Becoming a clinical mental health counselor is a noble goal, but it's important to check whether the economic climate is ripe with hiring prospects before investing in post-grad study. Clinical mental health counseling is a licensed profession concerned with helping clients cope with life's challenges, including divorce, behavioral disorders, grief, and traumatic violence. Counselors are important healthcare team members who strive for emotional and social well-being instead of just physical. Clinical mental health services are essential because the NAMI reports that 43.8 million Americans, nearly one in five people, are afflicted by mental illnesses each year. Among the most prevalent conditions are phobias, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, addiction, depression, and ADHD. Anxiety disorders alone cost the United States $42 billion annually! Therefore, you can correctly guess that the employment outlook for clinical mental health counselors is especially bright.
Job Growth for Clinical Mental Health Counselors
The Affordable Care Act has made great strides in forcing insurance companies to cover mental health treatment, which made therapy services more accessible and less stigmatized. It's unclear whether President Trump will repeal this stipulation, but policies are currently protecting more mentally ill Americans than before. According to the Watson Institute, 2.7 million military veterans have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, often with emotional scars needing treatment too. The increasing demand caused the BLS to project job growth of 20 percent for 26,400 new clinical mental health counseling positions by 2024. California, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts have the nation's highest employment levels of counselors.
Where to Find Clinical Mental Health Counseling Jobs
The United States is expecting its number of clinical mental health counselors to grow much faster than normal from 134,500 to 160,900 in the coming decade. Nearly 25 percent of these positions will be created in individual and family services. Licensed counselors use therapeutic approaches like CBT and psychoanalysis in outpatient mental health centers. Others work in public or private hospitals, addiction centers, group homes, residential behavioral facilities, government-run health offices, college campuses, and employee assistance programs. Experienced clinical mental health counselors could be starting private practices to drum up their own client bases. Counseling jobs are usually full-time with irregular hours outside the 9-to-5, including weekends, to fit clients' schedules.
Steps to Get Hired as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor
Benefiting from the spectacular employment outlook in counseling will involve attending a graduate school, preferably one that's CACREP-accredited. Master's programs generally require finishing a baccalaureate major like psychology, health science, sociology, or social work with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better. Post-grads can then pursue a M.A./M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling full- or part-time, complete supervised internships, and undertake a master's thesis. Each state has slightly different regulations, so visit the National Board for Certified Counselors to inquire about yours. Clinical mental health counselors usually need 2,000+ practice hours, passing background checks, and suitable LMHC exam scores. Some may further specialize with credentials like Certified Clinical Military Counselor (CCMC).
Currently, the American Mental Health Counselors Association's career database has over 370 jobs from Seattle to Denver and Louisville for promising therapists. Choosing clinical mental health counseling is a smart move for individuals who are empathetic, patient, calming, detail-oriented, and good listeners. Not only is the employment outlook splendid, but the mean annual wage for a clinical mental health counselor is also decent at $46,050.