What does a Mental Health Counselor do?

Mental health counselors work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental health. They help individuals deal with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, marital problems and suicide. Mental health counselors work with families, couples and individuals to help in overcoming emotional and psychological problems. Additionally, mental health counselors should also be skilled at discerning people's words and actions, helping them to see how what they say and do reveals the root causes of their issues. Mental health counselors work in hospitals, schools, and medical offices.

A Masters degree in Psychology or Sociology along with a current practitioner license through the state's clinical therapy board is required for mental health counselors. Successful mental health counselors are deeply compassionate and possess excellent listening, verbal and written communication skills.

What responsibilities are common for Mental Health Counselor jobs?
  • Provide an array of outpatient mental health services to promote individualized patient recovery
  • Conduct intakes, individual, group, and family therapy
  • Develop service plans and conduct reviews as needed throughout the duration of treatment
  • Provide mental health assessments, counseling, referrals, and intervention services
  • Complete and maintain documentation in a timely and accurate manner and according to Federal, State and Center guidelines
  • Write reports to court, school, or other community agencies as necessary
  • Follow up with psychiatrists and/or attending physicians in cases involving hospital admissions
  • Collaborate with external psychiatric care providers as well as representatives from civic assistance programs to help schedule treatment sessions for those patients who need them
What are the typical qualifications for Mental Health Counselor jobs?
  • Able to make professional evaluations, decisions, and recommendation for treatment planning and implementation
  • Current practitioner license through the state's clinical therapy board
  • 3 years of experience in counseling or mental health services
  • Working knowledge of legal guidelines stipulating psychiatric admission requirements
  • Able to work independently and as a positive member of a team
  • Able to establish and maintain effective working relationships with mentally or emotionally disabled persons and their families
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Comfortable treating both routine and serious mental health illness
  • Strong computer literacy skills
EducationBachelor's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.2 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.3 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

How much does a Mental Health Counselor make?

Mental Health Counselor Career Path

Learn how to become a Mental Health Counselor, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

L2
Mental Health Counselor
$65,898/yr
L3
L2

Average Years of Experience

0 - 1
14%
2 - 4
19%
5 - 7
3%
8+
64%
Not including years spent in education and/or training
See Career Path

Mental Health Counselor Insights

Read what Mental Health Counselor professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Decodr TechnologiesDecodr Technologies
Program Counselor
Jun 23, 2021

“The organisation is so flexible that it helps you to achieve both career and personal goals”

Florida Department of Children and FamiliesFlorida Department of Children and Families
Abuse Hotline Counselor
Sep 17, 2020

“Training is straight forward and I felt prepared for the job on my first day.”

Safe Journey HouseSafe Journey House
Crisis Counselor
Dec 16, 2020

“I enjoyed the tasks I did but the management was corrupt and not supportive in any way.”

AbleToAbleTo
Mental Health Counselor/Psychotherapist
Jun 29, 2021

“The pay is also decent and I got a nice bonus this past year too.”

Lighthouse Behavioral Health & Wellness CenterLighthouse Behavioral Health & Wellness Center
Mental Health Counselor
May 12, 2021

“As a fee for service clinician you can manage your own schedule which offers a great life”

Virginia Beach Psychiatric CenterVirginia Beach Psychiatric Center
Mental Health Counselor
Dec 15, 2021

“I have a very flexible schedule essentially choosing when I work because I am a flex employee.”

Eating Recovery Center | Pathlight Mood & Anxiety CenterEating Recovery Center | Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center
Behavioral Health Counselor
Sep 18, 2020

“Training was thorough and I was asked about my comfort level before being asked to take on groups or meal monitoring by myself.”

McLean HospitalMcLean Hospital
Community Residence Counselor
Mar 24, 2020

“The experience is phenomenal and you'll have the opportunity to work closely with some of the best people in the field.”

See More

Mental Health Counselor Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of mental health counselors

Mental health counselors spend their workday counseling patients. Their most common daily tasks include having sessions with clients, assessing patients, creating treatment plans, and documenting their notes. They might also have to fill out paperwork, such as insurance forms, and submit it to insurance companies for payment.

Yes, mental health counseling is a good career as it can be very rewarding to make a positive impact on someone's life. According to U.S. News, it's #67 on the Best 100 Jobs list. The job usually has regular hours and might not require any overtime or weekend work.

Like in most jobs, working as a mental health counselor may be difficult at times. The job can be emotionally demanding and a counselor might have to deal with difficult patients and co-workers on occasion. Also, insurance billing and paperwork can be complicated.

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