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Jobs for Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

So you just learned how to become a mental health counselor and you worked hard to achieve your dream of earning a masters in clinical mental health counseling. Now, after your hours of mental health counselor requirements like research, fieldwork, and graduate studies, you might be wondering, what are your options for jobs with a masters in clinical mental health counseling?

Can’t decide between mental health counselor vs psychologist? Fortunately, there are a variety of job options for those interested in the field of mental health counseling, with something to fit every unique interest and skill set of a licensed mental health counselor.

Read on to learn more about the numerous career paths you, as a licensed professional counselor, can pursue after earning your master's in clinical counseling psychology.

What is a Counselor?

A counselor is someone who's qualified to give guidance, support, and therapeutic assistance to people who are experiencing personal, emotional, or psychological struggles. They help improve their patients' well-being, coping mechanisms, conflict resolution skills, and personal growth.

At every phase of life, individuals encounter challenges that sometimes lead to emotional and mental distress. When people struggle to navigate these obstacles, seeking guidance through professional counseling is a valuable solution to improve their mental health. Whether it's family therapy, group counseling, addiction counseling, counselors help people make constructive decisions in day-to-today life.

Careers in Clinical Settings

What can you do with a masters in clinical counseling? Your MA counseling degree qualifies you to be a family therapist, a rehabilitation counselor, or a career counselor among many others.  A common career for those interested in pursuing clinical mental health counseling is in a clinical setting, such as:1

  • Outpatient mental health or substance abuse facilities
  • Inpatient state, local, or private hospitals
  • Residential mental health or substance abuse facilities 

While employed in a clinical setting, mental health counselors typically work directly with patients who are actively in treatment, helping to manage and treat their mental and emotional issues. Some of their daily tasks as certified counselors may include:2

  • Assessing patients during intake sessions to evaluate their mental and physical health and incorporate their medical histories and current symptoms into a treatment plan. 
  • Leading group or one-on-one therapy sessions where patients can work to unpack traumatic or difficult experiences, build coping mechanisms and regulation skills, and share in a safe, clinical setting.
  • Working with patients’ families and loved ones to ensure adherence to their treatment plan.
  • Creating rigorous documentation of treatment plans and taking detailed notes on patient progression and performance. 
  • Performing administrative tasks, like working with insurance companies or finding referrals for patients who need specialist providers. 

Depending on the type of community counseling program or rehabilitation counseling facility they work in, mental health counselors may also help patients with specialized issues, like eating disorders or substance abuse issues, or with more general mental health struggles.

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Careers in School Settings

Another career development environment that draws mental health counselors is the world of education. Whether you as a professional counselor choose to work in elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, or colleges and universities, you can help create a safe and nurturing environment for students who need mental health services. 

As a school counselor, your school counseling duties might include the following:

  • Intervening when you recognize signs of mental health issues in students, such as moodiness, withdrawal, problems at home or in the classroom, poor grades, attention issues, and behavioral problems.
  • Offering school counseling and crisis intervention to students in need and referrals to providers who may be able to assist with long term care and specialized support.
  • Making sure that teachers, parents, and administrators are informed on how to recognize and support those with mental health issues.
  • Serving as an advocate for mental health issues when setting school policies, curricula, and general school culture.
  • Providing care and instruction for students seeking to learn coping skills and mental health regulation techniques.
  • Assisting students in creating a realistic career plan

Finding a mental health professional job in a school setting can be a great option for those who’d like to combine their background in mental health counseling with their interest in education or childcare.

Other Potential Careers for Clinical Mental Health Counselors

Depending on your unique interests, skill sets, and career goals, there are a number of paths you could take as a clinical mental health counselor. Typically, mental health counselors aren’t limited to working in a school, private practice, or a clinical facility. 

As a mental health counselor, you may also be able to find work in: 

  • Government agencies
  • Community agencies
  • Private practices
  • Career centers
  • Halfway houses
  • Religious institutions
  • Correctional facilities or prisons
  • Large corporations, especially in HR departments, employee wellness or assistance programs, or employee training programs

Regardless of which career path you as a mental health professional choose to pursue, it can be beneficial to possess the following skills (along with your master’s degree):

  • Empathy and compassion toward those struggling with mental illness
  • Excellent listening and verbal communication skills
  • Strong critical thinking and decision-making skills
  • A warm, approachable demeanor
  • An open-minded, judgment-free attitude
  • The drive to go above and beyond to help your patients in their time of crisis

Is a Career in Mental Health Counseling Right for Me?

Pursuing your master's degree in mental health counseling may help you become a more attractive candidate for any number of mental health counseling jobs. With your higher education and training from your counselor education program, you’ll be better equipped to work directly with patients and provide the expert care and compassion they need to overcome their mental health issues.

The MA in clinical counseling from Alliant International University can be your first step in pursuing the skills and knowledge you need. Plus, at Alliant, you’ll have the opportunity to perform hands-on fieldwork, working directly with patients in a clinical setting, all while being supervised by experienced faculty members. 

Interested in learning more about our mental health counseling masters programs? Reach out today.


Sources:

  1.  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors: Work Environment”. December 13, 2021. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-be…. Accessed February 14, 2022. 
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors: What They Do”. December 13, 2021. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-be…. Accessed February 14, 2022.  
  3. American School Counselor Association. “The School Counselor and Student Mental Health”. 2020. https://www.schoolcounselor.org/Standards-Positions/Position-Statements….  Accessed February 14, 2022.  

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