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What careers can you pursue with a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling?

There are more ways to help someone with mental illness than in private practice.

Mental health is more than a buzzword. Diagnoses of depression rose by 33 percent between 2013 and 2016, and one in five adults in the United States experiences mental illness in a given year.

At The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, students are trained to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people suffering from mental illness. Graduates of the master’s in clinical mental health counseling program will be prepared to provide counseling services to individuals, families, couples, and groups, and will be able to help clients work through a wide variety of issues, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Low self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Suicidal impulses

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of mental health counselors is expected to grow 20 percent through 2026. While private practice is often the first career path people think of in relation to clinical mental health counseling, there are other careers you can pursue. Read on for more information about five specific types of mental health counselor careers graduates can pursue with a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.


Social Worker

Social workers can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Mental health clinics
  • Schools
  • Child welfare and human service agencies
  • Settlement houses
  • Community development corporations
  • Private practices

It is important to note that social workers help people to access counseling—meaning, they’ll refer them to someone who can provide those types of services. Clinical social workers provide counseling in addition to that (and are typically licensed).

In hospitals, social workers can provide education, assist with support groups, advocate for patients and their families, help them find resources, and (if licensed) offer mental health services. Given the often stressful nature of hospitals, social workers are a good resource for patients and their families if they are dealing with loss, a diagnosis, or other health-related problems.

Social workers can also be found in nonprofits. Specifically, social workers are helpful in settlement houses or homeless shelters. 45 percent of the homeless population show a history of mental illness diagnoses. Organizations like North Side Housing and Supportive Services and Franciscan Outreach have social workers that provide counseling to give clients lasting support.


Geriatric Counselor

Geriatric counselors work specifically with elderly individuals, whether that’s helping them with the retirement transition or with end-of life-matters. These counselors can also help clients process the loss of a spouse, lifelong friends, independence, or deteriorating health. Geriatric counselors often work in settings such as:

  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Long- and short-term care facilities
  • Retirement homes
  • Community senior centers


From the Magazine:

Aging alone: mental health practitioners are taking a closer look at the impact of aging 


Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors provide treatment and support for those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, or those that have an eating disorder or behavioral problem. They can work in settings such as:

  • Mental health centers
  • Community health centers
  • Prisons
  • Private practices

Given that relapse can happen for 40 to 60 percent of those with substance use disorders, many substance abuse counselors treat clients on an on-going basis.


Employee Assistance Program Counselor

An employee assistance program (EAP) is a voluntary, work-based program that offers assistance to employees facing mental and emotional issues, or work-related and/or personal problems. EAP counselors can either work remotely or on-site in the workplace. Since many EAPs offer 24/7 support, counselors may be required to work evenings and weekends. 

97 percent of companies that have more than 5,000 employees have EAPs and 75 to 80 percent of mid-sized and smaller companies have them as well. The rationale behind workplaces having EAPs is that if employers take care of the mental health needs of employees, productivity will increase and business costs will decrease. EAPs give managers and human resources staff an opportunity to refer help to an employee in need.  


Sports Counselor

Sports counseling is a specialized field of work where counselors are concerned with the wellbeing, mental functioning, and physical performance of athletes.

Athletic departments in colleges and universities, as well as professional sports teams or leagues, employ sports counselors. Attending mental health counseling can teach athletes techniques for overcoming the stress and pressure they experience during a competition, which in turn can improve their performance. Matthew Cunliffe, a sports psychologist says it best: “The top six inches of the body matter just as much as the rest.”


Learn more about The Chicago School

If you would like to learn more about The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s clinical mental health counseling programs, fill out the form below for more information. You can also apply today through our application portal.



Rebecca Koch

Rebecca Koch originally joined TCS Education System’s marketing department as a journalism fellow in January 2018. She recently graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and now works as the team's content marketing specialist. 


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