Jobs for Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Gaining a master's degree in mental health counseling can lead to many different career paths. Learn about these different paths and take a look at the potential earnings for each.
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Career Paths
Substance Abuse Counselor
Substance abuse counselors work with individuals and/or groups who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction and help them incorporate healthy coping mechanisms for situations that may have led to addiction or could lead to relapse. Sometimes, they will use programs such as the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program to help the patient recover, attempt to fix any broken relationship the patient has, and also teach the patient's loved ones about how to deal with their addiction. Substance abuse counselors typically need a master's degree in mental health counseling or a related field and must take a state board exam to receive a license if they wish to counsel patients privately.
Behavioral Disorder Counselor
Behavioral disorder counselors can also work with individuals or in group settings, and help their patients with disordered behaviors such as eating disorders, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc. They guide their patients in discovering what triggers their behavior, how to cope with it, and how to positively change their behavior, as well as educating the patient's loved ones about their disorder and how to handle it. Behavioral disorder counselors must also have a master's degree in a related field and obtain a license to practice privately.
Mental Health Counselor
Mental health counselors provide treatment to several types of patients, including individuals, couples, families, and groups, and can work with specific populations, like teenagers or the elderly. These counselors treat patients for all types of mental problems, such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, suicidal urges, and grief, among others. Treatment may include assessing the patient's relationships and emotional health, and a master's degree and a license are required to work in private practice.
Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families to assess and treat any mental, emotional, or relationship problems, particularly relationships that lead to stress. A common treatment plan for patients is cognitive behavioral therapy, which is the process of addressing negative self-talk, thoughts, and behaviors, and develop ways to replace them with positive ones; this also includes discussing healthy coping mechanisms and any important decisions the client has to make. Marriage and family therapists typically work in private practice, so a license is required.
Rehabilitation counselors work with people who have physical, mental, developmental, or emotional disabilities to help them overcome or manage the physical, social and psychological effects of disability in order to live independently. They can help clients locate resources, such as medical care, career training, and legal aid, and help them adjust to their new limitations and find new strengths. An individual with a master's degree in mental health counseling can provide counseling services to rehabilitation clients, provided they have obtained a license to practice.
School counselors work in K-12 private and public institutions and help students with academic, emotional, and social needs. Typical job duties include guiding students on what classes to take, helping them find a career path, assisting them in choosing a college, assessing skills, talking about emotional issues, stress, or problems at home, fixing conflicts between students, and helping students overcome social or behavioral problems. School counselors need a master's degree in school counseling or a related field, a license to practice, and in some states, 1-2 years of teaching experience.
Domestic Violence Counselors
Domestic violence counselors must have a master's degree in counseling, a license to counsel, and an additional certificate for domestic violence counseling in order to work with victims of domestic abuse and violence to help them overcome trauma caused by their abuser. They must evaluate the client's mental and emotional state and make sure that their abuse history is recorded, ensure the client and any children involved are out of danger and guide the client in coping strategies, important decisions, and safety plans. Domestic violence counselors can work with clients who are currently in an abusive relationship, so confidentiality is especially important in this occupation to ensure the client's safety.
Grief counselors are licensed counselors who specialize in areas of grief and trauma. They help patients overcome situations such as the death of a loved one, death of a pet, or even the loss of a job. Important skills in this field are empathy, communication, professionalism, sensitivity, and compassion.
|Job Title||Average Salary (2018)||Job Outlook (2016-2026)*|
|Substance Abuse Counselor||$39,792**||23%|
|Behavioral Disorder Counselor||$52,314**||23%|
|Mental Health Counselor||$47,844**||23%|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||$50,090*||23%|
|Domestic Violence Counselor||$55,394***||23%|
Sources: *bls.gov ; **Payscale.com ; ***Glassdoor.com
There are a number of career paths available to those with a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling. Provided an individual obtains the right licensure and/or certification, they can work with various types of clients with differing counsel needs.