Mental health counselors work with individuals, families, and groups to address and treat mental and emotional disorders and to promote mental health. They are trained to address a wide range of issues, including depression, addiction and substance abuse, suicidal impulses, stress management, problems with self-esteem, issues associated with aging, job and career concerns, educational decisions, issues related to mental and emotional health, and family, parenting, and marital or other relationship problems.
Mental health counselors often work closely with other mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses, and school counselors. (US Department of Labor)
To be a licensed mental health counselor a person must have a Masters Degree in counseling or other related field. The program must consist of 60 semester hours and 1000 hours of university sponsored clinical or internship experience. The degree program should be certified by CACREP. A CACREP certified program insures that the program meets examination requirements for licensure. Once completed, one must have two years of supervision and pass national or state examinations to obtain licensure.
Licensed mental health counselors have many ethical and legal issues dealing with interacting with clients in a way that leaves them in a better place. It is crucial that counselors act within the boundaries that are set by state laws as well the code of ethics from the American Counseling association. There are issues of confidentiality, understanding what’s in the client’s best interest, the rights of the client, and using the techniques to best assess the client. It is also important to maintain a professional relationship with clients.
A mental health counselor in the state of Florida can expect to earn $22,000 and up. Private practice mental health counselors can earn a considerable amount more settings for mental health counselors may include hospitals, drug treatment centers, educational center, community organizations, state agencies, and in private practice. One of the issues in the future is the tightening HMO policies. HMO’s are tightening their restrictions on what they will and will not pay for. Another issue that was brought to my
attention was the timeliness in which Medicaid pays. Medicaid has been known to be two to three months behind in paying claims.
In my research or the counseling profession, it was stress to me that given the drawbacks, counseling was a very worthy and rewarding. The problems can be easily dealt with and planned for. It is important that one have a balanced life outside of their career. A balance life helps prevent compassion fatigue and help maintain that high level of physical and emotional energy that is needed to be an effective counselor.
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs http://www.counseling.org/cacrep
American Counseling Association
The American Mental Health Counseling Association
Florida Mental Health Counselor Association
United States Department of Labor