Mental Health Counselors

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Video transcript

Mental health counselors help to make life better for people with mental or emotional problems. They start by listening to find out what's wrong. They're trained to help people talk about a wide range of issues, from depression to substance abuse and family tensions. In addition to advising their clients, mental health counselors work closely with other specialists in their field.

For example, a patient might need to see a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication or be connected to a social worker who runs a support group. Many mental health counselors have private practices or work for agencies. Others are on staff at schools, senior citizen centers, and even corporations. They frequently work flexible hours, often evenings and weekends.

It's a profession with national standards for education, training, and clinical practice. Most states require some form of licensure or certification. The American Mental Health Counselors Association is the professional organization that oversees all counselors. Membership requires a master's degree in counseling, clinical work experience, and passing a license exam in the state where you plan to practice.

Mental health counselors need compassion and strength. It's not easy to listen to people struggling with serious problems, but knowing how to help them can be very rewarding.

Counsel and advise individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health, with an emphasis on prevention. May help individuals deal with a broad range of mental health issues, such as those associated with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; or aging.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Assess patients for risk of suicide attempts.

Gather information about community mental health needs or resources that could be used in conjunction with therapy.

Perform crisis interventions with clients.

Act as client advocates to coordinate required services or to resolve emergency problems in crisis situations.

Monitor clients' use of medications.

Refer patients, clients, or family members to community resources or to specialists as necessary.

Discuss with individual patients their plans for life after leaving therapy.

Meet with families, probation officers, police, or other interested parties to exchange necessary information during the treatment process.

Counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, or supporting clients or patients.

Evaluate the effectiveness of counseling programs on clients' progress in resolving identified problems and moving towards defined objectives.

Evaluate clients' physical or mental condition, based on review of client information.

Assisting and Caring for Others Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Therapy and Counseling Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Sociology and Anthropology Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Philosophy and Theology Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Social Perceptiveness Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Service Orientation Actively looking for ways to help people.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.