Becoming a mental health counsellor is one of the most fulfilling career paths you can choose. You have the option to work on your own schedule and spend your days helping people to feel better. This career path involves a decent amount of schooling, along with certifications and licensing, so if you are interested in pursuing this as a career, here are the steps that you will need to take.
- Earn a Degree
The first thing that you will need to do is earn your degrees. In order to be a mental health counselor, you will need not only your Bachelor’s Degree, but your Master’s Degree as well. Many professionals hold a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field, such as Psychology, Social Work (BSW degree) or Human Development and then proceed to get their Master’s in Counselling. Make sure you choose a school that has the proper accreditation in your state.
After you have received your degree, you will need to go through some training. Counsellor training programs include an extensive amount of supervised field experience, usually in the form of internships or practicums. The CACREP (the governing body that overseas accreditation for counselling programs in the US) requires 100 hours of experience in which the student provides counselling to another individual, weekly group supervision sessions, and evaluation based on the student’s interactions with their clients, among other things.
- Get A Licence
Once you have finished your education, and all of the training that goes along with it, the last thing you need to do before you can start your career is get your licence. Depending on the program, the amount of training hours that you need to complete and the exams you need to pass will all vary. The best thing that you can do is learn about the requirements in your state and know ahead of time what will be required of you.
- Start Your Own Practice or Join An Existing One
If you have completed all of the steps above, you are now ready to start being a mental health counsellor. This means that you either need to apply for a job at a place that needs counsellors, or start your own practice. Each route has its pros and cons, and the one you go with will ultimately come down to your own personal preference, and the job market. Working for an established location may be easier for recently certified therapists, but opening your own practice may allow you more freedom. Here are some basic tips for starting your own practice that you may find useful.
- Continue Your Education
Lastly, just because you have passed all of your classes and done all of your training, that does not mean you are done learning. As you continue your career as a mental health counsellor, you should routinely make time to brush up on what you have learned, and explore new information that has entered into the field. Continuing your education is a requirement for many state licences, so this is not something that should be forgotten about once you begin working. The exact continuing education requirements that you need to meet will vary from state to state, so it is best to do a little research into what your state requires before it is too late.
Enjoy Your New Career
To become a mental health counsellor you need to go through hours upon hours of training and education, but the end result is worth it. After you are done you will have a new career to look forward, and it will be one in which you get to help people each and every day.