Love helping people? Become a clinical mental health counselor
Many people who study psychology are motivated by an innate desire to help people. However, there are many different ways to utilize a psychology degree to positively impact the world, in the same way that there are many different ways to utilize a medical degree.
One of the most versatile and multifaceted careers available to students of psychology is to become a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CCMHC). Let’s take a look at what this profession entails, and why becoming a CCMHC could be the perfect fit for you.
How do you become a clinical mental health counselor?
To become a CCMHC requires a master’s degree. Generally, a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field is sufficient for entry into master’s programs. Most master’s programs take two years to complete (as a full time student), with classroom learning providing a broad foundation of psychological knowledge. Online or part-time programs can distribute class hours over a longer period of time.
In addition to taking classes, to become a CCMHC you must also pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). This requires 100 hours of clinical supervision and 3,000 hours of clinical contact with clients along with passing the certification exam itself.
As a CCMHC, you would be trained to provide evidence-based treatments for clients. The most common type of treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but depending on the population and the type of job, a CCMHC might use any number of other therapies or clinical practices.
After receiving your degree, a vast field of potential jobs becomes available. The training as a CCMHC focuses primarily on how to offer counseling, but many Clinical Mental Health Counselors also diagnose and treat mental illness, and provide any number of other services to clients.
It’s common for CCMHCs to work as a part of a health care team that may include medical doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, and other trained psychologists. Teams or individual CCMHCs could be employed at a variety of different locations including hospitals and clinics, family agencies, government services, mental health facilities, and private practices, just to name a few.
To do your own research into what types of jobs and salaries to expect in your area as a CCMHC, try searching online for jobs using the following keywords: a “master’s level” certification as a “mental health counselor” or “mental health professional.” You’ll be surprised at the diversity of job offerings and potential salaries.
What is the reality of becoming a mental health counselor?
The reality is that the number of people with a bachelor’s degree in psychology has steadily increased over the last few decades, and psychology is now one of the most popular majors in the United States. The market is flooded, and it’s important for people with a degree to separate themselves into a field with good job prospects.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for mental health counselors in the United States is expected to increase by 19 percent from 2014-2024, a rate that is “much faster than average.” For those interested in becoming a CCMHC, there should be ample opportunity to find a job, though the competition may be fierce.
One of the best ways for an individual hoping to become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor is to earn their master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health counseling from an innovative program, such as The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. The editors at bestpsychologydegrees.com ranked The Chicago School of Professional Psychology as one of the top 20 most innovative psychology programs, along with Michigan State, Harvard University, and USC.
Their decision was based in part on the fact that the Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers degrees in both Neuropsychology and Industrial & Organizational Psychology—two of the three fastest growing degree programs in the field. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology has also long been renowned for their innovations in distance learning, with more than 20 different psychology degrees offered online. Three master’s-level degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling are offered, with locations in Southern California, Washington D.C., Chicago, and online.
For individuals hoping to become a Clinical Mental Health Counselor, finding a high quality program that offers opportunities for distance learning can be a great opportunity to take a step up in their career. With an online degree, you can avail yourself of the manifold professional opportunities afforded to CCMHCs without needing to transplant your entire life to a new location. Becoming a CCMHC could be the answer to how to use your interest in psychology to help people and make a positive impact on the world around you.