Pursuing a Career in Mental Health Counseling


Individuals, couples, families, and groups seeking mental health and well-being counseling can turn to a mental health counselor for assistance. The most important skills for a successful job as a mental health counselor are a strong sense of compassion and devotion to helping people. 

You will need your own strong support structure to safeguard your well-being as you embark on this demanding and rewarding job. Clients learn how to make educated and healthy decisions about themselves, their relationships, and their futures by addressing issues with professional therapy from a mental health counselor. They can learn to manage stress, anxiety, irrational fears, or serious mental issues. If you wish to pursue a career in mental health counseling, here is everything you need to know about it. 

Qualifications Needed to Become a Mental Health Counselor

Bachelor’s Degree

Potential mental health counselors should first obtain their bachelor’s degree in a relevant field as a starting point. While it is not required, many students opt to specialize in Psychology or Human Services since these fields will directly assist graduate studies in Counseling or Psychology careers.

Additionally, many master’s degree programs require applicants to have taken a range of courses before they may graduate. Consider the following courses for your bachelor’s degree program:

  • Research methods
  • Personality psychology
  • Lifespan development
  • Abnormal psychology

Furthermore, several master’s programs require applicants to have prior experience working in mental health.

Master’s Degree

Those interested in being mental health counselors can apply to graduate school after getting a bachelor’s degree and completing the required courses listed above. A master’s degree in counseling trains students to serve as mental health counselors by introducing them to psychopathology, appraisal, addiction therapy, clinical skills, and psychotherapeutics.

Students pursuing a master’s degree in counseling are equipped for a dynamic profession assisting those with a mental illness. Students must study the following courses as part of their degree program:

  • Theory of counseling
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Behavioral medicine topics
  • Trauma intervention
  • Human growth and development

In addition, students must undergo supervised training in the form of an internship. The internship offers students the opportunity to gain the skills necessary to serve as entry-level counselors after graduation.

Practitioner’s License

Once you have finished getting your degrees, you need to acquire a license to start practicing mental health counseling. Depending on where you live, prospective mental health counselors must get a license before practicing as a counselor. Licensing is reliant on passing the applicable tests and obtaining the necessary certificates.

In most cases, candidates must have a master’s degree in counseling, social work, marriage and family therapy, or psychology from a regionally approved university in order to qualify for licensing. Applicants for licensure must additionally have postgraduate supervised counseling experience. The internship time will be determined by the criteria of the relevant boards in each location.

Types of Mental Health Counseling Careers

Addiction Recovery Counseling

This type of counseling can equip you to handle the distinct emotional issues that families and individuals face when dealing with addiction and assist them in finding their path to redemption and recovery.

Couple and Family Counseling

Work with couples and families to address disputes that might arise as a consequence of separation, trauma, raising children, and other factors.

Forensic Counseling

This specialization allows you to expand your understanding of mental health law, with an emphasis on delinquency and juvenile justice. To correctly settle cases and assist offenders with the most effective treatment, the criminal justice systems actively seek the assistance of forensic counselors.

Military Counseling

Learn how to aid families in dealing with and recovering from the complex psychological concerns of military life, such as extensive separation, serious injuries, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Trauma and Disaster Counseling

Communities or individuals can benefit from the assistance of qualified counselors when they are at their most vulnerable, especially after personal tragedies to natural calamities. Develop trauma and crisis counseling skills and theoretical background to aid in the recovery process in all aspects.


If you want to work with people to help them overcome psychological issues, a clinical mental health counseling degree may be the right option. There are also potential work chances for people with a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling in the present labor market. 

Graduates can choose from various professional choices, many of which provide challenging and fulfilling professions for many years to come. Pursuing an online masters in mental health counseling programs is a great way to work and study simultaneously. You can gain experience in your field while advancing through your studies.

About the Author

Medical Disclaimer

The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. The content on the website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, treatment, or advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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