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Become A Behavioral Health Professional

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Working As A Behavioral Health Professional

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $50,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Behavioral Health Professional Do

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and other relationships. They listen to clients and ask questions to help the clients understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.

Duties

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists typically do the following:

  • Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences
  • Help clients process their reactions and adjust to difficult changes in their life, such as divorce and layoffs
  • Guide clients through the process of making decisions about their future
  • Help clients develop strategies and skills to change their behavior and to cope with difficult situations
  • Refer clients to other resources or services in the community, such as support groups or inpatient treatment facilities

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists use a variety of techniques and tools to help their clients. Many apply cognitive behavioral therapy, a goal-oriented approach that helps clients understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and teaches how to replace them with positive, life-enhancing ones. Furthermore, mental health counselors use cognitive behavioral therapy to teach clients to eliminate unwanted and damaging behaviors and to replace them with more productive ones.

Although some disorders can be overcome, others need to be managed. With the latter, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help the client develop strategies and skills to minimize the effects of their disorders or illnesses.

Many mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists work in private practice. They must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients and working with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services.

Mental health counselors provide treatment to individuals, families, couples, and groups. Some work with specific populations, such as the elderly, college students, or children. Mental health counselors deal with a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, stress, and suicidal impulses. They also help with mental and emotional health issues and relationship problems. 

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families. Unlike other types of mental health professionals, they bring a family-centered perspective to treatment, even when treating individuals. They evaluate family roles and development, to understand how clients’ families affect their mental health. They treat the clients’ relationships, not just the clients themselves. They address issues, such as low self-esteem, stress, addiction, and substance abuse.

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists coordinate patient treatment with other professionals, such as psychiatrists and social workers.

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How To Become A Behavioral Health Professional

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists are typically required to have a master’s degree and a license to practice.

Education

To become a mental health counselor or a marriage and family therapist, applicants typically need a master’s degree in psychology, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter a master’s program.

Counseling programs prepare students to recognize symptoms of mental and emotional disorders and to use effective counseling strategies. Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional disorders.

Many employers prefer to hire counselors who have graduated from programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs.

Training

Candidates gain hands-on experience through postdegree supervised clinical work, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In training, they learn to provide family therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic interventions, under the supervision of a licensed counselor.

Licenses

All states require mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to be licensed in the state in which they practice. Licensure requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postdegree supervised clinical experience, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In addition, counselors and therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes.

Contact information for state boards regulating mental health counselors is available through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Contact and licensing information for marriage and family therapists is available through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Counselors and therapists often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different types of people is essential for counselors and therapists. They spend most of their time working directly with clients and other professionals and must be able to encourage good relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, both of whom need to give their full attention to their clients to understand their problems, values, and goals.

Organizational skills. Good organizational skills are especially important for counselors and therapists in private practice, who must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies.

Speaking skills. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists need to be able to communicate with clients effectively. They must express ideas and information in a way that clients can understand easily.

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Behavioral Health Professional Jobs

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Behavioral Health Professional Career Paths

Behavioral Health Professional
Certified Nursing Assistant Team Leader Case Manager
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Registered Nurse Supervisor Case Manager
Patient Care Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Certified Nursing Assistant Administrator Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Education Technician Special Education Teacher Therapist
Clinical Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Education Technician Special Education Teacher Clinician
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Education Technician Program Assistant Clinician
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Technician Team Leader Program Director
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Technician Team Leader Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Technician Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Services Director
11 Yearsyrs
Behavioral Health Technician Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Behavioral Health Technician Mental Health Worker Residential Supervisor
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Behavioral Health Technician Registered Nurse Utilization Review Nurse
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Therapist Supervisor Program Director
Unit Director
5 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinical Supervisor Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Executive Assistant Assistant Property Manager
Resident Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Lead Teacher House Manager
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Clinician Program Supervisor
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Clinical Coordinator Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Psychotherapist
Health Unit Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Behavioral Health Professional?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Program Counselor 1.9 years
Behavioral Analyst 1.8 years
Top Careers Before Behavioral Health Professional
Cashier 12.6%
Internship 12.2%
Volunteer 5.8%
Server 4.2%
Manager 3.5%
Counselor 3.1%
Teacher 2.7%
Top Careers After Behavioral Health Professional
Case Manager 10.9%
Internship 7.5%
Technician 5.1%
Cashier 4.7%
Server 4.7%
Volunteer 2.9%

Do you work as a Behavioral Health Professional?

