Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Learn what it takes to earn a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling, from program admission requirements to what is taught in common courses. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Earn a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Individuals seeking a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling will need a bachelor's degree and, depending upon the school, GRE test scores, letters of recommendation, and a resume/CV. The program typically lasts two years, and courses such as the function of mental health counseling, counseling and psychotherapy theories, and ethics are part of the core curriculum.

Introduction to Mental Health Counseling

Introduction to mental health counseling courses give students an overview of what they will learn in a clinical mental health counseling program, as well as the history, development, and theories of mental health practice. Students will learn about the foundations of the counseling career, how professional credentials are earned and what can be done with them, and prevalent issues in the counseling field. By the end of the course, students should have a strong overview of the mental health field as a whole and be prepared for advanced study.

Counseling and Psychotherapy Theories

Courses on counseling and psychotherapy theories explore the history of these theories as well as the current theories still being used in clinical practice. Students will study and examine the current major techniques for counseling, as well as the foundations of these theories that have been structured through observational research. The advantages and disadvantages of these current practice theories are also examined. By the end of the course, students should have a thorough knowledge and understanding of past and current practical approaches to counseling theories, and they'll be able to use this knowledge to help form their own methods of practice.

Ethical and Legal Issues in Counseling

Counseling courses on legal issues and ethics teach students about the past and present legalities and ethical standards for practicing counselors. Students will study research that is relevant to the development of ethical standards and legal developments in the area, such as confidentiality, clinical research and testing, and supervision. Students will have the opportunity to study ethical decision-making models and determine what is best for their own practice. By the end of the course, students should know the applications of ethical counseling and the laws surrounding it.

Trauma and Crisis Intervention

Courses on trauma counseling and crisis intervention teach students how to effectively counsel a patient who has been through a traumatic event as well as how to properly conduct an intervention when the patient is in crisis. Students will learn what causes trauma and crisis in individuals, couples, families, and groups and how to assess risks such as suicide, aggression, or behavior that is harmful to the patient or others around the patient. By the end of the course, students should have an empathetic knowledge and understanding of the causes of trauma, how to treat patients who've suffered from disasters or traumatic events, and methods of crisis intervention.

Family Counseling

Family counseling courses teach students how to navigate the dynamics of married couples and families. Students will study the theories and applications of counseling families and the factors of culture, ethnicity, spirituality, values, and gender that come into play when working in a diverse society. By the end of the course, students should understand how to navigate the structure of families from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds as well as the history of and techniques for counseling individuals in a family setting.

Child and Adolescent Counseling

Courses in the counseling of children and adolescents teach students the theories and techniques behind the psychotherapy of children and young adults. Students will learn about methods of therapy, such as play, cognitive, and behavioral therapy, and will learn about working in school and community settings. By the end of the course, students should know how to properly analyze, evaluate, and treat children of all ages and backgrounds.

Counseling and Human Sexuality

Courses that explore human sexuality as it relates to counseling practice teach students the foundations of understanding human sexuality and how to counsel individuals and couples who are struggling with their sexuality. Students will learn about the research and history of sexuality, from sexual awakening, expressions of sexuality and gender, and the dynamics of sexuality in a social and emotional construct. By the end of the course, students should know how to treat individuals and couples who have concerns regarding their sexuality.

Counseling Practicum

A counseling practicum is when a student is given the opportunity to put their counseling knowledge and skills to the test by working in a clinical setting under the supervision of a licensed counselor. They may observe and take notes, participate in the counseling themselves, or perform other duties as assigned. A practicum differs from a counseling internship in that it typically requires fewer hours to complete.

Master's degrees in clinical mental health counseling require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree and, depending on the school, submit GRE test scores, a CV/resume, and letters of recommendation. The program typically lasts two years, and courses such as trauma counseling, ethics, and family counseling are available.

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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