how to become a mental health therapist

To become licensed in most states, prospective mental health counselors must complete 60 credit hours of graduate-level coursework in counseling. There are various credentials available which may help you progress throughout your career. Students should be prepared to work individually, with partners, and in small groups throughout their coursework. The following table and steps further detail how to become a mental health therapist. "The residencies by nature are intensive, and the experiences there have been designed to help students uncover implicit bias they may have," Wilson said. "I like that our program is not only interested in building your knowledge base to become a counselor, but we ask that you be willing to look at your own self and understand that as a therapist, you are the conduit," she said. Coursework in a … Some states require both examinations or allow you to choose which examination you will take, said Welch. Develop your interpersonal skills 3. The average annual salary for mental health therapists is $63,000 ( The Path to Becoming a Mental Health Counselor. The National Board for Certified Counselors can provide you with the information and certification you need to boost your career. A number of reasons contribute to this favorable forecast. Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics These days people in counseling settings deal with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, or chronic mental illness," he said. In some states, before students sit for an exam and apply for their licenses, they must demonstrate hours of supervised post-graduate work. In total, an individual may spend up to five years completing graduate and post-graduate work before they can be recognized as licensed mental health counselors, which is why it is not a profession to take lightly, according to Wilson. States require somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 documented hours for licensure. Furthermore, if you pick a niche in the mental health therapist industry such as professional sports, then you may earn a higher income. 1. You are not going to get the experience you need to work independently that quickly either," he said. States may specifically require the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). It's an opportunity for students to look at themselves and question whether counseling is the right career for them. Program outcomes vary according to each institution's curriculum and job opportunities are not guaranteed. National accreditation bodies determine the core content that students must master throughout their experience, Wilson said. Simply put, a mental health therapist provides psychological care and treatment to those who are suffering from mental, emotional and psychological issues. They enjoy rich, rewarding careers where they make a difference by using their listening, problem-solving and interpersonal skills. The American Counseling Association provides a directory of all state professional counselor licensure boards. In the practicum, students work with actual clients under the supervision of a licensed counselor for a minimum of 100 hours. Students must understand the specific requirements of the state in which they intend to apply for licensure and be apprised of any changes to those requirements. Hudspeth said programs are designed this way to foster good listening skills and develop a student's ability to hear what someone is saying and take that information and be able to assess and act. If you wish to bring about a positive change in the lives of people who are suffering from mental health issues, then you should consider becoming a mental health therapist for a fulfilling and rewarding career. Krysten Godfrey Maddocks '11 is a writer and marketing/communication professional. Courses you may take in a counseling program include counseling techniques, ethics and legal issues, human development, cultural diversity, assessment and research methods. After completing a bachelor's degree, students interested in applying to a graduate program will need to furnish their transcripts, letters of recommendation and answer questions that assess how well they handle things like conflict, he said. The job duties of mental health therapists are largely dependent on their work environment. 2. For instance, as you gain more market experience by working on a number of cases, your market value may increase. "Becoming licensed through your state and receiving that training prepares you to know what to do no matter who walks through your door. Here the candidate may primarily play the role of an assistant or a trainee by working alongside a senior mental health therapist. "They have to be inter-personally relatable and have the courage to be honest with themselves and their clients." There's the academic component, soft skills and being willing to trust the process and be comfortable being uncomfortable," Welch said. Getting good grades is only part of the equation. 4. Although students aren't required to major in sociology or psychology to obtain a graduate degree in counseling, many instructors agree that it's beneficial to get a good foundation in these subjects if you plan to become a licensed mental health counselor. Courses should cover topics such as research methods and program evaluation, group counseling, substance use disorders and addictions, and diagnosis of emotional and mental disorders. To become a mental health counselor you will need to go through a rather rigorous amount of schooling. The most common requirements for clinical mental health counseling include a college education, including graduate school, several hours of supervised clinical experience, and passing a counseling exam for licensure. "Counselors should strive to be nonjudgmental and accepting. "Some states expect you to complete your post-graduate work within a specific time frame." "The reason that a master's degree in counseling is 60 credits instead of 36 is that you do not get the breadth of knowledge you need to know in one year of coursework. Although you may have a passion for topics related to counseling in your academic classes, it's important that you enjoy working with people before you commit to licensure in mental health counseling, said Metoka Welch, associate dean of counseling at SNHU. Licensing usually requires holding a master’s degree and completing roughly 3000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Taking classes that focus on cultural diversity is also important, as mental health counselors work with men and women from diverse socioeconomic and multicultural backgrounds, he said. Earn your bachelor's degree. More than 43 million American adults deal with mental illness issues each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). A mental health therapist may work in a number of settings such as hospitals, retirement homes, educational institutes, mental research facilities, clinics and so on. To become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), you need to earn a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in health education, public health or a related field and then pass the CHES certification exam administered by the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing. How to become a mental health counselor? In most states, licensing and certification are necessary for becoming a full-fledged mental health therapist. Mental health counseling training starts with an introduction to counseling (lasting up to three months and usually costing a few hundreds of dollars). At that point, graduates are working in a paid position but with a supervisor approved by their state board who is documenting their hours, Welch said. Completion of post-graduate work with supervision can take up to three years to complete. Copyright © 2018

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