How to Truly Excel in a Career in Mental Health Counseling

Published November 12, 2019

Choosing a career in the health care industry is a huge life decision to make. Not only is it one of the most challenging industries out there both mentally and physically, but it can also prove to be one of the most rewarding fields to work in. Knowing that you are making a difference in the lives of people is like no other feeling, and that’s exactly what healthcare professionals do each and every day.

Of course, the healthcare industry is vast, encompassing all kinds of jobs from front-line workers to administrative staff, appealing to a wide cross-section of people. If you’ve already done your research and come to the realization that a career in mental health counseling is right for you, now is the time to create a plan on how to excel.

Here are some tips and general information on the field that can help you on your path to career success and overall job satisfaction.

Investigate What Kind of Schooling is Necessary

In order to qualify for a job as a mental health counselor, you will of course need the right schooling and training. The clinical mental health counseling masters’ program through St. Bonaventure University Online will give you all the foundations you need in order to excel in the career path.

It’s important to understand the core concepts of counseling so that you will be able to help your patients work through and overcome their challenges. You’ll be learning a variety of strategies, research methods, and practices, all of which will make you a better counsellor and of course benefit your patients.

It is also recommended that you continue your education throughout your career, taking extra courses so that you stay up-to-date on the latest research, trends, and developments in the industry.

What Kind of Salary to Expect?

It’s also normal to wonder what kind of salary you can expect as a mental health counselor. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors have a median salary of $44,630 for 2018.

The BLS also posts a very promising stat for those looking to enter into the field, as the available jobs are expected to grow by 22% by 2028. This is much faster than the average national job growth numbers encompassing all jobs. These types of counselors are in demand, and very much needed across the entire country.

Where Will You Work?

As a mental health counselor, you can expect to work in a mental health center, a private practice, a community health center, a hospital, or even in a prison. The field offers a lot of options in terms of employers giving you the flexibility to truly choose your own path.

What Are the Challenges Mental Health Counselors Face?

While there are plenty of positives in becoming a mental health counselor, it’s also important to look at the full picture and recognize that there will be challenges. Accepting that these challenges do exist will help you to be prepared should they arise.

One of the most common challenges these counselors face is the fact it can be extremely draining from an emotional standpoint. You will be helping people with some very real and heavy issues, and that can take a toll on your own mental health. It’s important that you figure out a way to release your own stress right from the start, and use coping techniques so that you can stay strong in the job and not take it home with you.

It also tends to be a very fast-paced environment where you’ll be juggling a number of different patients with all kinds of different issues at once. You need to be able to handle this kind of environment while staying organized, focused, and unruffled.

Are There Any Skills You Should Sharpen?

Finally, there are some skills that you can work on sharpening as you prepare for a job as a mental health counselor. Here’s a list of some of the top ones that will be expected of you:

  • Empathy
  • Listening skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Communication skills
  • The ability to set boundaries
  • Time management skills
  • Detail oriented
  • The ability to multi-task

You’re Ready to Begin Your Career

With all of these tips, advice, and pieces of information, you’ll be ready to start on the path towards forging a successful and rewarding career as a mental health counselor.

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