The purpose of this article is to describe how you can choose the best clinical mental health counseling degree. We will tell you how you can select the best counseling degree for your long term career goals. Next, we will describe what clinical mental health counselors do, where they work, and what they earn. Last, we recommend a quality online master’s degree in this area of counseling.
What Is a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree?
An online master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling is a two year degree that will prepare you to work as a licensed mental health counselor or psychologist. You will be trained to provide treatment and assessment services to many different types of clients in health care centers, hospitals, mental health clinics and more.
Some of what you will learn how to do in your counseling program includes:
- Diagnose and treat mental health issues, including anxiety and depression
- Assist clients to process how they react to situations in their lives that stress them, such as layoffs or divorce
- Help clients to devise more effective strategies to alter their behavior and to deal with challenges in their lives
The majority of master’s in clinical mental health counseling programs require you to complete an internship and a practicum. If you are taking an online master’s program, you can usually complete these requirements in your home area.
Generally you will need to complete at least a 100 hour practicum and an internship consisting of at least 600 hours. These experiences are a critical part of your master’s program as you will gain essential experience in clinical mental health counseling.
Some online programs in this field may require a residency, as well. This is a face to face meeting with your fellow online students and professors. These meetings might occur once or twice per year, or possibly at the beginning and end of the program.
To become mental health counselor, you will need to earn at least your master’s degree, and some professionals earn their doctorate to work in private practice. This program will teach you how to recognize major and minor symptoms of serious mental and emotional problems and how to address them with advanced counseling techniques.
After you have graduated, you will need to attain licensure to practice in your state. This requires completing your clinical experience, internship and/or practicum, followed by your state examination. To find out more about obtaining licensure in your state, visit the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Why Earn a Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree?
Mental health counseling is a popular career choice today because of the increasing demand for these healthcare professionals. After all, if you spend all of that time and money to earn a master’s, you should ensure that there is strong job demand in your field.
For mental health counselors, there is plenty of good news on the job front. Employment for mental health counselors will increase by 19% by 2024. As with so many other health care services, increasing numbers of people who have access to health care is causing more people to see health care professionals, including mental health counselors. There also are more military veterans trying to adapt to civilian life and they often need the help of mental health counselors.
Also, statistics indicate that as many as one in five adults experiences a mental illness each year, and this trend is growing.
The median wage for all mental health counselors was $41,880 in 2015, and the top 10% earned $68,700 per year. So, you have the opportunity to earn a good living in this field, and to help people live better lives.
Online Clinical Mental Health Counseling Degree Options
For a quality education in clinical mental health counseling, we recommend the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling offered at Capella University. This program is very flexible online and will help you to grow the confidence, counseling skills and critical thinking abilities that you need to help your clients get over their biggest life obstacles.
This two year, online master’s program offers you a high level of accessibility and flexibility through a very rigorous curriculum of residencies, coursework and field experiences that are designed to prep you for your state licensure process.
This curriculum consists of online classes that incorporates a residency that you complete in your own area, as well as a practicum that allows you to apply your new skills and knowledge through hands on application.
Your coursework will have the following traits:
- The highest quality of learning with a strong emphasis on applying modern counseling theories and research to contemporary practice
- A residency for credit, as well as face to face client work that is supervised by a residency mentor
- Clinical programs in clinical mental health counseling that will prepare you for the licensure process
- Faculty with Ph.D.s in the field and a high level of practical experience
Many past graduates have taken progressive positions in the following career areas:
- Behavioral disorder counselor
- Marriage and family therapist
- Mental health counselor
- Substance abuse counselor
- Vocational counselor
- Clinical health counselor
Your required courses include:
- Survey of Research in Human Development for Professional Counselors
- Survey of Research Methodology – Assessment, Tests, and Measures Principles of Psychopathology: Diagnosis and Treatment
- Ethical and Legal Issues in Professional Counseling Introduction to Clinical Mental Health Counseling
- Crisis Assessment and Intervention
- Theories of Psychotherapy
- Life Planning and Career Development
This program has been fully accredited by CACREP (see below for more information).
For professionals considering their clinical mental health counseling degree, it is important to consider the key matter of accreditation. You should look for accreditation in your master’s program from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
Becoming a clinical mental health counselor is a good career choice: It offers strong job possibilities, a solid wage potential, and the opportunity to assist others to overcome their life’s challenges. If you decide to earn your master’s degree in this growing field and seek licensure in your state, you can be confident that you have a dynamic career before you.
- Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-2
- Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists – Pay. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm#tab-5
- National Board for Certified Counselors. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nbcc.org/
- Capella University. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.capella.edu/online-degrees/masters-mental-health-counseling/