Behavioral Health Professional Demographics

Gender

Female

63.3%

Male

26.6%

Unknown

10.1%
Ethnicity

White

71.0%

Hispanic or Latino

12.2%

Black or African American

7.4%

Asian

6.0%

Unknown

3.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.0%

French

10.0%

Arabic

6.7%

Somali

3.3%

Swahili

1.7%

Hebrew

1.7%

Cherokee

1.7%

Macedonian

1.7%

Persian

1.7%

Tagalog

1.7%

Russian

1.7%

Tongan

1.7%

Italian

1.7%
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Behavioral Health Professional Education

Schools

University of Maine

24.6%

University of Southern Maine

13.0%

University of New England

7.5%

University of Maine at Farmington

6.7%

University of Maine at Augusta

6.3%

University of Phoenix

5.5%

Husson University

4.8%

Capella University

3.6%

Kennebec Valley Community College

3.4%

Southern New Hampshire University

3.1%

Arizona State University

2.4%

University of Maine at Presque Isle

2.4%

Liberty University

2.4%

Eastern Maine Community College

2.2%

Thomas College

2.2%

Kaplan University

2.2%

University of Maine at Machias

2.2%

Southern Maine Community College

1.9%

Grand Canyon University

1.9%

Argosy University-Phoenix

1.7%
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Majors

Psychology

16.1%

Social Work

12.9%

Nursing

10.0%

Kinesiology

6.8%

Business

5.9%

Mental Health Counseling

5.7%

Human Services

5.6%

Counseling Psychology

4.1%

Criminal Justice

3.7%

Public Health

3.5%

School Counseling

3.1%

Health Care Administration

3.1%

Liberal Arts

2.9%

Medical Assisting Services

2.9%

Sociology

2.6%

Education

2.5%

Rehabilitation Science

2.4%

Biology

2.2%

Clinical Psychology

2.1%

Human Development

2.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

41.3%

Masters

25.3%

Other

17.2%

Associate

8.1%

Certificate

4.4%

Doctorate

2.6%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$50,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$28,000
Min 10%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$50,000
Median 50%
$89,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Recovery Innovations
Highest Paying City
South Portland, ME
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
1.9 years
How much does a Behavioral Health Professional make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Behavioral Health Professional in the United States is $50,240 per year or $24 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $28,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $89,000.

Real Behavioral Health Professional Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Behavioral Health Professional Southwest Behavioral Health Services Payson, AZ Apr 30, 2012 $40,950
Behavioral Health Professional Southwest Behavioral Health Services Mesa, AZ Dec 10, 2012 $40,950
Behavioral Health Professional-Clinical Speciali Home of The Innocents Louisville, KY Oct 01, 2012 $39,046
Behavioral Health Professional--Clinical Special Home of The Innocents New Albany, IN Apr 01, 2013 $39,000 -
$40,200
Behavioral Health Professional--Clinical Special Home of The Innocents New Albany, IN Jul 01, 2013 $39,000 -
$40,200
Behavioral Health Professional--Clinical Special Home of The Innocents New Albany, IN Jul 15, 2013 $39,000 -
$40,200
Behavioral Health Professional--Clinical Special Home of The Innocents New Albany, IN Jul 31, 2013 $39,000 -
$40,200
Behavioral Health Professional-Clinical Specialist Home of The Innocents Louisville, KY Oct 01, 2009 $34,334

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Top Skills for A Behavioral Health Professional

  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Behavioral Issues
  3. Crisis Intervention
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Help children develop skills identified in individualized treatment plans.
  • Assisted children and their families with behavioral issues, in order for the family to function better as a whole.
  • Provide clinical assessment/problem identification, crisis intervention, individual, family and group therapy and case management.
  • Provided professional mental health services to offenders recognized as having a mental illness diagnosis.
  • Observed/participated in individual and group therapy sessions.

How Would You Rate Working As a Behavioral Health Professional?

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Top Behavioral Health Professional Employers

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Jobs From Top Behavioral Health Professional Employers

Behavioral Health Professional Videos

Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc.

Mental Health Counselor, Career Video from drkit.org

How to become a mental health professional

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