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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

  • $41,880

    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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Do you work as a Behavioral Health Professional?

Behavioral Health Professional Jobs

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Behavioral Health Professional Career Paths

Behavioral Health Professional
Assistant Director Program Director Clinical Director
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Education Technician Case Manager
Career Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Education Technician Special Education Teacher Lead Teacher
Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Social Worker Clinical Social Worker
Clinical Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Therapist
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Community Support Worker Substance Abuse Counselor Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Case Manager Social Worker Therapist
Clinical Supervisor
8 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Service Director Nursing Director
Director Of Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Supervisor Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Targeted Case Manager Substance Abuse Counselor Social Worker
Director Of Social Work
7 Yearsyrs
Support Specialist Registered Nurse Nurse Manager
Emergency Services Director
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Therapist Medical Social Worker Career Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Support Specialist Licensed Practical Nurse Nurse Manager
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Therapist Clinical Manager Occupational Health Nurse
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Adjunct Faculty Assistant Professor
Medical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Community Support Worker Case Manager Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Home Health Aid Direct Support Professional
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Clinician Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Targeted Case Manager Therapist Medical Social Worker
Social Work Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Assistant Director Home Health Aid Behavioral Health Technician
Targeted Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Behavioral Health Professional?

Behavioral Health Professional Demographics

Gender

Female

69.9%

Male

28.8%

Unknown

1.3%
Ethnicity

White

82.9%

Hispanic or Latino

8.7%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

1.4%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

54.3%

French

17.1%

Arabic

8.6%

Mandarin

2.9%

Hebrew

2.9%

Cherokee

2.9%

Somali

2.9%

Macedonian

2.9%

Persian

2.9%

Russian

2.9%
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Behavioral Health Professional Education

Schools

University of Maine

26.1%

University of Southern Maine

11.4%

University of New England

7.2%

University of Maine at Farmington

6.1%

University of Maine at Augusta

6.1%

Husson University

5.7%

University of Phoenix

4.5%

Kennebec Valley Community College

4.2%

Capella University

3.8%

University of Maine at Presque Isle

3.0%

Liberty University

2.7%

University of Maine at Machias

2.7%

Southern New Hampshire University

2.7%

Arizona State University

2.3%

Eastern Maine Community College

2.3%

Kaplan University

2.3%

Pima Community College

1.9%

Southern Maine Community College

1.9%

Argosy University-Phoenix

1.9%

Murray State University

1.5%
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Majors

Psychology

17.0%

Social Work

12.4%

Kinesiology

7.6%

Nursing

6.7%

Mental Health Counseling

6.4%

Human Services

6.0%

Business

5.5%

Public Health

3.9%

Criminal Justice

3.9%

Counseling Psychology

3.9%

Liberal Arts

3.7%

School Counseling

3.2%

Education

3.0%

Occupational Therapy

2.8%

Clinical Psychology

2.8%

Biology

2.5%

Sociology

2.5%

Health Care Administration

2.3%

Medical Assisting Services

2.1%

Dietetics

2.1%
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Degrees

Bachelors

45.0%

Masters

25.0%

Other

16.3%

Associate

6.7%

Certificate

4.0%

Doctorate

2.1%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Behavioral Health Professional Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Behavioral Health Professional Southwest Behavioral Health Services Mesa, AZ Dec 10, 2012 $40,950
Behavioral Health Professional Southwest Behavioral Health Services Payson, AZ Apr 30, 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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How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Behavioral Health Professional?

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Top Skills for A Behavioral Health Professional

IndividualTreatmentPlanBehavioralHealthSafetyCrisisInterventionFitnessAssessmentsMentalHealthIssuesGroupTherapyBHPDailyLivingSkillsLifeSkillsSocialSkillsDevelopmentalDisabilitiesSpecialNeedsChildrenCommunicationSkillsMentalIllnessSubstanceAbuseIntellectualDisabilitiesOshaPersonalTrainingDirectCare

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  1. Individual Treatment Plan
  2. Behavioral Health
  3. Safety
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Facilitate an Individual Treatment Plan in an efficient, yet creative, way.
  • Provided in home care to children with various mental and behavioral health problems.
  • Maintained vigilance through HSEQ and regulatory auditing, tailgate meetings and verification/collection of Pre-Task Safety Planning documents.
  • Provide clinical assessment/problem identification, crisis intervention, individual, family and group therapy and case management.
  • Administered fitness assessments, new member orientation and exercise prescription.

How Would You Rate Working As a Behavioral Health Professional?

Are you working as a Behavioral Health Professional? Help us rate Behavioral Health Professional as a Career.

Top Behavioral Health Professional Employers

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Behavioral Health Professional Videos

Behavioral Health Professionals, Inc.

Mental Health Counselor, Career Video from drkit.org

How to become a mental health professional