How Do I Become a Mental Health Counselor? - Video

Before you can become a Mental Health Counselor, you must meet national standards for education, training, licensing and certification. Read on to learn more about the education and training required for clinical practice in mental health counseling.

Education and Training

To become a Metal Health Counselor, you must earn a bachelor's degree in counseling, psychology, human services or social work before earning a master's degree in counseling or a mental health discipline.

It will take you at least four years to earn a bachelor's degree unless you are enrolled in an accelerated program. Earning a master's degree will take an additional two years if you study full time.

After graduation, Mental Health Counselors must spend time in a clinical setting under the supervision of a licensed Mental Health Counselor. This clinical work is known as an internship or a residency and typically takes at least two years to complete.

Licensing and Certification

Although licensing requirements for Mental Health Counselors can vary depending on the state in which you wish to practice, a license is almost always required. To obtain a license, you must earn a master's degree from an accredited institution, complete at least two years of post master's clinical work and pass a state licensing examination.

Mental Health Counselors can also earn a national certification in addition to a state license. To become certified, you must complete a master's degree program, spend at least 3,000 hours working as a counselor and pass a national certification examination. In some states, earning a national certification will make it easier to obtain a license to practice.

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