship requirements for a specialist bachelor’s degree course are a little bit different.

5.4. Gain Eligibility

Pass The Required Test For Licensure

The fourth step in understanding how to become a mental health counselor Refers to the Licensure Examination conducted by the State Or nation the candidate resides in.

The requirement For graduation or licensure of a student in some states or counseling programs also includes the passing of a recognized counseling examination.

The National Counselor Examination (NCE) and the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) are the given exams that a candidate who wants to be eligible to practice clinical counseling in their future career needs to attempt and clear.

To make your future safe as a licensed clinical professional counselor, it is very important to pass the required NCE and NCMHCE exams.

5.5. Apply For A Professional Licensure

Attempting the licensing examination and passing it with flying colors is a significant accomplishment in a candidate’s career trajectory and incorporates the fifth step in understanding how to become a mental health counselor!

Following the significant milestone, the students need to apply for a mental health license to practice as professional mental health counselors in their state of choice.

This will be regarded as a license to practice independently.

Because the mental health licensing specifications vary depending upon the state, it is critical to adhere to the given state’s counseling board.

5.6. Add Value To Your Qualifications

After obtaining licensure for professional mental health counseling, the sixth step in understanding how to become a mental health counselor includes you to seek the registration process through the NBCC to become a nationally certified counselor (NCC).

Although it is a voluntary procedure, it might also be a prerequisite for the state-recognized licensing exam, even for some institutions.

However, it is also possible that the certification requirements are entirely different from the licensure needs. Thus the applicants should be completely up to date with the NBCC information bulletin for all the knowledge regarding these certifications!

5.7. Maintain Your Knowledge

Stay Current On Trends By Staying Up To Date And Reading Upon The Current Applied Changes In Mental Health Counseling

Not only in the health niche or the Counseling field but throughout all aspects and fortes of a career-oriented life, it is crucial to stay in touch with your dynamic subject matter.

Therefore, the seventh step to understanding how to become a mental health counselor includes the Professional counselor keeping in touch with their dynamic subject knowledge and being able to quote New mental Disorders or research!

Continuing education may very well assist you in providing the best possible aid for your client.

With this last step, I would end the article on how to become a mental health counselor.

Although a doctoral degree is not essential to work as a counselor, enrolling in a mental health counseling program, improving your counseling skills, and adding a Ph.D. in clinical psychology to your resume may help you open doors and make your future career easier.

6. Conclusion

Becoming a mental health counselor typically involves several steps, including completing the necessary education, gaining practical experience, and obtaining licensure. Here is a general guide on how to become a mental health counselor:

Start by learning about the role of a mental health counselor and the requirements for practicing in your area. Familiarize yourself with different counseling approaches and specializations to determine your interests.

Pursue a master’s degree: Most states require a master’s degree in counseling or a related field to become a licensed mental health counselor. Look for accredited graduate programs that offer specializations in areas like clinical mental health counseling or marriage and family therapy. Graduating from a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) may be beneficial.

FAQ

1. What is a mental health counselor?

A: A mental health counselor is a professional who helps individuals and groups cope with emotional and mental health issues. They provide therapy, support, and guidance to help clients address their challenges, improve their well-being, and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

2. What qualifications do I need to become a mental health counselor?

A: The specific qualifications can vary depending on the country and jurisdiction, but generally, you’ll need a minimum of a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. You will also need to obtain a state license or certification to practice as a mental health counselor.

3. What should I study in college to become a mental health counselor?

A: To become a mental health counselor, you should pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling, social work, or a related field. After completing your bachelor’s degree, you will need to pursue a master’s degree in counseling or a similar program that is accredited by a recognized professional counseling association.

Read more
 

 

 

  1. Volungis, Adam M. Becoming a Mental Health Counselor: A Guide to Career Development and Professional Identity. Rowman & Littlefield, 2021. ↩︎
  2. Shri, Richa. “Anxiety: causes and management.” The Journal of Behavioral Science 5.1 (2010): 100-118. ↩︎
  3. Fiske, Amelia, Alena Buyx, and Barbara Prainsack. “Health information counselors: a new profession for the age of big data.” Academic Medicine 94.1 (2019): 37. ↩︎
  4. Tarn, Derjung M., et al. “Physician communication when prescribing new medications.” Archives of internal medicine 166.17 (2006): 1855-1862. ↩︎
  5. Mosley, Hugh, Holger Schütz, and Nicole Breyer. “Management by objectives in European public employment services.” (2001): 146. ↩︎
  6. Neyland-Brown, Leslie, Joshua D. Francis, and Gary Burns. “Role Responsibilities, Time Commitments, and Counseling Activities of Ohio Licensed School Counselors.” Journal of Counselor Practice 10.1 (2019). ↩︎

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