The Profession of Mental Health Counseling
- According to the report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 110,000 professional counselors are licensed or certified for independent practice in the United States.
- There are approximately 5,500 licensed mental health counselors in New York State. Thousands more will be licensed in the coming years as mental health counselors graduate from the 59 graduate programs offering a Master’s in mental health counseling.
- The majority of national behavioral health managed care companies either employ or contract with licensed mental health counselors.
- Mental health counselors were invited by the American Psychiatric Association to participate in the DSM field trials for 2011.
- In the Journal of Counseling & Development (Summer 2001 – Volume 79) article: Clinical Judgment in Case Conceptualization and Treatment Planning Across Mental Health Disciplines, it was found that mental health counselors scored higher than social workers and similar to psychologists on assigned clinical tasks.
- The Veterans Administration considers mental health counselors qualified providers for their hospitals and clinics.
- All 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia license or certify mental health
counselors for private and public practice.
- In New York State, licensed mental health counselors are part of a multi-disciplinary
treatment team in Office of Mental Health (OMH) agencies, where they provide
assessment, treatment planning and psychotherapy.
- The New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services considers licensed mental health counselors as qualified health providers (QHP’s).
- Mental health counselors adhere to a rigorous code of ethics.
- Mental health counseling is a distinct profession with national standards for
education, training and clinical practice.
- The New York Mental Health Counselors Association (NYMHCA) is the professional
membership organization that represents the mental health counseling profession in New
York. Professional membership in NYMHCA requires a Master's degree in
counseling or a closely related mental health field and adherence to national standards
for clinical practice.
- Mental Health Counseling was rated 33rd on Money Magazine’s Top 50 Jobs in the Country!
Graduate education and clinical training prepare mental health counselors to provide a full range of services for individuals, couples, families, adolescents and children. The core areas of mental health programs approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs include:
-Diagnosis and psychopathology -Psychotherapy -Psychological testing and assessment -Professional orientation -Research and program evaluation -Group counseling -Human growth and development -Counseling theory -Social and cultural foundations -Lifestyle and career development -Supervised practicum and internship
Licensure requirements for mental health counselors are equivalent to those for clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists - two other disciplines that require a master's degree for independent status.
A licensed mental health counselor in New York has met or exceeded the following professional qualifications:
Earned at least a Master's degree in mental health counseling or a closely
related mental health discipline of at least 60 graduate hours.
Completed a minimum of 3,000 hours of post Master's clinical work under
the supervision of a licensed mental health professional
Passed a licensure examination. Mental health counselors practice in a variety of settings, including
independent practice, community agencies, managed behavioral health
care organizations, integrated delivery systems, hospitals, employee
assistance programs and substance abuse treatment centers.
Mental health counselors are highly skilled professionals who provide a full
range of services including:
-Assessment and diagnosis -Psychotherapy -Treatment planning and utilization review -Brief and solution-focused therapy -Alcoholism and substance abuse treatment -Psycho-educational and prevention programs -Crisis management
They combine traditional psychotherapy with a practical problem solving approach that creates a dynamic and efficient path for change and problem resolution.