What do Mental Health Counselors Do?
Mental health counselors provide guidance and advice to patients suffering from mental and emotional illnesses and disorders. They work in a wide variety of settings, such as hospitals, community centers, and government agencies. Some counselors may even decide to practice independently, with many preferring to make their own hours and establish their own rules. Counselors assist patients struggling with illnesses such as mood disorders, chemical dependency, and emotional trauma. Many counselors, especially those in a clinical setting, may work under the direct supervision of a psychiatrist, therapist, or medical supervisor.
Mental Health Counselors Skills and Abilities
Mental health counselors should have broad knowledge of psychology and human behavior. They should understand social issues such as domestic abuse, sexual trauma, and other emotional problems that are prevalent in society. This career requires strong listening skills, since the majority of information is conveyed during counseling sessions where the patient is encouraged to speak. Counselors should make sure that they have the ability to remain nonjudgmental and unbiased during therapy sessions. Good organizational skills are needed, and counselors will be expected to help patient prioritize their goals and formulate plans to achieve them.
Mental Health Counselors Duties
The main function of a mental health counselor is to assist patients with achieving a healthy state of mind and body. This includes offering individualized or group therapy in order to help patients confront difficult issues and thought patterns. Counselors may also work in conjunction with psychiatrists and therapists to help treat patients. Workers in this field will encounter large amounts of sensitive information, so it is necessary that a counselor have the ability to adhere to confidentiality agreements. Many counselors choose to work with a specific demographic, and may undergo additional education and training for this purpose. Mental health counselors may also:
- Coordinate workshops regarding mental health issues for private companies
- Give family members advice for supporting patients
- Educate community members on important behavioral health problems
- Monitor patient medication use
- Supervise less experience counselors
- Assist patients with substance abuse issues
Mental Health Counselors Tools and Technology
Mental health counselors take advantage of a variety of tools. Basic office supplies such as pencils, paper, and pens are used to collect information during therapy sessions. Computers are also heavily utilized and serve as the primary method of storing patient information and medical files. Communication technologies such as phones, faxes, and e-mail are commonly used to communicate with coworkers, superiors, and patients.
Education and Training for Mental Health Counselors
The majority of workers in this field possess a rather high level of education in contrast to the general population. Approximately 43.5% of mental health counselors possess a master’s degree, while almost 26% hold only a bachelor’s. This field requires an extensive education in psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Workers acquire this education during 4 years of undergraduate education, typically followed by 1-2 years of graduate education. A brief residency is usually served under the supervision of a more experienced mental health professional.
Mental Health Counselors Salary
The median yearly salary for a mental health counselor is $40,400; with the top 10% grossing nearly $67,000.There was a 0.6% wage increase for counselors over the last year, so there was a bit of growth. Counselors employed by the scientific and technical consulting industry earned the highest wages. Those employed by residential care facilities reported the lowest earnings in the industry.
Mental Health Counselors Jobs by Geography
Pennsylvania, California, and Virginia had the highest levels of employment for mental health counselors. Counselors in Alaska earned the highest wages; this is partially caused by a shortage of counselors in the state. There was a 1.5% rise in employment for workers in this field, and nearly 120,000 Americans currently work as mental health counselors. In summary, if you enjoy helping people reach their personal goals and achieve optimal mental health, this may be a career worth considering.