Facts about Today’s Mental Health Counseling

In a previous blog entry, the history of Mental Health Counseling and its journey towards becoming a distinct and accredited profession were described. Below are five facts to know about the Mental Health Counseling field:

1. Licensure for Mental Health Counseling

Currently, licensure for Mental Health Counselors is recognized in all 50 states, as well as in the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. California became the 50th state to approve licensure and its first counselors will be licensed in 2011-2012.

Although the exact title varies from state to state, with the two most common being Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, all professionals that are awarded this title have the following characteristics in common.

2. Mental Health Counseling Services

Mental Health Counselors work with individuals, groups, and families in many different settings. They are able to provide a wide range of services that include, but are not limited to, assessment and diagnosis, psychotherapy, treatment planning, program development and evaluation, psycho-education and prevention programs, and crisis management.

3. Mental Health Counseling Settings

Mental Health Counselors are able to work either individually or as part of a team of professionals that provide mental health services. Settings vary greatly, but common ones include private practice, community agencies, hospitals and other institutions, mental health clinics, family care homes, and rehabilitation clinics and agencies.

4. Education Requirements for Mental Health Counselors

Mental Health Counseling master’s programs are required to include 60 semester hours of graduate studies and a curriculum that must contain, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Human growth and development
  • Social and cultural foundations of counseling
  • Counseling theory and practice
  • Psychopathology
  • Group dynamics
  • Career development
  • Assessment and appraisal
  • Research and program evaluation
  • Professional orientation and ethics
  • Foundations for Mental Health Counseling
  • Clinical instruction
  • A minimum of one year (600 clock hours) of supervised clinical work.

5. Professional Qualifications for Mental Health Counselors

  • One of the distinct characteristics of Mental Health Counseling, when compared to psychology, is the fact that the entry-level degree is a Master’s instead of a Doctorate.
  • Mental Health Counselors need a minimum of two years (3,000 hours) of post-master’s clinical work under the supervision of a licensed or certified mental health professional.
  • Finally, Mental Health Counselors are required to pass the state-developed licensure or certification exam.

Interested in learning about the history of Mental Health Counseling?

Read the first part of this series below: 



American Counseling Association (2012). Retrieved from http://www.counseling.org/counselors/licensureAndCert/TP/StateRequirements/CT2.aspx


American Mental Health Counseling Association (2012). Retrieved from http://www.amhca.org/


New York State Office of The Profession (2012). Retrieved from http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/mhp/mhclic.htm


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