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Career Profile: Mental Health Counselor

Why Is Mental Health Counseling a Job of Tomorrow?
As the world population increases and stressors afflict people, the demand for mental health counselors will heighten. Employment opportunities for mental health counselors are forecast to rise 30 percent by 2016, a faster growth rate than the average for all U.S. occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary for mental health counselors is $34,380.

What Does a Mental Health Counselor Do?
Mental health counselors work with individuals, couples and groups to help them deal with emotional and psychological problems. Patients may be struggling with depression, suicidal impulses or self-esteem issues, or may have trouble handling feelings of anxiety in general. Some mental health counselors work with couples to help resolve marital or relationship problems, and also with families in handling interpersonal matters. Counselors can work in a private practice, in a group setting with colleagues, or as part of a school’s health program. Counselors typically rely on talk therapy to treat patients, allowing them to discuss their problems and then create a plan for addressing them. Prescription medications may also be recommended for those dealing with depression or anxiety disorders.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Mental Health Counselor?
Mental health counselors must hold a master’s level degree in mental health counseling. Specific requirements for counselors vary among states, though prospective counselors should plan on focusing their classes on subjects that pertain to their field of study. For example, those looking to act as a counselor on a college campus would take courses in student affairs as well as therapy techniques.

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