Mending the Mind: How to Become a Mental Health Counselor



Do you have a passion for helping others? Would you like to go to work every day and help people become their best selves?

If so, you should consider becoming a mental health counselor. You’ll join an elite team of over 577,000 professionals who make a real difference in people’s lives.

What does it take to enter the world of mental health services? Keep reading to find out!

What Do Mental Health Counselors Do?

Mental health counseling covers a wide array of conditions and treatment methods. Counselors diagnose and treat people who struggle with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Grief

Experts estimate that 1 in 4 people will be affected by mental disorders at some point in their lives. This makes mental health awareness and counseling more important than ever before.

Mental health counselors work in a variety of settings, from schools and hospitals to rehab centers, religious organizations, and veterans’ health agencies. Some counselors work exclusively with children or seniors, while others offer counseling for couples or those with specific mental disorders.

Note that counselors are not the same as psychiatrists. Although they often work in close cooperation with physicians and psychiatrists, mental health counselors are not authorized to prescribe medication to their clients.

4 Steps to Becoming a Mental Health Counselor

It requires a lot of education and hard work to become a counselor, but your efforts will be worth it. Here’s the path you’ll need to take to get there.

1. Undergraduate Education

A few schools may offer a Bachelor’s degree in counseling, but most do not. Your best bet is to pick a related field that will prepare you for the rigors of graduate school (which we’ll get to in a moment).

For your Bachelor’s degree, you might consider majoring in Psychology, Behavioral Science, or Social Sciences.

2. Grad School

After completing their Bachelor’s degree, aspiring counselors should look into accredited Master’s and Doctoral degree programs to continue their education.

There are many paths you could take, depending on the field you wish to enter, but a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling could be the best option.

3. Professional Licensure

When your education is complete, your next step is to get licensed in your state. Requirements vary by locale, but typically you’ll need to verify your coursework and provide proof of citizenship.

Your state may have its own licensing exam, or it may rely on a test offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Either way, you’ll need to pass the exam and provide all the required documents before you’ll receive your professional license.

4. Continuing Education

You’ll likely have to complete continuing education every year or two to keep your license active. You can also pursue additional mental health certifications or specialize in a niche field.

Become a Counselor: Make a Difference

The world gets more stressful every year, making mental health more important than ever before.

By becoming a mental health counselor, you’ll enjoy helping people overcome challenges and improve every aspect of their lives. What could be more rewarding than that?

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