More Americans are seeking mental health treatment. Between 2019 and 2021, the percentage of adults in the U.S. seeking proactive care rose by 2.4 percentage points.
And popularity for mental well-being is highest among young adults. As awareness of mental health issues continues to grow, so does the need for counselors.
Keep reading to learn about the most popular careers in mental health counseling.
Different Careers in Mental Health Counseling
Working in mental health doesn’t necessarily mean working in a hospital. There are a lot of counseling careers available across all walks of life.
Clinical mental health counselor
These counselors work with clients experiencing various mental health conditions.
Anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and trauma are all examples. Depending on their clients’ needs, they may provide therapy on a one-on-one basis or in groups.
Rehabilitation counselors help individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses live independent lives. They assist clients to overcome physical, emotional, and social challenges.
Substance abuse counselor
These counselors specialize in helping individuals struggling with alcohol or drug addiction. They provide assessment, counseling, and support. Often, they work in rehabilitation centers, outpatient clinics, or hospitals.
School is a vulnerable time for children going through puberty. Some mental health issues show symptoms during early puberty. School counselors are key in tackling them early.
School counselors work in educational settings.
They assist students help students navigate the challenges of growing up. This involves everything from academic, to social, to emotional development. It might include handling bullying, peer pressure, and mental health concerns.
Marriage and family therapist
Marriage and family therapists deal with relationships.
Families are close-knit relationships that can contribute to a variety of mental conditions. Counselors work in these settings to address critical relationship issues. They help their clients improve communication, resolve conflicts, and foster healthy relationships.
Requirements and Key Skills for Mental Health Jobs
Mental health jobs demand a wide set of skills. To excel in these careers, counselors must overcome their own biases. They must learn to listen to clients without passing judgment.
Building strong relationships with clients is the cornerstone of successful counseling. That requires a mix of empathy and compassion. The ability to build trust leads counselors to affect greater change.
Effective communication is crucial for counselors. They must be able to listen and express their opinions clearly. Complex diagnoses and information need clear explanations.
Counselors must listen with empathy and respond with kindness.
Every patient is unique.
Mental health counselors must be capable of identifying issues and developing creative solutions. They must adapt their approach based on each client’s needs.
Mental health professionals stick to strict ethical guidelines. These guidelines protect their clients’ well-being and maintain their professional integrity and reputation.
Psychiatry vs. Psychology: What’s the Difference?
Psychiatry and psychology often get confused. While some use the terms interchangeably, the two fields are very different.
Psychology studies human behavior. It’s about understanding how people think, feel, and act in different situations. Psychologists apply their knowledge to help people improve their mental health.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can learn about the psychology major here.
Psychiatrists focus on the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.
They’re medical doctors who have completed a residency in psychiatry. Trained to prescribe medication, they may also provide counseling or psychotherapy.
Training and Education Needed for a Counseling Career
The training needed for a counseling career depends on the job you’re pursuing.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology, social work, or a related field is the first step. Many follow it with a master’s degree in a related field. Some positions may require a doctoral degree, particularly for clinical psychologists and psychiatrists.
During your graduate studies, you’ll likely complete coursework alongside a supervised internship. Your coursework will involve ethics, human development, and counseling theory.
Internships give you hands-on experience. You’ll work with clients directly and prepare to work full-time as a counselor.
After finishing your studies, you’ll need to obtain licensure, and the requirements vary. Typically, they involve passing a licensing exam and attending supervised clinical hours.
The Benefits and Challenges of Working in Mental Health
A career in mental health counseling offers the best of both worlds.
Counselors see their patients at their most vulnerable, stripped of any facade. Working with emotionally challenged clients is taxing on your own well-being. It requires resilience and patience with no guarantee of success.
Yet, counselors have the opportunity to help patients overcome great adversity. Working in mental health jobs gives you the chance to make a profound impact on people’s lives.
It’s a field full of fresh challenges and variety. The opportunity for professional development is always available.
And – in a world of growing uncertainty in job markets – the demand for mental health services will never go away.
Choosing the Right Path
Finding the right career path is both exciting and challenging.
You’ll need to weigh up several factors when considering a career in mental health:
- Your education and training
- Your personal qualities
How do you decide?
That’s a deeply personal matter. You could consider reaching out to existing professionals. If possible, arrange an interview with somebody working in a field you’re considering.
They can tell you how to follow in their footsteps. They’ll also offer you honest insight into the nature of the job. You might also consider applying for an internship at a local clinic to see what the job is like first-hand.
Launch Your Career in Mental Wellbeing
Careers in mental health counseling are rewarding and fulfilling.
Counselors make tangible impacts in people’s lives. They help people when their own minds are playing tricks on them. And they sleep well at night knowing they’re making the world a better place.
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