Mental health counselor

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A mental health counselor (MHC), or counselor, is a person who uses psychotherapeutic methods and coaching to help others.[1]

Description of duties[edit]

The legal definition of a counselor, and hence the legal scope of practice, varies with jurisdiction. In some jurisdictions, such as Oregon, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and psychologists have virtually identical definitions: evaluating and treating mental and behavioral disorders.[2] In spite of such definitions, many mental health professionals reject the medical model (which assumes that clients are "disordered") in favor of broader viewpoints, such as those that emerged from systems psychology.[3]

Service users[edit]

MHCs work with individuals, families, and groups to address and treat emotional and mental disorders and to promote mental health. Most mental health counselors in the U.S. work in outpatient and residential care centers, individual and family services, and local governments. [4] They are trained in a variety of therapeutic techniques used to address issues, including depression, addiction and substance abuse, suicidal impulses, stress, problems with self-esteem, and grief. They also help with job and career concerns, educational decisions, issues related to mental and emotional health, and family, parenting, marital, or other relationship problems. MHCs often work closely with other mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses, and school counselors. In many U.S. states, MHCs may diagnose as well as treat mental illness,[5] though the scope of practice for mental health practitioners varies from state to state.[6]

Professional regulation[edit]

United States[edit]

Licensing requirements vary from state to state. In some states, such as Oregon, mental health counseling can be practiced without a license. In these states, a license is available but not required.

A licensed mental health counselor holds a master's degree in counseling or another closely related field in mental health care. After obtaining a master's degree, a mental health counselor completes two years of clinical work under the supervision of a licensed or certified mental health professional. The qualifications for licensure are similar to those for marriage and family therapists and clinical social workers.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013". Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States Department of Labor. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Facts About Clinical Mental Health Counselors". American Mental Health Counselors Association. American Mental Health Counselors Association. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 


  • Brooks, D. K. & Weikel, W.J. (1996) Mental health counseling: The first twenty years. In W. J. Weikel & A. J. Palmo (Eds.) "Foundations of mental health counseling" (2nd ed.), (pp..5-29). Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.
  • Hershenson, D. B. & Strein, W. (1991) Toward a mentally healthy curriculum for mental health counselor education. "Journal of Mental Health Counseling", 13, 247-252.
  • Palmo, A. J., Shosh, M. J. & Weikel, W. J. (2001). The independent practice of mental health counseling: past, present, and future. In D.C. Locke, J. E. Myers, & E. L. Herr (Eds), "The handbook of counseling" (pp. 653–667). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Seiler, G., Brooks, D. and Beck, E.S., (1987) Training Standards for Mental Health Counselors, Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 9(4): 199-209
  • Smith, H. B. & Weikel, W. J. (2006) Mental health counseling: The first thirty years and beyond. In A. J. Palmo, W. J. Weikel & D. P. Borsos (Eds.) "Foundations of mental health counseling" (3rd ed.), (pp5–29. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.
  • Prepared June 2008 by William J. Weikel Ph.D., Howard Smith, Ed.D.., Artis J. Palmo Ph.D. and Edward Beck, Ed.D.

External links[edit]