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Mental Health Counselor


Counselors are professionals who assist individuals and groups with their personal problems in order to help them become more self-sufficient. Individuals that specialize in mental health counseling concentrate on promoting optimum mental health through various programs and services. They help individuals deal with suicidal impulses, self-esteem issues, addictions and substance abuse, stress management, job and career concerns, marital problems, educational decisions, and issues associated with aging. Beginning with the interview process, mental health counselors make observations that help them determine a treatment plan that will accomplish their client’s goals. They often use personality, aptitude, and psychological tests to determine more precisely the needs of a particular patient. They often work closely with other mental health professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers to ensure that all of the patient’s needs are being met. Mental health counselors are also responsible for maintaining records of tests and counseling services, and making sure that all records are kept confidential. They frequently conduct research and report their findings in professional and trade journals. Anyone interested in a career as a mental health counselor should be emotionally stable, sensitive to people’s feelings, and have excellent oral and written communication skills.

Work Environment:

Mental health counselors are employed in a variety of settings including private practice, hospitals, correctional institutions, mental health clinics, schools and universities, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, halfway houses, and residential care facilities. They may work long, irregular hours including nights and weekends.

High School Preparation:

Students interested in a career in mental health counseling should take high school courses in biology, geometry, algebra, English, health occupations/medical professions education, sociology, literature, psychology, computer skills, social studies, and speech.

College Requirements:

Individuals interested in mental health counseling must first obtain a bachelor’s degree in counseling, psychology, education, sociology, or social work. Most employment opportunities for mental health counselors require a master’s degree or a doctoral degree. Voluntary certification is available through The National Board of Certified Counselors. An internship, a taped sample of clinical work, or other professional experience, as well as passing a written examination is required to receive this certification.

Students interested in counseling should contact schools for information on admission and course of study.

For educational institutions in Mississippi
offering this course of study click here.

Career Outlook:

Employment opportunities for mental health counselors are expected to grow faster than the average for all other occupations through the year 2012. The demand for mental health professionals will continue to increase due to the increasing availability of federal funds to construct and improve statewide mental health networks. Mental health counselors are also becoming increasingly involved in crisis management and preventative counseling as it relates to young people. Another boom in employment will result from employers who are increasingly offering employee assistance programs that provide mental health and substance abuse programs. Employment will also increase as many counselors retire or leave the profession for other reasons. 




Average Annual Salary



Salary Range



*Varying greatly with education and experience


Professional Organizations:


American Counseling Association

5999 Stevenson Avenue

Alexandria, VA


Phone: (800) 347-6647

Fax: (800) 473-2329


American Mental Health Counselors Association

801 N. Fairfax Street, Suite 304

Alexandria, VA 22314

Phone: (701) 548-6002

Fax: (703) 548-4775


Mississippi Counseling Association

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