What Are the Courses in an Online Mental Health Counseling Degree Program?

Online mental health counseling degree programs are usually undertaken at the master's level. Such programs are designed to provide students with the solid background and clinical experience needed for advanced work in the mental health field. Read on to explore some course topics covered in a mental health counseling degree program. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

About Online Mental Health Counseling Master's Degree Programs

Online mental health counseling degree programs are designed to help students develop knowledge of the theories and models of intervention necessary to operate as effective counselors in a variety of settings. Graduates may become prepared to work with diverse populations in community mental health centers, nursing homes, college counseling centers, educational institutions, and hospitals.

Programs often work from a cohort model, whereby all students complete the same curriculum and even work together for the duration of the program. While online programs in mental health counseling do offer most of the coursework online, students must still fulfill some in-person requirements, including internships and any requisite clinical work.

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Prerequisites Bachelor's degree; minimum GPA, work or volunteer experience in a mental health setting, and prior social science coursework may be required
Continuing Education Additional clinical experience may be required after graduation for state licensure
Program Duration Approximately 3 years
Possible Careers Rehabilitation agency counselor, employee assistance program counselor, family counselor, crisis counselor
Median Salary (2018)$44,630 (Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)23% growth (Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Sample Core Curriculum

Curricula generally consist of a core group of classes as well as elective courses, an internship, and a supervised practicum. They may also include some kind of culmination of the student's work, often in the form of a portfolio or capstone experience. Some programs require students to have some presence on campus at the beginning or end of the program. Core classes often cover the subjects shown below:

  • Foundations of mental health counseling
  • Counseling theory
  • Appraisal techniques
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Counseling skills and practice
  • Research methods
  • Human growth and development
  • Child and adolescent counseling
  • Career or vocational counseling
  • Ethical issues in counseling

Practicum and Internship Requirements

Students are usually required to complete a practicum consisting of supervised field experiences in non-profit and public mental health treatment facilities. Students also participate in internships, working a certain number of hours to become licensed therapists under the guidance of a faculty member.

Portfolio or Capstone Experience

A capstone experience, which is generally completed during an internship, focuses on a recorded counseling session between the student and a client. The project analyzes particular issues of the case including contextual and ethical aspects and treatment options. The project is submitted for review and is evaluated by the student's faculty committee.

Other Mental Health Counseling Master's-Level Courses

Online mental health counseling programs often require completion of a number of additional courses, many of which are offered as electives. Some examples of these courses are shown below:

  • Group counseling and dynamics
  • Couples counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Sexual assault survivor counseling

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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