Education Requirements for a Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Find out about the education options and state licensure requirements to become a mental health counselor. Explore job duties and skills you'll need to succeed in this career. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Requirements Do I Need to Fulfill to Become a Mental Health Counselor?

As a licensed mental health counselor, you'll be responsible for promoting mental health in individuals, groups and communities. You'll provide care for patients with family and marital problems, career issues, addictions, stress, depression and other life problems. If you would like to become a mental health counselor, you'll typically need to earn a minimum of a master's degree in counseling or mental health counseling and then obtain state licensure. In order to gain admittance into a master's program, you must first earn a bachelor's degree.

Education Requirements Master's degree and state licensure
Required Courses Abnormal psychology, introductory psychology, statistics, developmental psychology
Common Courses Cognitive behavioral therapy, ethics, human development, group counseling, research methods.
Other Requirements Licensure in the state in which you plan to practice; clinical experience; passing a state exam; continuing education

What Should I Major in?

Many master's degree programs in mental health counseling do not require you to earn a specific bachelor's degree; however, some require that you complete certain classes during your undergraduate studies. Some of the required classes can include:

  • Introductory psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Statistics
  • Abnormal psychology

Based on the required coursework, you may consider majoring in psychology or a related area. Majoring in psychology will typically ensure that you complete the required coursework and can provide you with a strong foundation for your future studies in mental health counseling.

What Classes Will I Take During My Master's Degree Program?

Once you get into a master's degree program in mental health counseling, you'll take a variety of classes. Some of your classes will focus directly on counseling and counseling techniques. Examples include counseling theory, assessment and appraisal, cognitive behavioral therapy, group counseling, crisis intervention and family therapy. Other topics that your classes may cover include ethics and legal issues, human development and research methods. Along with receiving classroom instruction, you'll complete clinical practicums, perform research and undertake an internship.

Are There Any Other Requirements?

Earning a master's degree is not the only requirement you must fulfill to become a mental health counselor. In most cases, you must also become licensed in the state in which you intend to practice. Although each state maintains its own eligibility requirements, you'll generally need to have earned at least a master's degree and completed a certain amount of clinical experience. After completing these requirements, you'll have to pass a state examination to earn your license. Additionally, you may need to earn continuing education credits and periodically renew your license.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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