Licensed Mental Health Counselor How To Become – Home > Blog > Health & Wellness > Mental Health > 5 Steps to Becoming a Certified Mental Health Counselor
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Licensed Mental Health Counselor How To Become
Are you interested in helping others cope with difficult emotions, trauma or stress? Do you have the compassion, empathy and problem-solving skills necessary for mental health counseling? Becoming a Certified Mental Health Counselor is not only important for the healing of others, but it can be a rewarding career that can help increase your personal growth and aspirations.
What Can You Do With A Masters In Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Not everyone’s journey looks the same. Each person has a unique approach, personality and concern. Some people may want to work with young children or teenagers, while others may work with adults, couples, families, veterans, or people with significant psychological and emotional needs. Certified mental health counselors can work with individuals or groups and receive specialized training that allows them to identify mental health problems, diagnose and treat patients using a variety of applied counseling services.
The path to becoming a certified mental health counselor requires a commitment to years of training, assessments and continuing education. This is a powerful process because mental health professionals have significant responsibilities to the community and to individual patients. To become a certified mental health counselor, a person must earn at least a master’s degree in a related mental health field, complete supervised clinical work experience, and obtain a practicing license. Each state and program has its own requirements, so it’s important to research and plan your trip.
No matter where you are on this path, it is important to understand the requirements necessary to become a certified mental health counselor in the state where you plan to practice (counseling patients). Below are the 5 steps to becoming a Certified Mental Health Counselor from the beginning to the point where you can legally counsel individuals.
The first step to becoming a certified mental health counselor is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Even if you have a bachelor’s degree, a degree in counseling, psychology, social work, sociology, or other human services is highly recommended. Courses in substance abuse, family dynamics, education, community relations, religion and anatomy are beneficial.
M.a. In Counseling
If you’re just starting out on this journey and don’t have a bachelor’s degree yet, the best bachelor’s degree is in mental health counseling. In this program you can expect to get a solid foundation in the following areas:
Make sure the degree is from an accredited college or university so your courses meet the requirements for the next step. Most bachelor programs take between 3 and 5 years to complete, depending on the scope of the course and the size of the program.
To meet the requirements for certified mental health counseling, a person must have at least a master’s degree. Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling or similar degree is essential. Many states have specific requirements for counseling credits, so even if you already have a master’s degree, you must meet the accreditation requirements of the state where you plan to practice. Additional courses in treatment, diagnosis and other relevant counseling topics may be required.
The best way is to enroll in a specific graduate program in mental health counseling. If you want to get a doctorate, this is appropriate, but not required, to become a certified mental health counselor. Doctoral students are usually involved in research and writing (researcher), while master’s students usually train to work directly in the field (practitioner). In the graduate counseling program, a student can expect to complete courses in the following areas:
How To Become A Mental Health Therapist Or Counselor
As part of the program, the student also takes a variety of electives that are specific to the population the counselor would like to work with. These interests may include, but are not limited to:
Regardless of the path you choose, any accredited graduate mental health counseling program will give you the tools you need to guide clinical work in the field. A typical master’s program can take 2-3 years to complete, depending on the course load and specialization. Some programs also require an internship, which may or may not count toward full work experience.
In addition to the education required to become a mental health counselor, certification and/or licensure requires practical experience in the field. Most states require 2,000 to 4,000 additional hours of work in the field. Many of these classes must be supervised by a licensed mental health professional. Students can learn more about the layout and options for their programs.
It is crucial here to determine the requirements of the country where you plan to practice. The American Psychological Association and the American Counseling Association are great resources for people who want to make a difference and build a career in psychology and counseling.
Behavioral/ Mental Health Pipeline
After completing the required work experience, you must become a licensed mental health counselor. Licensing also depends on the state in which you plan to provide counseling, but each state requires mental health counselors to take a state exam. Typical exams include the National Counseling Examination (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), but some states use alternative state tests. All tests are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). The American Counseling Association (ACA) has licensing-specific information in its Knowledge Center.
Whether you want to open your own private practice, join a group of private practice consultants, or work in the public sector, pursuing National Board Certification is optimal. Not only will this step enhance your credentials and improve your employment opportunities, but many states require a state license to practice certification, either instead of or in addition to a state license. For more information, visit the National Board for Certified Counselors website.
A clinical mental health counselor is a licensed and experienced professional who helps people who are experiencing many problems. They are trained to identify mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, ADD/ADHD (childhood or adult ADHD), and other mental health complications. However, a person does not have to have diagnosable problems to seek counseling. Clinical mental health counselors focus on the well-being of the whole individual, helping that person make choices that support physical, mental, social, emotional, and even spiritual health.
Their ability to diagnose is equipped with the knowledge and tools to treat people through counseling and other therapies. Their services may include crisis management, solution-focused therapies, alcohol and substance abuse treatments, and psychoeducation and prevention programs. They also provide people with speech therapy to improve the overall life of that person.
Ma In Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Online
People who choose this career path must be prepared for the role they will play in the lives of those they care for. The following characteristics are consistent with those of a clinical mental health counselor:
Mental health counselors must dedicate their professional lives to staying abreast of the latest psychoeducation and counseling methods. Here is a great article on continuing education for mental health professionals! Her goal is to bring the patient to a place of well-being, to equip him with the necessary tools to support the health of the whole person.
Mental health counseling can also be considered clinical mental health counseling. The names of the educational programs and licenses may vary, but the process and credentials are the same. A professional counselor works as a wellness enhancer and guides patients to solutions that lead to positive experiences.
However, there is a difference between (clinical) mental health counseling and clinical psychology or even counseling psychology. Both counselors and psychologists must be licensed in the states in which they practice. They deal directly with clients and both work in the mental health field. However, there are differences in their education, professional requirements and the services they usually provide.
Shifra Rabinowitz Mental Health Counselor
In addition, there is also a difference between clinical psychologists and counseling psychologists. Clinical psychologists are more involved in the acute treatment of serious problems, as well as research and empirical studies. Counseling psychologists provide services similar to mental health counselors; however, the emphasis may be more on the acute diagnosis.
The spectrum of mental health also includes the fields of life coaching and NLP. A life coach helps a person focus on their goals and can help improve various areas of a person’s life. (There are life coaching certifications online that facilitate the process of becoming a life coach.) An NLP certification allows you to provide therapy to patients to promote their personal development and improve communication skills. (NLP certifications are also available online!)
To learn more about any mental health profession, visit the American Psychological Association or explore the various graduate programs at your school of choice.
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