Mental Health Counselor Vs. Clinical Psychologist

Mental health counselors and clinical psychologists are important parts of an individual's journey to mental health. Read further to learn about these two, potentially lifesaving, positions. Schools offering Mental Health Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Mental health counselors and clinical psychologists both help their clients to improve their mental health yet their jobs are not identical. The chart below shows the education requirements, job duties, and salary of mental health counselors vs. clinical psychologists.

Degree Required Bachelor's or master's degree, depending on one's state (mental health counselor); PhD or PsyD (clinical psychologist)
Licensing Required Requirement varies from state to state (mental health counselor); licensing mandatory in all states but qualifications for licensing vary from state to state (clinical psychologists)
Additional Training Internship mandatory for licensing in most states
Testing Required Requirement varies from state to state (mental health counselor); Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology needed in most states (clinical psychologist)
Certification Required National Board for Certified Counselors certification recommended but not required (mental health counselor); American Board of Professional Psychology recommended but not required (clinical psychologist)
Key Responsibilities Evaluate clients' mental health and develop appropriate treatment plans
Job Growth (2018-2028) 22% (substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors); 14% (all psychologists)*
Median Salary (2018) $44,630 (substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors); $76,990 (clinical, counseling, and school psychologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Job Duties of a Mental Health Counselor?

Mental health counselors aid their clients in coping with a wide variety of stressors and in developing effective coping mechanisms. Their scope of practice may not be limited to one client but may also encompass the client's family. This all depends on the needs of each client. Mental health counselors will also refer their clients to other services which are outside of their practice, such as support groups, more specialized mental health professionals such as clinical psychologists, or even job placement services in certain cases.

What Are the Job Duties of a Clinical Psychologist?

Clinical psychologists provide mental and behavioral healthcare to individuals, families, and communities. They provide assessments for their clients through the use of interviews, psychological tests, and more. Once a clinical psychologist has determined the cause of a client's problems, such as a psychopathology, he or she will determine the best course of treatment.

Who Do Mental Health Counselors Treat?

Mental health counselors treat people with a wide variety of conditions. These include but are not limited to anxiety, depression, and suicidality. They also help those who suffer from low self-esteem, are undergoing a period of stress, or are dealing with grief. Mental health counselors are capable of working with individuals from any demographic, though some will specialize in one section of the population, such as children, veterans, or the elderly.

Who Do Clinical Psychologists Treat?

Clinical psychologists are trained to provide mental and behavioral healthcare to anyone. This includes individuals of any age and socioeconomic background. Additionally, clinical psychologists may also work with groups or communities to improve the mental health of the people involved in the group or community.

What Personal Traits Does One Need to Be a Mental Health Counselor or a Clinical Psychologist?

Mental health counselors and clinical psychologists need to be compassionate, patient, and have excellent interpersonal and communication skills. Those who are coping with mental health issues need someone who can empathize with their situation and remain calm if they become distressed during an appointment. They also need someone who can listen to them and effectively communicate a way to cope with their problems.

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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