Mental health counselor

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A mental health counselor (MHC) is a person who practices mental health counseling.

Description of duties[edit]

A significant point of reference to distinguish MHCs from social workers, psychologists, nurse practitioners, and psychiatrists, is that MHCs increasingly utilize a psycho-educational model for counseling clients, in conjunction with the more traditional medical/illness model for assessment and diagnosis. However, the main distinction from other mental health fields include its emphasis on prevention as well as an approach grounded Developmental Theory (not medical model), and its holistically focused approach.

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. [1] 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,[2] though the scope of practice for mental health practitioners changes from state to state.[3]

In the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico a qualified 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. After passing a state or national licensure or certification exam, a mental health counselor can become a member of the American Mental Health Counselor Association which carries code of ethics and a set of national standards for practice. [4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013". Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States Department of Labor. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "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.

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