Summary: A mental health counselor works with a person or a group of people to promote optimum mental health and overall well-bring. They focus more on prevention when it comes to addictions to substances or alcohol. Mental health counselors also work with people who have been abused; people with family and marital problems; suicide; self-esteem problems; stress managements; issues with ageing; and mental and emotional health issues.
Duties: Tasks of a mental health counselor include: maintaining confidentiality of the records of the patient; encouraging clients to express and share their feelings leading them to develop insights on themselves; guiding clients to develop coping strategies; preparing and advising required treatment of client; developing and implementing treatment plans based on experience and knowledge; evaluating the physical, mental and emotional condition of clients; meeting with family members and friends in order to assess and encourage the treatment process; referring clients to community resources or specialists if necessary; counseling of family members and teaching them on how to cope with a person in need of mental assistance; evaluating implemented programs; and running workshops, courses and discussions related to mental health issues.
Education and Training Requirements:The requirements of being a mental health counselor may vary as some may only require a bachelor’s degree. However, many positions require a mental health counselor to have a master’s degree in social work, counseling, mental health or a similar field. Courses that should be taken seriously include: psychological development, group dynamics; group therapy methods and social and behavioral theory.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements: A mental health counselor must be knowledgeable in psychology, sociology, anthropology, counseling and therapy. They must possess a passion to help people in the sincerest matter as well as be able communicate well in the most sensitive situations. Other skills that are required include being an excellent listener and being able to think critically to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the client. Most importantly, mental health counselors must be able to be trust-worthy as a high level of confidentially is required.
Working Conditions: Mental health counselors usually work in schools, healthcare facilities and community-based groups. They may or may not have their own offices depending on their employer, but the usual case is that they have their own workplace in a well-lit and well-ventilated area or office. Some mental health counselors are also assigned to do field work.
Salary: A mental health counselor averages $38,000 annually with salaries varying based on the counselor’s location, industry, employer and experience. Benefits will largely depend on the employer as well.