Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) Jobs & Career Guide

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What is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor or LMHC?

Mental health counselors work with people who have mental disorders, are going through a traumatic event, or need help forming good habits to achieve their objectives and enhance their psychological and physical health.

Many mental health counselors conduct their therapy holistically, employing a “wellness” paradigm (rather than a “sickness” one) that emphasizes and promotes individuals’ strengths.

According to the American Counseling Association, mental health counselors use a combination of problem-solving and psychotherapy to assist individuals, groups, and families in coping with various mental health difficulties.

They may deal with various people or provide specialized therapy to a specific group, such as children, teenagers, the elderly, military personnel, and the disabled.

Counselors typically specialize in specific areas. They are generally trained to assist persons with:

  • Personality disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Drug abuse
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dementia
  • Adjustment disorders caused by significant life events, such as a new baby, divorce, or death

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Patients with chronic and recurring issues, such as the following, are also assisted by mental health professionals:

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Loss in appetite and changes in weight
  • Having trouble focusing
  • Losing enthusiasm for hobbies or pursuits
  • Inability to continue with everyday activities
  • Suicidal thoughts

What Do You Do Day to Day?

Mental health counselors perform a variety of tasks including:

  • Work collaboratively with individuals, families, or groups to promote mental health
  • Support clients to open up about their feelings and situations
  • Investigate issues such as anger management, aging, careers, bullying, substance abuse, depression, stress, suicidal tendencies, relationships, and LGBTQ concerns
  • Assist customers in defining goals, planning actions, and gaining insight
  • Create therapeutic processes
  • Create referrals for clients to required services
  • Approach mental health care holistically (body and mind)

Where Do You Work?

Many counselors run their own businesses. They may work alone or in collaboration with other experts. Some also are employed in mental health clinics, drug abuse treatment programs, hospitals, jails, and schools. Residential treatment programs may hire those who work in the addiction sector.

It may be quite demanding to work as a mental health counselor. Your patients are usually distressed and may become physically aggressive or even argumentative. In fact, you may be particularly requested to assist when they become physical.

What Are the Requirements to Do This Job?

While the standard job description for a mental health counselor may vary, all must be licensed and registered with the state they serve. A master’s degree is the minimum educational qualification in all US states to be a licensed professional.

You may be permitted to act in a support role in the mental health sector before acquiring your license in some jurisdictions and circumstances if your work is overseen by a licensed professional. However, you will not be able to give personal counseling services.

We’ve listed the standard requirements to land LMHC jobs. Although it might serve as a guide, remember that each person’s experience is unique.

Education

A master’s degree in a subject that deals with mental health, such as psychology, social work, or clinical mental health counseling, is required. You’ll take classes and take part in clinical experience in addition.

The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs‘ accreditation is a requirement for many businesses before considering hiring graduates from those programs.

Licensing

You must get a license in the state where you wish to operate, which often entails passing a written test.

The National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE), which is given by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), is an exam that several states need mental health counselors to pass.

Continuing Education

Professional growth, usually called continuous learning, is crucial for mental health counselors. Typical requirements for a counselor’s license renewal include completing a stipulated number of hours of ongoing education.

To give patients the best treatment possible, it’s also critical to stay ahead of the curve on new research and industry standards in mental health therapy.

Certification

Some mental health professionals decide to pursue certification. Although obtaining this certificate is optional, it might help you stand out as a candidate for LMHC jobs.

The National Board for Certified Counselors provides several designations. A specialist accreditation, such as Master Addictions Counselor or Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC), can be obtained after becoming a Nationally Certified Counselor.

Even though you need a master’s degree and a license to provide mental health counseling, there are still jobs available in this sector without one. These possibilities are typically found in support jobs like a counselor’s assistant, health technician, or crisis line coordinator.

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How Much Money Can You Earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the typical yearly income for a mental health counselor is $48,520. Note that the BLS groups licensed counselors with counselors for behavioral disorders and substance abuse for reporting purposes.

California (34,820) has the most number of licensed mental health counselors who specialize in mental health, drug addiction, and behavioral disorders, followed by New York (20,010), Pennsylvania (18,240), Massachusetts (17,020), and Texas (16,970).

Utah ($66,190 annually) has the highest average wage for this occupational category. Alaska ($65,090 per year), the District of Columbia ($64,920 per year), Rhode Island ($64,640 per year), and New Jersey ($63,430 per year) round out the top five highest paying states for mental health counselors.

As the criminal justice system strives to rehabilitate rather than imprison offenders and as more individuals generally seek counseling services, demand for licensed counselors is anticipated to contribute to increasing career chances in the upcoming years.

In rural and other neglected locations, prospects for counselors are expected to be particularly promising.

Mental health, drug addiction, and behavioral problem counselor employment is predicted to grow by 22% through 2028, which translates to an estimated 6,850 new positions for this profession per year.

What Is the Career Path?

Mental health counselors are employed in a growing number of areas nowadays. Private practice is only one alternative, even if it’s a great pick.

You might work in hospitals, community groups, public or private schools, colleges, assisted living homes, and so on, depending on your interests and areas of specialization.

In-Home Therapist

You greatly desire to support families and kids in overcoming destructive habits and forging deeper, healthier bonds. Working one-on-one with children and families in their homes is what an in-home therapist does.

Children’s behavioral, emotional and social problems will be evaluated and treated, and families and caregivers will be given information on how to communicate better and offer more support.

Residential Counselor

You should totally acquaint yourself with the lives of the individuals you treat.

As a residential counselor, you may spend your days working with one demographic at a residential institution, recovery center, or group home, regardless of whether you are motivated to counsel children, the elderly, drug addicts, or homeless veterans.

You may conduct group therapy sessions in addition to one-on-one counseling and plan and direct residential programs focusing on social rehab.

Outpatient Clinician

You want to be able to serve a variety of age demographics in a range of environments. As an outpatient clinician, you will provide therapy to children, adolescents, and adults who are experiencing behavioral, emotional, and developmental difficulties outside of a hospital setting.

You could be asked to apply individual, family, or group therapy approaches at community agencies, private clinics, jails, schools, or just about anywhere, either practicing alone or in collaboration with groups or community agencies.

Substance Abuse Counselor

You are familiar with the adverse effects of substance misuse on not just individuals but also groups, families, and communities. You want to offer people seeking recovery the encouragement and coping mechanisms they need to become and remain sober.

Working one-on-one and in groups, you’ll treat the psychological, behavioral, and emotional issues that contribute to addiction while providing coping mechanisms as a drug abuse counselor.

School Adjustment Counselor

You wish to assist young people in overcoming their emotional, cognitive, and social difficulties to have a life full of opportunities. Working in a school environment, a school adjustment counselor attends to the mental health requirements of kids, teenagers, and young adults.

You may assist kids in eliminating barriers to wellbeing and progress by preventing and treating problems including drug addiction, physical abuse, and violence.

Latest Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) Jobs & Career Guide Listings

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