Mental Health Therapist Careers

What is a Mental Health Therapist?

Mental Health Therapists diagnose and treat mental illness. The Therapist, or Counselor, works with clients who struggle with mental illnesses like depression, addiction, anxiety, chronic pain, bipolar disorder, or personality disorders. Mental Health Therapists also help clients dealing with family problems, including marital problems. The Therapist discusses feelings and emotions with their clients and guides them to make decisions. They develop strategies to help them cope with their situation.  

Mental Health Therapists help people face the challenges in their life by providing compassionate discussion and helpful resources. They provide ongoing psychological care and consult with other mental-health professionals to help clients overcome difficult life events. The Therapist promotes better mental health by working with individuals, couples, families, and groups to address emotional and mental disorders that prevent them from enjoying a healthy and fulfilled life.

 

What is a Mental Health Therapist Responsible for?

Mental Health Therapists are responsible for assisting clients in understanding their illness and providing guidance to help them manage the challenges they face. A Mental Health Therapist spends a great deal of time in discussion with the client, helping them to talk through and manage their emotions and understand how their illness affects their decisions and general well-being. The Therapist also spends time meeting with other health-care professionals and arranging access to community resources and programs that may help the client.

Mental Health Therapists should expect to work at any or all the following tasks:

  • Identifying individuals and groups who need help
  • Encouraging discussion of emotions and experiences
  • Assessing the individual’s situation and review their needs, strengths, and support systems
  • Offering encouragement and advice on how to achieve goals
  • Teaching relaxation techniques to help clients deal with stressful circumstances  
  • Examining issues affecting strong mental health, including bullying, anger management, aging issues, substance abuse, and relationships
  • Creating plans to improve situations for their clients
  • Researching community resources to determine those available and helpful to their clients
  • Working with families and friends to gain an understanding of their clients’ social network
  • Helping their clients define goals and strategies to achieve them
  • Applying a holistic mind and body approach to their clients’ mental-health care
  • Conducting interviews and follow-ups with clients to ensure the plan for improvement is effective
  • Maintaining accurate reports and records

 

Where Does a Mental Health Therapist Work?

Mental Health Therapists work with people in private practice and at community centers. They work with clients in all walks of life and in all social and economic classes. Mental Health Therapist Jobs are found at substance-abuse centers, hospitals, health-care organizations, and youth homes. Some specialize in working with children and others focus on working with those who have disabilities or addictions. Many Mental Health Therapists collaborate with other professionals such as Social Workers, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and School Counselors to assist their clients.

 

What Other Career Options Are Available to a Mental Health Therapist?

Mental Health Therapists help clients with a variety of social and lifestyle issues. The key function of a Mental Health Therapist is to be attentive to patient’s and guide them to develop an adaptive plan for coping with their problems. Compassion and dedication are the leading traits in this career choice. There are many positions across an array of industries for those interested in becoming a Mental Health Therapist.

A few career options available to those interested in this field include:

Federal and State Agencies

Mental Health Therapists assist many government agencies by providing timely and critical mental-health support. Patients who require highly specialized support are found at such places as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Office of Disability Affairs, and the Office of Elderly Affairs. Clients in these programs often suffer from mental-health issues that directly relate to their social or economic class. The Mental Health Therapist works with clients and other agencies to identify available resources and help ensure the needs of the clients are addressed.  

Substance Abuse Centers

Mental Health Therapists who specialize in substance abuse and addiction illness are in high demand. Chronic abuse of tobacco, alcohol, prescription, and illegal drugs can cause psychological and behavioral problems, and even death. Although serious enough on their own, these addictions and abuses often stem from bigger problems. The Therapists work with their patients to uncover the reasons for the abuse. Mental Health Therapists who specialize in substance abuse work in many environments, including mental health and community centers, private practice, and hospitals.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Group dynamics in marriage and family often trigger problems for individuals, making it difficult for them to address and overcome issues. Mental Health Therapists provide an objective voice in helping couples and families understand the underlying issues that make up the root cause of their conflict. Therapists who specialize in family counseling can be found in private practice as well as community centers and health-care settings.

Crisis Intervention

Crisis intervention settings are highly challenging and very rewarding. This specialty requires a Therapist who works well in stressful situations. The Mental Health Therapist often travels to a location on an emergency basis to offer evaluation, critical diagnostic assessment, and assessments of lethality or suicidal intention. Crisis intervention Therapists also work in hospital emergency departments, police departments, and disaster relief centers. They respond to emergency situations, offering counseling, diagnosis, referrals, and treatment plans to victims and survivors.

 

What Degree is Required to Become a Mental-Health Therapist? What Do They Study?

Most Mental Health Therapists start with undergraduate work, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Counseling. A Bachelor’s degree introduces the student to topics of human development, cognitive development, counseling principals, social structures, and psychological theory. There are courses on statistical reasoning, history of psychology, abnormal psychology, and theories of personality. An internship provides students an understanding of problem solving, decision making, group dynamics, and interviewing techniques. Internships can help students further develop critical thinking and communication skills.

Students wanting to specialize in marriage and family counseling or clinical work often obtain a Master’s Degree in Counseling. They study ethical issues, theory and process, cross-cultural counseling, and human growth and development amongst other courses.  Students with a Master’s Degree can work in public schools, private practice, and substance abuse facilities.

A PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, is typically sought by prospective scholars, educators, and researchers. A Doctorate degree is generally not required for most Mental Health Therapist specialties.  

 

How Much Money Does a Mental Health Therapist Earn?

Mental Health Therapists earn an average of $55,000 per year. The annual salary varies greatly by location, degree, and position. Substance abuse and crisis intervention counselors often earn less than the average annual salary.