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 7,000 licensed mental health counselors in New York State. Thousands more will be licensed in the coming years as mental health counselors graduate from the more than 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.
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.
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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
-Psychological testing and assessment
-Research and program evaluation
-Human growth and development
-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
-Treatment planning and utilization review
-Brief and solution-focused therapy
-Alcoholism and substance abuse treatment
-Psycho-educational and prevention programs
They combine traditional psychotherapy with a practical problem solving approach that creates a dynamic and efficient path for change and problem resolution.